I Must Say It Was A Good Year (2004 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon)

It’s Fall, my favorite time of the year. The weather is fantastic, football is back, and the new Cabs are being released. Over the past 6 weeks I tried about twenty 2004 Napa Cabs.

Yesterday alone I tasted 12 Cabs. I went to a Saturday tasting at one on the local wine shops, The Wine Club, and they featured the “Big Guns” of California. Quintessa, Dominus, Rudd Oakville Estate Proprietary Red, Hewitt Rutherford, Far Niente, Ramey Jericho Canyon, BV Georges de Latour, Joseph Phelps Insignia, Mondavi Reserve, Beringer Private Reserve, Opus One, and Ridge Monte Bello. I’ve also tried the ’04 CS from Neal, Turnbull, Hourglass, Pride, and Groth.

Overall, and in my opinion, 2004 is a good year for Napa Valley CS. Of the wines I’ve tried, most are very good, some are outstanding, and a couple lacked potential.

The Joseph Phelps Insignia and Hourglass are excellent. Insignia is one of my favorite wines and was a relative market sleeper until the 2002 won the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year. Unfortunately, it now retails for $225/bottle! I’ve been building a vertical of Insignia since 1995 when it was about $75/bottle.

Very good 2004 CS: Dominus, Beringer Private Reserve, Neal, and Hewitt Rutferford. Good: Groth, Quintessa, Rudd, Opus; Robert Mondavi Reserve. OK: Far Niente, Ridge Monte Bello; Ramey. Poor: BV Georges de Latour and Whitehall Lane.

I like wine ratings, but they are limited. I pay attention to the ratings from the Wine Spectator and use them as a guide, but I prefer my own opinions…just like movie ratings.

When I try Cabernet Sauvignon I am looking for certain characteristics that suite me: expression (fruit), balance, finish, aging potential, and value.

I’m buying the Hewitt, Insignia (but not at the retail price), Neal, Hourglass, Pride. I’ve also purchased some Caymus. The standout, for the value, is the Hewitt Rutherford. I think I’ll load up on the Hewitt (12 bottles). I will put the Caymus, Neal, Hourglass, Pride and Insignia to “sleep” for at least 10 years.

The 49ers look terrible…losing to the Ravens at home. It’s not even an entertaining loss. But right now, I’m enjoying a glass of wine from my favorite producer/wine-maker. DuMol (Sonoma, CA). I just opened a 2006 ‘lia’ Viognier (white varietal) and it is perfect. Clear, light gold color. It has a nose of fresh sweet Fall Pink Lady apples and white peaches. There is a bright expression of the grape that comes out before the moderately sharp acidity. The finish is subtle and dry. The legnth is superb. This viognier is lighter than a recent French, 2005 Doamine Des Cantarelles, I had recently.

Andy Smith is the wine maker for DuMol and this Cat can make some juice! Only 120 cases made…don’t waste your time looking for it…I’m buying the rest.

Have faith White Wine Sippers…the Niners are coming back!

But…I Must Say, It Was a Good Year for 2004 Napa Cabs


Published by Reg

I am a vinophile. I was born and raised in San Francisco. I graduated from Morehouse College in 1986 and received my M.D. from UCSF in 1991. I am a happily married, living and working in San Francisco.

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