Right now is a good time to be a lover - or even a friend, for that matter - of Cabernet Sauvignon: California’s 2004 vintage, just released, is a bounty of richness and elegance, and Bordeaux 2005, appearing on the market shortly, has been hailed as the best vintage for several decades.
Of course, playing the game at the top level means putting nothing but the blue chips on the table; in many cases, sticker-shock is part of the package, and then there’s the necessity for aging the stuff into something exquisite, which means your pleasure is a dream deferred for at least ten years, probably more. On the other hand, it’s undoubtedly a better bet than buying a piece of a hedge fund. I know which way I’d go. . .
Ever since the now-legendary “Judgment of Paris” competition in 1976, where wines were tasted blind (without labels showing) and California Cabernets trounced several famous and expensive Bordeaux, there’s been no question that the Golden State has the grapes, soil, sunshine, investment, and ambition to take on the chateaux of the world’s benchmark wine (the ambition peters out somewhat after that - Cabernet rules, by a long shot). In replays of the Paris tasting over the years as the wines have aged, including the 30th anniversary shootout last year, the results have stayed fairly consistent: California wines still do very well.
In fact, their success has opened the door for Cabs from Washington State, Australia, even Italy - good soil, grapes, money and ambition aren’t confined to California, or Bordeaux any more. In the long run, though, California has so much of those elements, and also has the considerable bonus of well-established vineyards, that it sets a standard of its own. As Robert Louis Stevenson, who visited the Napa Valley in 1880, wrote, “The smack of Californian earth shall linger on the palate of your grandson.” He didn’t know he was talking about Cabernet Sauvignon, but it was indeed a good call.
Buy the best Cabernet Sauvignon with the help of our wine experts who take the guesswork out of buying the best wine at the best price. Choose California Cabernet Sauvignon for the best taste.