CALIFORNIA'S CABERNET CONUNDRUM
James Laube, Wine Spectator, Nov. 15, 2004
2001 yields some exceptional wines, along with some that are less than inspiring.
The elite California Cabernets from 2001 rival the best wines of the past decade, a time during which the total number of Cabernets produced nearly doubled and the varietal reached new heights stylistically, with richer, more bountiful wines. Once you get past the top tier, however, the ’01 vintage is not the grand slam I expected. Many wineries that usually produce inspiring wines missed the mark of 2001, putting something of a damper on an otherwise impressive year. Wines such as . . . Robert Foley Claret (96 points, $100), … Pride Reserve (96, $115) . . . are sensational. These wines offer extraordinary richness as well as pure, concentrated flavors. They should be on the short-list of wines to buy for those who want the finest Cabernets from California. . .
Also rated as classic in 2001, with scores of 95 points each, are . . . Paloma ($45) . . . Paloma’s Cabernet is every bit as delicious as its stunning 2001 Merlot (Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year in 2003) . . .
“The warmth of the growing season [from spring through summer] resulted in fairly high sugars as we waited for flavor development,” says Jim Richards, owner-winemaker of Paloma on Spring Mountain, “but the result was wonderful, rich wines with big fruit-forward flavors.”
Tom Ferrell, winemaker for Spring Mountain Vineyards on Spring Mountain, says that the mild winter, low yields and small berries led to a notably tannic young wines (especially those that are mountain-grown), as well as ripe, rich fruit. “The 2001 single vineyard-valley-floor [wines] from deep soils are among the best [Cabernets] I’ve tasted in quite a while,” he says, referring to winegrowing areas such as Oakville, Rutherford and Stags Leap.