2007 has really been a tremendous vintage for California wines pretty much across the board. Some stellar Pinots have come out of the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, and the Zin and Rhone blends all over Cali have been pretty rockin’ as well. However no other wine has benefited from this glorious vintage like the illustrious Napa Cabs.
The vintages in CA are usually not as important as they can be in other parts of the world, like France for example, as the climate is pretty consistent. That is why in Bordeaux and Burgundy, the vintage makes such a big difference in price and aging capability. However there are certain years when Mother Nature is at her best and seems to shine upon all the vineyards…and 2007 is clearly one of them!
What makes this vintage so intriguing is that it encompasses all levels of these Napa Cabs, from the entry level $10-15 bottles all the way up to the ultra pricey, notorious Cult Cabs. In fact for under $15 you can find some Cabs that you may mistake for much higher priced wines. Archstone, Annabella, Avalon and Aquinas are a few labels to keep on your radar…and just a total coincidence that they all start with A.
As far as I can tell the real value in these 2007 Napa Cabs lies in the $15-30 price range. You could blind taste some of these against the real “big boys” and you may have a tough time determining which is which. This is evident in some of the high scores given to some of the top quality wines in this range.
For example the Louis Martini Napa scoring 91 Pts, Maroon’s Yountville Cab grabbing 92 Pts, and the Franciscan entry level Oakville Cab fetching 94 pts and retailing for around $25-30! My personal favorite at this level is the Beringer Knights Valley Cab. It has this beautiful black fruit and sweet vanilla spice combination that just knocks your socks off!
And then there are the “big boys”. Wow, are these some fantastic wines. They are big and lush now, but have an aging potential that not many vintages have produced in CA. It’s tough to go wrong with any of the better known brands, but some that stand out for me are from Far Niente, Stag’s Leap (Artemis), Newton (Unfiltered), Chimney Rock (Stag’s Leap) and my personal favorite is the Howell Mountain Cab from O’Shaughnessy. Cheap they are not, but if you are willing to splurge on some special bottles these are worth the dough.
Much mention has been made of some the fabulous recent vintages in Bordeaux (2000, 2005 and 2009). However I find that more people in this neck of the woods prefer their Napa Cabs to the Bordeaux wines. In comparison, this 2007 vintage is the best to come along since the 1997, 1999 and 2001 in Napa. So load up while you can, as these wines won’t be available forever.