Vintage report: California Cabernet 2015
A surprisingly uniform vintage across the region, with smaller volumes but exceptional quality. Linda Murphy selects the best wines to buy
Linda Murphy analyses the harvest and recommends the best Cabs – from Napa to Santa Barbara County
NEARly 650km sEpARATE California’s northernmost quality Cabernet sauvignon region, lake County, and santa Barbara County’s Happy Canyon appellation in the far south. What are the chances of near-mirror vintage conditions throughout a state that is larger and more diverse than many countries?
Well, in 2015 that chance was nearly 100%, with the vast majority of producers using very similar words to describe the vintage. Those words were: ‘early’, ‘one of the coolest mays on record’, ‘fifth consecutive year of drought’, ‘low-yielding and low-case volumes’, ‘more labour required’, ‘meticulous sorting’.
While it’s not a year for accountants, winemakers are both giddy and relieved at the quality and concentration of their wines, which are now being released.
From north to south, California’s Cabernet sauvignon producers faced similar conditions in 2015 and had virtually the same result: exceptional, concentrated and complex wines but with yield reductions of 10% to 60%. Because of the dearth of stocks, several wineries have already released 2016 Cabernets to keep the cash flowing.
The bottom line? Impatient drinkers will enjoy these deeply fruited, flavour-packed,
‘While it’s not a year for accountants, winemakers are both giddy and relieved at the quality and concentration of their wines’