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

Decanter - - CONTENTS -

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’

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