The 2004 vintage produced a crop of solid, dense, ripe Cabernets with plenty of power, richness, and longevity. It was an early harvest that was compact and proceeded at a rapid pace, with most growers finished by the end of September.
The season got off to a fast start, with bloom almost a month earlier than the recent average. It stayed early right through veraison, and as harvest approached and sugars raced, there was concern whether there would be enough hang-time for physiological ripeness to develop before the acids fell. The heat moderated just enough for growers to hang on while flavors developed and the resulting wines have depth, power, and richness. Hillside and mountain fruit fared very well.
Overall an excellent vintage that yielded superb, full-bodied, ripe, and powerful wines that are built to last.
Three week heat spell
Heat spikes continue
One of the star estates of the Napa Valley, Araujo owes much of its success to the Eisele Vineyard, located just outside Calistoga. This spot first came to prominence in the 1970s and '80s as the source of the blockbuster Cabernet Sauvignon made by Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Before Phelps, however, Milton and Barbara Eisele cultivated the 38-acre parcel, discovering its potential and leaving their name as a legacy. Since 1990, Bart and Daphne Araujo have carried on the tradition of making monster Cabernets, adding Syrah into the mix as well. Their flagship bottling is dense, powerful and rich, typically with soil-inflected notes of plum, mocha, tobacco and smoke, and very suave tannins. Three-quarters of the Eisele vineyard are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, to accommodate grape needs, while the remainder is divided between Bordeaux varietals, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, and of course, Syrah.