The 2005 vintage in Napa was one of the best of the decade, with balanced, lovely wines with plenty of depth, richness, and concentration, all balanced by lovely fresh acidity and detail. Classic, structured, and deep, they should age well for decades.
A wet winter was followed in March by a dry, mild spell, then a wet, rainy period that delayed bloom and fruit set. Rains continued into April, May, and even into June. Some parts of Napa Valley had more than 15 inches of rain after bud break, creating problems for growers. Vineyard management costs skyrocketed as the moisture spurred weed growth, and powdery mildew was a big problem.
Summer was moderate, without any real extremes of heat. The cool temperatures and foggy mornings kept ripening moving slowly, and there was some concern with sugar levels and overall ripeness as the harvest began to approach. September arrived with beautiful, warm, sunny days — and an Indian summer allowed winemakers to wait as sugar accumulated at an even pace, while keeping the grapes balanced with good acidity. It was a very late vintage and a very large crop as well, beating out the previous record set in 1997. Many didn’t finish picking until late October and even into November, but the long hang-time was beneficial and the weather held for the most part.
The resulting wines are seamless, elegant yet structured and deep, with lovely well-knit fruit and tannins. They may not have the power and ripe, plush notes of some of the other top vintages of the decade — rather, they will be known for their beautiful balance and focus. The best should age gracefully for decades to come.
Additional 5 inches of rain falls
Harvest for sparkling wine began on schedule
Weather was mild throughout the month, with no heat spikes of any consequence
Harvest for still wine didn’t begin in earnest until October, because of mild September weather. The main Cabernet Sauvignon harvest began in the middle of October and continued until the middle of November
A few inches over the average amount of rain
Christian Moueix's origins are in Bordeaux. His family firm in Libourne owns Château Pétrus, and owns, manages or markets dozens of other Châteaux. During his time at UC Davis, however, Moueix fell in love with the Napa Valley. It was to be a lasting love, which flowered into Dominus, his California outpost. Here he makes a decidedly Old World-style red blend from the historic Napanook Vineyard in Yountville. 103 acres are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, which Moueix combines in suave, complex Bordeaux blends that age gracefully. Make no mistake, these are not jammy California fruit bombs. Instead, Dominus wines showcase notes of leather, loam, tobacco, licorice and fresh herbs. The estate's flagship Proprietary red often contains upwards of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, and can be quite pricey. The Napanook bottling is a more gently priced intro to the house style.