It never fails to surprise me how many big names from one decade become obsolete by the next. Take, for example, a few from the '90s. Does anyone care about Ross Perot? Gennifer Flowers? Tickle Me Elmo? Famous then, forgotten now. There are, of course, some notable exceptions, like Hillary Clinton and cult Cabernets.
These Napa wines, which debuted in the '90s, became almost as renowned for their four-figure prices as for their tiny production amounts and rich, concentrated style. And while some pundits predicted their outsize popularity would disappear when the decade's prosperity did, labels like Harlan Estate, Araujo and Screaming Eagle are as sought after as ever. Moreover, it seems every new Napa label has been made in the hope that it, too, will become a cult Cabernet. But which, if any, are likely to be the next big names? I went to Napa to talk to a few top producers and taste some new wines.
"I don't like the word cult," Bill Harlan told me, looking pained. (Never mind that his Harlan Estate red helped inspire the name.) Harlan recently launched a new Cabernet label called Bondwhich others are calling (predictably) "the new Harlan." But he isn't interested in making a cult wine per se: "We're just trying to make wines that can compete with the world's best."