I sat down yesterday with the rest of the wine department to taste through an assortment of 2004 Napa Cabernets, a kind of follow-up to a previous '04 tasting I wrote about in October. On the whole it wasn't the most uplifting tasting I've done recently—there was a depressing sameness to many of the wines, a kind of die-cut presentation of black fruit and oak that made one seem to merge with the next. But the good ones were, as they should be, distinctive and appealing. Out of the 20 tasted, here are my four favorites (in price order) plus an impressive 2005 that snuck into the lineup somehow.
2004 Silverado Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($45) Part of the appeal of this wine is that it doesn't wow you with gobs of fruit or flashy oak. Instead it's a deftly balanced, classic Napa Cabernet, with direct dark cherry flavors (a lot of Stag's Leap fruit in the blend), a light herbal minty note, and firm, slightly drying tannins on the end.