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Californian Cabernet 2013: Top five wines of the vintage

William Kelley investigates the quality of 2013, picking his top five wines...

For many winemakers and vintners, California’s 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon vintage is quite simply the finest of their careers. The best are wines for the ages.

As Eric Baugher of Ridge Vineyards reveals, 2013 is ‘undoubtedly the most tannic vintage of the new millennium’, but its structure is complemented by a remarkable wealth of fruit.

The hallmark of 2013 is a marriage of ripe fruit with the savoury qualities that modern Californian Cabernet Sauvignon so frequently lacks. That makes for striking complexity and sophistication in the glass.

For now, the savoury complexity that distinguishes the 2013 vintage occludes many of the signatures of over-ripeness, but a surprising number of seemingly successful wines began to reveal a pruney, raisined – even oxidative – character when they were retasted 36 hours after opening.

This bodes ill for their evolution in bottle, and it is clear that the year’s extraordinary potential to create ageworthy wines which will gain nuance in the cellar was not universally realised.

The best wines are elevated to a rarefied level by their depth and savoury structure. And by and large, those who aspired to produce such wines enjoyed the greatest success.

Top five 2013 California Cabernets:

See California vintage guides on Decanter.com