Premier Napa Valley, the big auction of small-lot wines made exclusively for the trade, has just concluded, raising even more money even than last year (more about this later). But over the weekend I spent time tasting at wineries the latest releases of cabernets, and can report a subtle shift from alcoholic fruit-bombs to classically structured wines that take some time to open in the glass but are round and powerful and well suited for dining. Among the ‘09s I found most impressive were Chappellet, Continuum, Frank, Swanson, Flowers, Krupp Brothers, David Arthur, Silverado, Joseph Phelps, and St. Supery. These are not inexpensive wines, but there are others as or more expensive that inundate the palette with high-octane fruit, ripened to near-tumescence, and blow away food as well as appetite.
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