This year, the 26th Annual California Barrel Tasting featured over 60 wines from 37 different wineries, mostly from the acclaimed 2009 vintage. Since the wines are still aging in barrels – and are not commercially available for a year or two – they are offered now at a price below the future retail price. This practice is referred to as buying ‘futures’ and is a savvy way to purchase collectable wines at a discount.
If you are thinking about buying a few wines to save for a special occasion, the 2009 vintage in Napa Valley is a particularly good year to consider. The weather in Napa during the 2009 season was long and warm, allowing the fruit to ripen slowly and evenly. Many of the wines I tasted at the event possessed excellent fruit concentration, but more importantly, outstanding balance, with firm tannins and ample acidity. Most of these wines will drink well for ten-plus years, if you can resist the urge to open them up sooner.