It has been confirmed by now that 2001 will be ranked as a very fine vintage for Cabernet in the Napa Valley. Equally exciting, however, will be the news that we now have a succession of also quite fine vintages2002, 2003 and 2004. I personally rank 2002 and 2004 as superior to 2001, with 2003 at least as good.
The 2002 Forman Cabernet is indeed something of a standout in this nice line of great vintages. It began of course, during the vine dormancy period in the early winter of 2001. Rain was early and persistent, starting in the first part of November 2001, with 38 being recorded by Janurary 1, 2002. But then it stopped. This would be a possible future problem for some shallow vineyards. The Grande Roche vineyard (my name for the vineyard in front of the caves) is so deep, approximately 100 meters, with a structure of mostly friable sandy soil that the roots penetrate to a depth that allows the vines to survive even under low water conditions. This is perhaps the biggest quality factor for Forman Cabernet the soil. So even though rains stopped early, the deep profile was moist and my vines sustainedeven thrived. There were some serious frosts in April, but again Grande Roche sustained due to its protective hillside drainage.
Summer had two intense heat spikes, one in mid-July and another on August 9th. Both were followed by a cooling period. My vines had a well-tended canopy which protected the clusters from serious sunburn. It was an early harvest with fully ripe fruit. I note from my records that the average sugar was 25.5%. A very serious wine was to be made.