This report focuses on the 2016s from Sonoma, yet includes plenty of 2015s. As with in Napa Valley, the good news keeps rolling in, and Sonoma has been on a string of incredible vintages since 2012. While the 2015s are the denser, more concentrated, and opulent wines, the 2016s are more silky, elegant, and complete wines that shine for their balance, overall harmony, and length. Also, the wines are layered and complex, with nothing out of place. Shockingly, this is true for all the varieties; there are beautiful Pinot Noirs, Zinfandels, and Chardonnays, as well as Bordeaux blends from 2016. The downsides to this vintage are few and far between.
Looking specifically at the 2016 vintage, this was a cooler, even, lengthy vintage that was universally described as easy and balanced by every winemaker I spoke with. Bud break was early, yet was followed by a cool, wetter summer that delayed ripening. Yields were healthy (which was welcome after the dismal yields in 2015), and a leisurely August and September allowed growers plenty of time to fine-tune crop levels, drop any underripe or disease-laced clusters, and harvest at their leisure. Numerous winemakers commented that the sorting table wasn’t even necessary.
All of this resulted in more medium-bodied, yet incredibly balanced, elegant wines that are a joy to drink today, yet will also evolve gracefully.
Sonoma is a huge and diverse region, so it can difficult to summarize vintages. Nevertheless, the region is a treasure trove of incredible Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, Zinfandels, Bordeaux Blends, Syrahs, and even Grenache.
Taking a step back, this is an incredible time for Northern California. Starting with 2012, the region has had one sensational vintage after another. The 2012 Vintage produced ripe, sexy, opulent wines, as well as with a bumper crop. The 2013s are more concentrated and dense, with the Bordeaux blends from Napa Valley taking the lead over the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from Sonoma. This was followed by 2014 which is a truly sensational vintage for Sonoma, where it surpasses what was achieved in Napa. The 2015s can be a toss-up between Napa and Sonoma, with perhaps more truly great wines coming from Napa, but both regions excelling. While I haven’t tasted enough 2016s from the Napa side of the Mountains to comment, 2016 is unquestionably a world-class vintage for Sonoma.
As I said at the beginning, the good news just keeps rolling in from Northern California and this report includes an incredible number of truly world-class wines.
All the following wines were tasted in Sonoma between April 30 and May 8. Despite including close to 900 wines, this is nevertheless a cherry-picked selection of the top estates.