There is something fresh and vibrant about springtime in wine country, and no place more so than in Napa Valley. The yellow tones of flowering mustard splash up, and the green vineyard rows with buds on the vines get ready to break out. The dun-colored hills come alive with grasses and flowers, as the photo above of Gamble Family Vineyards reminds us. The fall aromas of wine fermenting are long gone, now replaced by the smell of freshly turned earth from those growers who still like to till the soil.
So let’s begin this Dozen by tasting some bottles produced by Napa Valley winegrowers, although some of the grapes were grown elsewhere. And let’s raise a glass to them with hope for a sterling 2021 vintage to come.
2019 Gamble Family Yountville Sauvignon Blanc ($28). Lovely floral aromas with lots of firm, green fruitiness, great texture and a long finish.
2019 The Anarchist “15 Minutes of Fame” Clarksburg Sparkling Rosé ($32). This one is more frothy than bubbly on the pour, but it’s quite satisfying and engaging, with light strawberry fruit and a satisfying crisp finish.
2015 The Foundry Carneros Blanc de Noirs ($58). Delightfully alive with refreshing strawberry tartness, lots of minerality and a good finishing kick.
The Anarchist “Rosé Against the Machine” Rosé ($24). Lean, with flavors of tiny woods strawberries and a refreshing finish.
2018 Robert Mondavi Carneros Pinot Noir ($26). A lean, somewhat muscular Pinot with firm, yet juicy berry fruit and a pleasant closing hint of smokiness.
2019 The Prisoner “Saldo” California Zinfandel ($31). This Napa winery produces a spicy, lightly creamy Zin with raspberry and cherry flavors that are quite enjoyable.
2017 Mi Sueno Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($68). Creamy blackberry fruit with a savory tannic finish – easy to drink now but will be better in a couple of years.
2015 The Foundry Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($78). Lush with blackberry fruit and warm oak at the beginning and a finish that is lean and savory.
We continue with these other Californians:
2018 Belden Barns Sonoma Mountain Grüner Veltliner ($28). Lovely floral and beeswax aromas with a combo of apple, pear, and mineral flavors and a lightly tart finish with hints of cinnamon. Open it early or even decant for max impact.
2017 Belden Barns “Serendipity Block” Sonoma Mountain Pinot Noir ($50). Very satisfying with ripe, rounded cherry fruit – almost reddish – and a raspy, tart finish.
2014 J Vineyards Russian River Valley Blanc de Blancs ($65). It is always delightful to taste an aged sparkler, and this one is a good balance between apple fruitiness and minerally acidity – just lovely.
2019 Bonterra Mendocino County Rosé ($14). Fresh strawberries with a crisp finish so you can enjoy a second glass.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.
Photo credit: Gamble Family