Top 5 Sonoma Wine Picks of 2016

Here’s a sampling of this year’s wine-of-the-week winners: five knockout wines that over-deliver.

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5 knockout wines that over-deliver

Enjoue, 2015 Sonoma Valley Estate Rose, 13.5%, $28. ★★★★: The salmon-colored rose has aromas and flavors of mango, strawberry, grapefruit and mineral. It’s nice and dry and finishes crisp, leaving you wanting another sip.

Foursight, 2013 Anderson Valley Unoaked Pinot Noir, 14.1% alcohol, $25. ★★★★ This pinot has generous, layered red fruit, bright acid and it finishes dry. It’s bright and refreshing, a steal for the quality.

Decoy, 2014 Sonoma County Merlot, 13.9%, $25. ★★★★: This seamless merlot has quite a range — black cherry, blackberry, cocoa and leather. It has bright acidity, ripe tannins and a lingering finish.

Laurel Glen Counterpoint, 2014 Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.4%, $40. ★★★★: This is a cab that has great structure, firm tannins and yet it manages to be fleshy. Juicy raspberry fruit with cassis, anise and cracked black pepper in the mix. It’s a steal at this price point for the quality.

River Road, 2014 Stephanie’s Cuvee, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir, 14.3%, $25. ★★★★: This is a bright and tangy pinot noir. It has striking red fruit — cherry, raspberry and strawberry jam. It’s also layered with notes of cedar and smoke. But what makes it a standout at this price point is its pitch perfect balance.


 

Here’s a peek at the winemakers behind our winners and what they had to say about their bottlings.

Julia Iantosca is the winemaker behind the Enjoué, 2015 Sonoma Valley Estate Rosé at $28. The name Enjoué is French for “joyful, playful and lighthearted.”

Iantosca said: “Our goal is to produce a wine that is evocative of the wines from the southern Rhone, particularly Provence and Bandol.

“Fortunately we have the varieties traditionally used to create these wines planted in our vineyards, and our site on the Glen Ellen Bench is one where these varieties flourish.”

Joe Webb is the winemaker behind the Foursight, 2013 Anderson Valley Unoaked Pinot Noir at $25. Webb said: “Producing a stellar unoaked pinot depends on the purity of fruit for the bottling. You have to be 100 percent confident in the quality of your fruit when you produce an unoaked wine.

“There’s nowhere to hide any mistakes, so you can’t make any.”

Tyson Wolf produces the Decoy, 2014 Sonoma County Merlot at $25.

Wolf said: “There is a reason that merlot is considered one of the world’s great grapes. While it can be silky and luscious, with lots of delicious fruit, it can also have depth, nuance and fascinating character and complexity.

“We strive to show both aspects.”

Randall Watkins is the winemaker of Laurel Glen’s Counterpoint, 2014 Sonoma Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon at $40. “Savory” is a key component of the label’s house style.

Watkins said: “Classic cabernet sauvignon has both ripe fruit and a brilliant savory side.

“In the ’90s, many wineries began picking grapes later and later, and the wines produced were lusher and higher in alcohol, residual sugar and new oak. ‘Herbal’ became a swear word to many winemakers.”

Joe Freeman crafts the River Road, 2014 Stephanie’s Cuvee, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir at $25.

The winemaker produces a decidedly less dense, more food-friendly pinot noir.

Freeman said: “Delicate structure, bright acidity and ‘just-ripe’ fruit aromas and flavors are the goal.

“We focus on even ripening and consistent vigor in the vineyard and strive to pick the grapes once they are expressing juicy cherry and berry flavors with ripe tannins.

“Subtle, savory and sweet barrel highlights complement the flavors from the grapes.”

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