Serious Wines from Sonoma

February 2020
Written By: 
James Ginley

Napa’s less expensive neighbor offers its own delicious selections

Gundlach Bundschu Chardonnay 2017
Sonoma Coast, California, $28

Aging for 10 months in 100% French oak lends aromas of vanilla and charred wood, followed by lemon rind. In the mouth, melon and jasmine with a hint of key lime come together to add more sensual delights. Even with so many flavors, it is well balanced with a textured finish. This selection is enjoyable with many dishes, like salads, baked fish or chicken with a white sauce.

Frei Brothers Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Sonoma County, California, $20

The Alexander Valley in Sonoma County is hot by day and cool at night due to the coastal breezes. Grapes are picked from the hillsides and yield aromas of cassis and dark berries, with more dark fruit on the palate. Cedar and tobacco hints are also present, with velvet tannins leading to the long, elegant finish. With 14.5% alcohol, it’s big and bold enough to pair with beef, lamb or venison.

Rodney Strong Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018
Sonoma County, California, $18



Anything from the Russian River Valley is good, especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And Rodney Strong is one of the most popular vineyards in Sonoma County, so it’s a win-win. Lilac in color, with fresh strawberry on the nose followed by white peach and fresh acidity on the palate. Lively, with a lingering finish. An alternative to delicate French Rosés, but with a California profile: Fruit-forward and juicy. Rated 92 points by Wine Enthusiast.

WALT “La Brisa” Pinot Noir 2017
Sonoma, California, $38

The nose opens with rose petals and dried herb aromas, followed by flavors of red raspberry and hints of fresh soil and tobacco. Concentrated with rich texture and minerality leading to a clean, lingering finish of light oak and a hint of chocolate. Rated 93 points by Wine Spectator, this is another high alcohol wine at 14%. It can be enjoyed with duck, goose and game birds.

Gloria Ferrer Brut Champagne NV
Sonoma, California, $19

Blended from hand-harvested Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. On the nose, light pear and flowery notes are followed by citrus, toast and apple flavors on the palate. Lasting effervescence leads to a creamy, toasty finish. Like most good sparkling wines, it goes well with shellfish and crab, plus roasted chicken or sushi. Seasonings that go along with this Brut include lemongrass, fennel and white pepper. Earned a 91 point rating from Wine Spectator.

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Photographs courtesy of the wineries 

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