Markets welcoming 2021 white wines from Napa and Sonoma
Quite a few 2021 vintage Napa and Sonoma whites are coming to the markets. You may remember last year at this time, I wrote of the severe drought along the Russian and San Joaquin-Sacramento River wine regions. The Sac/San Joaquin is where many of our supermarket and box Cali wines originate. The good news is the drought normally means less juice but of higher concentrations. The bad news is prices are up.
During research on the Syrah column, I ran across an article quoting Jean-Luc Columbo, a noted producer from the Cornas region of Cotes du Rhone, regarding irrigation. He said, slightly paraphrased, the difference between non irrigated vs. irrigated is similar to that of a Picasso done by himself and that of a copyist. Direct quote, “The latter might fool enough of the people, enough of the time.” Over time I have repeated the admonition regarding reviewers – the ultimate decision is your own taste buds and sniffer. Try to find a guru who, after your sip and spit of new to you wine, proves to be accurate much of the time. Some of mine are: Jancis Robinson, Neal Martin, Tony Galloni, Steve Tanzer, Allen Meadows, James Suckling and José Penin, whose La Guia Penin is probably Spanish wines’ most encyclopedic tome. In 2018, I added Axel Probst, a relative youngster, for Sherry and Port. Regulars also know from time to time, I quote critiques of the same wine which disagree distinctly. In most cases, this is not meant to disparage but to illustrate the degree of difference by which disparate palates perceive the same wine. I’m not comparing myself to these acknowledged experts, but I can say with certainty my palate varies on occasion. In most cases, I will compare my read on a wine with one of my gurus’ before sending for print, hoping for concurrence. Over time I have learned that most writers are not proficient with all wine varietals. It’s a huge world. At tastings, cognitive dissonance can be a problem with groups when labels are shown or wines are observed in predetermined flights. I have most faith in the free-for-all selections at the finale, when panels are searching across the varietal range for best of show, double gold and platinum picks. I have occasionally observed these are especially germane when reviewers are unaware of price range.
Sorry, got off on a tangent. Following are some recommendations that should be hitting your shelves soon. If you enjoy Sonoma Chards and Pinot Noir, keep your eyes peeled for Hartford Family Winery. From their entry-level, 90 McD $29, Hartford Court RRV Chard Sonoma to their 95-point, under $110 2018 Jennifer’s Vineyard, their Chards all are great value rating in the 90s. There are seven labels, and each is distinct in its profile. Wonderful, terroir-conscious winemaking team. If you see Harford Court Radian Vineyard 2018 from Santa Rita Hills and you love barrel spice, butter and cake with a mix of pear, pineapple and hints of ginger, glom as much as you can afford. I’ve seen it on sale in Maryland for $65. The 2019 is more citrus and floral, bright acidity, it needs time, 93 McD under $70. Spent 14 months on French oak so probably hasn’t hit Delaware shelves yet. Those who enjoy rose and forest floor, cranberry and orange zest aromatic PN should try their Land’s Edge Vineyards Sonoma Coast 2018, 93 McD, gets 1 price point under $40. Dense, still tannic, color says no problem, balanced aromas, acidity and flavors. Finishes with sea breeze tang. Barbara and I visited several of these vineyards and met Don Hartford, one of the owners. The 2019 reminds of the 2014, small production, wonderful attention to terroir and winemaking.
I dug up this August 2021 W. Blake Gray article from Winesearcher. It speaks to Cali drought in 2021. I think Gray is very well informed and within the frame are three separate links where you can learn more of what to expect with the Cali 2021s: wine-searcher.com/m/2021/08/california-faces-another-dustbowl-vintage. Please read all the paper before moving on, ads and all. Future wine purchases for review may depend on it.