If there was one wine region in all of the new world that I could only drink for the rest of my life, I would choose the Sonoma Coast. The wines and the scenery on the Sonoma Coast can be truly breathtaking. The first thing that comes to mind is Pinot Noir, followed by Chardonnay and Syrah. For us wine drinkers it is paradise, but it is not always paradise for the wine producers. At upwards of 1500ft above sea level the Sonoma Coast is a rugged, unpredictable place to grow grapes. The weather is ever changing with fog, wind, sunlight and rain. The slopes are steep and hand harvesting is the only way to go, not to mention this is San Andreas Fault territory. There are pests that can destroy the crop including wild boar. Needless to say it is expensive to produce wine in the Sonoma Coast. The main wine produced is also one of the most expensive wines to produce anywhere, Pinot Noir. So why would anybody want to produce wine from here?
Think Burgundy, France. Their main varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay produce some incredible wine in the Sonoma Coast. The daily temperature swings bring out wines with good acidity, ripe fruit, and balance. To me they bring the best of old world mixed with the best of the new world. Earthy herbal notes mixed with ripe fruits makes a killer combination in these wines. Not only are they drinkable young they also age well. One more famous French varietal has made its mark in the Sonoma Coast, Syrah. Dark, peppery, and full of power with finesse, these Syrah’s are seriously incredible. If you like Northern Rhône and/or good quality Aussie Shiraz, you must try Sonoma Coast Syrah. The similarities it has with Northern Rhône will surprise you. Not every Sonoma Coast producer makes Syrah but it is definitely a wine to keep a look out for.
Sadly these wines aren’t cheap. On the low end you can get something decent for $25 a bottle at the wine shop. Spend $50 or more and you could have an unforgettable wine. The key is finding the right producer. Some of these producers are so proud of their product that if the year is bad, not a lot of wine is produced by them. They either sell their lower quality grapes or make them into a cheaper wine. The last thing they would want to do is put out a bad wine. A short list of quality producers that would be a safe bet to buy from on a yearly basis are: Peay, Hirsch, Failla, Littorai, Lioco, Copain, Williams Selyem, Marcassin, Kistler and Martinelli. For Syrah, I would look no further than Peay or Failla. At Mike’s Wine Dive, Peay, Hirsch, Littorai, and Copain have been highlights on our list since we’ve been in business. In my next two posts I’ll have a review on two of my favorite producers I visited, Peay and Hirsch. Stay tuned.