It may keep a lower profile than neighbouring Napa, but Denis Lin is enthralled by the dramatic scenery of Sonoma, and the distinctive complexity of its wines, on his first visit to this coastal paradise...
Top 10 Sonoma wines
Iron Horse Vineyards, Joy, Green Valley, Russian River Valley NV
Produced only in magnum and aged for 10 to 15 years on the yeast in the bottle, this is medium to deep yellow in colour with tiny bubbles. Yeasty, bready notes with a hint of floral scent. Creamy, round and complex. Enjoy for up to 15 years after release.
Price £115 (magnum) AWC Global
J Vineyards & Winery, Cuvée 20 Brut, Russian River Valley NV
Elegantly opens with fresh lemon peel, honeysuckle and autolysis aromas. Followed by a mix of apple and citrus notes with toast, caramel and almond flavours on the mid-palate. Lively acidity of citrus zest leads to a long, warm pear and lush aftertaste. Layers of depth and complexity.
Price £25 Solent Cellar
Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley 2012
A style very close to Burgundy. Abundant aromas of fresh apple and pear, laced with intriguing hints of lemon custard, flinty and a gentle touch of integrated vanilla and spices from French oak. The mid-palate is creamy and complete, with a firm acidity that carries through the persistent finish.
Price £30.98 Fine Wine Sellers
Paul Hobbs Winery, Crossbarn Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast 2012
Light yellow colour, with fresh green apple, pear and honeysuckle aromas. Defined lemon zest and pineapple notes, with orange marmalade and subtle oak flavoured finish.
Price £20.83-£25 Aged in Oak, Davis Bell McCraith
Ridge Vineyards, Geyserville Zinfandel, Sonoma County 2011
Nice mix of aromas and lovely, complex mix of sweetness and brambly freshness. The palate starts quite light, fills out in the middle with some sweet black fruits and ripe red fruits. The finish is long, herbal and spicy.
Price £23.76-£27.56 Fine & Rare, Justerini & Brooks, Lea & Sandeman, Swig, The Wine Society
Seghesio, Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma County 2011
Intense ruby red with bright highlights. On the nose, ripe red fruit, spices and green pepper, nutmeg and liquorice. Sweet, firm tannins deliver a streamlined body and structure. Warm, long finish.
Price £44.26 widely available via UK agent Liberty Wines
Kendall-Jackson, Jackson Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley 2007
Plenty of blackcurrant, with hints of roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate. It offers lushness on the mid-palate, opulent texture and elegantly balanced tannins.
Price £24.99 Edgmond Wines
Pedroncelli, Three Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley 2008
Generous aromas of ripe raspberry and cherry highlight this full flavoured red. Medium high acidity delivers elegance and freshness. Ripe plum, toasted oak notes and warm clove spice combine to round out the flavours. Firm tannins define the structure, which finishes long.
Price £10.13 Amathus Wines & Spirits
Ravenswood, Teldeschi Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley 2009
Intense ripe black and red berries on the nose. Rich flavours of blackberry jam, vanilla and smoke lead to a ripe, concentrated, long, fruity finish.
Price £25 We Are Wines
Siduri Wines, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2012
Medium intensity of ruby red colour. Fresh black fruit and subtle oak notes on the nose. On the palate, it shows bright red fruits and cherry flavour. Medium
body with fine tannins balanced with refreshing acidity.
Price N/A UK siduri.com