2016 Arrowood Sonoma Estates Cabernet
Napa Valley is the undisputed King of American Cabernets.
But it wasn’t always, and in fact, historically, there have been many other valleys – Sonoma, Livermore, Santa Clara – that could’ve laid claim to being the King of Cabernet. And it’s worth exploring just a little bit because Napa’s full-bodied powerhouse style of Cabernet is possible to achieve elsewhere, at half the price.
So, let’s got over the Mayacamas Mountains and head into one of my favorite places for Cabernet – Sonoma.
I am not the first person to notice the greatness of Sonoma Cabernet. As far back as 1880, German immigrants planted this mountain with vines. These old vines are unique, so much so that UC Davis designated them with their own genotype. Compare this to Napa, where Cabernet vines are never old because of production schedules. Or compare this to Bordeaux, where average vine age for First Growth wine is a mere 25 years. Only in Sonoma do you get the depth of character that nearly half century old Cabernet vines give.
Here, our example today is Arrowood. Founded in 1986 this historic estate is 100% Sonoma, 100% organic, and 100% within the Sonoma Valley sub-AVA. This valley creates a unique micro-climate that is perfect for Cabernet. It’s warmer than the rest of the valley because of thermal updrafts and being situated above the fog line. This results in more concentrated Cabernet with a powerful backbone and musculature. But it’s also planted purely facing east, where only the morning sun strikes the fruit, avoiding the burning afternoon sun. The result is a cool-berry fruit character, with blue and black fruits showing on the palate. And with the 2016 vintage, this Cabernet totally delivers:
It is a sumptuous, richly textured, fully concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon that hits all the sweet spots on the palate and puts the olfactory senses into overdrive. Black and blueberries infused with chocolate and espresso; cassis, kirsch, vanilla and dried fig all explode from the glass. Flawlessly full-bodied, with massive yet elegant tannins where nothing is out of balance, this is compelling, irresistible Cabernet.
None other than Robert Parker once stated that Sonoma Valley “is proven to be one of the finest sources for Cabernet in California.” This, the 2016 vintage, is a historic effort that showcases Sonoma’s greatness.
Not only does Sonoma deliver on Napa’s full-bodied powerhouse style of Cabernet at half the price, but it offers even more – complexity, power, and rich depth of character.