NAPA VINTAGE GUIDE
Click on each vintage to see what we currently have in stock on our main website:
2017 - The October wildfires in Napa Valley dominated the headlines, but the vintage has much offer if you know where to look. The season began in winter with quite a bit of rain, breaking a four-year drought. Spring and summer were warm to hot with 120 degrees reached around Labor Day. This heat actually enabled growers to pick slightly earlier than normal, so most of the harvest was in by the time wildfires started on October 8. Most producers that harvested after the fires started will be monitoring their wine for smoke taint and some will not bottle certain lots that they think might be affected. The wildfires aside, 2017 was a strong vintage that benefited from lack of drought and good temperatures.
2016 - It’s still early days in the lifetime of the 2016s but already they are starting to show some super star qualities. The long drought in California finally broke at least a little and the wines seem to have a “hydrated” feel to them, a freshness or “juiciness” to the fruit profile after many hot, dry years back to back. After early bud-break and a warm start, the later part of the growing season was cooler than average and harvest was punctuated with some moderate rain events. Aromatics are bright and higher toned than 2014/15. Alcohol looks to be lower across the board. Though the 2016s don’t seem to show as much concentration as some recent vintages - I love the brightness and drinkability. I also think the relatively cool season and higher acidities will ensure these wines age well despite not being hugely tannic wines.
2015 - Another fantastic, high quality vintage with ripe , concentrated wines. The only real issue with 2015 is that there wasn’t much of it. The combination of many years of drought and unsettled weather during flowering meant that yields were painfully low…some winemakers reporting 30-50% lower yields than average. Small clusters and berries reported across the region means many wines have robust structure and a saturated fruit profile.
2014 - Following up on a vintage like 2013 is nearly impossible. 2014 will just have to settle for being really, really good instead of legendary. Other old world regions would love to have these kind of problems. The wines are bright, vibrant, and relatively accessible at a young age but the structure to age is certainly there. While many try to liken it to ’12 or ’13 because they’re fresh in our minds, it deserves its own space and will reward those looking for a very solid vintage from Napa.
2013 - There may never be enough superlatives to describe the heights of 2013 in Napa. Called a “vintage of a generation” by Galloni and Parker dubbing it the best in his 37-year career, it is a vintage of across the board quality where structure, ageworthiness, complexity, and concentration are the names of the game. Top to bottom it is a vintage of absolute classics. If there was a downside, it would be that they might take a while to reach their full potential, but perhaps that should be said with any vintage of this stature.
2012 - The first of the drought vintages in California (’12 through ’16), the 2012s quickly laid claim to the best vintage since 2007 and rightfully so at the time. Rich, hedonistic, and vibrant wines, they were a complete 180 from the challenging ‘11s and cool-weather ‘10s. There is no doubt they are big wines, but they are often stunning just for that reason, and in a style that is very easy to enjoy. This also led to across the board quality for most estates, so the values are just as exciting as the flagship wines in many cases.
2011 - Cold, rainy conditions led to a very focused, cool, Bordeaux-like vintage for Napa. It is a wonderful counterpoint for the big, flashy vintages but a challenge nonetheless. Some of the mountain sites were quietly very successful and the vintage is often priced to move, so the savvy buyer can still find some wonderful, thrilling wines…even if the vintage isn’t as acclaimed top-to-bottom.
2010 - A vintage of contrasts, it was an extremely cool but even season until late summer when temperatures jumped and the heat arrived. The result is more often than not wines with terrific structure and definition that will demand patience. More of a classic style, it is not the up-front version of Napa that some love, but qualitatively it is up there with the great vintages. Very unique in these characteristics, many folks will love the definition and detail of these wines.
2009 - An aromatic and perfumed complexity are the signatures of the 2009s, and the style is more immediate. The best of the wines will be ready to enjoy at a relatively young age which has many describing the vintage as “charming.” The entire season came down to heavy rains in October which forced the hands of many producers to harvest beforehand, but the raw materials were strong and the wines often turned out to be very strong renditions.
2008 - Bordeaux varietals are considered one of the biggest successes in an vintage that seemed to throw everything it had at Northern California between early season frost and heat spikes. The wines themselves seem to show a bit of both—some intensely rich and big wines that navigated the heat, and some vibrant/restrained wines that highlight the low yields. A solid vintage, but hard to generalize for Napa in ’08.
2007 - Often considered among Napa’s great vintages and the best since ’01 and ’02 before it, 2007 is celebrated for the consistent high quality across varietals and price-points, with wines that are approachable young and will also age without issue. A ripe vintage for sure, but classically Napa and undeniably a great year for Bordeaux varietals. 2007 is full of wines that are easy to enjoy and have been coveted by collectors since release.