24 Bottles That Demonstrate the Variety and Bounty of American Wine

Celebrate the 2016 vintage with these (slightly) older whites and reds, varietals and blends

Celebrate with wine from Gloria Ferrer and L'Ecole No. 41. 

As the harvest of the 2016 vintage winds down to a close in vineyards from California to New York, Washington State to Virginia, we can celebrate it with recent releases from previous vintages.

Pour a glass, close your eyes, and imagine the smell of fermenting grapes from coast to coast.

Franciscan Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($13). Nice, tangy fruit, good acidity, and a taste of bitters around the edges, partly from the wine having additional skin contact — less common these days for white wines than it used to be — and moderate herbaceousness. Quite enjoyable.

Priest Ranch Napa Valley Grenache Blanc 2015 ($20). Lots of flavors of peach and apricot, white pepper, and light bitters with good finishing acidity.

Flora Springs Soliloquy Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($22). Full, very fruity, and a tad toward the sweet side with some savory notes.

Franciscan Equilibrium Napa Valley White  2015 ($23). Sauvignon blanc-dominated with minor amounts of chardonnay and muscat canelli, it’s a quite expressive wine with very good, lightly perfumed fruit, nice mouthfeel, and good structure.

Quivira “Fig Tree” Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($24). Very grassy and Marlborough-like in its lean structure and fruit-forward flavors.

Stinson Monticello Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($24). Lots of lime, yet not overly tart; crisp with medium body and good mineral notes.

Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay 2014 ($25). Rich and spicy with good flavors of crisp apple flesh and peel.

Bouchaine Napa Valley Pinot Gris 2015 ($30). Interesting savory flavors, though could be a bit livelier.

Treana Central Coast Blanc 2014 ($30). A blend of mostly viognier and marsanne, this is a lovely wine with tropical fruits, lots of vanilla and spices, and a long, lean finish.

Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Chardonnay 2014 ($35). A big wine with a fair amount of wood, if a little short on charm.

Michael Mondavi Family “Animo” Heritage Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($65). The best Napa sauvignon blanc I’ve tasted in a long time — a delicious combination of floral and herbal flavors that is full-bodied and well-structured; for sipping or with heavier fish and poultry dishes.

Stinson Virginia Cabernet Franc 2014 ($25). Well-balanced with bright cherry fruit and some creaminess.

Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir 2013 ($27). Medium body, good balance with warm, rooty, spicy flavors.

Michael Mondavi Family “Emblem” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($35). A softer cab with mulberry and muddled fruit flavors along with distinct dusty tannins — not the typical Napa cab profile.

Stinson Monticello Tannat 2013 ($36). Tannat generally has bitter edges — part of its attraction — and here they are met with lively red fruits and food-loving acidity.

L’Ecole No. 41 Estate Walla Walla Valley Merlot 2013 ($38). A lot like a St-Émilion, moderately full, and very smooth and mellow with light cherries and a hint of cream.

Bouchaine “Swan Clone” Napa Valley Merlot 2014 ($40). Well-balanced with rich cherry fruit, dusty tannins, and some savory notes.

Flora Springs “Halloween Label” Napa Valley Red 2013 ($40). Quite nice once it gets a little air — red and dark cherries as well as plums, some chocolate, and some cream.

Trefethen Oak Knoll Merlot 2013 ($40). A nice offering with dark cherry flavor, notes of mature oak, and good firm tannins.

Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir 2014 ($45). Ripe yet tart cherry flavor with some cola and rooty notes.

Long Shadows “Pedestal” Columbia Valley Merlot 2013 ($57). A big wine with nice dark berry and powdery chocolate flavors, granular texture, well-integrated tannins, and some finishing savory notes.

SLO Down “Love Hammer” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($59). One of those wines where the dark fruit turns into chocolate; a little tangy with noticeable tannins — the kind of rustic wine you could fall in lust with.

Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Merlot 2013 ($84). Tangy, but a large, voluptuous wine with lots of a dark fruits and hints of chocolate; probably a better sip-and-savor than a pure food wine.


Wayfarer Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir 2014 ($88). The emphasis here is on the ripe fruit — full-bodied cherries that are almost plumy — with good woody flavors.