Is the Napa/Sonoma 2007 Vintage Overrated?

Having just gotten back from a Napa/Sonoma trip, speaking to a handful of winemakers, and admittedly only tasting a handful of 05/06 versus 07s my thesis is that critics and the mass market are a lot higher on these 07 wines than the winemakers actually are for their own palates. They seemed excited that there was less variability and would be easier to market, but several indicated that the 07s were plush, but a bit non-descript at this point. I had some excellent 2006s, but it was definitely hit or miss. The 05s still out there were great. Is 2007 like 1997? What vintage would be comparable? Any thoughts?

Rich, I have had some 06s and 05s that will be pretty hard to beat myself. Interesting topic. Time will tell, and time does not live in Monkton, last I checked.


This summer, when I was able to sample some '07’s from the barrel, I, too, was quite excited. The few that have been bottled, however, are, as you say, perhaps a bit nondescript. The '06’s are coming through as a HUGE tannic wine, with structure to spare, and big fruit, so it might seem that the '06’s will be better than anticipated.

I noticed when the '07’s started to be bottled how the winemakers all starting saying ‘08 will be even better!!’ - I found that odd.

I am with Mike, we will all really know in 10-15 years. Right now, across the board, I much prefer 1996 Napa Cab to 1997.

Amen! +1

I remember Roy Piper saying that he thought the 07’s were closing up. That would make sence to me, in the normal progression of things.

I personally like the '95s better than the '96s and '97s.

While I can think of some 1995 exceptions for me 1996 is the current best of that 3-year run of Napa Cabs.

Philip - I can only regurgitate what a few Napa producers and ITB folks who have had 07 “cult” wines have told me and that is they think the best 2007 wines are 8-15 years to maturity.

I am by no means an expert and it is a small sample but tasted head to head I thought the 2007s blew away the 2006s about 3 months ago. Wines tasted were :

Rober Foley Claret
Chappelett Signature
A couple other Pinots and Cabs i tend to be forgetting.

Really it is fruit vs earth and what you prefer. 07s are much more fruit forward. The comments I have heard from experts are that 07s will be better at peak but 06s will last much longer. So once again - really a preference.

That’s a pretty good summary for me too. The handful of 2007s seemed distinctly fruit forward and not precise(Pinot overall, Carneros, Napa, Sonoma). One example off the top of my head, the 2006 Barnett Cabernet Spring Mountain versus the 2007 Barnett Rattlesnake top bottling. The 2006 was clasically styled with some old world sensibility. The 2007 was a sexy fruit bomb and got a RP 95. That said, some of the 2006 Sonoma cabs, I wasn’t overly fond of at their price point(Audelssa Mountain Terraces($90?), Sojourn Reserve($75) where the 05s were much better, Sbragia Wall, etc) while others I did enjoy, like the 2006 Sbragia Monte Rosso and Rancho Del Oso and the 2005 Sojourn Reserve Cab and the 2006 Gargiulos. A barrel tasting of a lot of 2007s last year(still needing more oak time) indicated more(but certainly not all) wines were plush fruit bombs than not, but I am no expert in the development from barrel to bottle and when it closes down. Time shall tell.

I think what often gets forgotten when talking about vintages in California and especially in Napa I think is that nearly every vintage here is a good one. They tend to range from good to excellent. Even a lot of '98’s, which was supposedly a poor vintage, turned out to be damn nice if not long term wines for aging. While 07 might be considered very good or even excellent in some areas that’s still only a step above 05 and 06.

This of course is before we even get to wine making and varietal differences.

Nail on the head with this one…
even in 08 with all the Frost issues etc…I saw some amazing fruit get processed that year from a number of producers…even with a less than desirable year (don’t forget about the harvest time rains we had in Napa/sonoma and north coast in 09!) we have so many options and magic tricks at our disposal in the vineyard and winery that the damage is not nearly as drastic as say a tragic year in the medoc…I’m not saying we don’t have issues certain years I just mean to say that the same amount of importance should not be put on particular vintages in Napa/sonoma as compared to bordeaux etc…

2005 has been a really excellent vintage for my palate.

I remember hearing the same thing 10-15 years ago.

I would say 2007 is certainly a great vintage in Sonoma and some real standout wines were made.

Keep in mind that just because a lot of wines have been made and are being made that won’t age well, that doesn’t mean you did or didn’t have a good vintage, it just means you made wines that didn’t age. Whether that is a problem or not is yet another separate discussion.

For us at Rhys, the 07 Falstaff is arguably the best Alesia wine we’ve made.