When students ask me where they should visit when traveling to Napa Valley, I’ll rattle off a few wineries. If someone asks me if they should go to Sonoma or Napa, I’ll always lead them towards the former. Take Robert Young winery. The winery is a barn, and the family lives in the farmhouse next door. It’s humble in a way great wine and the vino aristocracy often are, untainted by the glamour and dollar-dollar bills of Napa.
The Youngs are a five-generation family of farmers, some of the founding pioneers of this corner of Sonoma, the Alexander Valley. Their 200-plus acre farm was founded in the mid-1800s. They grew plums and raised cattle, among other things.
They were really good farmers. By their third generation, Rober Ashly Young was considered one of the best– if not the best– farmer in Sonoma. In the 1960’s, a few county-wide officials encouraged him into becoming a grape farmer. He did, and his work in those formative years changed winegrowing. He planted Cabernet Sauvignon in 1963 and hired Richard Arrowood to be his winemaker. The quality of his wines prompted a wholesale upgrade in the reputation of Sonoma wines.
Let’s talk about this wine, which is sourced from the original vines planted by Mr. Young.
This is a classic. Aromas of Earl Grey tea and hibiscus are balanced with fresh mint and tobacco. The wine is rich and voluptuous, but that is just a framework. Flavors of sun-dried plum and fresh red fruit are accented by cedar and allspice. The finish moved toward chocolate and allspice but then rises into espresso and raspberry.