Favorite Wines of 2017

by artfuldiner on January 2, 2018

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Artful Diner Review, Opinion, Wine

Wine 3I tasted quite a number of excellent wines in 2017. And of the more than forty (40) vintages noted throughout the year, the eight (8) listed below – four (4) white; four (4) red – are particularly recommended.

Please note that prices quoted are approximate, depending upon where the wines are purchased; and, of course, all are subject to change. The prices in states other than Pennsylvania can vary significantly from retailer to retailer. So it would certainly be to your advantage to spend some time surfing online for the best deals.


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2015 Abbazia di Novacella Grüner Veltliner (Italy): The Abbazia di Novacella, located 52 miles south of Innsbruck, Austria, is one of the most important religious and cultural centers of central Europe. It is also one of the oldest wineries in the world, established in 1142 by Augustinian monks. Despite its long history, the abbey’s winemaking facilities are state-of-the-art and their wine production consistently world class. One of the abbey’s wines you will definitely want to check out is the 2015 Grüner Veltliner. A relatively new wine to the American wine-drinking scene, Grüner, as it is sometimes colloquially known, is quickly growing in popularity. A peppery, dry white wine that is known for its flavors of lemon, lime and grapefruit, Grüner is the perfect match for almost any cuisine; and, like Chardonnay and Riesling, ages extremely well. The 2015 Abbazia di Novacella Grüner Veltliner, which recently received 90 points (100-point scale) from the Wine Enthusiast, is available at Pennsylvania State Stores for $19.99.

2015 Anselmi Veneto White San Vincenzo (Italy): With regard to wine-making, Roberto Anselmi has always taken the quality-minded approach, beginning in the vineyard and extending into the wine cellar. His emphasis upon pronounced aromatics and clean, modern winemaking techniques mark him as an early leader in northern Italy’s quality revolution of the past 20 years. Mr. Anselmi was also the first winemaker in Italy to utilize French oak to ferment and mature his white wines. Creamy, and full & overflowing with character, the 2015 San Vincenzo is a palate-pleasing combo of 80% Garganega blended with 10% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. Beguilingly unique, the wine is beautifully balanced with refreshing acidity and a modest 12.5% alcohol. The Wine Spectator bestowed 90 points and placed it at number 60 on its “Top 100 Wines of 2016.” Listed at $18.00; but I’ve seen it offered online in the $12.00 – $14.00 range.

Boutari Winery2015 Boutari Moschofilero (Greece): Moschofilero (Mos-ko-FEE-ler-o) is an exotic, intensely aromatic white wine with rose and violet undertones and fresh, balancing acidity. A longtime champion and pioneer of Moschofilero (and responsible for most of its popularity in Greece), the Boutari Winery (pictured) has actively promoted the wine as an affordable discovery, especially for consumers new to Greek wines. The Boutari Moschofilero is a perennial favorite among wine lovers, garnering 90 point scores from both the Wine Spectator and the Wine Enthusiast for several years running. The 2015 Moschofilero exhibits floral notes on the nose and is marvelously crisp and light on the palate, weighing in at a mere 11% alcohol. Fabulous as an aperitif and perfect for warm weather quaffing, the 2015 Boutari Moschofilero is available through Pennsylvania State Stores for $15.99 and online for as low as $10.95 (plus shipping). A marvelous wine at a terrific price point.

2014 Ridge Estate Chardonnay (California): Founded in the early 1960s, specializing in premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay, Ridge Vineyards produces wines at two locations in northern California. The original winery is located on Monte Bello Ridge in Santa Clara County. The other Ridge facilities are at Lytton Springs in the Dry Creek Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) of Sonoma County. Although more famous for its red wines, the 2014 Ridge Estate Chardonnay has quite a following of its own, recently garnering 95 points from Decanter and 93 points from the Wine Spectator and Antonio Galloni. The 2014 is complex, intense, and beautifully textured, reminiscent of a fine white Burgundy. There’s a touch of oak; but that quickly gives way to the more interesting elements of fruit and spice. A simply fabulous wine; and a relative steal in the $45.00 – $50.00 range. Available through Pennsylvania State Stores at $49.99.



M. Chapoutier Bila-Haut2015 M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut (France): Maison M. Chapoutier is a winery and négociant (wine merchant) situated in Tain-l’Hermitage in the Rhône region of southern France. Chapoutier wines are highly regarded, as are their distinctive wine labels, which have included Braille writing since 1996. While the 2015 Côtes du Roussillon-Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut is the estate’s entry level wine, the quality is incredible, especially considering the price point. Comprised of 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 10% Carignan from a mix of the winery’s terroirs, the 2015 is aged in concrete tanks and stainless steel. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate bestowed a whopping 93 points and described the wine as “thick, unctuous and luxuriously textured… the greatest vintage of this cuvee to date.” An incredible wine at an incredible price… Available at $12.99 per bottle through the Pennsylvania State Stores.

2010 Cune Rioja Gran Reserva (Spain): Brothers Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asúa founded Cune Winery in 1879. Today the fifth generation of ownership produces a broad range of high quality, traditionally styled wines – including the Wine Spectator’s 2013 Wine of the Year, the Imperial Gran Reserva 2004. The 2010 Cune Gran Reserva, which matured in a combination of French and American Oak for two years and in the bottle for three years, is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo. This is a generous, full-bodied wine with firm tannins and an interesting balsamic acidity. There is also great depth here, culminating in a juicy and spicy finish. Rated 94 and ranked number 22 on the Wine Spectator “Top 100 Wines of 2016.” Priced at $33.00 and purchased at the State Store in Devon, Pennsylvania.

Chateau Ste. Michelle - Indian Wells Merlot 20142014 Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot (Washington State): Located in Windinville, 15 miles northeast of Seattle, Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington State’s oldest winery. Founded in 1967, and now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the winery’s roots actually stretch back to the time of the repeal of Prohibition. The expansive estate hosts more than 250,000 visitors annually for tours, tastings, dinners, and outdoor summer concerts. My wife and I visited the winery several years ago; and we were quite impressed with both the setting and the production facilities. While I have never been a particularly enthusiastic fan of Merlot, the 2014 Indian Wells isn’t your usual Cabernet wannabe. Rather, it is a blend of 86% Merlot and 14% Syrah. And it is the presence of the Syrah that significantly enhances the wine’s body, mouthfeel, and rich character – and it’s a good deal less expensive than the winery’s Cabernets. It is listed around $16.00 mark… a few dollars less if purchased online.

2014 Falesco Vitiano Rosso (Italy): Falesco is a winery and vineyard established in Montefiascone, Italy, in 1979. The estate straddles the border of Lazio and Umbria, about 50 miles north of Rome. The winery’s annual production is almost 3 million bottles. It is known for its high quality red wines like the flagship Montiano and the everyday Vitiano. The 2014 Vitiano Rosso is a blend of equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese. It is fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged in French oak barrels for three months before being bottled. The result is a delicious, youthful, food-friendly red at an unbelievable price point. The 2014 Vitiano Rosso, which recently received 91 points from wine writer James Suckling, is available at Pennsylvania State Stores for a mere $10.00 per bottle (somewhat less if ordered from other sources online). An incredible bargain!



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