Favorite Wines of 2018

by artfuldiner on January 2, 2019

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Wine, Wining and Dining

Wine 3I tasted quite a number of excellent wines in 2018. And of the more than forty (40) vintages noted throughout the year, the eleven (11) listed below – five (5) white; five (5) red; one (1) Rosé – 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.


2017 Adegas Gran Vinum Nessa Albariño (Spain): Over the past 15 years, Albariño has blossomed into Spain’s most notable white wine and has become exceedingly popular with American wine lovers. One of the consequences of Albariño’s increased popularity is the fact that it is becoming more and more difficult to lay your hands on an acceptable moderately priced bottle. Fortunately, the 2017 Nessa Albariño is a marvelous exception to the general rule. This lovely wine is rife with subtle floral aromas that lead to ripe peach flavors and an incredibly satisfying citrus acidity. The best part, of course, is the reasonable price tag. The 2017 Nessa Albariño is available through Pennsylvania State Stores for a modest $16.99.

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2014 DeMorgenzon “Maestro” (South Africa): “Maestro” is an interesting blend of 26% Roussanne, 25% Chardonnay, 19% Grenache Blanc, 17% Chenin Blanc, and 13% Viognier. Some might call it a “kitchen sink” blend… but the varietals work marvelously well together. This is a delightfully complex and layered wine that offers both weight and elegance with a smooth texture and ripe fruit flavors that are kept in balance via a heady dose of acidity. A soft, flinty character and sweet-spice accents at the finish add to the pleasing texture. 92 points and an “Editors’ Choice” designation from the Wine Enthusiast. $24.99 through PA State Stores.

2014 Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet Les Embazées (France): The 2014 Les Embazées, which received 92-94 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, is simply a fabulous vintage. The eleven (11) months spent in oak before bottling account for its delightful complexity. And, in contrast to many ponderous California Chardonnays, it possesses body… but seemingly without weight. It is fresh and vibrant on the palate with a wonderful depth of citrus & spice and a long, lingering finish. Even at its current price point – approximately $100.00 – given its incredible quality, it is still something of a bargain. If you are a lover of fine white Burgundies, this wine is something of a must.

2017 Ken Forrester “Petite” Chenin Blanc (South Africa): The spiritual home of the Chenin Blanc grape is the Loire Valley, France. Today, however, 50% of the world’s Chenin Blanc is produced in South Africa. It is a versatile varietal and produces everything from fresh and fruity wines and sparkling tipples to serious rich and luscious desert wines with several decades of aging potential. Wine producer Ken Forrester is affectionately known as “Mr. Chenin Blanc.” His most accessible wine would undoubtedly be his Chenin Blanc Western Cape Petit. And the 2017 vintage is certainly one of the best – and reasonably priced – examples of what Chenin Blanc is capable of. The wine is absolutely exhilarating, rife with refreshing hints of melon & grapefruit that continue to tantalize through to the lively finish. And don’t fret if you can’t find the 2017, as the 2016 Petit is every bit its equal.

Walch, Elena Kristallberg Pinot Bianco2016 Elena Walch “Kristallberg” Pinot Bianco (Italy): A leading wine estate in the Alto Adige region, Elena Walch is also considered one of the finest in Italy. The philosophy of her wine estate is dedicated to terroir – the idea that wines must be the individual expression of their soil, climate, and cultivation in the vineyard – and her wines continue to demonstrate great character, elegance and personality. Her 2016 Pinot Bianco is a special wine, as the grapes are sourced from the estate’s most recent purchase the “Kristallberg” vineyard. This is a lovely, irresistibly quaffable vintage that is especially attractive during the summer months. It has a soft, slightly creamy texture that is beautifully balanced with a crisp acidity and long finish. A delightful wine at a great price point. Available through PA State Stores at $21.99.



2017 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé (South Africa): This distinctive Rosé is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, which gives it a good deal more body and flavor than most Rosés. Even people who aren’t particularly fond of Rosé wines – like this writer – will find this vintage thoroughly enjoyable. Ninety-five percent of the grapes are picked early and only spend time on the skins as they go through the press. The other five percent are picked when the grapes are riper, which adds additional sweetness to the wine. The color is a vibrant cotton candy pink; the nose rife with berry and cherry aromas; and the palate is delightfully crisp and refreshing with a lively acidity. The 2017 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé is a wine well worth seeking out, as it is priced at a mere $13.99 in Pennsylvania State Stores (a few dollars less online).



2013 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre (Italy): Through the years, Palazzo della Torre has always been one of my favorite Italian red wines. A food-friendly blend of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese, the 2013 is dark and thick in appearance, and the nose exhibits a good deal of power. On the palate, there are waves of ripe fruit and hints of cedar. The wine is medium to full bodied and beautifully balanced. It garnered 92 points (100-point scale) from wine writer James Suckling, who called it “gorgeous.” The best part, of course, is the price… $19.99 when purchased through Pennsylvania State Stores.

BV Tapestry Reserve 20142014 Beaulieu Vineyard BV Reserve Tapestry (California): The Reserve Tapestry is a Bordeaux-like blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and an 11% combo of Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. There are whiffs of crème de cassis and chocolate on the nose. The palate, on the other hand, is rich and velvety with a long spicy finish. This is an incredibly enjoyable medium-bodied wine that goes down as smooth silk. James Suckling bestowed a whopping 95 points on this hedonistically bewitching beauty; and just one sip and you’ll understand why. It normally retails in the $50.00 to $60.00 range; however, it is $39.99 per bottle when purchased online from www.garyswine.com.

2015 Domaine Lafage “Bastide Miraflors” Vieilles Vignes (France): This wine, as they say, is almost too good to be true. A provocative blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache, the 2015 is rich, ripe, and downright sexy. The color is deep purple with aromas of black fruit and chocolate. This is a deep and luscious wine, seamless and silky, that continues to evolve in the glass. I’ve also tasted the 2013 and 2014 Bastide Miraflors and both are excellent… but the 2015 beats them all. It received 94 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, which deemed it a “sensational value that needs to be tasted to be believed.” The price…? A mere $12.99 when purchased online from www.garyswine.com.

L'Ecole - Cabernet2014 L’Ecole No 41 Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington State): A third-generation family-owned artisan winery located in the historic Frenchtown School depicted on their label, L’Ecole No 41 was founded in 1983 in Walla Walla Valley. Their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon clearly demonstrates why the estate continues to be one of the most respected and honored wineries in Washington State. This is a heady yet elegant Old World-style Cabernet that is blended from multiple sources. There’s a great deal of sweet ripe fruit here, along with a healthy dose of oak aromas and flavors in the background. On all accounts, an excellent wine. Normally retailing around the $40.00 mark, PA State Stores currently have it on sale for $24.99.

2014 Ridge Vineyards “Three Valleys” Sonoma County (California): One of my favorite wines year after year, the 2014 Three Valleys is Ridge’s entry-level Zinfandel-based red wine. A blend of 65% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, 14% Carignane, and 4% Grenache, this is a value-priced red wine that should be enjoyed while it is young and vibrant. There are very nice floral notes here, as well as a splash of spiciness at the finish. 89 points from the Wine Advocate; $24.99 when purchased through Pennsylvania State Stores.



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