Favorite Wines of 2019

by artfuldiner on January 11, 2020

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

Wine 3I tasted quite a number of excellent wines in 2019, the great majority of them very reasonably priced. And of the 30-plus vintages noted throughout the year, the ten (10) listed below – five (5) white; five (5) 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.

 

FAVORITE WHITE WINES:

 2017 Domaine André Bonhomme Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes (France): The Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes is produced exclusively from vines that are 75 to 90 years old. The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented on natural yeast. The wine is then matured for 29 months in a mix of stainless steel and oak barrels, 15% of which are new. The result is a Chardonnay that is luminous pale gold in color with hints of pear and pineapple on the nose. On the palate, this is a rich wine, creamy and expansive, with a voluptuous mouth feel and long, exotic finish. If tasted blind it might easily be mistaken for an infinitely more expensive Meursault or Puligny-Montrachet. Fortunately, however, it retails around the $32.00 mark.

 Demorgenzon Winery- DMZ Chard 20172017 DeMorgenzon DMZ Chardonnay (South Africa): The fruit for DMZ Chardonnay is selected from premium trellised parcels in South Africa’s Stellenbosch district at elevations of 100 to 200 meters above sea level. The cooling effects of the close proximity to the ocean, as well as the weathered granite and sandstone soils all contribute to the wine’s elegance, minerality, and fresh citrus character. Notwithstanding the heady 14% alcohol, this wine is extremely light on its feet. “A bright and bouncy style,” as the Wine Spectator describes it, bestowing 90-points. DMZ is DeMorgonzon’s value label, where the objective is to produce classic, elegant, well-balanced wines that overdeliver in terms of quality for price. For my money, the estate has more than delivered on its promise… An excellent Chard at a terrific price point: $15.00.

 2015 EnRoute Brumaire Chardonnay, Russian River Valley (California): Recently garnering a whopping 95-points (100-point scale) from the Wine Enthusiast, the 2015 is voluptuously rich yet lithe and velvety on the palate. There’s plenty of oak here, but it’s so beautifully balanced with fresh citrus nuances that you only sense succulence and complexity rather than heaviness. To quote Wilfred Wong of Wine.com: “This winery seems to be aiming to make the most traditional style Chardonnay with a decidedly Burgundian accent.” … And it is certainly succeeding. This wine normally retails around the $40.00 mark. However, when I snatched it up, it was a “Chairman’s Selection” and on sale in Pennsylvania for a mere $24.99. If not still available in PA, you can probably snare a few bottles online for about the same reduced price. A definite winner that is well worth seeking out.

2017 Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuissé (France): Maison Louis Latour is an important négociant-éléveur (A French wine merchant who buys grapes and vinifies them, or buys wines and blends them, bottles the result under his own label and ships them.) of red and white wines in Burgundy, France. Currently operated by the seventh Louis Latour, Louis-Fabrice Latour, the company has remained family-run since its foundation in 1797 and has built a reputation for tradition and innovation. The 2017 Louis Latour Pouilly-Fuissé stands out as one of the Winery’s best efforts in the Mâconnais, a wine region located in the south of Burgundy. The 2017 is an exceptional vintage. Wine critic Wilfred Wong of Wine.com bestowed 91-points and noted the wine as “flavorful and lasting.” It is also quite fragrant with a core of fruit and spices on the palate. Light, lithe, and easy to drink it is wonderful as an aperitif or with a variety of foods. The price isn’t bad either. Purchased at Pennsylvania State Stores at $24.99; online it goes for as low as $17.99.

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 20152017 Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (Walker Bay, South Africa): The wines of Hamilton Russell are widely regarded as the best in South Africa and among the best in the world. “We want to produce wines as Burgundian as possible here in South Africa – Wines from South African soil with a Burgundian soul,” notes owner Anthony Hamilton Russell. Their 2017 Chardonnay – rated #57 on the Wine Spectator “Top 100 of 2018” and receiving high marks from critics all around – is medium-bodied, beautifully textured, and seamless & elegant on the palate. Opulent notes of melon, apple, white peach, and quince all follow through to a fabulous finish. A class act. Retails around the $38.99 mark; purchased online from Saratoga Wine Exchange for $31.99.

 

FAVORITE RED WINES:

 2016 EnRoute Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Les Pommiers (California): This charming wine possesses all that oenophiles love about Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley: namely, luxurious aroma and ultra-rich texture. Generous red fruit flavors dance across the palate softened by elegant, silky tannins, while a mouthwatering acidity leads to a long and focused finish. And you won’t have to wait years or even months for this wine to come around… it’s irresistibly approachable at the present moment. Just pop the cork and have a go. On the other hand, given the superb structure and intensity, setting a few bottles aside in the cellar for five to ten years will also have its rewards. Available through Pennsylvania State Stores at $59.99, the high end of the retail scale, this wine is hardly a bargain. However, I’ve seen it offered online for as low as $29.99. So, this is one instance in which a little comparison shopping could save you a bundle.

 Portugal - Insurgente 20152015 Lua Cheia em Vinhas Velhas Insurgente (Portugal): Lu Cheia em Vinhas Velhas, which translates as “full moon in old vines,” is the joint project of three experienced Portuguese wine professionals, João Silva e Sousa, Francisco Baptista, and Manual Dias. Their 2015 Insurgente is a 50/50 blend of Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro, two grapes that are indigenous to Portugal. The grapes are from the Dão, one of the country’s most prominent wine regions, just south of the famous Douro Valley. In the glass, this wine dazzles the eye with its distinctive inky purple color. The aroma is intense and complex, a combo of ripe black fruits and spice. This is a juicy, full-bodied wine with plenty of acidity and velvety well-integrated tannins. And, unlike the hefty clout of many Cabernets, the Insurgente is rich, stylish, and rife with subtle nuances of taste and texture. Named a “Best Buy” in 2017 by Wine Enthusiast magazine, its $14.99 Pennsylvania price tag was a positive steal (even lower from sources online). An incredible wine at an absolutely incredible price point.

2017 Louis Latour Bourgogne Pinot Noir (France): Latour’s 2017 Bourgogne Pinot Noir is an intriguing wine for any number of reasons. I wasn’t terribly excited about it at first… but it does tend to grow on you. Light-bodied with fresh raspberries much in evidence on the palate, it goes down nice and easy… and even better with just a touch of chill. Food friendly to a fault, this is a wine that is eminently quaffable during any season of the year. But the best part is undoubtedly the price point. It was purchased on sale in Pennsylvania for $19.99, but I’ve seen it online for a mere $14.99. Quite a bargain, indeed.

2017 Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (Walker Bay, South Africa): The 2017 HR Pinot Noir, which was matured for 10 months in 37% new oak, is another marvelous effort from this extraordinary winery. It is a sleek, impeccably structured, and ethereally elegant wine. Jonathan Ray of Britain’s The Spectator, I believe, said it best: “Anthony HR makes famous ‘Burgundian’ Pinots but that’s not to say that they are simple imitations. There is a definite sense of place to these wines and the only place they could come from is the Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley, one of the sweetest of sweet spots for this capricious grape variety.” Retails at the $43.99 mark; purchased online from the Wine Library in Springfield, NJ for $29.99.

Zenato Winery - Alanera Rosso2013 Zenato Alanera Rosso Veronese (Italy): The 2013 Alanera is a blend of 55% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone, 5% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The word “Alanera” – Italian for “Crow” – refers to the black skin of the Corvina grape. This wine is produced in the appassimento style. This is a technique in which harvested grapes go through a drying process prior to fermentation, which influences the flavor and concentrates sugars in dried grapes. This results in flavor and mouthfeel alterations in the wines. As the sugar concentrates, through water evaporation, the wines produced may have a higher alcohol content. Flavors also become richer and bolder, adding complexity to still wines. These characteristics are clearly demonstrable in the 2013 Alanera, which is delightfully full-bodied with elegant and velvety tannins, a vibrant acidity, and a smooth and harmonious finish. Recently receiving a 91-point rating from wine writer James Suckling, the 2013 is an exceptional wine at an exceptional price. It normally retails at the $18.00 mark, but I’ve seen it on sale in PA State Stores for as low as $14.99.

 Cheers!

TAD

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