Excerpts from Wine’s Top 100s

by artfuldiner on April 17, 2020

in Artful Diner Mini Review, Opinion, Wine

Earlier this year, as is their custom, both the Wine Spectator and the Wine Enthusiast published their Top 100 Wines of 2019. In case you missed these highly anticipated events, or don’t subscribe to either periodical, I’ve listed just the top ten from each magazine…

Wine Spectator Wine of Year 2019Top Ten Wines of 2019, Wine Spectator: 1) Château Léoville Barton St. Julien 2016, Bordeaux, France, $98.00… 2) Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder 2015, California, $125.00… 3) San Giusto A Rentennano Chianti Classico 2016, Italy, $36.00… 4) Groth Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Reserve 2016, California, $150.00… 5) Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley L’Ermitage 2012, California, $48.00… 6) Château De Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2016, France, $107.00… 7) Ramey Chardonnay Napa Valley Carneros Hyde Vineyard 2016, California, $65.00… 8) Château Pichon Baron Pauillac 2016, Bordeaux, France, $176.00… 9) Penfolds Shiraz Barossa Valley RWT Bin 798 2017, Australia, $150.00… 10) Viña Almaviva Puente Alto 2016, Chile, $130.00

Wine Enthusiast wine of year 2019Top Ten Wines of 2019, Wine Enthusiast: 1) Nino Franco NV Rustico Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Italy, $20.00… 2) Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Sonoma County 2017, California, $39.00… 3) Domaine de la Janasse Vieilles Vignes Red 2016, France, $114.00… 4) Grosset Polish Hill Riesling Clare Valley 2018, Australia, $52.00… 5) CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2011, Spain, $88.00… 6) Adriano Marco & Vittorlo Basarin Barbaresco 2016, Italy, $29.00… 7) Massican Annia White Napa Valley 2018, California, $30.00… 8) Quinta do Vale Meão Douro Red 2016, Portugal, $99.00… 9) Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Auslese Grosse Lage Mosel 2017, Germany, $44.00… 10) Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2017, California, $50.00

As you undoubtedly noticed, these wines tend to be somewhat expensive, especially those noted in the Wine Spectator. In addition, it is not unusual for many of these wines, especially the more highly-rated varietals, to be difficult to find, in extremely short supply, or simply unavailable.

I’ve sifted through the lists in both magazines and come up with several from each that I think will have a wide appeal, will be readily available, and also be more reasonably priced…


Wine Spectator Top 100 2019Suggestions from the Wine Spectator

Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2016, Italy, Number 54, $30: I’ve tasted several vintages of this particular wine, and it is consistently excellent. This is the estate’s entry level Vino Nobile, produced mostly from Sangiovese blended with smaller portions of Colorino, Canaiolo, and Merlot. The wine is aged in a variety of oak casks for 18 months. 16,000 cases made.

Cambria Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley Katherine’s Vineyard 2017, California, Number 61, $22: Jess Jackson’s widow, Barbara Banke, and his daughters, Katie Jackson and Julia Jackson, are the proprietors of this Santa Maria estate. The wine is aged in 15% new French oak, which retains the fresh fruit and minerality but also bestows a rich, creamy texture. A marvelous wine at a great price point. 40,000 cases made.

Tania & Vincent Carême Terre Brûlée Le Blanc Swartland 2018, South Africa, Number 65, $16: Vincent Carême hails from the Village of Vouvray in France’s Loire Valley, the spiritual home of the Chenin Blanc grape. However, South Africa continues to make some of the finest Chenin Blanc in the world… and at a fraction of Vouvray prices. Volumes in 2018 were the lowest since 2005 because of drought, but the wine shows marvelous balance and great complexity. A steal at approximately $16 per bottle. 2,200 cases imported.

Planeta Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2017, Sicily, Italy, Number 83, $24: The Planeta Winery helped put Sicily on the world wine map in the 1990s. Their Vittoria winery, located on the southern coast of Sicily, is one of the six properties spread across the island. The 2017 Cerasuolo is a 60-40 blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato. 8,000 cases made.

Cantina Terlano Pinot Grigio Alto Adige Tradition 2018, Italy, Number 87, $25: Northern Italy’s Cantina Terlano is a cooperative that consistently produces a high-quality range of more than 20 different bottlings each vintage. The co-op comprises more than 10 grape growers farming about 400 acres of vineyards in the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains. This entry level wine is enriched by blending a variety of fruit sources and six months’ aging on the lees. 9,167 cases made.


Wine Enthusiast Top 100 2019Suggestions from the Wine Enthusiast

 Elena Walch Vigna Castel Ringberg Pinot Grigio Alto Adige 2017, Italy, Number 41, $28: The philosophy of her wine estate is dedicated to its Terroir – the idea that wines must be the individual expression of their soil, climate, and cultivation in the vineyard. I’ve sampled numerous wines from this extremely reliable producer and all have been top-notch. This is an elegant Pinot Grigio with fresh acidity and rich flavors. A winner in every respect. An Editors’ Choice selection.

Elk Cove Estate Pinot Blanc Willamette Valley 2018, Oregon, Number 57, $19: Founded by Pat and Joe Campbell in 1974, Elk Cove Vineyards is one of Oregon’s historic family-owned wineries. Tucked into the foothills of the Coast Range Mountains, the tasting room offers spectacular views of the surrounding vineyards. Second-generation winemaker Adam Campbell produces excellent single vineyard Pinot Noirs as well as aromatic Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Riesling. The Estate’s 2018 Pinot Blanc is juicy and succulent offering up intense flavors of lime, grapefruit, and apple. An attractive wine at an extremely attractive price.

Léon Beyer Gewürztraminer Alsace 2017, France, Number 66, $28: Léon Beyer is one of the oldest Alsatian family owned estates, founded in 1580. Owner Marc Beyer, 13th generation along with his son, Yann Léon, and a team of twenty members run the day-to-day operation of the Estate. The farming is sustainable; and the winemaking is traditional with the use of modern techniques. The 2017 Gewürztraminer is rife with pear, peach, and lemon aromas; and the palate, juicy but light, moves to a refreshingly dry lemony finish.

Raats Family Old Vine Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2017, South Africa, Number 67, $25: Raats Family Wines are specialists in the crafting of exceptional wines from Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Located in the Stellenbosch area east of Cape Town, the wines are produced from old vineyards and have earned an international reputation for quality. Their 2017 Chenin Blanc is a benchmark wine dominated by a fleshy and generous mouthfeel with hints lemon and orange. A marvelous Chenin Blanc that is well worth seeking out.

Sebastiani Merlot North Coast 2016, California, Number 71, $18: Samuele Sebastiani, a laborer from Tuscany, came to America in 1904 and began making wine in Sonoma. He built the business from one 501-gallon redwood vat to an operation of millions of bottles per year with multiple varietals. His grandchildren could not agree on the future of the business and sold the winery to the Foley Wine Group of Los Olivos, Santa Barbara County, in 2008. The 2016 Merlot is an indication that the winery has maintained its tradition of excellence…. This is a well-balanced, concentrated, full-bodied wine with a core of ripe black fruit and firm tannins. A solid wine at an appealing price point. An Editors’ Choice selection.


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