Most Exciting Wines of 2017
It was my pleasure to taste hundreds of wines during 2017. Of the many outstanding samples these stood out as exemplary. They may not have been the most expensive, the highest rated by critics, the oldest, or the rarest, but each had something uniquely exciting about it.
Some of these wines are easy to find, some are priced that make them easily attainable, others are quite expensive, some were rare gems from the cellars of friends. But in each case these are wines that showed me something uniquely special that made memorable to me.
Presented in chronological order of when I sampled each.
1. 2015 Louis Jadot Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru (Sample from Barrel) $240: The earthy nose screams "YES! Burgundy!" Great delicate red berry notes lie under classic Chambertin characteristic leather and gamey aromas. Lovely silky, balanced texture that will become more integrated with age.
Hear more about this wine in my interview with winemaker Frederic Barnier in Episode 22 of The Honest Pour.
2. 2014 Treanna Blanc $25. This pale golden white Rhone blend from Paso Robles shows a demure and elegant floral nose with hints of melon and flint. On the palate there is a complex blend of stone fruit, tropical fruit and good minerality which gives backbone to the lush texture. A great wine at a great price.
Find out more about Treanna Blanc and winemaker Austin Hope in Episode 24 of The Honest Pour.
3. 2012 Pago de Vallegarcia Hipperia $25. This garnet colored cabernet sauvignon blend from central Spain presents engaging aromas of cassis, licorice, and herbs. On the palate this wine is wonderfully integrated. fruit, tannin, wood, and acid all playing together harmoniously. The finish shows notes of cinnamon, cardamom and an orange-like acidity that keeps going and going. Amazing at $25 per bottle.
4. 1994 Penfolds Grange Hermitage $500. A classic. Ripe dark fruit and eucalyptus aromas. Lush fruit showing black cherry, blackberry, cocoa, eucalyptus, violet and black pepper. Harmony, grace, and elegance.
5. 2012 Catena Zapata Argentino Vineyard Malbec $120. Nose of rich red and blueberries, earth, leather, and roasted meat. Flavors of red and black currant with complex notes of baking spice, cola, cocoa and mandarin zest. The single best malbec I have ever tasted.
6. 2014 Snowden Vineyards “Brothers Vineayard” Cabernet Sauvignon $80. Very floral nose highlighted with fresh blueberry aromas. Amazing texture. This wine is all about finesse. Bright acidity, balanced fruit, and silky tannins integrated throughout finishing with a distinct spiciness. Quality that compares to Napa wines at three or four times the price.
Listen to Episode 33 of The Honest Pour to lean more about this wine.
7. 1994 Graham's Vintage Port $100. Stunning, classic, vintage port. As hedonistic as this stellar vintage promised. Complex layers of flavors of baked plums, violets, fig, honey, molasses and cocoa. In it's prime drinking window now but will continue to improve for the next decade or more.
8. 2014 Favia Rompecabezas $75. Only 430 cases of this Amador County grenache, syrah, mourvedre blend made. Fragrant bouquet of violets, cocoa, leather, and black tea. On the palate an explosion of fresh berries mocha and cocoa notes. Bright acidity and silky tannins showcase a spicy long finish.
9. 2014 Favia Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon $170. The best cabernet sauvignon I tasted this year, This wine shows exactly what Oakville cabernet is all about. Deep, rich, and complex. Highly perfumed with aromas of violet, cassis, mocha, coffee, tobacco and spice box. Flavors of black plum, blackberry, and black currant are given black bone by a lush texture showing moderate acidity and grippy, youthful tannin. A baby now but a classic in 5 to 10 years with aging potential of decades.
To learn more about the above 2 wines and their winemaker Andy Erickson listen to Episode 34 of The Honest Pour.
10. 2014 Domaine Anderson Estate Chardonnay $29 Bouquet of white flowers, golden delicious apple, lemon meringue, and a distinct minerality. Stunning balance. Nothing is too showy in this chardonnay. Clearly California fruit is restrained by great acid, minerality and elegant leesy creaminess. Flavors of yellow apple, meyer lemon, and slightly under-ripe stone fruit are balance by crisp acid for a long finish. At under $30 you can;t beat this chard,