10+1 because I couldn’t omit one! Well 2017 is almost behind us. Where did the year go? I always think it’s fun to look back on the year’s wine journey to see what I’ve discovered and where my palate has gone. I also like to share my favorite gems with y’all and get your thoughts on what you discovered during the year as well. So, without further ado, here are my most memorable1 wines of 2017. And half of these clock in at $30 or less!
2013 Domaine des Baumard Savennières, Anjou, Loire Valley, France ($25)
Savennières has been described as the most cerebral wine in the world and I’m pretty close to concurring with this. Made of Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley, this is hands down my favorite expression of the grape. There’s just something regal and distinctive about it. If Chenin Blanc is underrated and underappreciated as a grape, Savennières isn’t even a blip. I picked this one up on a grocery shopping trip just out of curiosity. Lucky me! I then saw it at a local restaurant and ordered a bottle. Lucky again. It is one of the ultimate food wines and to really appreciate it, have some with a meal. This one exhibited lovely honeysuckle, citrus, and a crisp minerality. Layers of ripe apple and pear were also present. A nice, pure expression of fruit.
2009 Antinori Pian Della Vigne Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy ($70)
This rocked my world! Really. And I’ve been told that 2010 is even better! Gorgeous brick red in the glass with plum, jam, baking spice, and floral aromas just jump out of the glass. Decadent I tell ya! And while the ripe fruit made it a pleasure to drink, this was a nicely balanced wine with great acidity and a firm tannin structure. Everything was right about this one.
2013 Onward Pinot Noir, Hawkeye Ranch, Redwood Valley, Mendocino, SA ($40)
Pinot Noir was my first wine love and it still holds a firm place in my wine heart. So I drink a lot of Pinot. But every once in a while, I come across one (other than the usual suspects that I love) that stops me in my tracks. Enter this Onward Pinot Noir. This brought me some happiness. Like I seriously swooned. Light and elegant in very much a Burgundian style, it had lovely tart cherry and a sublime earthiness to it. Mushroom, raspberry, and floral characteristics are also present in this absolutely wonderful expression of Pinot. And it comes from sustainably farmed vineyards. And winemaker Faith Armstrong is a kickass mom. And it is beautifully balanced and wonderful with food. And all of this comes at such a staggeringly affordable price given the quality in the bottle. Wow!
2013 Cantine Valenti Norma Etna Rosso, Sicily ($19)
This was my first foray into the wines of the Etna region of Sicily (remember when I was geeking on Sicily?) and it won’t be my last. Etna is supposedly one of the hottest regions in wine now and if this is any indication, I can certainly understand why. And hey, if you’re crazy enough to grown grapes on an active volcano, it must be worth the effort. Etna Rosso wines are blended wines and must have a minimum of 80% Nerello Mascalese and a maximum of 20% Nerello Cappuccio – both indigenous to the area. The aromas alone made me want to stick my nose in this all day. Stewed cherries, baking spice, red fruit preserves and some earthiness all made me want to go in for more. For a point of comparison, many compare the light-bodied, elegant style of Etna Rosso to Pinot Noir or some Barolo.
2005 Lynsolence Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France ($65)
Saint-Emilion is my jam. Really. If I could only have wine from one region for the rest of my life it would be Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Yes, I know this isn’t a region but I love all things Saint-Emilion and Pomerol so I’m creating my own combined region for this fictional purpose. I’m a Right Bank gal through and through when it comes to choosing sides in Bordeaux. So, I picked up this wine while grocery shopping – because this is as important as the milk I buy for Thing 1 and Thing 2. Coming in at 100% Merlot, this one had a little bottle age so it was drinking beautifully. Full-bodied with seamless tannins, this tasted of lush black cherry and plum intertwined with a bit of earth, chocolate and cedar. Really a beautiful expression on Merlot.
2015 Antonopoulos Moschofilero, Greece ($16)
Don’t be fooled by the aromatics on this one as it’s a dry wine. Lovely floral honeysuckle and jasmine aromas along with a bit of spice and peach. Great acidity that dances round on the tongue. While the nose somewhat reminds me of Gewürztraminer, Torrontes or Muscat, it’s really quite different from anything I’ve had. This is great as an aperitif or would happily dance with some grilled fish.
2013 EFESTĒ “Final-Final” Red Wine, Columbia Valley, WA ($30)
I visited the folks at EFESTĒ a couple of years ago and was quite taken with their wines. Along with a few other folks in Washington, they brought me over from the dark side as it pertained to Syrah. I’m now a big fan! Their Final Final wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. This wine is sexy! Luscious berries and chocolate balanced by a refined earthiness made this a joy to drink. The wine coats your tongue like velvet but is backed up my solid tannins. Just well-made all around and such a great price point.
NV Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco Superiore, Valdobbiadene, Italy ($18)
I’m generally a champagne girl. I am. I’ll drink Prosecco from time to time, but it’s never been my thing. But wow! This one was the shizz! Almost made me swear. I guess the “G” in DOCG makes a big difference. This one was elegant, balanced, complex. It was gorgeous! Fresh, light and airy, with crisp green apple and peach along with some nuttiness. I could sip this by the pool, with brunch, or with any number of things for dinner. And apparently this is Nino Franco’s “entry-level” wine. How good is the other stuff? Inquiring minds want to know. I would drink this alongside some of my favorite champagne any time.
2013 Montes Purple Angel, Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, Chile ($65)
Comprised of 92% Carmenere and 8% Petit Verdot, I was not prepared for this one. I found it at Total Wine so I could participate in a Twitter chat. I’d never been a big fan of Carmenere because they all tasted like green bell pepper to me. But this one was a game changer. (I’ve since found a few more.) Intense, inky purple in the glass, it exuded rich red and black fruit. Mocha, spice, and smoke added more depth and layers and a hint of earthiness rounded it out. But then there was some minerality and floral essence and…well, you get the point. This wine seemed to change on me every minute. I was definitely taken in by its mystique.
2014 Messina Hof Papa Paulo Port, Bryan, TX ($40)
It used to bum me out when The Husband wouldn’t drink dessert wines with me. I’ve since gotten over the disappointment and drink them by myself. I mean, I have children so how often do I really get to do anything alone on my own? This is an interesting wine because its crafted of 100% estate Lenoir (Black Spanish) grapes but without any spirit fortification. The naturally sweet juice of the Lenoir grapes makes it ideal for a Port style wine. And yes, I had mine with a chocolate petit four. In fact, I can’t think of anything better than chocolate to have with it. Luscious cherry along with some cocoa and a hint of spice. The prefect way to end your evening.
2001 Le Clos du Caillou Châteauneuf du Pape Reserve, Southern Rhone, France ($300)
This was an anniversary year wine that I was supposed to drink in 2016 for my 15th wedding anniversary but it got delayed a year hence we drank it in 2017. All good though as it was drinking perfectly. Nuanced layers of plum, licorice, mushroom, and wet earth. A bit of spice on the palate and beautifully smooth and seamless tannins. It was simply stunning. Just full-bodied happiness in the mouth. I really want to buy another bottle…but the kids still need their college funds, and…we’ll see. It’s a splurge but boy did I enjoy this wine!
What are some of your most memorable wines?