While sucking big time in so many ways – Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Ali, Janet Reno amongst so many others leaving us; Brexit; Zika; lying Ryan Lochte; Syria; Nice; Orlando; the U.S. election (we could be here all day) – it was a great year for the Corkscrew Concierge’s wine journey. I definitely opened myself up to wines I’d never had and had a great time sharing them with so many #WineFriends. It was tough as there were SO many wines (don’t judge me!), but these are my Top 10 most memorable wines from 2016.

10. Bodegas Muga Gran Reserva Prado Enea, Rioja, Spain (2005) ~$60

This Tempranillo was one of those “cerebral” wines that made me think as it continually evolved and had so many characteristics that seemed contrary to each other. It was powerful, yet smooth; spicy with opulent dark fruit; bold yet silky. And while I enjoyed this one when I drank it, it easily can offer another decade of cellaring. Sounds like reason to get more.

9. Duchman Vermentino, Texas (2015) ~$17

This Texas winery has done an excellent job with this typically Italian variety. This one had characteristics of both Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio and is perfect for sipping in the Texas heat. This one made my list as it was one of those wines that surprised the heck out of me because I liked it so much. I don’t drink a great deal of white wine (but I’m working on it) but this one made me want to go back for more.

8. Chateau Marjosse Bordeaux Blanc, Entre Deux Mers, Bordeaux (2013) ~$13

Yes, I am now on the Bordeaux Blanc train. I opened this one as part of my CSW studies and I was not disappointed. Easy drinking (now), approachable and just dam good. This one hails from almighty Pessac-Leognan which is known for some heavyweight, long lived Bordeaux Blanc. And while this is not one of those wines it still has an impressive pedigree as it is made by Pierre Lurton who also manages the famed Cheval Blanc and Chateau D’Yquem. And since I can’t afford either of those wines, I will happily drink this one.

7. Kosta Browne Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley (2014) ~$75 from winery but starting at ~$125 retail

Many folks know that this is a good wine. But every single time I drink it, I just sit back and appreciate how well made it is. It’s just so beautiful in the glass, so well balanced, and really does everything just right. It took me a few years to even get an allocation of this wine, but now that I have it I’m never letting go. With luscious red and black fruit and licorice, this wine is elegant and silky. When #WineFriends visit, I seriously want them to try this because everyone should at least once.

6. Pulenta Estates Malbec, Mendoza Argentina (2012) ~$25

I opened this wine on World Malbec Day and silly me for taking so long to open and appreciate this one. We all know Mendoza excels at Malbec and this one is no exception. This dense, heavyweight had bold dark plum accents as well as leathery earthiness. Despite how bold it was, it had very approachable tannins and provided a couple of days of fantastic drinking. Even better the second day!

5. Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Italy (2006) ~$110

One of my #Splurgeworthy wines, this one rocked with the summer BBQ tasting I had with my #WineSquad. Nice plum, spice, and dark cherry enhanced the smokiness of our BBQ ribs. With all of the effort that goes into making Amarone, these wines will always be ones I’m willing to splurge a bit on.

4. Chene Bleu Abelard, Rhone Valley France (2007) ~$95

So I opened this beauty on National Wine Day (like I need an excuse) and sat outside on the back patio and sipped to my heart’s content. This blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah was bold and brooding, but it also had an unmistakable elegance and finesse that became so apparent the more it opened up (definitely decant this one). Smoky and dense, along with dark plum, blackberry, and licorice, I completely understand why the wine gods gave this one such a big score. France’s Southern Rhone is one of my favorite regions and this one certainly met my expectations.

3. Scarzello Barolo del Comune di Barolo, Piedmont Italy (2008) ~$30

This was The Corkscrew Concierge’s first ever Barolo and I am hooked! This one definitely featured the classic tar and roses profile you hear so much about Barolo. Intense plum and floral notes along with beautiful ripe tannins and its hallmark acidity, this wine was a perfect introduction to the world that is Barolo. Silky smooth but also with firm tannins, I loved this one with my meal but after opening up, I could sit a little and drink it on its own.

2. Chateau Montelena, The Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa (1996) ~$150

This beauty showed up when I had no idea what we were having for dinner, but I wanted some good wine. Another #Splurgeworthy wine, this one was a thrill to decant and drink over the course of four to five hours. Paired with a simple burger, it was perfect as there was nothing food wise to upstage it. A wine like this always makes we want to exercise some patience and give the wine time to evolve and do its thing in the bottle. Here’s hoping.

1. La Clémence Pomerol, Bordeaux France (2005) ~$75

This was one of those wines where I closed my eyes and almost teared up a bit. While I openly admit that I’m more Right Bank Bordeaux than Left, it’s strange that I can’t put my finger on exactly why this was so magical to me. I just know that after I drank it, I didn’t forget it for a long time and wanted to get more. This one had it all – chocolate, dark ripe fruit, smooth integrated tannins, a long finish, and on and on. It really was one of those very memorable wines. A wine that I definitely want to share with others as I want them to experience the beauty that I did.

So that’s my list for 2016. I’m so looking forward to the door hitting 2016 in the rear and moving on to great things and great wine in 2017.

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