Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Year in Review: Top 10 Wines of 2017!!

A new yearly post, the 10 best wines I enjoyed this past year. Sorted strictly by score, with lowest price breaking ties. Here we go!

First, an honorable mention to one that I was expecting to make this list, but the list got even better than I thought. I had not yet reviewed this one so I will do so here:

La Stella 2008 Maestoso ($110.00)
Intoxicating aromas of black fruit, mushroom, cigar box, leather and a hint of vanilla. The decade in the bottle has soothed this savage beast, bringing intense fruit flavors mixing in with the flavors you might expect in an aged wine; leather, tobacco, earth and mushroom. We enjoyed this on New Year's Eve with a fantastic Beef Wellington and both were just superb. Really special.

So, yeah, if that didn't make the Top 10, it must have been a fantastic year! Let's get right to it, starting with a terrific wine we enjoyed at my huge birthday wine event in November.


Two Hands 2012 Ares Shiraz ($169.99 USD from wine.com)

Very dark purple in colour, the 2012 Ares is winemaking at it's finest. Intoxicating aromas of blackberry, black currant, black plum, blueberry, dark chocolate, mint and cedar. Black fruits dominate the palate, which is full bodied, juicy and chewy. The finish goes on and on for at least a minute. The tannins are settling but this will probably improve with even more cellar time. It doesn't need to improve.

Next up, a decade-old favorite, enjoyed on our patio one night when we just decided to cook meat and open great wine!

Silver Oak 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($150 USD)
Incredible aromas of sweet blackberry and blueberry, mint, cedar, leather and cigar box. The wine jumps from the glass, attacking your mid-palate with black cherry, coffee, toasty oak and tobacco flavors. Long, luscious finish. Even at a decade old, this has a ton of life left, it could probably improve for another 10-15 years. There isn't much improvement needed. 

From "Italy" night, a real winner that we have enjoyed a few bottles of this year:


Collematoni 2007 Vigna Fontelontano Brunello di Montalcino Reserve ($129.99)

Intoxicating aromas of charred meats, dark berries, cedar, tea leaves and a touch of spice. Incredibly complex. Red fruits abound, as does cedar, leather and a touch of mocha. Tannins are smooth and supple. Finishes very, very long. This is a top-notch Brunello and is drinking incredibly well now. Very special. 

From my very special "birthday night" of great wine, the wines that come in at numbers 7 and 4 on this list. That was a FANTASTIC night of wine, obviously!


Hartford Family Winery 2014 Stone Côte Vineyard Chardonnay ($65.00 USD from winery)
Caramel jumps from the glass and assaults your nose, but if you pay attention, you'll notice some nutmeg, cardamon and cinnamon as well, followed by hints of wet stone and orange blossom. The palate is sublime, with notes of sweet vanilla, caramel, pear, hazelnut and underripe tropical fruit. Just amazing, featuring vibrant acidity. Crisp and refreshing. I need to get some more of these!

Next up on our countdown, the best Zinfandel I have ever tasted, and it's not really close.


Hartford Family Winery 2014 Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel ($60 USD direct from winery)

From a 100+-year-old-vineyard in the Russian River Valley, and aged in 100% French Oak (45% new) for 10 months. Deep and impressive aromas of licorice, blackberry, white pepper and black cherry. Black fruit dances on your palate, joined by some rich, luscious dark chocolate. The finish goes on longer than Pinocchio's nose in that Geico commercial. I honestly can't imagine that Zinfandel gets much better than this. I hope I get to find one even better one day. It won't be easy. 

From our "USA" theme night, a truly special Syrah from Washington State. 


K Vintners 2014 Powerline Syrah ($47.99 USD from wine.com)

They are making some great Syrah in Washington and this one is near the top of the list. Roasted game, dark plum, blackberry, wet earth and black pepper on the nose. Meaty, almost chewy tannins. Flavors of black licorice, blackberry, black pepper, black plum (notice a pattern?). Finishes forever. This one is already a knockout and some further aging will only enhance. A triumph. 


Marchesi de Frescobaldi 2010 Luce Della Vita ($89.99)

Sweet Sassy Molassy.

55% Merlot, 45% Sangiovese

Dark flowers, nutmeg, blueberry, black currant, mint, cola, blackberry and a hint of delicious funk on the nose. Blueberry, cherry cola, blackberry and chocolate on the palate. A touch of mint shows up on the long, beautiful finish. Undoubtedly the best Luce I have ever experienced.

For our dessert on "Bordeaux" night, this beauty wowed all the guests.


Chateau Rieussec 2013 Sauternes ($80.00)

Feel like having your mind blown? Pick up one of these. Or 10. Closing in on perfection, complex aromas of dried apricot, peach, lemon meringue pie, honey and a touch of mushroom. Full bodied and the perfect amount of sweet to go with the dessert. Finishes forever. FOREVER. A tour-de-force and it might even get better with further time. 

During the summer, we hosted our dear friends for "Big Hunks of Meat" night. Lots of different red meats to pair with a bunch of great Syrah. This one was the best.


Shafer Vineyards 2013 Relentless Syrah ($99.99 USD)

97% Syrah, 3% Petit Sirah

An intense inky purple colour. The aromas jump from the glass and dance seductively across your olfactory senses. Black fruit and BBQ meat, cedar, licorice, mint, lavender and sage all take their intoxicating turn. The palate is as complex as I have experienced. Blackberry, boysenberry, mushroom, cinnamon, nutmeg, blueberry, raspberry. Full-bodied and ridiculously decadent, this is a tour-de-force in winemaking and is nearly flawless. Find one (or more) of these. 

And, at the top of our list, the only "perfect" wine we experienced this year, and only the 2nd one to ever get that notable number (both Icewines....hmm, I notice a pattern).


Tantalus Vineyards 2015 Riesling Icewine ($65.13)

I actually have to take a deep breath while writing this review so I don't get overexcited. It starts off with the most beautiful, exotic aromas of pineapple, red apple, honey, citrus and caramel.

The palate features pineapple flavors all day long. They are not alone, with sweet apple pie, lemon meringue pie and even some peach and nectarine making appearances. It's sweet as you would expect with an Icewine, but not sickingly so; complex and brilliant, with a finish that goes on forever. For only the second time in the history of my wine blog, I can proclaim that this wine has reached the pinnacle of perfection. 

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