A bounty of the finest wines line up on the Taste of Wine top shelf, led by the 2016 vintage, universally touted as the best in years with its influence now spilling over to 2017. Tech Director Rico Cassoni and I had a great time putting this list together for our readers.
The excellence is best exemplified by Cabernet Sauvignon, the most popular varietal, revealed in a recent nationwide Costco poll. These most noteworthy wines were selected for flavor, body, value in the wine’s price point and the “wow factor.” Wines appearing are listed alphabetically.
CADE Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain, 2016, $110
This 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot, and 3% Merlot blend creates a potpourri of aromas exploding from the glass with notes of black cherry, cocoa and a hint of floral lavender and rose. The palette is full bodied with ripe black fruit featuring red cherry and plums, hints of tobacco and earth and deep rich color. Visit cadewinery.com.
DAOU Bodyguard Adelaida District Paso Robles, 2017, $36
DAOU Vineyards, since its first planting atop DAOU Mt. some 13 years ago, has become the most talked about vineyard in California. Its latest triumph is Bodyguard, sleek yet powerful with an opulent finish. Visit daouvineyards.com.
DAOU Estate Soul of a Lion Adelaida District Paso Robles, 2016, $125
It is rare for us to double down on a single winery for our Top 10s, but it was an easy decision for DAOU. Soul of a Lion is DAOU’s halo product and what the DAOU brothers, Daniel and Georges, are setting the new standard in Bordeaux wines with. This 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot free-run blend is aged for 22 months in 100% New French Oak creating silky smooth tannins today. However, you will want to put a couple of these in your collection for down the road special occasions. daouvineyards.com.
Duckhorn Merlot Atlas Peak Napa Valley, 2016, $78
Dan Duckhorn is considered to be the premier Merlot winemaker in Napa Valley
after a life-changing visit to Bordeaux’s right bank in France. With notable depth and structure, the top wine in the world in 2017 as reported by Wine Spectator was the Duckhorn Merlot. We pass the baton to 2019. Visit duckhorn.com.
Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico Reserva Tuscany, 2016, $35
Fermentation and storage in three-story casks emit a classic earth flavor with density and focus. Expect almond and leather notes with a firm backbone of tannins. Visit felsina.it.
Jayson Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, 2016, $80
This is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (95%) with splashes of Petit Verdot (4%) and Merlot (1%). The nose has black fruit aromas and hints of plum, licorice and vanilla. The palate starts off fruit forward and finishes with cocoa and floral hints. Visit pahlmeyer.com.
Lewis Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville Napa Valley, 2016, $175
Dense layered sweet cocoa with alluring oak spice with “wow-factor” frontal fruit. Creamy berry factor gives way to supple muscle. Long, lavish finish. Visit lewiscellars.com.
Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder Napa Valley, 2016, $100
This Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (87.5%) with accents of Merlot (5%), Cabernet Franc (3%) and Petit Verdot (1.5%) benefits from Mt. Veeder’s elevation typically 10 to 15 degrees cooler Napa Valley. The nose has black and blue fruits with floral notes along with ripe structured tannins working in harmony for a long, balanced finish. Visit mtbravewines.com.
Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Tuscany, 2016, $30
Starting with 55 acres, Poliziano now can boast of 420 acres of single-vineyard bottlings. Made mostly from Sangiovese, the signature grape of Tuscany, it also has smaller portions of Colorino, Canaiolo and Merlot. Deeply ruby red, similar to Syrah. Visit carlettipoliziano.com/en/.
Turley Zinfandel Ueberroth Vineyard Paso Robles, 2016, $55
Ueberroth is the oldest and wisest of the 50 Turley-run vineyards. Located closest to the sea, these Zin vines are planted on very steep limestone slopes. The high pH of the soil makes for a high acid wine, elevating the ripe fruit flavors from this certified organic vineyard. Visit turleywinecellars.com.
Happy New Year!
From our Taste of Wine and Food team to you and yours, we wish all our readers a healthy and prosperous 2020. We are taking the first full week in January off and look forward to bringing smart information back to your table the following week.