So, maybe you got a gift card or some cash over the holidays and you’ve decided to treat yourself to an exceptional wine — something for a special occasion, a bottle you’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford, or maybe something that says “good riddance 2020; let’s get 2021 off to a better start.” The following suggestions are the best wines I tasted this past year that I haven’t already reviewed.
An obvious choice is to pick up a highly coveted California cabernet sauvignon:
• 2017 Spottswoode Estate Grown ($225). While this estate dates to 1882, it has been producing wine under the current ownership since 1982. It was one of the first Napa wineries to convert to organic and sustainable practices. Today, it is consistently ranked as one of the most respected and sought-after Napa cabs. This wine meets expectations with depth, concentration and complexity balanced with finesse and elegance.
• 2017 Chappellet Hideaway Vineyard ($125). Producing highly prized wines since 1967, especially cabernet sauvignon from its Pritchard Hill Estate, Hideaway is a single vineyard wine from secluded, rocky slopes of the estate. Luxurious and complex elements integrate nicely with grace and harmony.
• 2017 Turnbull Oakville Reserve. ($85) Established in 1979, Turnbull has remained small and focused on Bordeaux varieties, especially cabernet sauvignon.
Fashioned from two estate vineyards in the Oakville appellation, this wine deftly delivers intensity with equilibrium and luscious components.
• 2015 Kendall-Jackson Stature ($100). Showcasing the pinnacle of Kendall-Jackson using grapes that are estate- grown on the mountains, hillsides and ridges of Alexander Valley and Knights Valley. Deep and plush, ample forest and spice notes harmonize with enticing fruit.
• 2016 Duckhorn The Discussion ($155). This conversation among cabernet sauvignon (55 percent), merlot (43 percent), cabernet franc and petit verdot from the best lots of Duckhorn’s best estate vineyards is rich, structured and concentrated, yet supple with inviting oak and integrated tannins, soon to resolve into a fine consensus.
Looking to Europe, here are three Italian stars and a French luminary:
• 2016 Pio Cesare Barolo ($82). Family-owned since 1881, Cesare here emphasizes a classic interpretation of Barolo with brisk acidity and firm tannins, yet elegance and bright fruit. This blend from estate nebbiolo vineyards in five Barolo communes suggests there such a thing as restrained richness.
2015 Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino ($70). This estate in southern Tuscany dates to the 12th century. It has been owned by Massimo Ferragamo (of the shoe and fashion dynasty) since in 2003. The organically grown sangiovese yields energetic fruit, complex herbs and spices balanced with richness that glides over the palate.
• 2015 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino ($80). While the castello dates to at least 1438, it has been owned by Americans since 1978. They have since been recognized for their environmental, ethical and social responsibility initiatives.
This welcoming wine is bright yet silky, taut with almond, licorice, tobacco and spice notes.
• 2017 Domaine des Tourettes Hermitage ($99) This northern Rhône estate is owned by producer Delas Frères, a company founded in 1835.
This wine is fashioned from the estate’s three plots farmed on the legendary hill that overlooks the historic town of Tain-l’Hermitage.
This full-bodied cuvée offers intensely vibrant fruit, with typically meaty, smoky, lightly peppery notes.