I taste a lot more wine than I end up reviewing because I like to taste under controlled conditions when writing reviews and most winery visits or public tastings are not conducive to the kind of concentration I need.
Unfortunately, I’m not really good at keeping track of what I sample. So end-of-the- year reflections on my favorites from 2016 are subject to all kinds of selection bias including giving more weight to wines I have tasted recently.
The wine that is sticking in my memory right now is the 1999 Napa Valley Cabernet from Corison Winery. This wine is 17 years from its vintage date. Yet it tastes as fresh as if it were bottled yesterday and gives the additional satisfaction of a lovely, velvet texture and aging characteristics that produce great complexity.
Early in the year, I enjoyed an Andre Brunel Les Cailloux Cuvee Centenaire 2007 that had all the meaty, balsamic, olive-scented glory we expect from top-of-the-line Chateauneuf du Pape.
The Opus One 2013 Bordeaux-style blend is gorgeous although still a bit young. It is opulent but not overbearing and is developing silky elegance and aromatic complexity as the cedar notes are just beginning their transformation to cigar box.
And as usual Bonny Doon gets my award for most original wine. Aged sur lie in 5 gallon, glass carboys for 23 months, the textured mélange of earth and herbs in their Rhone-style blend Cigare Volante Bonbonne Reserve 2009 will have you scratching your head in wonder.
This wasn’t a year for pursuing Pinot Noir and none appear on my list of favorite reviewed wines below. But the 2007 Russian River Pinot Noir from Winesmith was stunning, delicious, and well-preserved.
So much for my faulty memory.
As to the wines I had the opportunity to write about, the following earned the highest scores:
It’s good to see two American wines from lesser-known wine regions on this list. And it should come as no surprise that most of the wines receiving mention here have significant age on them. You cannot make great wine without time.