2019 Wines in Review

By Robert Whitley

January 14, 2020 7 min read

Although I missed about one third of my typical annual tasting regimen while recovering from knee surgery, over the course of 2019 I did manage to squeeze in dozens (more likely hundreds) of wines I would characterize as profound including two — the ZD 2015 cabernet sauvignon reserve and the 2015 Castello Banfi ExcelsuS — that I awarded a perfect score of 100 points.

There were so many absolutely brilliant wines, in fact, that a recap seems to be in order. The following are the 30 (plus ties) highest-scoring wines that I reviewed in 2019. Enjoy.

Castello Banfi 2015 'ExcelsuS' Red Blend, Toscana IGT, Italy ($90). Rating: 100.

ZD 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Napa Valley ($230) Rating: 100.

Castello Banfi 2015 'SummuS' Red Blend, Toscana IGT, Italy ($70). Rating: 98.

J. Davies 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District ($120). Rating: 98.

Ledson 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Vineyard, Alexander Valley ($100). Rating: 98.

The Vineyard House 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville ($225). Rating: 98.

Tom Eddy 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($150). Rating: 98.

Williams & Humbert 'Don Guido' 20-Year-Old Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Jerez, Spain ($50). Rating: 98.

Artisan 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($70). Rating: 97.

Attilio Ghisolfi 2015 'Bricco Visette' Barolo, Bussia, Italy ($90). Rating: 97.

Duckhorn 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Patzimaro Vineyard, Napa Valley ($98). Rating: 97.

Flora Springs 2016 'Trilogy' Red Wine, Napa Valley ($85). Rating: 97.

Kenwood 2016 'The Barn' Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($80). Rating: 97.

Marques de Caceres 2014 Rioja Riserva, Spain ($31). Rating: 97.

Matanzas Creek 2015 Journey, Red Wine, Sonoma County ($100). Rating: 97.

Merry Edwards 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley ($36). Rating: 97.

Moet & Chandon 2012 Grand Vintage Extra Brut, Champagne, France ($75). Rating: 97.

Moet & Chandon 2012 Grand Vintage Brut Rose, Champagne, France ($85). Rating: 97.

Pascual Toso 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Finca Pedregal, Mendoza, Argentina ($140). Rating: 97.

Wallis Family Estate 2017 'Seraphim' Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain District ($175). Rating: 97.

Acumen 2015 PEAK, Atlas Peak ($150). Rating: 96.

Cuvaison 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Methode Beton, Estate Grown, Los Carneros ($35). Rating: 96.

Cuvaison 2016 'Diablo' Syrah, Estate Grown, Los Carneros ($45). Rating: 96.

Dutton-Goldfield 2016 Pinot Noir, Emerald Ridge Vineyard, Green Valley ($68). Rating: 96.

Gary Farrell 2016 Chardonnay, Olivet Lane Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($45). Rating: 96.

Groth 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Napa Valley ($140). Rating: 96.

Inniskillin 2016 Vidal Icewine, Niagara Peninsula, Canada ($50). Rating: 96.

Merry Edwards 2017 'Georganne' Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($63). Rating: 96.

Migration 2016 Pinot Noir, Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley ($70). Rating: 96.

Navarro 2018 Riesling Late Harvest, Cluster Select, Anderson Valley ($35). Rating: 96.

ROAR 2017 Chardonnay, Rosella's Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands ($45). Rating: 96.

Spottswoode 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa County/Sonoma County ($42). Rating: 96.

Tara Bella 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate, Russian River Valley ($80). Rating: 96.

Tongue Dancer 2017 Chardonnay, Pratt Vineyard/Irwin Lane, Russian River Valley ($39). Rating: 96.

V. Sattui 2016 Zinfandel, Gilsson Vineyard, Old Vine, Russian River Valley ($42). Rating: 96.

Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.

Cuvaison 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Methode Beton, Los Carneros ($40) — There is a notation on the label indicating the 2018 vintage of methode beton sauvignon from Cuvaison has moved up from the winery's micro program to its small-lot program. The reason is obvious. By fermenting its sauvignon in concrete eggs (as opposed to stainless steel tanks or oak barrels) and aging for nearly a year on the lees, Cuvaison has created a California sauvignon like no other. It shows a floral nose with complex notes of gooseberry, citrus and melon on the palate. Superbly balanced and remarkably long on the finish, the Cuvaison has moved to the top tier of California sauvignon alongside the likes of Duckhorn and Spottswoode. The price, a suggested $40 per bottle, reflects that. But it's worth every penny. Rating: 97.

Duckhorn 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Three Palms Vineyard, Napa Valley ($100) — The same dynamic that works for the legendary merlot from this iconic vineyard also serves cabernet sauvignon very well. Located near the northern tip of the Napa Valley, where the days are warm, the reds from Three Palms vineyard tend to be bold and rich. The 2016 is another blockbuster cabernet for Duckhorn. The nose offers hints of cedar and graphite, dark-fruit notes and spice. On the palate, the tannins are beautifully integrated and seamless, allowing the fruit to shine. Wonderfully balanced, you can drink this wine now, but I would be inclined to lay it down in the cellar for another seven to 10 years. Rating: 97.

Clos Bellane 2016 White Blend, Cotes du Rhone Villages, Valreas Blanc, France ($24) — This beautiful white blend of viognier and roussanne hails from the cru village of Valreas in France's Rhone Valley and is pure sunshine in a glass. The honeyed notes of viognier dominate, with hints of tropical and stone fruits shining through. Rating: 91.

Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. Email Robert at [email protected]

Photo credit: Engin_Akyurt at Pixabay

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