About the List

The below list is a selection of the top red wines that were tasted over the past year and reviewed at JebDunnuck.com. As in 2018, 2019 has been a wealth of riches for wine lovers with great vintages in the Rhône Valley (both north and south), Bordeaux, Napa, Washington, and the Central Coast all hitting the market. The 2016s from Napa Valley and Bordeaux dominate the Top 100 this year, and this was a brilliant vintage for both regions. In addition, the 2017s from the Southern Rhône are terrific, as are the more classic, elegant 2016s from the Northern Rhône. The list also includes wines from Argentina, Australia, Bandol, Italy, Roussillon, Spain, Sonoma, and Washington.

The selection is based on a combination of overall quality, price, availability, and a little bit of Wow Factor, and was made by scrolling through over 10,400 reviews (which is a record number of reviews in 12 months for yours truly) and painstakingly cutting the list to these 100 wines.

RANK WINE PRICE SCORE
1 2016 Chateau Sansonnet St. Emilion + An estate that has been firing on all cylinders recently, the Merlot-dominated 2016 Château Sansonnet sports a saturated ruby color as well as a beautiful bouquet of macerated black cherries, blackcurrants, smoked earth, spice, and tobacco. This ripe, sexy, full-bodied beauty has terrific overall balance, a layered texture, no hard edges, and a beautiful finish. It’s a gem in the vintage and is well worth a case purchase. The blend is 90% Merlot and 5% each of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, all brought up in 80% new French oak. Don’t miss this brilliant wine. $50 96
2 2017 Domaine Saint Prefert Chateauneuf Du Pape Reserve Auguste Favier + Just about perfection in a glass, the 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Reserve Auguste Favier reveals a deep purple color as well as extraordinary notes of blackcurrants, blackberries, smoked meats, incense, and dried flowers. Always based on Grenache yet with 10-15% Cinsault, this full-bodied, deep, opulent Châteauneuf Du Pape tastes like the essence of Provence, is incredibly complex, has sweet tannins, and despite all its richness and depth, stays pure, fresh, and light on its feet. It’s one of the finest vintages of this cuvée to date! As I wrote last year, proprietress Isabel Ferrando continues to fashion some of the most profound wines on the planet, and her 2017s and 2018s are not going to change that trend. Looking at the wines, the estate is in the southern portion of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and covers roughly 55 acres, from which she releases five cuvées: two whites and three reds. For the reds, the classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape is always a rough blend of 90% Grenache (from 70-year-old vines) and the balance Syrah and Mourvèdre aged in demi-muids and smaller barrels. The Reserve Auguste Favier comes from 60- to 100-year-old vines and is based largely on Grenache with around 15% Cinsault, aged all in older barrels. This cuvée always shows a seamless, elegant profile. Lastly, and what I would consider her top wine, the Collection Charles Giraud is always a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Mourvèdre, with the Grenache aged in tank and the Mourvèdre in demi-muids. I’ve also included her Châteauneuf-du-Pape Colombis cuvée here, which is released under the Isabel Ferrando label. It’s 100% Grenache from the sandy soils of the Colombis lieu-dit located on the western edge of the appellation. $75 99
3 2016 Lynsolence St. Emilion + Talk about value, the 2016 Lynsolence is brilliant stuff based on 100% Merlot aged all in new French oak. This ripe, sexy 2016 boasts a deep purple color, ample berry fruits, notes of camphor, chocolate, and cedar, full-bodied richness, and a dense, chewy texture. It’s impressive, but 3-4 years of bottle age are warranted. $25 93+
4 2016 Patria Avoyelles Oakville Ranch + The 2016 Avoyelles is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot, and I suspect it will merit a triple-digit rating in 5-7 years. A wine of both power and poise, it offers full-bodied richness and depth as well as a distinct gravelly minerality, classic notes of blueberries, spring flowers, and forest floor, sensational elegance, and ultra-fine tannins. As seamless as they come, it’s still reserved and backward, and will benefit from 4-5 years of cellaring and keep for 25+. There are numerous brilliant wines in the lineup from Patria, which are made by the talented Tony Biagi. $125 99
5 2017 Turtle Rock Maturin + Coming all from the Grand Cru James Berry Vineyard on the west side of Paso Robles, the 2017 Maturin checks in as a blend of 48% Graciano, 37% Syrah, and 15% Grenache that spent 20 months in French oak. Its vivid ruby color is followed by an incredible bouquet of black raspberries, blackberries, spiced meats, incense, ground pepper, and crushed flowers. With an intoxicating bouquet, incredible purity of fruit, no hard edges, ultra-fine tannins, and a monster finish, this awesome wine flirts with perfection and is up there with the incredible 2016. There are few estates in California today that are more exciting than that of Don Burns’ Turtle Rock. Pulling from some of the top vineyards on the westside of Paso Robles and making the wines as Justin Smith’s Saxum estate, Burns has consistently produced some of the wines of the vintage since his first releases in 2014. As I wrote in the past, readers interested in finding the next up and coming superstar in Paso Robles need to put Don and Claudia Burns’ Turtle Rock estate at the top of their list. $70 99
6 2016 Bevan Cellars Ontogeny + While the 2016 Ontogeny Red Wine might be the least expensive wine in the lineup, it’s unquestionably at the same quality level as the top tier releases. Boasting a saturated purple color and sensational notes of plums, currants, chocolate, and graphite, this beauty hits the palate with full-bodied richness, incredible opulence and decadent, no hard edges and perfect overall balance. It’s the real deal, and readers should snatch up this beauty. $95 98
7 2016 Chateau Poesia St. Emilion + A blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, the 2016 Château Poesia is more open and showy compared to the Barde Haut, offering fabulous limestone-like character in its kirsch and currant fruits and notes of dried herbs, white truffle, and dried flowers. Possessing medium to full body, ripe, present tannins, terrific concentration, and a great finish, it’s another incredibly classy Saint Emilion from the Garcin-Lévêque family. $35 96
8 2016 Arrow & Branch Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label + The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Black Label comes mostly from the Lewelling and Criscione Vineyard (which was planted by Tony Soter in the early 2000s), with a touch from the Dr. Crane vineyard outside of Saint Helena. Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 22 months in barrel, this rocking, sexy 2016 gives up loads of black currants and black raspberry-like fruit intermixed with intriguing notes of tobacco, spice, and incense aromas and flavors. It’s complex, full-bodied, elegant, and just does everything right. I’d be thrilled to drink bottles over the coming 15 years or more, and while it’s not inexpensive, as Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon goes, it’s an incredible bottle of wine. $100 95
9 2016 Chateau Calon Segur Saint-Estephe + A monumental wine in the making, the 2016 Château Calon-Ségur is blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot that spent a full 20 months in all new French oak. It offers an incredibly powerful, concentrated, classic style in its crème de cassis, graphite, scorched earth, tobacco, and lead pencil aromas and flavors. These give way to an inky, full-bodied 2016 that has perfectly integrated acidity and tannins, subtle background oak, thrilling depth and purity of fruit, and a great, great finish. My money is on it being the greatest wine ever made at this address. Although it shines even today on its purity and balance, it needs 5-7 years of bottle age to hit prime time and will keep for three to four decades. $140 97
10 2017 Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes + As always, the 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes has a touch more dark fruits, more concentration, and more structure, which makes it less approachable but more age-worthy. Blackcurrants, ground pepper, bouquet garni, crushed rocks, and garrigue notes all emerge from this structured, focused, yet ripe and beautifully textured Châteauneuf Du Pape that’s going to benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age. I know it will shock long time readers, but yes indeed, Clos Saint Jean has again made some of the wines of the vintage in both 2017 and 2018. Enough can’t be said about the quality coming from the team of Vincent and Pascal Maurel, as well as consultant Philippe Cambie, and these wines possess that rare mix of incredible power and richness pared with a sense of weightlessness and elegance. Looking at the 2017, these remind me of the estate’s 2009s with their incredibly Provençal, sexy, full-throttle styles. I’m sure alcohols are pushing 16% so these aren’t for those looking for lightweight wines, yet they remain pure, balanced, and are simply profound wines. The 2018 showed beautifully as well and while they don’t quite have the mid-palate depth of the 2017, they pack plenty of power and stay pure, balanced, and silky. These are majestic, magical wines that could come from nowhere else. $65 94+
11 2016 Chateau La Conseillante Pomerol + Bottled in June of 2018, the 2016 Château La Conseillante is a beautifully seamless yet powerful version of this cuvée that has the hallmark fragrance and elegance of the estate front and center. Complex blackberries, cassis, flowers, incense, forest floor, and floral notes all soar from this full-bodied, pure, and polished Pomerol that has an undeniable class as well as wonderful purity of fruit, perfect integration of its tannins and acidity, and a blockbuster finish. It’s an incredibly complete wine that flirts with perfection and will keep for 30-40 years. The blend is 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, aged in 70% new French oak, with the balance in once-used barrels. There are less than 4,000 cases made, but this is a wine you want in your cellar. $250 99
12 2016 Domaine Courbis Cornas Les Eygats + The 2016 Cornas Les Eygats is the gem in 2016 and has a fresh, focused, backward style that carries notes of crème de cassis, spring flowers, pepper, and crushed rocks. With full-bodied richness, good acidity, and impeccable balance, it’s a brilliant wine, but it’s going to need 2-3 years of bottle age to show its full potential. These 2016s and 2017s from the Courbis brothers are terrific follow-ons to their brilliant 2015s. The 2016 Cornas are some of the finest in the vintage and have sexy, ripe profiles that offer more pleasure than most. The 2017s are in the same ballpark, with slightly more upfront charm and approachability. In addition to the Cornas releases, this team is turning out some heavenly Saint Josephs! $55 96
13 2016 Stephane Ogier Cote Rotie Mon Village + As to the base 2016 Côte Rôtie Mon Village, it has outstanding notes of spring flowers, black raspberries, game and tapenade. It’s a classic, forward, charming Côte Rôtie that has medium to full-bodied richness and a layered, undeniably delicious profile geared for drinking over the coming 8-10 years. $60 91
14 2016 Ronan By Clinet Bordeaux + The Merlot-dominated 2016 By Clinet (there’s 5% Cabernet Franc) is a charming, already delicious effort that gives up elegant notes of chocolate-laced plums and dark fruits, notes of leafy herbs and truffle, medium to full body, and a layered, charming mouthfeel. It’s a terrific Pomerol to drink over the coming 7-8 years or so. $30 91
15 2017 Clos Des Papes Chateauneuf Du Pape + One of the strongest wines in the vintage is the 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape from Vincent Avril. This beauty has everything you could ask for. As with the 2018, the blend is heavily shifted toward Mourvèdre, and it offers a mammoth bouquet of black cherries, graphite, cured meats, Asian spices, and assorted garrigue-like nuances. Deep, full-bodied, and concentrated, it stays straight and focused on the palate (whereas the 2016 is more expansive and voluptuous), with a stacked mid-palate, ripe, silky tannins, and fabulous length. You’re going to want bottles of this in the cellar, and comparing the 2007, 2010, 2016, and 2017 over the coming two decades is going to be a treat. Clos des Papes remains one of the true reference point estates in Châteauneuf du Pape and is a safe buy in just about every vintage. I’ve yet to see the estate put a foot wrong, and even in more difficult vintages, they produce a beautiful, age-worthy wine, both with their white and red. The 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape is a profound wine that flirts with perfection, and comes in just behind the magical 2016 and 2007, and maybe the 2010, but time will tell. Regardless, comparing these great vintages over the coming two decades will be an incredible joy for any wine lover out there. $125 98+
16 2016 Domaine De Chevalier Pessac-Leognan + As to the reds, the 2016 Domaine de Chevalier is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and the balance Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc that saw an extended maceration, malo in barrel, and 18 months in just 35% new French oak. This deep purple-hued beauty boasts a powerful bouquet of tobacco smoke, damp earth, gravelly, rocky minerality, wood smoke, and loads of dark fruits. Full-bodied, deep, concentrated yet incredibly elegant and seamless on the palate, it’s a legendary Chevalier in the making. While I rated this as high as 99 points on one of the four separate occasions I was able to taste it, I’m being conservative with the score. it has some upfront charm but needs 4-5 years of cellaring and will keep for 3-4 decades. $158 97
17 2016 Chateau Feytit-Clinet Pomerol + One of my favorite estates in Pomerol is Jeremy Chasseuil’s Château Feytit-Clinet, which covers a little over 6 hectares located between Trotanoy and Latour a Pomerol, in the Clinet sector of Pomerol. The brilliant 2016 Château Feytit-Clinet is a blend of 93% Merlot and 7% Cabernet Franc that saw malolactic in barrel and 16 months in 70% new French oak. There are just over 1,500 cases of this elixir that reminds me of the 2010 with its incredibly classic, flawless personality. Pure crème de cassis, damp earth, black truffle, and graphite as well as hints of violets all emerge from this full-bodied, powerful yet seamless and elegant Pomerol. It never puts a foot wrong and is pure class, yet still has some rock star Pomerol sexiness. Don’t miss it! $149 98
18 2017 Gilles Troullier Cotes Catalanes Dela + The 2017 Dela is Syrah-dominated and was brought up all in older barrels. It has an exotic style as well as complex notes of orange blossoms, plums, green olives, and smoked herbs. A hell of a lot of wine for the price, it’s perfectly balanced, medium to full-bodied, and has a great finish. $27 93
19 2017 Chateau Saint-Roch Maury Sec Kerbuccio + One of the greatest values in the wine world has to be the Kerbuccio cuvée from Jean-Marc Lafage’s Chateau Saint Roch estate in Maury. The 2017 isn’t going to break the trend. Checking in as a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, it’s a blockbuster, deep, massive effort that just screams Grenache from Maury. Ripe blackberries, melted chocolate, black cherries, and cured meat notes all emerge from this beautifully textured, layered, opulent wine that stays balanced and pure. Brought up in 80% new demi-muids, it shows no sense of its oak élevage, has beautiful purity and freshness, and tastes like it cost 4-5 times the price. Drink it over the coming 4-5 years. $22 94
20 2017 Domaine Gassier Costieres De Nimes Nostre Pais + I loved the 2017 Costières De Nîmes Nostre Païs, and I think it’s a step up over the 2018. Based on 55% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and the rest Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Carignan, from the cooler, southern part of the appellation, it offers complex notes of sweet red and black fruits, ground herbs, incense, and peppery spice. Medium to full-bodied, concentrated, and layered, with sweet tannins, it would easily stand beside wines running 2-3 times the price in a blind tasting. Michel Gassier’s Domaine Gassier continues to be the reference point estate in the Costières de Nîmes, and this is a terrific terroir that’s been unjustly regulated to larger production, so called “value” wines. Don’t believe stunning wines emerge from the Costières de Nîmes? Taste these wines. In addition, they fashion an outstanding Côtes du Rhône! $19 93
21 2016 Domaine De L’A Cotes de Castillon + Showing tons of limestone character, the 2016 Domaine de L’A gives up lots of ripe cherry and blackberry fruit, subtle floral and crushed rock, medium to full body, and a beautifully seamless, silky, layered style. As always, it shines for its incredible purity and elegance. It’s worth noting that this cuvée comes from the home estate of renowned consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt and comes from vineyards not far from Péby Faugères and Valandraud. It’s a consistently outstanding wine and has the ability to evolve gracefully for 15+ years. $35 94
22 2016 Alain Voge Cornas Les Vieilles Vignes + The 2016 Cornas Les Vieilles Vignes is similar in style to the Vieilles Fontaines, just slightly less concentrated. It comes from the Combe, Patou, La Côte, Les Mazards and Chaillot lieux-dits and is partially destemmed and brought up mostly in neutral barrels. Lifted notes of black and blue fruits, damp earth, spring flowers, and violets all emerge from this full-bodied, concentrated yet elegant red that stays balanced on the palate, with good acidity. It’s another powerful, seriously endowed, pedal-to-the-metal Cornas that will have two decades of longevity. While this estate has been in the talented hands of Albéric Mazoyer for the past few decades, the torch is being slowly passed to the passionate Lionel Fraisse. Lionel has been at the estate since 2012, and I certainly don’t expect any drop in quality here. $85 95
23 2016 Andrew Will Cellars Sorella + Flirting with perfection, the 2016 Sorella checks in as 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% each of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and the balance Petit Verdot. Coming all from the Champoux Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, its saturated purple color is followed by a La Mission Haut Brion-like bouquet of black and blue fruits, gravelly, minerality, smoke tobacco, and chocolate. Deep, multi-dimensional, full-bodied, and with beautiful complexity, it’s a magical wine as well as the finest wine from this estate to date. Bravo! Readers looking for classic, age-worthy Bordeaux blends that will stand up with the best out there need to give the wines of Andrew Will a serious look. These are classic, balanced wines that deserve more attention in the market. $83 99
24 2016 Chateau Badette St. Emilion + A straight-up thrill ride of a Saint-Emilion, the 2016 Château Badette comes from a complex mix of clay and sandstone soils and checks in as a blend of 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and the rest Petit Verdot that was raised in 85% new French oak. A big blast of crème de cassis, crushed flowers, white truffle, and spice flows to a powerful, full-bodied Saint-Emilion that has beautiful ripeness and depth as well as balance. It has the purity and texture to shine today, yet I suspect it will have two decades of life. Bravo! $45 95
25 2017 Clarice Wine Company Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands + The 2017 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands comes from the Garys’ and Rosella’s Vineyard and saw plenty of stems and was brought up mostly in neutral barrels (36% new). It offers Côte de Nuits-like notes of blackberries, wild strawberries, rose petals, and forest floor. This smoking good effort has a tight, classic, Old World vibe, plenty of classic Santa Lucia Highlands fruit, terrific purity, and a great finish. You can safely drink this any time over the coming 10-15 years. $80 95
26 2016 Cliff Lede Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Songbook + Incorporating slightly less Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Songbook is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot. It too offers a profound array of smoked black cherries, blueberries, gamey meats, sagebrush and forest floor. A hypothetical mix of Haut Brion and Harlan estate, this monster of a wine hits the palate with a mammoth-sized level of fruit, loads of sweet tannins, no hard edges, and utterly world class length. $210 99
27 2016 Booker Vineyard Vertigo + I suspect the finest vintage to date, the 2016 Vertigo is a rock star effort and one of the top wines to ever come out of Paso Robles. Just loaded with notions of blueberries, incense, ground pepper, and crushed flowers, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a multi-dimensional, layered texture, no hard edges, and incredible purity of fruit. A blend of 52% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 18% Mourvèdre brought up in 50% new French oak, it’s a monumental wine from Paso Robles to enjoy over the coming 10-15 years. Eric Jensen’s Booker Vineyards continues to make a ripe, sexy, pedal-to-the-metal syle of wine and these latest 2016s don’t disappoint. $85 99
28 2017 Domaine Saint-Damien Gigondas La Louisiane + I think the standout in the 2017 is the 2017 Gigondas La Louisiane, a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah from a single lieu-dit near the domaine, which is located further down on the plateau. Incredible notes of blackcurrants, smoked herbs, spring flowers, and peppery meat notes emerge from this full-bodied beauty that has terrific concentration, sweet tannins, no hard edges, and a blockbuster finish. It actually reminds me of the 2007 yet has more structure and focus. It’s an incredible bottle of wine that will drink well for 20+ years. $45 97
29 2016 Epoch Estate Wines Veracity + The Mourvèdre-dominated 2016 Veracity (51% Mourvèdre, 36% Grenache, and 13% Syrah) reveals a darker ruby color as well as a sensational bouquet of blackcurrants, smoked meats, ground herbs, chocolate, and earth. With full-bodied richness, no hard edges, wonderful purity of fruit, and a great finish, it’s a heavenly expression of Mourvèdre to drink over the coming decade or more. $75 98
30 2016 Ornellaia + From a great vintage for Bolgheri, the 2016 Ornellaia is a classic blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot that was aged 20 months in 70% new French oak. Its saturated purple color is followed by a deep, beautifully concentrated yet primordial effort that offers serious intensity in its cassis, black cherry, graphite, bay leaf, forest floor, and spring flower aromas and flavors. Full-bodied and multi-dimensional on the palate, it has thrilling purity of fruit, ample tannins, and a great, great finish. This is a tour de force in red wine that needs 4-5 years of bottle age and will keep for two decades. $260 98+
31 2015 Bodegas Muga Reserva + One of the flagship cuvées from this estate that’s produced in every vintage, the 2015 Reserva is a blend of 70% Tempranillo and the rest Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano that spent 24 months in used French and American oak. Blackberries, currants, cigar wrapper, cedar box, and hints of vanilla all flow to a medium-bodied, concentrated, beautiful Rioja that has ripe tannins, beautiful balance, and a great finish. You couldn’t go wrong with a case of this. $25 94
32 2016 Powell & Son Shiraz Barossa & Eden Valleys + Another gem in the lineup, the 2016 Shiraz Barossa & Eden Valleys is equal parts from each region brought up in foudre. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by scents of black raspberries, currants, incense, Christmas spice, and sage, with exotic peppery notes developing with time in the glass. Full-bodied, deep, silky and layered, on the palate, it’s another brilliant wine from this family that’s going to keep for over a decade. $50 95
33 2015 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello + A blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello is unquestionably going to be one of monumental vintages of this wine. Deep, incredibly concentrated, and powerful, yet also textured and perfectly balanced, this beauty gives up a huge nose of cassis, plums, spice box, graphite, and vanilla bean. With full-bodied richness on the palate, it starts out tight and firm yet blossoms with time in the glass (I followed this bottle for multiple days) and has an awesome mid-palate, building yet perfectly ripe tannins, and a rock star finish. It’s about as classic a Monte Bello as they come and will require 4-6 years of bottle age (or more) and shine for three decades or more. $215 98+
34 2017 Saxum G2 Vineyard + A Grenache-dominated blend that includes 11% Tannat, 9% Graciano and 3% Syrah, the 2017 G2 Vineyard reminds me of a great vintage of Raymond Usseglio’s Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvée Imperiale. Flirting with perfection and one of the greatest Rhône blends I’ve tasted from California, it offers a smorgasbord of sweet black and blue fruits, crushed violets, flowery incense, and pepper. With full-bodied richness, no hard edges, perfectly integrated acidity, and silky tannins, drink this magical wine any time over the coming 10-15 years. Saxum’s Justin Smith has hit a home run with these recent vintages, and his 2015s, 2016s, 2017s, and 2018s all have singular styles, with the quality remaining sky-high. The 2018s show the slightly more pure, fresh, yet concentrated style of the vintage nicely. While not yet bottled, these will offer pleasure in their youth as well as benefit from short term cellaring. The 2017s are more pretty, perfumed wines that don’t quite have the density of the 2016s yet certainly don’t lack for fruit. Most are already drinking nicely today, yet as with all great wines, they’re going to evolve gracefully. Lastly, the 2016s are some of the greatest wines I’ve tasted from this estate, and they offer massive, layered, yet impeccably balanced profiles that are a joy to drink today; they’ll also be a joy to drink in 10-15 years as well. As I’ve written more than once, there are few mailing lists worth being one, but without a doubt, this is one of them. $163 99
35 2016 Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon + The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Seavey Vineyard is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon (as with the ’14, ’15, and ’16) brought up in 62% new French oak. It’s a deep, powerful wine that has everything a classic Napa Cabernet lover could want. Notes of cassis, lead pencil shavings, graphite, and crushed rock all emerge from this beauty, which has a classic Pauillac-like austerity and style. Not for those seeking instant gratification, it’s going to benefit from 7-8 years of bottle age and have 35+ years of overall longevity. $150 98+
36 2015 Sierra Cantabria Crianza + A step up in price, the 2015 Crianza checks in as 100% Tempranillo that spent 14 months in used French and American oak as well as being held a year in bottle. It has more serious notes of blackcurrants, scorched earth, lead pencil, and spice box. Rich, medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated, and elegant on the palate, it’s a rock-solid, outstanding bottle of wine that has character as well as quality. Drink it over the coming 15+ years. $20 91
37 2016 Realm The Bard + The Left Bank Bordeaux-themed release, the 2016 The Bard checks in as roughly 70% Cabernet Sauvignon with the balance Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. This cuvée is sourced from sites such as To Kolan, Dr. Crane, Weitz, and Fortuna as well as a few others, and is brought up in plenty of new oak. It has a mammoth bouquet of crème de cassis and blueberry fruits intermixed with ground herbs, graphite, chocolate, and crushed rocks. Full-bodied, opulent and layered on the palate, with a powerful yet balanced, incredibly classic style, it has a certain approachability today but is going to cruise for two decades. It’s a brilliant wine. $150 97
38 2016 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Estate + A perfect wine is the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, composed of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot, which is a classic blend from this incredible estate. Sporting a deep purple color as well as an extraordinary bouquet of ultra-pure crème de cassis, blueberries, camphor, scorched earth, and licorice, with subtle background oak, it hits the palate with a full-bodied, deep, powerful texture that carries sweet tannins and blockbuster length. With a stacked mid-palate, straight-up awesome purity of fruit, and a huge finish, it’s as classic and brilliant as it gets. Reminding me of the 2013 with its pure yet backward style, give bottles 4-5 years of bottle age and it will keep for 3-4 decades. Hats off to the team at Spottswoode for this legend in the making! $200 100
39 2016 Torrin James Berry Vineyard + Lastly, the 2016 James Berry Vineyard (74% Grenache and 26% Syrah) reminds me of a great vintage of the Châteauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous from Clos Saint Jean. It offers a meaty, savory style with a heavenly bouquet of kirsch liqueur, blueberries, roasted herbs, ground pepper, and graphite. Full-bodied, powerful, and structured, this serious wine will compete with anything out there. As with almost all of Scott’s wines, it is going to benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and keep for over a decade. The 2016 vintage for Paso Robles was a beauty and Torrin’s Scott Hawley has certainly made the most of it. The 2016s are some of the finest wines in the vintage and you can’t go wrong with any of them. The 2017s also showed beautifully, and while I think they’re a small step back over the 2016s, they’re unquestionably brilliant wines in the making. The Hawleys also recently completed construction on a new winery off Peachy Canyon road, with their 2017s being the first vintage made at the new facility. In addition to the Torrin releases, they also release a great lineup of Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs under their Lagom label. $75 99
40 2016 Vincent Paris Cornas Granit 60 + The 2016 Cornas Granit 60 is more backward and reticent, with smoky dark fruits, earthy minerality, pepper, and bouquet garni aromas and flavors. Deep, pure, and concentrated, it’s a big, rich wine, yet it stays polished and elegant on the palate, with a straight, focused style that builds with time in the glass. Just a brilliant wine, it can be drunk today with incredible pleasure or cellared for 10-15 years. Bravo! It’s important to understand the three Cornas cuvées from the young Vincent Paris. The Granite 30 is a younger vine cuvée from less steep hillside parcels (roughly 30 degrees), and it’s mostly destemmed and brought up in a mix of mostly used barrels. There are about 1,000 cases produced. The Granite 60 comes from older vines in the Patou, Les Mazards and Sauman lieux-dits, and steep slopes (60 degrees, which is where the cuvée gets its name). This cuvée sees some stem inclusion and a similar time in mostly used barrels. This cuvée is normally a solid step up in depth and quality over the Granite 30. Roughly 400 cases is a normal production level for this release. Lastly, the La Geynale comes from the oldest vines of the estate, which were planted in 1910 and are located in the Geynale and Reynard lieux-dit. This cuvée sees very little destemming and is aged in, again, mostly neutral barrels. This is always the most backward, classically styled release in the lineup and takes a few years to integrate its stems. Nevertheless, it’s an incredible Cornas. $55 95+
41 2017 Wayfarer Pinot Noir The Traveler + From a suitcase clone, the 2017 Pinot Noir The Traveler was all destemmed and brought up in 60% new oak. It offers more candied cherries, candied violets, earth, smoked earth, and forest floor as well as a distinct salty minerality. Deep, rich, and medium to full-bodied, it fleshes out nicely in the glass, with a terrific mid-palate and a great finish. $120 96
42 2016 Ledge James Berry Vineyard + Slightly deeper colored, the 2016 James Berry Vineyard checks in as 64% Grenache, 21% Syrah, 11% Mourvèdre, and 4% Roussanne that was 75% destemmed and spent 19 months in a new Atelier 350-liter barrels and a neutral 300-liter barrel. Unfortunately, there’s not much to go around, but this is a magical wine that offers a fabulous perfume of spring flowers, black raspberries, ground pepper, and crushed rocks. Deep, layered, multi-dimensional, and with awesome purity of fruit, it’s one of the finest wines yet from this estate and readers should jump at the chance to latch onto a bottle or two. The young Mark Adams, who trained under none other than Justin Smith, continues to produce brilliant, singular wines from both his estate fruit and some purchased fruit, which comes from some of the crème de la crème sites in the appellation. The estate vineyard is almost entirely own-rooted and is propagated using a massale selection from the vineyard, which was largely planted from Syrah cloned from the Bone Rock parcel in James Berry. This is a cooler, sandy site located in the Willow Creek District and the wines from here always have some old-world character, yet still speak clearly of Paso Robles. Readers looking for the next cult mailing list are advised to get on this estate’s bandwagon. $65 97
43 2016 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon + The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon checks in as a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, and 2% Merlot that spent 22 months in 75% new French oak. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by a sensational, full-bodied, layered wine that’s overflowing with notions of crème de cassis, crushed rocks, smoked tobacco, and hints of camphor. Seamless, elegant, and layered, yet also powerful, it rates with the top wines of the vintage. Readers should snatch this beauty up. $100 98
44 2016 Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon + Starting with the larger production (but we’re only talking 700 cases), the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon comes all from the estate and is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that spent 20 months in 70% new French oak and was bottled unfined and unfiltered. This sensational effort’s purity and balance is something to behold, offering a smorgasbord of crème de cassis, blueberries, tobacco leaf, lavender, damp forest floor, and spring flower-like nuances that develop beautifully with time in the glass. Full-bodied, multi-dimensional, concentrated yet weightless, it’s a stunning Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that does everything right. Drink it any time over the coming 15+ years. $60 94
45 2016 Dominus + Another possible legend in the making is the 2016 Dominus, a classic blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot and the rest Cabernet Franc brought up in 40% new French oak. Pure, pristine notes of charcoal, cold fireplace, smoke tobacco, and both blue and black fruits all flow to a full-bodied 2016 that has incredible elegance and finesse, yet also depth and density. It’s more backward and reserved than the 2015 and needs 4-5 years of cellaring. It will unquestionably live for 25-30 years. $260 98+
46 2017 Domaine De Ferrand Chateauneuf Du Pape + The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape checks in as 90% Grenache and the rest 3% each of Mourvèdre, Syrah and Bourboulenc, with a splash of Cinsault, brought up all in tank. It has a deep, layered, powerful yet elegant style as well as notes of black raspberries, crushed violets, blueberries, ground pepper, and earth. With a rounded, sexy texture, no hard edges, fine tannins, and a beautiful finish, it’s a fabulous wine in the vintage. Philippe Bravay is continuing as one of the most talented and passionate young vignerons in Châteauneuf du Pape. Located in the northern part of the appellation, he has ignored the trend towards special cuvées and continues to make a thrilling traditional Châteauneuf du Pape that’s always overflowing with Provencal charm and character. I was able to taste his 2016 from bottle as well (it was in barrel during my trip last year) and it’s unquestionably another brilliant, magical wine from this great vintage. Both the 2017 and 2018 are a step back, but not by much! $60 95
47 2016 Ferren Wines Pinot Noir Silver Eagle Vineyard + My favorite of the trio, the 2016 Pinot Noir Silver Eagle Vineyard has a perfumed, spice-filled character as well as awesome kirsch and blackberry fruits intermixed with lots of dried flowers, forest floor, and spice. It’s full-bodied, concentrated, has thrilling complexity, fine tannins, and a great finish. This cuvée comes from a site on the Sonoma Coast, was completely destemmed, and spent 18 months in one-third new French oak. Readers looking for an up and coming superstar from Sonoma need to get on board. $75 97
48 2017 Fulldraw Vineyard Chopping Block + The 2017 Chopping Block is a Rhône-like blend of 51% Syrah, 27% Mourvèdre, and 22% Grenache that was brought up all in French oak. Its saturated purple color gives way to a beautiful, opulent, powerful wine that carries loads of ripe blackberry, caramelized black cherry, ground pepper, licorice, and leafy herb aromas and flavors. Concentrated, full-bodied, and beautifully balanced, it’s another smoking good effort that tops out on the sexy scale. Drink it over the coming 7-8 years as well. Readers who like classic, full-bodied, impeccably made Paso Robles blends (count me in) need to check out the wines from Connor and Rebecca McMahon’s FullDraw Vineyard. Pulling all from their estate vineyard located just beside Eric Jensen’s Booker Vineyard, on the westside of Paso Robles, the wines pack plenty of fruit and opulence, yet they’re beautifully balanced and always a joy to drink. This is another up and coming estate (it was created in 2012) readers need to have on their radar. $85 96
49 2016 Andremily No 5 + Based on 91% Syrah, 6% Mourvèdre, and the rest Viognier, fermented with 40% stems, all raised 22 months in 60% new French, the inky colored 2016 No 5 gives up a gorgeous bouquet of blackcurrants, olives, scorched earth, camphor, and ground pepper. Deep, rich, incredibly powerful, yet also pure, balanced, and seamless, with good acidity, it builds on the palate, has no hard edges, and delivers a blockbuster finish. It needs 4-5 years of bottle age and will keep for two decades. $150 98+
50 2015 Argot Wines Syrah Estate Vineyard + Last of the Syrahs, the 2015 Syrah Estate Vineyard comes from the estate vineyard on Sonoma Mountain and it reminds me of a Syrah Manfred Krankl might make from a mountain terroir. This deep purple colored beauty boasts sensational notes of bloody blueberries, cured bacon, spring flowers, ground pepper, and lavender, and it’s incredibly complex, layered, and both intellectually and hedonistically satisfying. Possessing medium to full-bodied richness, silky tannins, flat out awesome purity, and a singular character, I’d put this up with the finest Syrahs in the world. If you haven’t heard of Justin Harmon, you should write that name down. Bravo, sir. $70 98+
51 2016 Bodegas Aalto + Not far off the more limited production cuvée, the 2016 Aalto is another brilliant wine from this estate and is all Tempranillo brought up in 50% new oak. This ripe, sexy wine delivers loads of crème de cassis, vanilla, dried flowers, and spice box notes, with just a hint of background oak. Pure, incredibly well balanced, with sweet tannins, and medium to full body, it’s going to benefit from a year or two in bottle and keep for 15 to 20 years. $50 94
52 2016 Avennia Sestina + The 2016 Sestina checks in as 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc that saw 21 months in 48% new French oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. It shows the purity and elegance of the vintage beautifully and offers classic Cabernet notes of crème de cassis, lead pencil, crushed rocks, and tobacco leaf. With beautiful balance and that more elegant, finesse-driven style of the estate, it packs plenty of fruit and is a seamless wine that will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and keep for 15-20 years. Winemaker Chris Peterson continues to fashion some of the most impressive wines in the State. These are always more classical in style and show plenty of acidity and structure in their youth, yet they blossom with just short term cellaring and are brilliant wines. $75 95+
53 2015 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges De Latour Private Reserve + The flagship is the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve, a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, and 3% each of Petit Verdot and Malbec aged in 90% new French oak. Deep purple-colored, with a brilliant bouquet of crème de cassis, blueberries, graphite, and smoked herbs, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, terrific purity, and building tannins, which become even more apparent with extended air time (I followed this bottle for multiple days). This is the real deal and count me impressed. It’s approachable today thanks to its purity and balance, but given its old-school, classic feel, I’ve no doubt it’s going to evolve for 2-3 decades. $150 97+
54 2016 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve + As with the 2015, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve shows the vintage beautifully and is more pure, classic, and elegant. Notes of crème de cassis, graphite, lead pencil shavings, and freshly crushed rocks give way to a medium to full-bodied, seamless Cabernet that has remarkable purity of fruit and impeccable balance. Made from 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot aged in 83% new French oak, it’s more reserved and backward than the 2015 and will benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and keep for two decades. $170 97+
55 2015 Bodegas Mas Alta Priorat Basseta + The two top cuvées start with the 2015 Basseta, a mix of 60% Cariñena and 40% Syrah that was brought up in a mix of barrels and foudre. Blackberries, ground herbs, graphite, and a terrific sense of minerality all give way to a full-bodied, sweetly fruited, voluptuous effort that knocks it out of the park in terms of texture and richness while staying perfectly balanced. $80 96
56 2017 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Hapgood + All from clone 37 (also known as Mary Edwards clone, which originally came from Mount Eden), the 2017 Pinot Noir Hapgood saw the standard no destemming and aging in neutral oak. Greg calls the clone velvet and dense, yet with a sultry x-factor. Its ruby color is followed by a complex bouquet of spiced raspberry, forest floor, salty mineral, and underbrush. Complex, layered, and nuanced, it’s medium to full-bodied, with fine tannins and a great, great finish. This was another thrilling lineup from Greg Brewer, and I consistently rate these wines as some of the greatest in the Sta. Rita Hills, as well as all of Santa Barbara County. In addition to the latest releases, I was also able to taste retrospectives of his Chardonnay 3D and Pinot Noir Machado, which only reaffirmed my belief in the quality and age-worthiness of these wines. These are brilliant wines. $65 96
57 2016 Brilliant Mistake Wines Cabernet Sauvignon + The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon checks in as 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% each of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, all aged 20 months in 80% new French oak. Packaged in a buffed bottle (it’s good looking packaging), it sports a saturated purple color as well as a brilliant bouquet of blackcurrants, tobacco leaf, lead pencil, damp earth, and cedar. It’s deep, rich, and full-bodied on the palate, with thrilling purity of fruit, ripe tannins, and a great finish. This is seriously good Napa Cabernet Sauvignon that will keep for 15-20 years or more. 275 cases. $150 96
58 2016 Chateau Beychevelle Saint-Julien + I was able to taste the 2016 Château Beychevelle on two occasions, and it showed beautifully both times. This is also the first vintage made in the new cellar. Medium to full-bodied, incredibly seamless and elegant on the palate, yet beautifully concentrated, it offers a heavenly perfume of spring flowers, violets, saddle leather, and blueberry and cassis fruit. A blend of 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and the rest Cabernet Franc, brought up in 50% new oak, it’s still tight, taunt, and reserved on the palate, yet has the hallmark purity of fruit and balance of the vintage front and center. Hide bottles for 4-6 years, and it will keep for 25+ years or more. $120 96
59 2017 Chateau De l’Ou Cotes Catalanes Secret De Schistes + One of the gems in the lineup is the 2017 Cotes Catalanes Secret De Schistes which is all Syrah from the higher elevation sites of schist soils. Aged 17 months in new oak, it has a beautiful perfume of crème de cassis, blue fruits, classy oak, and graphite that opens up with time in the glass. Possessing full-bodied richness, ultra-fine tannins, and again, this voluptuous weightless texture, it’s a brilliant wine that will keep for over a decade This is one of those wines that blends elegance and richness brilliantly. $55 95
60 2016 Domaine Bernard Gripa Saint Joseph Le Berceau + The 2016 Saint Joseph Le Berceau is tighter and more classically styled, with serious black fruits, crushed rock, granite-influenced minerality, and ground pepper. It’s rich, full-bodied, and super concentrated, with a Hermitage-like level of minerality and structure. It’s unquestionably one of the wines in the vintage as well as one of the longest-lived. Hide bottles for 3-4 years, and it should keep for a decade or more. Bravo! This wine comes from the oldest vines of the estate, from the Saint-Joseph lieu-dix near Mauves, and was mostly destemmed and brought up in a mix of barrels. There are under 400 cases made. $60 95
61 2016 Chateau Rauzan-Segla Margaux + The monumental 2016 Château Rauzan-Ségla is up with the crème de la crème in the vintage and is a brilliant, brilliant wine that readers should snatch up. Based on 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot, all raised in 60% new French oak, it’s a powerful, full-bodied Margaux that has thrilling notes of crème de cassis, blueberries, spring flowers, new leather, and obvious minerality as well as a Château Margaux-like sandalwood and exotic floral quality. Deep, beautifully concentrated, and as seamless and elegant as it gets, it needs 4-5 years of bottle age (it’s brilliant even today) and will keep for 30+ years. Bravo! $180 98+
62 2017 Domaine De La Janasse Chateauneuf Du Pape Cuvee Vieilles Vignes + The 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Vieilles Vignes is another killer effort from this estate. Coming from the La Janasse and La Crau lieux-dits and brought up in foudre, its deep purple color is followed by blockbuster notes of crème de cassis, blackberries, chocolate, graphite, and earthy, rocky, mineral-like nuances. It’s deep and full-bodied, with a ripe, powerful yet balanced style and a great finish. A classic example of this cuvée. it’s going to benefit from short-term cellaring and keep for two decades or more. $90 98
63 2016 Hayfork Cabernet Sauvignon Lewelling Ranch + I loved the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Lewelling Ranch from winemaker Haley Wight, a blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Petit Verdot that spent 20 months in 75% new French oak. It shines for its purity and elegance just as much as its richness and depth and gives up medium to full-bodied notes of red and blue fruits, violets, and espresso roast. With silky, ultra-fine tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish, it tastes like it cost 2-3 times the price. 790 cases. $75 95
64 2017 Tensley Syrah Colson Canyon + The quality from this vineyard has skyrocketed since Tensley purchased the site and took over the farming, and that’s never been more apparent than with the 2017 Syrah Colson Canyon, which is another “finest to date” for the cuvée. Blackberries, toasted spice, herbes de Provence, ground pepper, bacon fat, and violet notes all emerge from the glass, and it offers that rare sense of power and texture paired with a sense of weightlessness and elegance. With a massive personality, building tannins, and a finish that won’t quit, it’s another sensational wine. Drink it over the coming 15 years or more. $42 97+
65 2016 Teeter-Totter Cabernet Sauvignon + Readers looking for value in Napa Valley should snatch up the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon as it will easily compete with wine that costs 3-4 times its going rate. Made from mostly Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from throughout the valley, this beauty boasts a saturated purple color as well as a classic bouquet of crème de cassis, licorice, toasted spices, and tobacco. Deep, full-bodied, and powerful, it still has the class and purity of the 2016 vintage front and center. It’s a no-brainer to enjoy over the coming decade. $55 95
66 2015 Sine Qua Non Grenache E + The 2015 Grenache E comes all from the Eleven Confessions Vineyard and spent a whopping 38 months in 28% new French oak, with the balance in used barrels of varying sizes. An incredible effort that offers complex notes of cured meats, graphite, ground white and black pepper, flowers, and cassis, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, ultra-fine tannins, and a purity level that’s just about off the charts. Showing the concentrated, powerful, structured style of the vintage, give bottles 3-4 years in the cellar and enjoy over the following decade or more. The tasting at Sine Qua Non with Manfred, Elaine, and family, has been one of the highlights of my year for coming up on a decade now. It seems little has changed here, with low yields, impeccable farming and attention to detail, and no compromises in the cellar being the norm. I also don’t think I’ve had a tasting where at least one wine (and in most cases more than one) doesn’t merit a perfect rating. Looking at the vintages reviewed here, the 2017s are largely in the style of the 2015s, with slightly tighter, more focused, and structured profiles that are going to reward bottle age. The 2016s are perfection in a bottle, and these wines offer powerful, full-bodied, incredibly sexy profiles as well as the purity and class that’s the hallmark of the vintage. While they have plenty of upfront charm due to their wealth of fruit, they have the balance, concentration, and purity to evolve for two decades or more. Lastly, the Eleven Confession/extended aged cuvees currently being released are the 2015s, and these are ripe, powerful, structured wines. All of these vintages reaffirm Sine Qua Non’s status as one the benchmark estates in the world of wine today. $250 98+
67 2016 PlumpJack Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Estate + I loved the bouquet of the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, which has awesome purity in its classic Cabernet notes of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, tobacco, and earthy, gravelly mineral-like aromas and flavors. Beautifully balanced, utterly seamless, and lengthy, it’s a rock star of a base cuvée that readers should snatch up. It’s going to drink beautifully for two decades or more. This cuvée is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec. $120 96
68 2016 Penfolds Shiraz St. Henri + The St. Henri cuvée is always brought up all in neutral oak casks, and the 2016 is a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, with just 690 cases produced. This was a great vintage for South Australia, and this blockbuster sports a deep purple color as well as a dense, powerful, meaty bouquet of smoked black fruits, chocolate, bouquet garni, bay leaf, mint, and plenty of earthy minerality. Reminding me of an Hermitage from the likes of Delas Frères, it’s full-bodied and incredibly concentrated, with a stacked mid-palate and loads of ripe tannins. Backward and mostly potential at this point, it’s nevertheless a thrilling Shiraz readers should give 4-5 years of bottle age and it will knock your socks off over the coming two decades. $150 97+
69 2016 Monbousquet St. Emilion + As to the red, I was blown away by the 2016 Château Monbousquet. This classic, elegant vintage plays fabulously well at this address. Beautiful blackcurrants, cassis, gravelly minerality, and chocolate all emerge from this full-bodied Saint-Emilion that has another level of purity and elegance over every other vintage I’ve tasted. It delivers loads of pleasure today and will do the same in 15 years as well. Bravo! $65 95
70 2014 Catena Zapata Nicolas Catena Zapata + One of the standouts in this stacked lineup is the 2014 Nicolas Catena Zapata, 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Malbec sourced from a multitude of vineyards (La Pirámide, Domingo, Adrianna and Nicasia Vineyards) that spent two years in new French oak. Boasting a deep ruby/purple color as well as blockbuster notes of crème de cassis, damp earth, classy oak, white flowers, and tobacco leaf, this beauty is full-bodied, deep, and layered on the palate, with both richness and freshness. Made in a semi-classic style, with textbook Cabernet notes as well as a polished, pure, ripe style, it’s a brilliant wine from this estate that will keep for two decades or more. $125 96
71 2016 Chateau Leoville-Barton Saint-Julien + Deep purple-colored and a classic Saint-Julien with its pure crème de cassis, graphite, liquid rock, and essence of lead pencil shavings, the 2016 Château Léoville Barton is full-bodied, concentrated, and backward, with bright acidity and ripe yet certainly present and building tannins. This old-school, classic Léoville Barton has a fine thread of acidity keeping the wine focused and fresh. It’s a beauty, but mostly potential at this point, although it does have beautiful fruit. Savvy readers will hide bottles at the back of their cellar, and I wouldn’t start to think about opening bottles for a least a decade. It’s going to be incredibly long-lived. The blend of the 2016 is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot, brought up in 60% new French oak. $170 96+
72 2016 CADE Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Estate + The only red I was able to taste, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate checks in as 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 7% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot brought up in 79% new French oak. It’s a total rock star of a wine and boasts a saturated purple color, a flamboyant, full-bodied, sexy style, awesome notes of cassis, toasty oak, tobacco, and graphite, sweet tannins, and thrilling purity of fruit. It ranks with the crème de la crème of Howell Mountain and has 2-3 decades of longevity ahead of it. $110 97
73 2017 Chateau De Saint Cosme Gigondas Le Claux + Just about perfection in a glass, the 2017 Gigondas Le Claux got a few expletives in my notes. Made from 100% Grenache from a loamy, limestone parcel that’s a stone’s throw from the estate, just outside the village, it boasts a deep purple color as well as stunning notes of kirsch, cassis, camphor, dried earth, ground pepper, and background oak. Deep, powerful, full-bodied and multi-dimensional on the palate, this blockbuster Gigondas is going to benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age (or more) and cruise for two decades in cool cellars. $110 98
74 2016 Chappellet Vineyard Cabernet Franc + The 2016 Cabernet Franc is a beautiful expression of the variety and has a classic, complex, seamless style in its flowery blue and black fruits, forest floor, damp earth, blood orange, and leafy herbs. Pure, elegant, and perfectly balanced, with great intensity and depth, it will be better with short-term cellaring and drink beautifully for 15 years or more. Even at this price, it’s a smoking value. $85 97
75 2016 Chateau De Potensac Médoc + Another sleeper is the 2016 Château de Potensac, which is 44% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, all aged 14 months in 30% new French oak. This beauty is upfront and ready to go, with a dark, rich bouquet of currants, unsmoked tobacco, graphite, and earth. With beautiful concentration and a layered, elegant texture, it’s one of those wines that has ample upfront appeal yet will keep for 15+ years. $40 91
76 2017 Domaine De Beaurenard Chateauneuf Du Pape + The classic cuvée in bottle, the 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape is 66% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, and the rest a mix of permitted varieties. This cuvée is brought up in a mix of stainless steel, wooded tanks, foudre, and barrels, with just 5% new oak. Deep ruby purple-colored, with beautiful black cherry and blackberry fruits, it has loads of licorice and garrigue aromas, medium to full body, beautiful concentration, and considerable elegance and purity. I always find a Burgundian style in the wines from this estate and this is no exception. It’s a more reserved, tight 2017 that’s going to benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age and keep for 15-20 years. It’s a beautiful, classic cuvée that has power and elegance. The Coulon family continue to make a pure, balanced, concentrated style of Châteauneuf du Pape that often has a touch of Burgundy in its texture and balance. Nevertheless, the wines are pure Châteauneuf du Pape with their spicy, peppery, Provencal aromas and flavors. Their 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Boisrenard is one of the wines of the vintage and is certainly in the same league as the magical 2016, 2010, 2007, and 2001. $45 95
77 2016 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou Saint-Julien + Reminding me of the 2010 with its incredible stature and class (as opposed to the more opulently styled 2009), the 2016 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou is a legendary wine from the genius of Bruno Borie, who has managed this estate brilliantly since he arrived in 2003. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot brought up all in new oak, the 2016 has a mammoth bouquet of crème de cassis, espresso, camphor, crushed violets, toasty oak, and graphite. Full-bodied, concentrated, and backward on the palate, it nevertheless has perfectly integrated acidity and building tannins, a concentrated, layered texture, off-the-charts purity of fruit, and a finish that won’t quit. Give this powerful, concentrated wine a solid 7-8 years of bottle age and enjoy it over the following 50 years or more. $250 100
78 2017 L’Aventure Cote a Cote + The only Grenache-dominated release is the 2017 Côte A Côte, a blend of 48% Grenache, 32% Mourvèdre, and the rest Syrah that spent 14 months in 30% new French oak. It’s one sexy red that offers full-bodied richness and depth as well as brilliant notes of blackberries, black raspberries, ground pepper, potpourri, and flowery incense aromas and flavors. This smoking Grenache is elegant, with no hard edges, beautiful purity, and a great finish. It shows how successful Grenache was in 2017 and is a magical wine. I certainly blew the call on some of the Bordeaux blends from l’Aventure last year, and their Estate Cuvée and Côte a Côte are much better wines than my barrel reviews suggested. $95 98
79 2016 Ridge Geyserville + From a single vineyard in the Alexander Valley, the 2016 Geyserville is a rock star of a wine that readers should snatch up! Fabulous notes of blueberries, black cherries, currants, toasted spices, and graphite all flow to a medium to full-bodied wine that has a seamless texture, terrific elegance, and a great, great finish. The quality of this cuvée has soared over the coming 4-6 years, and this might just be the best yet. It promises two decades or more of prime drinking. $45 95
80 2017 Le Clos Du Caillou Chateauneuf Du Pape Les Safres + More elegant as well as more complex, the 2017 Châteauneuf Du Pape Les Safres boasts beautiful notes of kirsch liqueur, new saddle leather, garrigue, and pepper incense. Rounded, beautifully textured, and elegant, with ultra-fine tannins, it’s a seamless, sensational Châteauneuf Du Pape wine that shines on all accounts. It shows the sunny, sexy style of the vintage and is approachable today yet will keep for 15+ years or more. The Vacheron family, Bruno Gaspard, and consultant Philippe Cambie continue to work magic at this modestly sized estate located on the eastern edge of Châteauneuf du Pape. They produce a bevy of cuvees, all of which are noteworthy, with their two flagship Châteauneuf du Papes, the Les Quartz and La Reserve, flirting with perfection in just about every vintage. $35 94
81 2017 Lucia Syrah Soberanes Vineyard + There are three Syrahs, all outstanding. The 2017 Syrah Soberanes Vineyard offers a bloody, meaty style as well as tons of blue fruits, ground herbs, and peppery notes. Not destemmed and brought up in 45% new French oak, it’s a rich, full-bodied, powerful wine that just sings of Syrah. Drink it over the coming 7-8 years. $55 95
82 2016 M. Chapoutier Saint Joseph Les Granits + The 2016 Saint Joseph Les Granits comes from the Saint Joseph lieu-dit just south of Tournon and was destemmed and brought up in a mix of 25% new demi-muids and Burgundy barrels. Just screaming granite on the nose with its black raspberry, crushed rocks, white pepper, gunpowder, and exotic spices, this beauty hits the palate with full body, ripe, present tannins, beautiful acidity, and an undeniable minerality. Despite all its upfront fruit and texture, it has rock solid structure and will age for two decades. The estate of firebrand Michel Chapoutier continues to operate on all cylinders, and these latest 2016 and 2017 releases are world class for this address. The 2017 whites show the gradual change toward a more reductive style of winemaking, and the wines at times have an almost Burgundian feel in their minerality, acidity, and texture. Nevertheless, they’re fabulously concentrated and rich and will need 2-4 years of cellaring. The 2016 whites showed beautifully, and I prefer those to the 2017s. The majority of the 2017 reds were tasted as barrel samples. This is a ripe, sexy, expressive vintage for the Northern Rhône, and this shows in the wines. The 2017s don’t appear to have the density of the more blockbuster styled 2015s, yet they have expressive, sunny characters that will deliver loads of charm. The 2016s having slightly more density and cooler-climate styled aromatics, yet are nevertheless some of the richest, sexiest wines in the vintage. In addition to the frightfully expensive top-tier cuvées, don’t miss the value releases from this estate. These wines max out the QPR scale and are great introductions into the wines of Chapoutier as well as the Rhône Valley. $100 95
83 2016 Cayuse Impulsivo + The 2016 Impulsivo is all Tempranillo comes from the En Chamberlin Vineyard and was brought up in 50-60% new French oak. It’s a deep ruby/purple-colored effort and reveals a stunning bouquet of cassis, black cherries, smoked earth, gravelly minerality, and cedary spice. Still tight, backward, and vibrant on the palate, it another one of the 2016s that’s going to need 3-4 years of bottle age. After a catastrophe with their 2015s due to a cork issue, Cayuse is certainly back on top with these latest 2016s. This is a great vintage for Cayuse and they’ve knocked it out of the park with both their Rhone and Bordeaux variety releases. $135 98+
84 2016 Chateau Gloria Saint-Julien + I was lucky enough to taste the 2016 Château Gloria on multiple occasions and it’s unquestionably the finest vintage of this cuvée I’ve tasted. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, aged in 42% new French oak, its deep purple color is followed by a powerful, medium to full-bodied wine that has thrilling purity in its ripe black and blue fruits, tobacco, and graphite-laced aromas and flavors. Deep, layered, with ripe tannins and the purity and freshness that makes the vintage so special, this is a brilliant Gloria to drink over the coming 20+ years. $90 94
85 2017 Domaine De La Janasse Cotes Du Rhone Les Garrigues + Also bottled in March, the 2017 Côtes Du Rhône Les Garrigues is always all Grenache (from the same terroir as the Terre d’Argile) brought up in foudre and a small amount in demi-muid. It has a terrific Grenache nose of kirsch, crushed rocks, white flowers, pepper, and spice. Rich, medium to full-bodied, elegant, and silky on the palate, it’s still tight and closed, yet is packed with potential. Give bottles 3-4 years and it’s going to knock your socks off. $35 93+
86 2016 Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan + Readers looking for the next superstar in Bordeaux need to jump on the bandwagon of Les Carmes Haut-Brion, who have produced one of the wines of the vintage in 2016. The 2016 Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion checks in as a blend of 41% Cabernet Franc, 39% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon that hit 13.8% natural alcohol and spent 22 months in 65% new French oak. Its deep purple color is followed by a complex bouquet of high-class smoke tobacco, decaying flowers, charcoal, gravelly minerality and loads of sweet black and blue fruit. Possessing full-bodied richness, flawless integration of its acidity, fruit, and ultra-fine tannins, and a blockbuster finish, this is another 2016 that possess both power and elegance. Do your best to hide bottles for 5-7 years and it will keep for 3-4 decades. Don’t miss it. Tasted twice. $169 99
87 2016 Domaine La Bastide Blanche Bandol + As with the Southern Rhône Valley, Bandol appears to have had a banner year in 2016, and the 2016 Bandol from Domaine La Bastide Blanche is straight-up brilliant. Beautiful dark fruits, plums, spice, cedars, and garrigue notes all emerge from this full-bodied effort, which has terrific purity of fruit, a layered, opulent texture, sweet yet present tannins, and a great finish. This is brilliant Bandol! $27 95
88 2016 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder + Lastly, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder is another winner that more than overdelivers. While from mountain fruit, this 2016 shows a more rounded, supple, even sexy style to go with beautiful Cabernet notes of blackcurrants, lavender, jammy blackberry, and earthy/herbal characteristics. With ultra-fine tannins, nicely integrated acidity, and plenty of mid-palate depth, drink this perfectly balanced Mt. Veeder Cabernet any time over the coming two decades or more. $90 95
89 2017 Daou Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate + Possibly the finest vintage to date from this cuvée, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate comes all from the estate on the westside of Paso and was brought up in new barrels. Rock star notes of crème de cassis, spicy oak, chocolate, and graphite all flow to a full-bodied Cabernet that has sweet tannins and beautiful balance. It’s already terrific, but I suspect it will be even better with 2-3 years of bottle age. $85 93+
90 2016 Chateau Pontet-Canet Pauillac + Reminding me of the 2010 and, I suspect, a wine that will merit a triple-digit rating in a decade or so (I tasted this on multiple occasions and thought it was perfect on one of them), the 2016 Château Pontet-Canet comes from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and the balance Petit Verdot that spent 16 months in 50% new French oak, 35% in concrete amphora, and the rest in second fill oak. Thrilling notes of pure crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, crushed mint, graphite, and crushed rock notes all emerge from this deep, powerful, yet elegant Pauillac. The style of this wine has become more and more finesse-driven and pure, yet it hasn’t lost a beat on concentration or length. This singular, beautiful Pontet-Canet needs 7-8 years of cellaring (it has some accessibility today given its purity and balance) and will keep for 4-5 decades. $150 98+
91 2016 Chateau Ripeau St. Emilion + Showing beautifully each of the three times I was able to taste it, the 2016 Château Ripeau reveals a ruby/purple color as well as a forward, fleshy style in its black fruits, tobacco, earth, and underbrush-scented aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied, supple and rounded on the palate, with a charming, satisfying profile, drink it any time over the coming 15-20 years. Owned by the Grégoire family, with the talented and passionate Julien Salles and Claude Gros making the wine, this estate continues to raise the bar, and the best is yet to come. The 2016 is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, harvested between October 12th and October 22nd, all aged 18 months in new oak. $60 94
92 2017 Domaine Grand Veneur Cotes Du Rhone Les Champauvins + Deeper colored, the 2017 Côtes Du Rhône Les Champauvins competes with many Châteauneuf Du Papes, offering beautiful black cherries, blackberries, crushed flowers, and ground pepper aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, silky, elegant, and fabulous texture, it’s another winner to seek out and enjoy over the coming 4-5 years. $25 91
93 2016 Chateau Tessier St. Emilion + A blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, the 2016 Château Tessier is the largest production cuvée from this team and comes all from the plain. It has lots of blueberry, blackberry, spring flowers, and spice aromas and flavors, a rounded, supple, beautifully layered texture, no hard edges, and tons of charm. $30 92
94 2016 Odette Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Estate + Starting with the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, it’s a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 4% Malbec, and 4% Petit Verdot that’s all from the Stags Leap District. It offers a monster bouquet of bloody blueberries, cassis, iron, violets, and crushed rocks. This flows to a powerful, rich, yet also pure and elegant Napa Cabernet that has tons of class. It has a focused, slightly tight profile that’s going to benefit from short-term cellaring, and it should evolve beautifully for 2 decades or more. $126 95+
95 2016 Johann Michel Cornas Cuvee Jana + Even better, and getting up in some rarified air, the 2016 Cornas Cuvée Jana is a special selection (it’s named after Johann and Emmanuelle’s daughter) from the Chaillot lieu-dit that’s not destemmed and is fermented and aged in 500-liter French oak (I believe mostly new). Thrilling notes of crème de cassis, smoked meats, rendered bacon fat, and crushed rocks all flow to a full-bodied Cornas that has thrilling purity of fruit, a multi-dimensional, seamless texture, and a finish that goes on for over a minute. This magical Cornas has the purity and balance to drink well even today, yet it will benefit from 2-4 years of bottle age and shine for 15-20 years. Bravo! $80 98
96 2016 Chateau Pavie Macquin St. Emilion + Possibly the finest vintage of this cuvée to date, the 2016 Château Pavie Macquin comes from a cooler, later terroir on the upper plateau and checks in as 82% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 50% new oak. This deep, inky-colored effort boasts a rock star bouquet of blackcurrants, black cherries, white truffle, graphite, and spice. Deep, rich, and powerful on the palate, yet also balanced, elegant, and seamless, with ultra-fine tannins, this seamless beauty needs a decade of cellaring and will keep for 4-5 decades. $100 98+
97 2016 Outpost Wines Cabernet Sauvignon True Vineyard + Another heavenly wine from this estate is the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon True Vineyard, 100% varietal from three blocks in the vineyard that was aged in 80% new French oak. Possessing truly thrilling purity in its crème de cassis and blueberry fruits, white flowers, and obvious minerality, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a layered, multi-dimensional texture, and building yet fine, polished tannins. This beauty has real Howell Mountain character, a complex, nuanced, yet powerful style, and a finish that won’t quit. Get it if you can. $135 99
98 2017 Cattleya Wines Pinot Noir Belly of the Whale + The 2017 Pinot Noir Belly of the Whale comes from the Donum Vineyard in Carneros and is a complex, rounded, incredibly complete Pinot Noir. Raspberries, strawberries, spice box, forest floor, and a terrific floral character give way to a medium to full-bodied wine that has ripe, sweet tannins and a texture that just glides over the palate. This is finesse and elegance with beautiful fruit. Drink it over the coming decade. $78 95
99 2016 Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint-Julien + Tasted on four separate occasions where this wine rated 97+, 98, 98, and 99, the 2016 Château Léoville-Poyferré is a brilliant bottle of wine and is certainly in the same league as the 2000, 2003, 2009, and 2010. Made from 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, and the balance Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, aged in 80% new oak, this brilliantly concentrated, full-bodied, opulent beast of a wine offers a heavenly bouquet of crème de cassis, blackcurrants, smoked earth, tobacco leaf, and ample crushed rocks. It’s certainly one of the most flamboyant and opulent wines in the vintage, yet it remains perfectly balanced, with masses of polished tannins, no hard edges, and a fabulous finish. It will be drinkable in 3-4 years yet keep for 3-4 decades. $100 98
100 2016 Eric Et Joel Durand Cornas Empreintes + Deep purple-colored, the 2016 Cornas Empreintes is a smoking good effort. Blackberries, plums, cured meats, pepper, and earthy notes all flow from this rounded, sexy, powerful Cornas that has beautiful mid-palate depth and density as well as a great finish. Drink this smoking good 2016 any time over the coming decade. Consistently brilliant wines emerge from Domaine Durand, which is run with incredible talent and passion by Eric and Joël Durand. Located in the tiny village of Châteaubourg, they pull from roughly 22 hectares of vines, 8.5 hectares in Saint Joseph, 9.5 hectares in Cornas and tiny amounts in Saint-Péray and Vin de Pays. The brothers took over the estate in 1991, and while the winemaking is relatively modern, these are classic, pure, beautifully made wines that speak clearly to their region and terroir. $48 95