Year in Review: Best Wines of 2019

Best Wines - Year in Review 2019
It is that time of year when I like to think about the best wines I have enjoyed throughout the year and share those outstanding wines in my year in review. Here are my favorites from 2019.

Best Wines from 2019

Please note there is no particular order to the best wines I list. I divided them by types; Sparkling, Rosés, Whites, and Reds and, in some cases, the variety.

With one exception, I wrote reviews on all these wines after tasting the wines or visiting individual wineries. I sampled one wine that I am placing at the top of this list because it represents one of the best interpretations of its variety. I have yet to include the wine in an article, but I plan to publish an article on the winery during the first quarter of 2020.

The wine is the Irvine & Roberts Pinot Mineure 2017. I found a wonderfully elegant interpretation of this variety. The perfumes on the nose are very enticing. On the palate, it is fruity yet savory with a lively balance.

Sparkling

Montinore Estate Vivacé: Find a sparkling wine created from Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, and Riesling.

2016 Scharzhofberger Riesling Sparkling Wine Brut, Saar: The wine delivers an approachable, bright sparkler with flavors of citrus.

Montinore Estate Vivace - Best Wines Sparkling

Montinore Estate Vivacé

Rosés

Pasqua 11 Minutes Rosé Tre Venezie IGT 2018: Blending Corvina, Trebbiano, Syrah, and Carménère creates a fresh and refreshing summer wine. The wine has an Italian white wine quality, which is sensed by the Rosé’s pale pink light hue. The wine displays florals, citrus, and grapefruit while on the palate, I found a nice acidity and flavors of stone fruit and summer berries.

Domaine Bousquet Rosé 2019: This Argentine wine combines 50% Pinot Noir with 30% Tempranillo, 10% Pinot Gris, and 10% Viognier. The combination brings forth a lively spirited wine with flavors of apricot and red berries.

Liquid Farm Rosé 2018: The current release is a winner. Known as their pink crack, I could smell the wonderful aromas emanating from my glass at a distance. The wine is everything it is cracked up to be and more. Created from Mourvédre with 5% Grenache added, I found a bright, lively wine is perfect for any time of the year.

Dancin Vineyards 2018 Rose of Pinot Nori called En L’air. Like its name, this Rosé will turn your heads with its Provencal light style that exudes flavors of raspberries and stone fruit.

Dancin Rose

Dancin Rosé

Chardonnay

Youngberg Hill 2016 Aspen Chardonnay, McMinnville: Created in the Burgundian style; I considered this Chardonnay to be one of my favorites of the entire year. With aromas and flavors of pears, this refreshing wine is almost like a Pinot Gris.

Smith-Madrone 2016 Estate Grown Chardonnay: I consider this Chardonnay from the Spring Mountain District very subtle in its style and not overwhelming. With a nice, well-integrated acidity, the wine exhibits aromas of pear and flavors of pear and lemon.

Artesa Los Carneros 2016 Chardonnay: This Chardonnay combines both oak and stainless steel fermentation. Following fermentation, about 50% of the wine goes through malolactic fermentation. The result is a balanced wine with aromas and flavors of pear, lemon, and stone fruit.

Artesa Los Carneros Chardonnay

Artesa Los Carneros Chardonnay

Sauvignon Blanc

Titus Vineyards 2017 Sauvignon Blanc: I found a soft, appealing Sauvignon Blanc with flavors of apple and florals. The addition of a tiny percentage of Viognier integrates the winemaking it a stand out for this variety.

Domaine Bousquet Sauvignon Blanc 2019: I found a wine that exudes aromas of citrus and apples that I thoroughly enjoyed. On the nose, I discovered florals mixed with lemon and apple. On the palate, the flavors displayed lemon, lime, and green apples.

Other Whites

Brooks Wines 2017 Amycas is an aromatic blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris. Amycas means amicable, and this flavorful Alsace style blend integrates its composition superbly with aromas and flavors of citrus and flowers.

Amalaya White 2018, a blend of primarily Torrontés and Riesling, features a crisp, refreshing yet aromatic wine that exemplifies summer. On the nose, I found grapefruit and citrus, especially lemon accented by florals. On the palate, grapefruit and tropical notes were enhanced by white florals.

Smith-Madrone 2016 Riesling: The grapes grow on steep hillsides in the Spring Mountain District similar to those in the German Riesling regions like Mosel. Aromas of white flowers and citrus give way to flavors of lime, stone fruits and pear. I found a very dry Alsatian styled Riesling that is bright and lively with some creaminess and minerality.

Crawford Family Wines Albarino 2017: With flavors of stone fruit, the wine delivers a clean, fresh finish.

Brooks Wines Amycas

Brooks Wines Amycas

Pinot Noir

2016 Antiquum Farm Juel Pinot Noir: I consider the wine a jewel of Pinot Noir and Stephen Hagen’s signature blend. Six Pinot Clones make up this wine. I found this Pinot Noir to have a lot of character and complexity, yet the wine is fresh and lively.

Lenné Estate Pinot Noir 2015: My first comment after sipping this wine was chocolate in a glass. Another Willamette Valley Pinot Noir but from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and shows what the Peavine and Willakenzie soils will project into the grapes. This wine is very dry with aromas and flavors of chocolate and strawberry.

Eola Hills Fossil Block Pinot Noir delivers a very feminine elegant wine that ages in both French and American oak, with 30% being new oak.

2016 August Kesseler, The Daily August, Pinot Noir, Rheingau amused me because I have traveled to Rudesheim many times and never sampled a Pinot Noir from the area. I discovered a lively and bright, very drinkable Pinot.

Liquid Farm Pinot Noir: The style is very Burgundian with a lighter texture.
My favorites were the SBC Pinot Noir and the Sanford & Benedict. Both exhibit the perfect amount of fruit and show off the elegance of Pinot Noir that my palate finds enjoyable.

Vidon Mirabelle Clone 115 Pinot Noir: One of my favorites from Vidon, this Pinot Noir reveals a lively wine that is bright with nice body and flavors of Cherry.

Vidon Brigita Clone 777 Pinot Noir: This wine is livelier and bigger than the Mirabelle. It exhibits tarter flavors of strawberry.

Paul Mas Reserve Pinot Noir St. Hilaire Vineyard 2018: I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this Pinot, especially for its reasonable price point. The wine exhibits itself as light, bright, and very lively yet balanced. Flavors of cherry dominate this Pinot Noir from France’s Pays d’Oc region.

Eola Hills Wine Cellars Fossil Block Pinot Noir

Eola Hills Wine Cellars Fossil Block Pinot Noir

Bordeaux Varietals And Blends

Peju 2017 The Experiment: This wine features 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine showcases depth and complexity through its rich, velvety texture. Peju winemaker in 2017 decided to work with many different coopers and toasting styles, which determine the flavors and textures of the wine. The result, a rounded wine that reveals flavors of licorice, mocha, cherry, plum, vanilla with hints of cedar added to the mix.

Peju 2013 Petit Trois: This wine represents Peju’s take on Cabernet Franc and an excellent example of this variety. The wine delivers bright nuances with cherry flavors. I found a well-balanced rich and velvety wine that emphasizes the importance of the Cabernet Franc grape and its standing as a stand-alone wine.

2014 Abadia Retuerta PV Petit Verdot: This grape comes from a vineyard that contains sandy soils. The wine is well-balanced, bright, and fresh, exhibiting flavors of black cherry. This wine is dry but elegant.

Peju Petit Trois

Peju Petit Trois

Rhone Varietals and Blends

Crawford Family Wines Syrah Zotovich Vineyard: I found a very drinkable, smooth, rich, and balanced wine in every aspect. The flavors of dark fruits are accented with subtle spices. I liked the fact this was not an overpowering Syrah.

Bells Up 2017 Firebird Summit View Vineyard Walla Walla Valley Syrah: Named after Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, one finds a high elevation cool-climate Syrah.Bells Up created this Syrah like a Pinot Noir, giving the wine a lighter texture, making the wine an alternative for Pinot Noir drinker or for those who like varieties other than Pinot Noir. The wine showcases dark fruit with hints of white pepper rather than the typical spicy black pepper finish identified with Syrah.

Other Red Varieties

Prie Winery 2017 Mencia: This wine can carry itself with or without food. The wine delivered a rustic quality and presented itself as an old-world style. The wine is tart yet fragrant with its notes of cherry and black tea.

Prie Winery 2016 Old Vine Zinfandel: This Zinfandel presents itself as a medium-bodied wine. The two words that come to mind in describing this wine are alive and wow. I found an elegant wine that is very smooth and balanced. Subtle hints of white pepper prevail against the blackberry and blueberry flavors.

Prie Mencia

Prie Mencia

San Marzano Talò Primitivo Di Manduria D.O.P. 2016: Puglia signature grape is Primitivo. The flavors of cherries with hints of pepper on the finish are quite evident.

San Marzano Talò Malvasia Nera Salento I.G.P 2016: For many, we think of Malvasia as a white grape, but there is a red variety. I found a dry earthy with sweet and savory flavors of blueberry and plum. The wine is smooth and balanced and very approachable.

San Marzano Talò Negroamaro Salento I.G.P. 2017: The Negroamaro grape is indigenous to southern Italy. The wine displays aromas of allspice and balsamic and flavors of raisins, dried fruits, mace, thyme, and marjoram. Finally, hints of vanilla liven this dry wine.

San Marzano Red Winter Wines

San Marzano Red Winter Wines

Vidon Explorer Tempranillo: The wine is named for the Explorer Satellite program. The Tempranillo is a rarity in the Willamette Valley. With notes of cherry and leather, this Tempranillo is a winner.

Colomé 2016 Estate Malbec blends Malbec from four estate vineyards. Again this wine offers a velvety, rich, smooth texture that highlights the flavors of blueberry, red fruits with a little pepper on the finish. Aromas of dark fruit and fig are enhanced with earthy mocha accents. I would describe this wine as very alive and feature ripe fruits.

Planeta Cerasuolo Di Vittoria DOCG 2015: I found a very drinkable wine that fits any season, composed of 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato. The wine ages in stainless steel, making it a lighter wine. On the nose, I discovered cherry and beautiful perfumes. On the palate, the wine exhibited tart strawberry and cherry. One tastes the influence the Frappata imbues in the wine.

Embruix de Vall Llach 2016: Consisting of a unique blend of Merlot, Cariñena, Garnacha, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, I call this wine a Spanish Bordeaux. Dark fruit, stewed prunes, and currant flavors bring forth this wines earthy minerality and underlying sweetness.

Metrick Wines Mourvédre Futernick Vineyard, El Dorado AVA. Think red in a Rosé dress. The grapes are picked early like a Rosé, yet fermentation takes place on skins like a red. This wine makes a fabulous summer wine with its lighter and very refreshing demeanor — the wine ages in concrete.

Beeslaar Pinotage 2016 from the Stellenbosch region is by far the best Pinotage I have ever sampled. I found a velvety wine with a bright structure. Although a big wine, one will note the exceptional balance of this wine.

Altipiano 2016 Sangiovese Vintner’s Reserve contains 100% Brunello that ages in Kentucky and French oak. My comments said it all, “It smells like I am in Italy.”

Renzo M Fattoria Di Basciano Renzo Masi Chianti DOCG 2018: This spirited wine with pizazz is both a great value at about $12 and very together for its age. The wine exhibits flavors of cherry accented by savory herbs. The wine combines 95% Sangiovese with 5% Colorino. Colorino, as its name suggests, adds color to the wine. Not only does it add color, but Paolo Masi says it adds polyphenolic structure. The result of this blending delivers a smooth medium-bodied wine.

Powell & Son 2015 Shiraz, Krache, Barossa Valley: This vineyard lies in the western portion of the Barossa Valley and features grapes from 110-year-old vines. The wine exhibits elegance that underlies its dark fruit flavors.

Powell & Son 2016 Shiraz, Barossa Valley & Eden Valley: Because the Eden Valley has sandier soils, combining the two vineyards makes the wine more elegant and refined.

Vidon Explorer Tempranillo

Vidon Space Explorer Series Explorer Tempranillo

Dessert Wines and Ports

Mount Pleasant Tawny Port: This past year, I had the opportunity to try some wines from Missouri, including wines from one of the oldest wineries in our 1st AVA, Augusta. I found a luxurious quality with aromas of orange, peach, and almonds. On the palate, one senses the bourbon barrel aging with hints of vanilla, butterscotch, and caramel.

Klein Constantia Vin De Constance 2015 showcases the Muscat de Frontignan grape. This dessert wine tells its own South African wine story. The Constantia region consists of two estates, which include Klein Constantia. The grapes are vine dried, and with wonderful aromas and flavors of apricots, it is the perfect finale to any meal.

Domaine Artefact Vin de Paille: This dessert wine blends Grenache Blanc with Viognier to create a marvelous dessert wine that speaks of peach, orange blossom, and marzipan. Select grape clusters dry on a bed of straw to bring out the sugars.

2012 Chateau Pineau du Rey, Bordeaux, France, a delightful dessert wine with flavors of honey and apricot. Definitely, the wine to finish this scrumptious meal.

Mount Pleasant Augusta Port Tawny Port

Mount Pleasant Augusta Port Tawny Port

Best Wines Happy New Year

Let’s raise our glasses, saying goodbye to 2019, and look forward to enjoying new wine discoveries throughout 2020.

Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received hosted wine samples. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.