WINE OF THE YEAR 2017: J. Lohr Valdiguie ‘Wildflower’ Monterey County 12.5
Stupidly-good wine for under 10 dollars, mineral-rich and beautifully fruited, how they make something this good for this price is beyond me but they do it and you should drink it. For those of you having trouble wrapping your head around this selection based on your supermarket-plonk perception of this brand, go to jLohr.com and click on ‘Estate Series’ and ‘Vineyard Series’ and there you have all the wines you have never seen on a supermarket shelf and ALL are of ridiculous quality.
And again, in keeping with all the complaints I got last year about having too many Cabs on my list, here’s 9:
Best 2014 Cabernet under $100: Smith-Madrone Spring Mountain Napa Valley 13.9
Best 2014 Cabernet over $100: Spoto Oakville Napa Valley 14.6
Best 2013 Cabernet under $100: Stephania Santa Cruz Mountain 14.2
Best 2013 Cabernet over $100: Nickel & Nickel John Sullenger Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley 14.9
Best 2012 Cabernet under $100: Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley 13.5
Best 2012 Cabernet over $100: Dunn Howell Mountain Napa Valley 13.9
Best 2011 Cabernet: Clos Du Val Napa Valley 13.5
Best 2010 Cabernet: Mt Veeder Winery Napa Valley 14.0
Best Cabernet Blend bargain of the decade: Deovlet Sonny Boy Happy Canyon Santa Barbara Co. 14.8
Best Syrah you will never find: Baker Family Russian River Valley Sonoma 14.5
Best Gewurztraminer: Stolo Cambria San Luis Obispo Co. 12.9
Best Chenin Blanc: St. Rey Clarksburg Yolo County 12.4
Best Sauvignon Blanc: Mina Penelope Valle de Guadalupe Baja Mexico 11.7
Wait. No Chardonnay? No Gruner?
Best Rosé: Not even a glimmer of hesitation here. Pour all your miserable pinot rosé and merlot saignée down the drain–If you’re not drinking rosé like this, you’ve never had a real rosé: Domaine Mapliers Cotes de Provence 13.5
Best Grenache: Kings Carey
Best Paso Robles wine: TABLAS CREEK Syrah Adelaida District 14.5
Best Zinfandel: ROBERT CRAIG Howell Mountain 14.8
How many Pinot Noirs can I put on my list? AS MANY AS I WANT TO
Best big blustery Pinot Noir: Martin Ray Santa Cruz Mountain 13.9
Best green beautiful weingut/burg Pinot Noir: Tatomer Santa Barbara County 13.5
Best Pinot Noir tylistically between ^these two^ Last Light Derbyshire San Simeon San Luis Obispo 13.2
And would ya look at that. All the Pinots are from the Central Coast. Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about that.
Best Petite Sirah: Retro Howell Mountain Napa Valley 13.2 kinda like the Robert Craig Zin, there just is no argument here at all. Hey wait a minute, did you guys get together on this?? #R4HM
Best Italian wine that’s in every single Italian restaurant in U.S. and is yummy. But not too yummy. Blistering tannins and always sold too young and this is why you should have a heavy stash of this in your cellar so you can enjoy it properly: Tenuta Setti Ponti CROGNOLO Toscana IGT 14.0 (no I am not sponsored by Kobrand)
Best REAL Italian Poggio La Noce Gigio 14.0
Best weird grape you’ve never heard of and I can’t spell: St. Amant Souzao Amador County 13.5
Honorable Mention: Wine that made me the most happy all year (and a not to incredible value and another nod to a SMASHING label): Carlos Hauner Hiera Sicely Italy
Winery of the Year: Cromavera Never has a new winery SO impressed me right out-of-the-box than this tiny producer of Spanish Varieties from Paso Robles.
Best label: Section Wines featuring Santa Barbara artist Wallace Piatt. I’m a huge art guy, and while I tend toward classic labels, these are incredible (and the wine doesn’t suck either).
Best fans: YOU!