Is dating a thing anymore? Pretty sure I’ve been on zero this year, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had enough wine to drink Gilgamesh under the table on the banks of the Euphrates. This year has given me a chance to expand my palate, get a sommelier certification and taste great wines on a daily basis. Whether it’s for the holidays coming up, weekends with family, virtual dates or the desire to forget 2020, here is a list of my top wines of the year:
Casa Ferreirinha Esteva Douro 2018 ($11)
It’s dark purple hue is unmistakable. Made with a blend of grapes I probably can’t pronounce, this affordable red offers a glimpse of the potential in Portuguese red wines from the Douro Valley. It’s full bodied yet balanced with complex flavors, and pairs well with whatever you’re burning in the kitchen.
Lavau Gigondas 2017 (~$24)
I saw this bad boy in Costco. It’s a French red from Gigondas, an appellation located in the southern Rhône, where Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre reign. If I wrote this earlier, I’d say this is your go-to for Thanksgiving, but hell, make another turkey and down three of these gorgeous bottles.
Erath Pinot Noir 2017 ($17)
How many times do I have to say this? Erath is the real deal. It’s gone up in price since I first discovered this delicate Pinot, but its raspberry and strawberry accents glide on the palate and make for a very satisfying finish. There’s no excuse for you not to try this cuz they sell it everywhere…even gas stations.
Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($20)
This is the best value you can get. This bottle is a Sonoma Cabernet, so don’t expect the ripeness of its neighboring Napa Valley fruit. But what it sacrifices in boisterous fruit, it makes up for in its texture and lingering spice. The wine is just an honest crowd pleaser with consistent satisfaction. (My friend got this bottle for his “social distance” date and let’s just say daddy Fauci had to step in.)
Daou Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($24)
Jesus Christ. How is this only $25? I’ve noticed Daou has made it onto many restaurant lists, and it’s a blessing for young adults looking to pair a great wine with a medium rare steak. If you’re lucky enough to be in Florida, next time you go to a restaurant, tell the somm, “Give me Daou, or give me death!”
CVNE ‘Cune’ Reserva 2016 ($27)
I chose this wine for my Thanksgiving dinner, and it stood its ground. Cune has a great reputation as one of Spain’s best wineries, and it won’t disappoint with meat-heavy dishes. The wine’s flavor is deep and structured, but earthy notes mixed with dark fruit offer a mysterious journey that keeps you on your toes.
Piper-Heidsieck Champagne (~$35)
I get it. You wanna spray Dom Pérignon and post it on your IG story. #No. Unless you’re Beth Harmon after beating Borgov, or her mom who could most likely outdrink you, you don’t deserve DP. You deserve something better: Piper Heidsieck. It’s a quarter of the price and a lovely champagne. But if you want to feel like a king instead of a pawn, get Charles Heidsieck instead.
J.K. Carriere Vespidae Pinot Noir ($40)
I would put this Pinot up with the Failla Pinot Noir I included in my previous list. It fucking smacks. Loaded with forest floor notes, mint and bright acidity, it defines Oregon’s potential and makes for a beautiful experience.
Château Léoville Poyferré 2016 ($120)
Sheesh. It might not be ready to drink yet, but this wine explains why Bordeaux is regarded as one of the best wine regions in the world. There are more layers than three Tiramisu’s in this bitch. It’s loaded with energy and offers a long finish. Please uncork at your own discretion and make sure you’re sitting when you try it.
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino 2013 ($70)
A top Brunello from a top producer. The wine is still a bit tight, but give it another few years and you’re in for a world of pleasure.
Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($9)
I tried this wine a few weeks ago, and for the price, I think it’s a top value wine. Cabernet is seeing a big rise in Argentina and Chile, where Malbec and other lesser known varieties have gotten a permanent tan from the spotlight. Have this wine on tap when you’re grilling burgers on Saturday after every college game gets cancelled.
Ramey Wine Cellars Chardonnay 2017 ($40)
Ramey is one of my favorite producers. The winemaker, David Ramey, is heavily focused on bringing texture out of every wine, and he does it better than most. This bright and acidic Chardonnay has many layers, and tropical flavors that stick to the palate with quiet whispers of effervescence. I’d be fine drinking this white for eternity.
There are many other wines that deserve mention, but no one, including me, can read more than 500 words without checking insta and overthinking. So for more wine recs, check out my tips for your first…and second date! To 2020, the worst year ever.