The Best Wines Of 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, we asked our wine retailer panel to report their favorite wines they tasted in 2016.

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market). Unless noted otherwise, the price reflects a 750-ml. bottle.

If you’re a beverage professional with a specialty in wine and you’re interested in participating in the panel, please contact associate editor Kyle Swartz at or 203-855-8499 x2225.

(98) Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Las Piedras 2012 (Napa)

Absolutely stunning Cabernet: rich, elegant, velvety and complex with perfectly integrated soft tannins. Should age nicely – but why wait! ($278)

(98) Maison Ambroise Corton Charlemage Grand Cru 2007 (Primeaux-Prissey, France)

A spectacular vintage and wine. The mineral, chalky soil gives this wine an intense structure all the while feeling soft and supple. It is like heaven in a bottle! ($185-250.00)

(97) Castello Banfi Florus Muscadello 2012 (Montalcino, Tuscany)

Golden yellow in color, with great viscosity. The nose is highlighted by its dried fruit aspects, with a touch of spice. Good weight and a smooth texture on the palate are just part of its long, balanced, exquisite finish. ($30.99 per 500-ml.)

(97) Domaine Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko 2015

Dry-white-wine drinkers need to taste Greek white wines as soon as possible, and Sigalas 2015 Assyrtiko is the leader in an up-and-coming category. Widely considered among sommeliers as one of the best white wines in the world, the 2015 offering is no different. This layered, graceful wine is balanced with a mound of acidity. Booming with citrus flavors and very concentrated, it gets even better after some time in a decanter. The star from the Mediterranean, you will be over the moon after tasting this wine. ($27.99)

(96) Domaine Tournon Shiraz Lady’s Lane Vineyard 2012 (Heathcote, Australia)

Intensely aromatic, followed by rich, elegant and complex black fruit flavors. ($60)

(96) Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli 2015 (Finger Lakes, New York)

The variety is tough to pronounce. Just call it “R Cats,” and tell your customers about it. A very pale straw gold in the glass, the nose is dominated by lovely citrus notes, with a touch of minerality. The taste is bright and clean, fresh, and refreshing. For your customers looking for a change of pace from Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, this is it. An outstanding value. ($14.99)

(96) Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay 2015 (South Africa)

An absolutely amazing Chardonnay with all the bells and whistles. There is a rich and silky buttery quality with a gentle oak notes and beautifully balanced acidity. The Chardonnay is Napa and Burgundy wrapped up into South Africa. ($33)

(96) Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel 2013 (Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma CA)

Nearly opaque ruby/purple in the glass. The nose is filled with black brambly fruit, hints of spice, and a touch of cocoa. Rich, and mouth-filling, this is a definite keeper. ($37)

(96) Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Clos de la Mousse 2011 (Burgundy, France)

From a top Burgundy house, this exceptional, high-quality wine exhibits finesse and breeding. Delicious now, it could certainly improve with a little more bottle time to bring out more of its elegant characteristics. One of those “don’t pass this up” type of wines. ($65)

(96) Valenciso Rioja Reserva 2009

An elegant and complex wine, aged 16 months in French oak, with aromas of violets and a lush cherry and berry palate. This wine will age for at least 10 years, but why wait! ($42.95)

(95) Altamura Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

A gorgeous representation of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Elegant structure with rich and balanced fruit offers your palate a dazzling experience of flavors and textures. The beauty is in the simplicity of the wine. ($93)

(95) Domaine Filliatreau 2015 “Linnea” Saumur Blanc (Loire Valley)

100% Chenin Blanc from 25-year-old vines. Fermented and aged in stainless steel with a short maceration on the skins. Richly aromatic with nuances of under-ripe melon, pear and a wisp of anise. On the palate, those flavors take over and linger through the finish along with bright, lively acidity and some great minerality. Totally dry, this simply gorgeous wine is a marvelous example of Loire Chenin Blanc. Pair with milder seafood, cream sauces, or not-too-spicy Oriental cuisine. It’s also the perfect aperitif! ($16.99)

(95) Domaine Filliatreau 2014 Chateau Fouquet Saumur Rouge (Loire Valley)

100% Cabernet Franc from grapes grown biodynamically in the Saumur village of Breze, then aged and fermented in stainless steel. Expressive floral and black fruit aromas combine with rich earth tones. Concentrated flavors of blackberry and plum harmonize with firm tannins and a lovely hint of terroir. The finish is long with sweet/tart acidity melding nicely with tannins. Decant for at least two hours and pair with roast pork, duck, lamb or game. Very enjoyable now, this wine will cellar beautifully for two-to-three years. ($19.99)

(95) Domaine Filliatreau 2014 La Grande Vignolle Rouge Saumur-Champigny (Loire Valley)

Upon decanting, aromas of lilac, red raspberry and cherry open with nuances of “stones” and chalk following. Tight at first on the palate, the wine begins to show after about two hours. There are layers of concentrated red fruit, clove, licorice and “cigar box” leading to a lengthy finish with firm tannins taking over. All of this is surrounded by that wonderful stony nuance of the vineyard. After five or more years in bottle, it will balance out into something truly special for any wine lover! ($22.99)

(95) Domaine La Tour Vielle Collioure Puig Ambielle 2012

This Mouvedre-based red from the seaport town of Collioure is one of the values of the year for the price point. Booming with black fruit flavors up front and a nice hint of spices, the powerful structure of this wine is perfectly balanced with the silkiest of tannins. Try it with some lamb and you will be in a place you never knew existed. ($26.99)

(95) Matthiasson “Linda Vista” Chardonnay 2014

This Chardonnay is at the forefront of what Napa Chardonnay should be. The perfect balance of acidity to go with the apple, peach and honey flavors that abound to a clean, mineral tinged finish. This wine will turn anyone who thinks they are against Chardonnay into a Chardonnay lover. To boot, being the price it is makes it the ultimate Chardonnay experience you will have this year. If you see a chance to get your hands on some be sure to jump at the opportunity, as this is normally a bit harder to find in most markets. ($30.99)

(95) Chara ’15 Blend of Cataratta & Inzolia (Sicily)

This wine won “Best White Wine” at Vin Italy this year, and little wonder. Great balance, luscious stone and citrus, along with perfect minerality and acid. You’d be hard pressed to find a better one, especially for this price. ($13.95)

(94) G. Descombes Morgon 2014

Cru Beaujolais is always in fashion, and the 2014 offering from Georges Descombes’ Morgon plot is no different. This is the blockbuster of his Cru offerings, knocking the socks off of all of the Cru Beaujolais tasted this year. Bursting with fruit up front and enough structure to attract all red-wine drinkers, make this your wine of choice next time you aren’t sure what to bring to that dinner party and impress all of your friends and family. ($21.99)

(94) Chateau Ksara Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Upon seeing, smelling and tasting this wine, finding out it is from Lebanon and not from California is an utter shock. Ripe red fruit highlight a wine with the firm tannins you expect from Cabernet and the long seductive finish you dream of and seldom get. Bring this Cabernet anywhere and impress the people you share it with. This is the best bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon you will find this year for under $25 and it’s not even close. ($22.99)

(94) Stags Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Napa Valley)

Dark purple in color. Plum and cassis aromas. Flavors of blackberry, cherry and cassis. Substantial tannins with a long finish. ($57.99)

(94) Lamadrid Malbec Reserva Agrelo 2013 (Argentina)

Dark ruby red, this well-oaked Malbec is fruit-forward with notes of blackberries, plums, pepper and cloves. Medium-bodied, with polished tannins and cinnamon flavors on the finish from the 12 months aging in first-use French oak. An excellent paring with burgers, steak and chicken off the grill. This is a Cabernet-lover’s Malbec! ($20)

(94) Tenuta Santa Maria di Gaetano Bertani 2009 (Amarone Classico della Valpolicella, DOCG)

A blend of 75% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 15% Corvino made in the traditional appassimento method, the natural drying process of the grapes, shows a strong garnet color that leads you into cherry preserves, spices and a beautiful complexity of dried rose petals. The palate is well structured: balanced red fruits with a elegant finish complemented by velvety tannins. ($79.99)

(94) Goldschmidt Vineyard Yoeman Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is the true meaning of big. Lots of big bold fruit and structure; you would be well advised to afford yourself and hour or so before diving into this delicious and full-flavored masterpiece. ($70)

(94) Daou Paso Robles Cabernet (California)

Possibly the best bargain found this year. Move over pricey Bordeaux, you have a competitor! Affordable, quality h4 blend. Rich, concentrated; black raspberry, spice; uber-long finish. This gem could last another eight-to-then years. ($25)

(94) St Supery Rutherford Merlot 2012 (Napa)

A great single-vineyard Merlot. Deep shades of reds and purples, with aromas of ripe blackberry with notes of currant, anise and touch of graphite lead to flavors of black plum and dark mocha. Fine texture, terrific length and structure. This is an excellent expression of this grape. ($52)

(93) Rutherford Hill Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California)

Beautifully balanced and focused with mature cherry, blackberry, vanilla and plum flavors that give way to a pleasant earthy edge. The lingering finish echoes cedar and herbal notes. ($40)


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