The Best Wines of 2019

Hard to believe but the end of 2019 is already around the corner. As such, we asked our wine panelists for the final round of this year to look back on their favorite bottles of wine. The reviews below were the pours that stood out the most for our panelists in 2019.

As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’re a beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, please contact editor Kyle Swartz at 763-383-4400 x2225, or email him at

Rating System

Five Stars (100-92): A top-flight wine, superior in taste and character, and providing a superior price/value ratio.

Four Stars (91-86): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.

Five Stars

(98) Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (CA)

From one of Napa Valley’s long-time iconic producers, their top wine is an outstanding combination of dark fruit, power and elegance. A spectacular representation of Napa Valley winemaking. It is intense, and the long, lingering finish echoes the quality for quite some time. ($145)

(97) Wine & Soul Guru Branco 2017 (Portugal)

From the premier wife-and-husband winemaking team in the Douro Valley, this wine has it all going on. Wonderful fruit, good structure and an incredible finish. Stunningly delicious now, it can easily be aged to explore its development. ($45)

(97) Reyneke Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (South Africa)

Quite the powerhouse here. The wine is intense in color, with an impressive nose of intense black fruit, plus hints of spice. It has a solid backbone of acidity, with great structure, finesse and aging potential. ($135.99)

(97) NV Rosé Champagne Delamotte (France)

An outstanding example of world-class rosé Champagne. Dry, refreshing, food friendly and incredibly tasty. For special occasions; on the other hand, opening a bottle would make any day a special occasion. ($92.99)

(96) Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2017 (Italy)

From northwest Italy (DOCG Piedmont), where red varieties usually reign, this arneis is a wonderful example of when a world-class winemaker, famous for Nebbiolo-based wines, turns his attention to an indigenous white variety. Texture, weight and great flavors: this wine has it all. ($32)

(96) 2016 Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (CA)

This wine was made by one of Napa Valley’s most dependable producers, using grapes from select vineyard sites. Quite dark in the glass, the nose is dominated by focused dark fruits, with hints of spice and oak influence. On the palate, the wine is broad and intense, finishing with elegance and subtle chocolate notes. ($49.99)

(96) Masut Vineyard & Winery Estate Pinot Noir 2016 (CA)

You may not be familiar with the Masut label, but you should be. Ben and Jake Fetzer (Yes, THAT Fetzer) are producing some stunning pinot noirs from the cool climate of Mendocino County. Their Estate Pinot Noir is a deep ruby in color. The nose is an enticing blend of black fruit and subtle spice. On the palate, the concentrated fruit is supported by a lush and lovely texture. ($40)

(96) Anselmo Mendes Contacto Alvarinho 2018 (Portugal)

From one of the leaders for making super-high-quality wines in the Vinho Verde region, this is a gorgeous example of what the iconic alvarinho grape variety can provide. Brilliant gold, with green hints, plenty of stone and tropical fruit on the nose and palate. An exceptional match for shellfish, seafood in general, and chicken. ($19)

(95) Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Don Melchor 2014 (Chile)

Stunning selection to enjoy now or cellar for a few years. Concentrated and aromatic blend of cabernet, cabernet franc, merlot and petite verdot. Silky and balanced black fruits and tannins. Don Melchor gives Bordeaux a run for its money. ($125)

(95) Rowen Red Wine 2015 (CA)

The 2015 Rowen red blend is a lush and elegant Sonoma County wine consisting of wonderful high-elevation mountain fruit. The wine has aromas of black raspberries, cocoa and black pepper from the co-fermented viognier. On the palate, the wine is balanced and structured from the cabernet sauvignon, with notes of blackberries, cassis, nutmeg and vanilla. Co-fermenting the syrah with the viognier is a classic Northern Rhone technique that adds an exotic floral element to the finished wine, as well as a rounder mouthfeel. ($48.99)

(94) Maison Roy & Fils “Petite Incline” Pinot Noir 2016 (OR)

The 2016 Incline Pinot Noir, from Willamette Valley, is pale-to-medium ruby-purple in color, with delicate aromas of dried cranberries and red cherries with touches of crushed rock, violets and black tea leaves. Light to medium-bodied, it has lovely layers of red fruits, mineral notes and violets in the mouth, a good frame of soft, fine-grained tannins and great juicy acidity, finishing long and pretty. ($43.99)

(94) Tasca d’Almerta Rosato 2018 (Italy)

It might have been sitting in a gorgeous winery in the mountains in the middle of Sicily, but this rosato made of 100% nera mascalese just knocked my socks off. Bigger than most, it paired with everything! ($15.95)

(94) Round Pond Kith & Kin Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (CA)

This cabernet sauvignon is just as intense in color as it is in flavors. The complex structure of bold fruit, firm tannins and just-a-hint of eucalyptus round out this exciting young wine. It will need some patience if you are enjoying now. ($35)

(94) Dr. Konstantin Frank Grüner Veltliner 2017 (NY)

Usually known as one of Austria’s iconic grape varieties, this grüner veltliner from the Finger Lakes is an example of skilled and thoughtful grape growing and winemaking. Plenty of citrus and stone fruit characteristics float up to the nose and please the palate. Supple, bright and exceptionally versatile, this wine should be on every shelf and wine list. ($14.99)

(94) Armani Amarone Cuslanus 2014 (Italy)

An elegant, ink-black Veneto amarone that packs a punch from the nose to the finish. The beautiful perfumed and herbal nose complements the extracted black cherry and raspberry flavors on the palate, to make something really special here. ($59.99)

(93) Viansa Chardonnay Carneros 2017 (CA)

Coming out swinging with robust oak notes on the nose and palate, this is not a shy chardonnay. The power continues on the palate with ripe apple notes and a smooth toasty finish. A strong showing from this ambitious Carneros Chardonnay. ($39.99)

(93) Vecordia Ribera del Duero Crianza 2015 (Spain)

An elegant offering from the famed Ribera del Duero, this wine offers ripe plum and blackberry notes along with smooth toasty notes on the finish. There is a complex herbal side to the wine that melds well and adds to the striking fruit notes. ($21.99)

(93) Abbona Langhe Nebbiolo 2016 (Italy)

A gorgeous, complex nebbiolo that delivers a floral and fruity, slightly herbal nose, combined with an impressive complex red fruit-driven, somewhat-tannic profile on the palate. From the famed Machesi di Barolo, the high quality is not surprising. ($24.99)

(93) Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2016 (CA)

Since 1988, this winery has been producing world-class Burgundian wines. This outstanding dinner wine, made from grapes sourced from the renowned Dutton Ranch and Durrel properties, has a bright nose of lemon zest and tropical fruit, followed by mouth-filling dry mango and a finish of fragrant sweet oak and subtle toffee. Multiple-medal winner. ($39.95)

(93) La Rioja Alta “Arana” Rioja 2009 (Spain)

Powerful and rich — full-bodied flavors of truffle and blueberry. Cellar, or decant now to release all the inviting aromas and flavors of a classic Rioja. Great value. ($30)

(93) Antica Mountain Select Chardonnay 2017 (CA)

Vibrant and rich with enticing aromatics that lead to a firm core of pear, apple and apricot flavors shaded by light spicy oak. On the palate, this Napa Valley wine offers layer upon layer of lingering flavors. The wine highlights varietal purity, elegance and a freshness on the palate. ($33.99)

(93) Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (CA)

A 40-year tradition of excellence continues with winemaker Renee Ary and this classic Napa Cab. Prime sourcing from their own seven-estate vineyard lots is blended with fruit from top valley growers. Aged 16 months in oak, with expressive black fruit notes, softer tannins, hints of spice and pepper. Ready to enjoy now or lay down if you’re patient enough to wait. ($99.99)

(93) n.v. Gruet Brut Rose (New Mexico)

An all-time year-round favorite. Inviting floral bouquet with hints of strawberry. Rich and fruity in a dry brut style. The flavor of berries continues on the palate with a smooth finish. ($17.99)

(92) Latitud 42 Rioja Crianza 2016 (Spain)

A beautiful crianza that is nice and rounded out by the aging process, and that translates to powerful fruit notes that are integrated and ready to drink. Black cherry and spicy peppery notes are followed up by a hint of oak to balance out the fruit-forward nature. Grippy texture, and a long finish. ($15.99)

(92) Meiomi Pinot Noir 2017 (California)

If you like French burgundy then you must give this one a try. Medium-bodied, elegant and smooth, with a palate-pleasing finish of ripe red berries and just a whisper of spice. ($18)

(92) Cyrus Alexander Valley Vineyards 2014 (CA)

Winemaker Kevin Hall continues the Sonoma winery’s Bordeaux homage with this vintage’s 20th release. Nine different vineyard lots, the five classic varietals and 24-month oak aging all help to create the ultimate offering from AVV. Deep rich color, subtle oak, balanced tannins and rich dark chocolate and licorice notes. Very elegant wine — share with your best friends! ($84.99)

(92) Armani Pinot Grigio Colle Ara Valdadige 2018 (Italy)

A deep gold color from some skin contact that gives the wine a density and power that is not stereotypical to your everyday light pinot grigio. With mineral and ripe golden apple, pear and cider notes that go from the nose to the palate, this impressive wine from Armani is a stunner. ($21.99)

(92) Precipice Chardonnay 2018 (CA)

A fruit-forward wine laced with flavors of nectarine, peach and a tropical side with a hint of pineapple. There are savory and citrus notes that speak to the crisp, fruity nature of the wine, along with a slight oak influence to give structure and texture. ($16.99)

(92) Millbrook Proprietor’s Reserve Tocai Friulano 2018 (NY)

Lovers of pinot grigio and falanghina should try this tasty white from the Hudson Valley in NYS. Not too dry, not too sweet. Refreshing aromas and flavors of pear, citrus and kiwi make this a versatile treat with apps, salads, fish and Asian cuisine. ($15)

(92) Chopo Jumilla Monastrell Cabernet 2016 (Spain)

A striking, intense blend that has powerful blackberry and cherry notes mixed with some leathery and meaty savory notes. This wine makes for a complex powerhouse that stands out as a fantastic offering from the underrated Jumilla region. ($16.99)

(92) Siblings-Leuwin Estate Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 60/40 2016 (Australia)

This white Bordeaux lookalike, from Margaret River, is rich, minerally and fantastic. Dry, crisp and begging for some fried seafood. ($21.95)

(92) Sundry Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2017 (CA)

A dark wine that shows cherry, plum and — most notably rich — complex chocolate notes that draw everything together. Smooth textured and energetic, the fruit balance on this Paso Cab is remarkable. ($17.99)

(92) River Road Double Oaked 2018 (CA)

True to its name, this wine is packing tons of oak flavors, and the oak texture notes are front and center. There are fruit flavors of apple and Bartlett pear that almost support the creamy texture and vanilla notes. Both American and French oak is used. ($15.99)

Four Stars

(91) “Pessimist” 2017 (CA)

This complex, big Meritage from the stunning Daou Vineyards showcases why Paso Robles wines are becoming so popular amongst savvy wine drinkers (and industry professionals). Aromatic blueberry and dark cassis flavors fill the glass with a long, lush finish of dark fruit and a touch of fresh leather. Serve with a good goat cheese or grilled lamb/beef. ($22)

(91) NV Bonanza (CA)

Maybe THE sleeper for Californian Cab’s. Made by the Wagners (owners of the legendary Caymus Vineyards), this soft, lush, mouth-filling wine tastes like a young baby Caymus (for a fraction of the price!). Sourced from grapes throughout California, this sets a new benchmark for classy affordable cabs. You can drink this now with Humbolt Fog cheese, roasted rosemary chicken or sip by itself (it is that smooth). ($19)

(91) The Federalist Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel 2016 (CA)

A bourbon barrel-aged wine with self control. This extremely well balanced zinfandel has a delicious layer of rich and savory flavor. Six months in bourbon barrels compliment the soft spice and berry fruit. Amazing to pair with grilled or slow cooked beef. ($22) BD

(91) Valravn Pinot Noir 2017 (CA)

Made from fruit grown in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley and the Sebastopol Hills region of the Sonoma Coast, this shows cherry jam, strawberry and cola notes strewn across a broad, silky palate. ($22.99)

(91) Cloudline Pinot Noir 2018 (OR)

Presenting with aromas of marionberry jam, Bing cherry, pluot and a hint of wintergreen melding with savory meatiness. The juicy palate is packed full of fresh raspberry, huckleberry and blackberry, punctuated by cherry candy and a hint of warm spice. ($23.99)

Feature photo by John Murzaku on Unsplash.


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