TOP 12 WINES OF 2017!
Cheese & Wine Traders’
Top 12 Wines of the year.
A Vinous mixtape.
There are few creations as beloved and enduring as wine and song. For this year’s picks, we decided to combine the two in a synesthetic mashup celebrating the pleasures of both. For 2017, each of our selections has a musical pairing instead of a more traditional food-focused suggestion. We hope you discover or rediscover a tune and a wine that combine to bring a smile to your lips and a bit of nourishment to the soul.
Turn it up!
2015 Badia a Coltibuono Cetamura Chianti D.O.C.G.
The Cetamura, named for an ancient Etruscan settlement on the property, was conceived as a young, enjoyably drinkable wine that didn’t scrimp on quality. The fantastic 2015 vintage just made this bargain even better! Cherry, blackberry and plum notes with hints of clove and cinnamon are balanced with harmonious acidity. No oak treatment allows the clarity of the fruit to show through. A steal!!!
Pair with “Bankrobber,” by The Clash.
2015 Chateau L’Argentier Cinsault
Sommieres, Languedoc, France.
Winemaker Francois Jourdan comes from Santenay in Burgundy and brings that elegance to a region better known for BIG, high-yield winemaking. So much so that rivals gripe about the A.O.C. inauthenticity of his wines. Sour grapes indeed as this 100% Cinsault from 40+ year old, organically farmed vines shows raspberry, strawberry and plummy notes. True to the surroundings, there’s a bit of lavender-driven garrigue on the nose. Fresh and lifted, there’s plenty of concentration here as well.
Pair with “Bonnie&Clyde” by Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot.
2015 Maison Yves Duport Fleur de Chardonnay
Ain, Bugey, France.
25+ year old vines, organically grown and a worthy rival to somewhat nearby Rully, this is top-tier Chardonnay.
Citrus, lemon, pear and stone fruits highlight this medium-bodied, impeccably balanced wine. The color is the lighter shade of gold with a telltale green tinge indicative of the crisp freshness that gives it a lovely snap. Stainless elevation ensures forthrightness. You may have found the ONE Chard you’ll love!
Pair with “Out of the Woodwork” by Courtney Barnett.
La Kiuva Arnad-Montjovet Rosso
Valle D’Aosta, Italy.
Truly a labor of love, growing grapes on the terraced slopes of this alpine region is no way to make a fortune. We, however, are fortunate that that’s just what the passionate winemakers at La Kiuva do so well.
Comprised of mainly Picotendro (the local version of Nebbiolo) with Gros Vien, Neyret, Cornalin and Fumin,
there’s intense fruit and depth while still carrying a medium body. Black cherry, raspberry, and violets on the nose and palate with refreshing acidity, it’s a bit rustic yet deliciously approachable. A Classic high elevation, Northern Italian red...bright and fresh.
Pair with “The Mountain” by The Heartless Bastards.
2016 Aviary Cabernet Sauvignon
Founders Gregory Ahn, Matt Scarlett and Jonathan White decided to work for themselves after years in the wine industry. Relationships with many of the best growers enabled them to offer exceptional wines at very reasonable prices. Previous vintages were sourced exclusively from Napa Valley vineyards, but Aviary has expanded to other AVAs for the 2016 Cabernet with no significant loss of quality or style. Red fruits, black cherry, cassis, tobacco, vanilla, cedar and a whiff of smoke with lively acidity combine in this pleasure of a California Cab done right.
Pair with “Ornithology” by Charlie Parker.
Vallformosa Valdelavia Brut Cava
Vilobi de Penedes, Catalonia, Spain.
This dry, organic sparkler is just what you NEED!
Every day is to be celebrated, but Champagne is a touch out of our budgets. Yeasty, brioche and apple are carried on a nervy palate with tropical melon, papaya and green herbs too. This is amazingly well-made in an ocean of mediocre fizzy offerings.
Celebrate your daily little miracles with gusto!
Pair with “El Gusto” by Los Lobos.
2016 Jean Perrier et Fils Abymes Savoie Blanc
100% Jacquere, a grape noted for its keen edge, this mouthwatering white has white gold with subtle green flecks of color and almond, hawthorn, minerality and orange zest on the palate. Crisp vivacity and a delightful hint of bitterness offset by fruitiness make for excellent balance on this cool-climate bargain.
Straightforward winemaking for down to earth enjoyment.
Pair with “Salt of the Earth” by The Rolling Stones.
2016 Goldatzel Johannisberger Riesling-
Vogelsang. Rheingau, Germany.
Here’s a spicy, stoic, firmly chiseled wine with clarity, much like the quartzite soils of the iconic Johannisberg hillside from which the wine’s fruit originates. Vogelsang is in reference to the birdsong of the vineyard’s airborne denizens. This riesling shows lime blossom, white peach, petrol, green mango, white flowers and crushed stone...all the attributes that make rieslings so compelling in precise abundance. There’s mouthwatering acidity and minerality on the finish to demand further examination.
Pair with “Sound and Vision” by David Bowie.
Crotin Monferrato Bianco “Plisun.”
The hills of Italy’s Piedmont never allow one to forget the omnipresence of the mountains. They mark the light, air, soils and waters. This unique white reflects this in delivering crisp refreshment and an enlivening spirit. Plisun is made from organically farmed 100% Bussanello, an all but forgotten varietal derived from a cross of Riesling and Furmint. This white showcases the dry aspects possible with these often fruity grapes. The marine-rich soils (note the fossilized shell on the label) also impart a minerality that furthers the crisp, clean palate. Truly, the folks at Crotin are on it.
Pair with “Check the Rhime” by A Tribe Called Quest.
2015 North Hill Pinot Noir.
Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Bill Holloran doesn’t grow grapes, he grows great wine! North Hill is what happens when nature and man truly cooperate as 2015 was a bountiful year and, Bill being Bill, you make great wine with all that abundance. Bright ruby color, cherry, raspberry, boysenberry, it’s all here with exuberant purity.
Suave tannins and perfect acidity on the sublime finish. Simplicity is never simple. This drinks better than many Willamette Pinots at half their price.
Pair with “Feel It All Around” by Washed Out.
2016 Cave de Saumur Les Pouches
Saumur, Loire Valley, France.
This is textbook Saumur. 100% Cabernet Franc.
Medium-bodied, black fruits with floral aromatics, just the right touch of green with graphite, chalk and stoniness.
There’s also lovely integration of its gritty tannins to support its component parts. It can be quite difficult to find a young wine with such maturity and we’re so glad we did. Saumur is famous for its homes and wineries carved out of the chalky hillsides and this wine takes you to this beautiful place.
Pair with “White Chalk” by P.J. Harvey.
2015 Kobal Sauvignon Blanc
We’re just beginning to see wines from Slovenia in our market and, if Kobal is any indicator, the future is quite bright for this next door neighbor of Italy. This is a sauvignon blanc whose style is an intriguing hybrid of the Loire and Bordeaux. Extended time on the lees give a rich body, but there’s still crispness and snap.
Passion fruit, gooseberry, black currant and grapefruit all join on the palate. There’s nice minerality here too.
Surprisingly complex, You’ll love going back to see what’s next on this welcome newcomer. As with any good wine, you’ll have to share it...after all, nothing is sadder than a glass of wine alone.
Pair with “Cry To Me” by Solomon Burke.