Join us at the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Symposium in NYC on January 14, 2020 to taste a diverse range of great wines. Here’s a snapshot of the year’s highest scoring wines by country, just a small sample of the top-scoring wines being poured…
Argentina — Familia Zuccardi
2018 Tupungato Alto Poligonos Malbec (95 points)
This wine comes from malbec grown at nearly 4,500 feet of altitude in a vineyard covered with stones rich in calcium carbonate. Vinified in unlined concrete tanks with ambient yeasts, it stuns with its purity, the red fruit flavors seeming to radiate sunshine and coolness in their crisp snap. It’s malbec with finesse, energy and grace. —Tara Q. Thomas
Armenia — Zorah
2016 Rind Karasì (94 points)
Made from a massal selection of areni that Zorah’s team gathered from the area’s ancient abandoned vineyards, this was fermented spontaneously in unlined concrete vats, then aged in traditional Armenian earthenware karases. The wine seems to capture the coolness of the air in the vineyard, which sits at 4,500 feet in altitude, the texture sheer and delicate despite the depth of dark-plum fruit.
Australia — Penfolds
2014 South Australia Grange Shiraz (96 points)
A plump, succulent Grange with complex layers of flavor, this wine is completely savory and ripe. The flavors might bring to mind black olive, black currant and seedy blackberries, accelerated by the espresso scents of new oak. There’s a restrained, slow-motion mineral explosion in the end, taking days to develop, lasting with a formality and elegance that belies the wine’s intoxicating richness. —Josh Greene
Austria — Salomon-Undhof
2017 Kremstal Pfaffenberg Erste Lage Reserve Riesling (95 points)
This comes from old vines deeply rooted into a steep hill of granite and gneiss that looms over the Danube. The wine dances with energy. It’s not just the vivid acidity, it’s also how much detail the wine packs in—notes of lilies and Meyer lemons, grapefruit and dried apple, along with a mossy savor that runs underneath. —T.Q.T.
Chile — Concha y Toro
2016 Puente Alto Don Melchor Puente Alto Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (95 points)
Don Melchor grows at a 324-acre vineyard devoted to the wine. This 2016 has the lean build of a marathon runner, dynamic and graceful in its structural intensity and black-currant freshness. The tannins have the clarity of cabernet rooted in river stones, the fruit cooled by winds from the Andes. —J.G.
Chile — Tabalí
2018 Limari Valley Talinay Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (95 points)
The vines of the Talinay vineyard, growing in fractured, porous limestone soils at this cool, windy site, produce mineral-driven wines, such as this sauvignon blanc. Vinified in stainless-steel tanks, it stands out for the clarity of its oceanic flavors, its salinity buffered by a rich complexity of fruit, from guava to green apple. —J.G.
France — Bollinger
2004 Champagne RD Extra Brut (98 points)
Bollinger’s 2004 RD is a joyous wine, staunch, cold and powerful at first, transforming to fresh fruit shadowed by darker tones of barrel fermentation. As it opens in the glass, floral pear and apple flavors emerge, the wine resonant with a sense of limestone capturing the sun and reflecting it back in pale power. —J.G.
Greece — Estate Argyros
2011 Vinsanto 4 Years Barrel Aged (97 points)
The last vintage made by winemaker Matthew Argyros’s father, Yiannis Argyros, this is also one of his finest: Held in oak barrels for four years, it stuns with its power, the acidity and sugar delivering honeyed flavors with spine-tingling intensity. It tastes of butter toffee and orange zest, vanilla and lemon, with herbal notes that give it briskness and clarity, making it remarkably easy to drink. Masterful. —T.Q.T.
Hungary — Royal Tokaji
2013 Tokaji Aszú First Growth Betsek 6 Puttonyos (97 points)
This comes off a cool spot in Betsek, a parcel close to the Bodrog river. That coolness, amplified by a cold snap in September, preserved enough acidity to keep this wine’s sweetness buzzing and weightless. It tastes like a heady cloud of lemon blossoms and marmalade, apricot jam and wildflower honey, and it feels energizing in its intensity and verve. —T.Q.T.
Italy — Elvio Cogno
2013 Barolo Ravera Bricco Pernice (97 points)
The long, slow-ripening season of 2013 produced an especially racy and exciting Bricco Pernice. It combines power and energy with precision and elegance, the fresh red-cherry flavors coiled around dense, taut tannins and laced with notes of white pepper and cool mineral tones. —Stephanie Johnson
Italy — Tenuta San Guido
2015 Bolgheri Sassicaia (97 points)
The 2015 Sassicaia is fine-boned and silky, combining the elegance and balance of a fine Left Bank Bordeaux with the sun-drenched flavors of fruit grown on the Tuscan coast. The wine aged for two years in French oak barrels, just one-third new, lending subtle spice and licorice notes to the saturated black-cherry and raspberry flavors. —S.J.
Portugal — W&J Graham’s
2017 Porto Vintage The Stone Terraces (100 points)
The Stone Terraces buzzes with purple berry flavor, an olfactory hallucination of Douro Superior sweetness in the pure, minor key of Malvedos. It’s like sour black cherries amplified and deepened into an identifiable perfume, the tartness of the fruit and the schist of the tannins layering that chord of flavor. If you’ve been to Malvedos, that scent may evoke a memory of the Douro’s mix of olive trees, orange trees and deep-rooted vines. If you haven’t, the purity of this wine may tempt you to go. —J.G.
South Africa — Mullineux
2017 Swartland Straw Wine (97 points)
This is an unusual wine, made from chenin blanc picked at normal ripeness levels and then dried outdoors on straw mats until the grapes are halfway to raisins. What little juice Andrea Mullineux extracts from the fruit, she puts into barrels and allows to ferment for as long as it needs; in the process, she tops up some barrels and leaves others to oxidize. The 2017 feels like velvet, each sip delivering a tidal wave of flavor—grilled apricot, fresh pineapple, honey and hay—and yet it feels weightless. —T.Q.T.
Spain — Suertes del Marqués
2017 Tenerife Valle de la Orotava El Chibirique Viñas Viejas Listán Negro (95 points)
El Chibirique is a small ampitheater facing east where the vines are between 60 and 80 years old, their canes braided in the long, horizontal serpentine twists of the local tradition. The volcanic soils and traditional viticulture deliver a wine with raw mineral power that slowly shifts toward richness in fragrant flavors of black cherry and plum skin. The wine’s facets evolve for hours, focusing in on a pure and compelling taste of a beautiful place. —J.G.
United States — Ridge
2016 Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello Vineyard (96 points)
A wine destined to evolve for decades, the 2016 is a muscular vintage of Monte Bello. It’s a strapping young cabernet, infused with energy, concentrated with flavors of fresh blackberries and blueberries, with a density that mutes any overt oak influence. The ridge where it’s grown provides an awesome view of the San Francisco Bay and the redwood-clad Santa Cruz Mountains, and this wine has the potential to inspire the same sort of awe. —J.G.
United States — W.T. Vintners
2016 Walla Walla Valley Damavian Blocks 30 & 31 Les Collines Syrah (96 points)
A cool site in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, Les Collines vineyard gives wines that are spicy and ethereal. The 2016 is hauntingly savory, with a seemingly boundless array of scents—smoke, creosote, violets, sage, peppermint, iodine, sassafras, rosemary and lavender. With it’s brisk, wind-swept feel, this is an exceptionally elegant incarnation of Walla Walla syrah. —Patrick J. Comiskey
Taste these and more of the top-scoring wines of 2019 at the Top 100 Symposium in NYC.
This story was featured in W&S Winter 2019.
This story appears in the print issue of Winter 2019.
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