Points on Wine - Top 10 Wines of 2018!
With 2018 drawing to a close, I thought it would be best to discuss and reveal the 'Top 10 Wines of 2018'. With hundreds of wines tasted, 2018 has been a year of new countries and new discoveries. I visited new wine regions, including Chile, Argentina and Portugal. I evaluated the 2015 Bordeaux En Primeur and the 2016 Vintage Port's. Finally I attended the New York Wine Experience, the ultimate wine event for wine lovers.
The Top 10 was a difficult to list to compile. One of the criteria as previously discussed, was availability. I have a few special mentions of wines which blew me away, however since they are produced in such small numbers, I cannot include them in the Top 10.
Two producers that I met during 2018, Ritual wines from Casablanca in Chile and Vale Dona Maria from the Douro in Portugal blew me away with their wines. Unfortunately due to their low production, I cannot include them in the Top 10. However if you ever get a chance to try these wines, I highly recommend them. The best wines tried from these producers are:
Ritual Super Block, Chardonnay(96 points) and Pinot Noir (96 points)
Vale Dona Maria Vinha de Martim(95 points) and Vinha da Francisca (95 points)
So without any more waiting, find below my 'Top 10 Wines of 2018'. My wine of the year was the Joseph Phelps Insignia 2015. This was was just stunning in every sense of the word. In an evening where I tried the top California Cabernets; Bond and Harlan as well as the First Growths of Bordeaux; Lafite Rothschild, Mouton and Haut Brion. This just stood head and shoulders above. My second and third wines shows how Bordeaux is back with the Chateau Clinet 2015 and a rising star in the Chilean wine of Almaviva 2015. What I am most excited in the coming years is the true potential of the upcoming new wine regions of the world, such as Chile and Argentina. These regions will continue to shine and ensure that France and Italy keep improving. I hope you find a chance to try some of the below wines.
Some of the Top 10 wines + Special mentions!
Top 10 wines of 2018
1) Joseph Phelps Insignia 2015, Napa, California, USA - 99 points
The moment you smell this wine, you know you are in for something special. This wine is stunning just stunning! They make close to 12,000 cases and there is so little variation bottle to bottle. A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec from estate grown vineyards. Aged for 24 months in 100% new french oak. Notes of fresh blackberry, dark cherry, with secondary notes of cedar, chocolate, a little espresso and spice. The tannins and acidity are so well balanced and velvety smooth. The finish is so wonderfully layered and it just felt like a rollercoaster that never ends. A remarkable Insignia, slightly better than the 2013 and will only get better. To drink now, however will be better from 2022 - 2040.
2) Chateau Clinet 2015, Pomerol, France - 99 points
A blend of 90% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Cabernet Franc. Aged in both new and 1 year old french oak for 16 months. Best 2015 en Primeur wine I tried during the evening, I was expecting Canon to sweep these awards but no Clinet won hands down. light red fruit, plums, cherries, chocolate velvety texture, smooth tannins. Nice depth of truffle and mushrooms, the length goes on forever. This is perfectly balanced now and I cannot see how it just won't get better. This will hit 100 points, however there is nothing stopping you from enjoying this today. Drink from 2025-2045.
3) Almaviva 2015, Maipo Valley, Chile - 98 points
A partnership between the Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Vina Concha Y Toro. This is a true Chilean wine, with a blend of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Carmenere, 5% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Aging was 82% new french oak for 18 months. Lush plum, cherry a little chocolate and vanilla. This is really phenomenal in every sense, perfectly balanced, even at this age. Balance is perfect and the length lasts minutes, wow. Already bought some. This has huge aging potential, probably the best Chilean wine on the market today.
4) Masseto 2009, Tuscany, Italy - 99 points
Known as the Petrus of Italy, this 100% Merlot is aged in new french oak barrels for 24 months. This was sublime with elegance, elegance and elegance. Cherry, plum, velvety chocolate with a delicate, complex and smooth finish. The finish lasts for 60 seconds. Wow!
5) Cos d'Estournel 2010, Saint-Estèphe, Bordeaux, France - 98 points
Most talk about the high prices of the 2009 vintage, however the 2010 is significantly cheaper and more often than not, more approachable. Welcome the Cos d'Estournel 2010. A blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1 % Petit Verdot. Wow! What a fabulous wine, barely entering its drinking window and this is going to last for decades to come. How can I get some bottles? I wish I would have bought this En Primeur. Notes of blackberry, blackcurrent, dark plum, cedar and a little cacao with a long fine finish which is making you itch to have another sip. This is very powerful yet approachable Cos d'Estournel. Drink 2018-2050.
6) Dutton Goldfield Walker Hill Vineyard 2015, Russian River Valley, California, USA - 95 points
This is good stuff. Produced in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley, aged for 17 months in 50% new oak. Stone fruit, citrus and light tropical fruits on the nose, the palate I found notes of pineapple, citrus peel, lemon meringue pie with a soft elegant finish, good acidity and drinking very nicely now. This finish goes on and on and on. Burgundy style with a California kiss. Drink now over the next 5 years.
7) Bruno Clair Vosne-Romanée 2014, Côte de Nuits, Burgundy, France - 94 points
If you don't like this wine, then you don't like Burgundy! This has a wonderful red-brown colour, just by the nose you know you are in for something special, notes of perfectly ripe cherries and raspberries lead on to a soft delicate palate with well-balanced tannins and acidity, a small amount of vanilla, forest floor, and cloves add to the already bouquet of fruits which complete this wine. Everything is in just the right proportion, with the finish perfectly executed. This is just entering into its drinking window, however, this has a good life ahead of it. This is typical Vosne-Romanee and is why I love Burgundy Pinot's.
8) Clos Apalta 2015, Rapel Valley, Chile - 96 points
Another wonderful wine from Chile. Blend of 70% Carmenère, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. Aged for 28 months in 100% new French oak. This wine has notes of dark cherries, plum amazing acidity with layered velvety chocolate and a little spice for a finish. This is a little green as others have said, however, I found the balance excellent along with the acidity. Wonderful showcase of the Carmenère grape.
9) Montes Purple Angel 2015, Rapel Valley, Chile - 96 points
Close to perfection for a Carmenère, blend of 92% Carmenère and 8% Petit Verdot aged in new french oak for 18 months. Fantastic colour. Notes of raspberry, green pepper, peppercorn and nutmeg. Perfectly balanced from the second it hits the palate, the depth is perfect and the length is long and goes on for minutes. Really enjoyed this now, however this will only get better over the next 5+ years
10) Chateau d'Yquem 2015, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France - 99 points
A top 10 would not be complete without a desert wine, and this was by far the best sweet wine I tried all year. Blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon. The balance of this wine is just phenomenal. Stewed pears, apricots, figs, pie crust, vanilla, coconut, honey, beeswax with a rich and full finish which then lingers and finishes with a soft and delicate final finish. There are no words to describe this wine. It is a 99-100 point. When I spoke to Pierre Lurton and asked if this would ever be better than the 2001, he smiled and said yes....
I hope that some of your favourite are in the list above and you will get the chance to try these over the coming months. I would love to hear your favourite wines you have tried this year, I will try my best to taste them!
I look forward to trying more wines in 2019, with trips planned to Australia, Oregon, California and Italy. The journey continues...