Wine Enthusiast Magazine

THE ENTHUSIAST 100 OF 2020

This is it, folks. The end of 2020 is in sight. At the finish line of such a difficult year, it’s cathartic to remember some positives that occurred in the last 12 months.

This year, for example, our global team of editors and tasters cumulatively reviewed more than 25,000 wines. For the November issue, we used those selections to put together a list of the Top 100 wines for $15 or under. We then followed that up in the December issue with a list of the Top 100 wines to stash away in the cellar.

Now comes the ultimate, The Enthusiast 100.

A ranking of the top wines we tasted over the last 12 months, this roster represents some of the most exciting finds on the market today. Well-loved categories like Argentine Malbec, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and California Pinot Noir are present and accounted for, but there’s also plenty to discover beyond the mainstream, with Italian Lambrusco, Washington Grenache, Tasmanian sparkling wines and beyond.

At the number one spot this year is a Napa Cabernet icon that delivers on its immense level of quality, attainable price and wide availability—a trifecta that is often hard to come by in such a premium wine region. The list as a whole is built to please a range of palates and budgets, so you’ll find everything from widely available, attractively priced bottles to small-production, natural offerings that wine lovers are geeking out over and everything in between.

With an average score of 93 points and average price of $34, these selections are ripe for the picking.

1

97 Lail 2017 Blueprint Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Made by Philippe Melka and his team, this is a grippy, earthy wine, vibrant in blue fruit, plum and sage. Round, lush and opulent on the palate, it glides seamlessly across supple, integrated tannin and oak, effortlessly incorporating 11% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. The vineyard sources range from the producer’s Mole Hill Estate on Howell Mountain to the cooler reaches of Coombsville. —V.B.

abv: 14.9% Price: $80

2

96 Trimbach 2017 Sélection de Vieilles Vignes Riesling (Alsace). Initial smoky notes of reduction make way for a pervasive, subtle but luminous lemon freshness on the nose of this wine. The palate shows exquisite concentration in lemon freshness. It’s bone dry, vivid and fresh. Drink until 2045. Taub Family Selections. Editors’ Choice. —A.K.

abv: 13.5% Price: $36

3

97 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona 2015 Brunello di Montalcino. Enticing aromas of ripe wild berry, iris, camphor and sunbaked soil take shape in the glass. Full in feel and enveloping, the smooth, delicious palate doles out juicy Marasca cherry, raspberry jam, licorice and tobacco while firm, velvety tannins provide support. It boasts concentration and structure but also balance, thanks to the fruit richness and freshness. Drink 2023–2030. Indigenous Selections. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

abv: 14.5% Price: $50

4

93 Luca 2018 Old Vine Malbec (Uco Valley). Concentrated black-fruit aromas alongside hints of cardamom and coriander open this lush Malbec. Blackberry, cassis and dark plum flavors are pure and agile on the palate. Enjoy through 2024. Vine Connections. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.

abv: 13.5% Price: $35

5

94 Paula Kornell NV Brut Méthode Champenoise (California). This inaugural release is stunning and incredibly impressive—a wine well worth stocking up on for the price and quality. A beautiful jasmine aroma leads to marzipan, peach and cherry flavors as lively acidity envelopes the palate. It’s a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. Editors’ Choice. —V.B.

abv: 12% Price: $22

6

95 Domaine de la Solitude 2017 Red (Châteauneuf-du-Pape). Whiffs of dried strawberry and cherry mingle into darker notes of smoke and spice in this perfumed blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. A luscious, voluminous sip, it floods the palate with primary cherry and raspberry flavors but also a crush of minerals, too. This readily approachable wine with fine, silky tannins should gain earthier complexities through 2030. Dreyfus, Ashby & Co. Editors’ Choice. —A.I.

abv: 14.5% Price: $48

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