Big Splurges $75+, Buys $25 and under, Lisa's Whites, Red; Mostly Napa Cabs, Rosé Rosato etc., Tastings

Our Top 10 Wines of 2021

After the wreck of 2020 all eyes looked towards 2021 for, what? Normalcy? Comfort? How’d that work out? As we look ahead to 2022, let’s revisit the 10 wines that brought us the most joy while we all suffered the slings and arrows of an outrageous 2021.


Favorite White

Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Feinherb Spatlese, $25
Selbach-Oster, Mosel, Germany
Where to buy: Vivino
Herbal notes, with nice balance of residual sugar and acidity; crisp and full-bodied. The 2014 we tasted is likely unavailable now, but the 2017 and 2019 have been very well-reviewed

Best Value

Good Earth White Wine 2020, $16
Silver Thread Vineyard, Lodi, NY
Where to buy: Dion’s Wine online or Waltham, MA.
The off-dry Good Earth combines classic Finger Lakes Riesling with two white hybrid grapes developed by Cornell U. The alchemy produces a wine with beautiful citrus and melon aromas and a palate that starts warm and honeyed but ends with bright acidity and a hint of spice.

Rosato Pantumas Cannanou di Sardegna Rosato 2017, $30
Cantina Lilliu, Sardinia, Italy
Where to buy: Eataly Boston
A beautiful amber color with a floral/fruity nose. Hint of licorice on the palate, along with flavors of apricots and orange. A slight fizz, light acidity, and a long finish adds to the wine’s charms

Cava Coral Brut Rosé, $22
Roger Goulart, Barcelona, Spain
Where to buy: Vivino
A blend of Pinot Noir and Garnacha, this Cava boasts a shimmering pale salmon color and lovely strawberry and peach flavors. We bought a case at the beginning of the year and, um, it’s all gone. It was that kind of year!

Favorite Red

Lion Tamer Red Blend 2018, $50
Hess, Napa Valley, CA
Where to buy: Hess;
A crazy-quilt of reds, mostly Malbec (47%) and Zinfandel (24%) with lesser amounts of Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Carignan. A real crowd-pleaser, with black cherry/blackberry compote on the palate, leather cigar box on the nose and a long, juicy black fruit finish.

Best Value

Ad Hoc Primitivo di Manduria 2020, $16
Tenuta Giustini, Puglia, Italy
Where to buy: Vivino
We loved our visit to Tenuta Giustini’s winery during our 2019 trip to Puglia. Finally, they’ve got distribution in the US, with a very well-priced, delicious Primitivo. Black raspberry, blackberry and licorice flavors, with a very smooth finish. If you can find it, buy it

Papillon Napa Valley Red Wine 2018, $70
Orin Swift, St. Helena/Napa, CA
Where to buy: Vivino, Orin Swift
A Bordeaux blend made with grapes from vineyards across Napa Valley. Even at this young age, its mouth-feel (fine silk/velvet tannins) and pure unadulterated raspberry/blackberry/mulberry notes are just perfection.

Palermo Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, $50
Orin Swift, St. Helena/Napa, CA
Where to buy: 2018 very hard to find; 2019 available at Vivino, Orin Swift
Take 2 from Orin Swift. Don’t let the macabre label scare you away from this amazing Cab. Toasty oak and cigar box on the nose with notes of deep black fruit. The black fruit carries well into the palate with an excellent balance of fruit and structure. One of the best values in premium Napa wines in this inflated market.

Hartwell Vineyards Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, $150
Hartwell Vineyards, Stag’s Leap/Napa, CA
Where to buy: Vivino
The Hartwell Reserve is an outstanding Cab, with its black-garnet color, notes of blackberry/toasted oak on the nose, and smooth black fruit on the palate. We shared our last bottle with friends over a dinner of homemade 3-meat Bolognese…perfecto!

Coeur De Vigne 2017, $110
Sullivan Wine, Rutherford/Napa, CA
Where to buy: Wine Country Connection, Sullivan Wine
The quintessential Napa Cabernet Sauvignon; beautiful in its layers and silky smooth taninns. At a recent wine dinner, the Coeur de Vigne rose to the top as the surprise winner. Easily as good as Silver Oak Napa in its finesse.

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