While I lack Neal’s talent or experience in this genre, I was invited to address one or more personal highlights of my year. If you and I are lucky, the recitation might pleasantly distract us from the symptoms of social and governmental dysfunction that have been so conspicuously in evidence. There was one vinous event in which I participated that could conceivably be set alongside the year’s many cultural calamities as “historic.”
Two thousand eighteen was a fabulous year full of highlights. More than anything else, though, as I type this, I realize how extraordinarily fortunate I am to do what I love more than anything each and every day for work. I hope readers will enjoy this look back at 2018. If you don’t, it is all Neal Martin’s fault – he pushed me to write about my favorite experiences of the year.
featured, Piedmont, Italy: Piedmont
Asti and Moscato d’Asti are two of Italy’s best-known and most delicious sparkling wines. Light in alcohol and strong on flavor, Asti and Moscato d’Asti are the ultimate party wines, but they can be remarkably nuanced and terroir-specific, too.
featured, Italy: North
Franciacorta makes arguably Italy’s best sparkling wines. Riper and rounder than Champagne, and made from blends of Pinot Nero, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco (not Pinot Meunier), Franciacorta offers a lovely alternative to the world’s best-known bubbly.
featured, France: Champagne, France
A recent vertical of 1980s Cristals was the third chapter in a remarkable series of tastings I have been fortunate to experience at Roederer over the last few years. In each of those occasions, I have come away with a deeper understanding of what makes Cristal and Cristal Rosé so special. For this tasting, longtime Chef de Caves Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon presented a complete vertical of the 1980s Cristals, all from the original disgorgements, for what turned out to be an unforgettable survey of a decade during which so much changed in Champagne.
Since 2003 I have always looked back upon the previous twelve months to assess what kind of year it has been in terms of wine, also the most memorable tastings, dinners and events. Life is not just about fermented grape juice, so my review includes music, film and anything that really crossed my mind at time of writing. This is my 2018.
featured, United States: California
Napa Valley enjoyed an extraordinary vintage in 2016. The bottled 2016s are every bit as viscerally thrilling as they were last year when I tasted them from barrel. Best of all, 2016 is a captivating vintage from top to bottom, with a bevy of stunning wines for every palate and budget, as well as a number of bottles that are destined to become icons.
The tension and excitement (in a single German word, “Spannung”) that attended the 2016 growing season for Austrian Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, as well as the resulting wines, were predictably nowhere more evidenced than in the Wachau and Kamptal. Lovers of Austrian Riesling and Grüner Veltliner are likely to discover much joy in investigating and drinking the finest 2016s.
Verticals & Retrospectives, featured, Piedmont, Italy: Piedmont
Asili is arguably one of Italy’s greatest vineyards, and Ceretto owns probably its best section, the bricco at the top of the hill. Ceretto’s Barbaresco Asili ages splendidly and can rightly claim its place among Italy’s most distinctive red wines.
Verticals & Retrospectives, featured, Portugal, Fortified Wines & Spirits, Fortified Wines & Spirits
“Port is for life, not just for Christmas.” True, though I am sure sales figures would confirm that more bottles of port, in all its multifarious forms - Vintage, Ruby, Tawny, Single Quinta, Colheita, White or Crusted - are ceremoniously passed to the left over the festive period than at any other time of the year. So it would be remiss of me not to offer Vinous readers an early Christmas present in the shape of a port-themed article.