Hard to imagine that the year is coming to an end. It’s even harder to imagine that we celebrated our 70th year in business this year!
But this year was not really different than any other year: I tasted a lot of wine! After all, some one has to make sure that everything we bring in is up to snuff. As I was thinking about some of the highlights of what I’ve tasted over the past 12 months, I started thinking: what were my favorites? What wines stood out as truly great wines and great values? What just blew me away?
So I posed the question to my wife, Carol, my son, Dougy, long-time Shubie’s Wine Guy, Kevin Mahoney, and Chef Kate Hammond. It wasn’t easy (there’s a lot of wine here that we all just love!) but after some debating, we each managed to narrow it down to one wine for each of us that just stood out above the rest. So here they are: Shubie’s 2018 wines of the year.
I was at a small trade tasting with Dougy back in November. There were only about 20 wines or so, but as soon as I tasted the Calvarino I turned to Dougy and said, “Woah. This is some major league wine.” I haven’t got over this wine since!
Not only are the wines of Pieropan considered to be among the best in the Soave region, many consider them to be among the premier whites produced in Italy. The generous Calvarino establishes a benchmark for quality.
Made from grapes grown in the family’s original vineyard property in the heart of Soave, the aroma is fresh and flowery with hints of lemon, and the savory palate delivers layers of lemony and tangy mineral notes. Unoaked, it’s concentrated, yet elegant and thoroughly delicious. I find it remarkable that twenty-five years ago, you could barely find three quality Italian white wines. And now I have one as my wine of the year!
Abadia Retuerta Seleccion Especial
Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah
Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah
I’ve really been on a Spanish wine kick lately. Whether I’m enjoying a glass at home or out to eat, I seem to gravitate towards Spanish reds. I’ve also never been to Spain (hint, hint dad!), so we can consider this “research” for when I do make it over.
The Abadia Retuerta estate is located just on the border of the Ribera del Duero (northern Spain) and kind of flies under the radar. I love the wine because it combines the richness of Tempranillo, the elegance of Cabernet and the power of Syrah. The award-winning wine is full in body, but elegant at the same time. The red fruit flavors are gently brushed with oak notes and give off a rich bouquet that is harmonious, well-balanced and expressive.
Tornatore, Etna Rosso
Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio
I’m not sure what I love most about the holiday meal: the wine or the food! But one thing I do know is that the wine has to pair well with the food. When Tornatore Etna Rosso hit our shelves I was immediately intrigued by the obscurity of the wine. The wine region was basically totally unknown ten years ago, and now it is all the rage.
From the volcanic hills of Sicily, Etna Rosso is almost a bit reminiscent of Pinot Noir. It’s wonderfully floral with hints of black cherry, and though slightly lighter in color, the wine has seriously concentrated flavor. Etna Rosso has structure, yet at the same time carries itself with a delightful sense of elegance and balance. A totally versatile and food friendly wine the that will pair well with most meat dishes and poultry preparations…just make sure to save me a plate and a glass!
Grenache, Carignan, Syrah
While I may spend most of time behind the food counter, I certainly enjoy a nice glass of wine and can certainly spot a good value. Domaine Cabirau hits the mark exactly!
This is a real stunning wine at $17/bottle. The wine is full of plum and blackberry fruit, has soft tannins to give structure, yet still maintains a silky, smooth texture. Plus, sustainable agricultural practices are used to farm the vineyards. I love a glass of Cabirau on a Sunday afternoon with a roast chicken…can’t be beat!
When I was on vacation this summer I asked George to pick out a few bottles of wine for me. He said, “Kate, if you’re having oysters at all, you have to open up this bottle.” It’s like he knew what my plans were for vacation before I did!
Bramito is a lovely and expressive Italian Chardonnay that is perfectly food-friendly and has an informal approach. The bouquet is fragrant and fresh with peach, apple, honey and tropical fruit. The wine shows fresh and complex aromas with delicate notes of tropical fruit. Great structure, elegance and wonderfully vibrant. Start the holiday meal off with this baby!