It may still be hot out, but rest assured, winter is coming, and sooner than you’d think. For this inaugural edition of Drinkhacker’s Top 10 Wines for Winter, 2020 edition, we’ve dug into the last year’s worth of wine reviews – along with a few wines we didn’t formally review – to pull out a list of 10 bottles to add to your collection for cold weather drinking. These wines are focused on heartier reds, though we’re also including some celebratory sparkling bottles that should fit in perfectly with your holiday celebrations.
Without further ado, let’s dive in. (Note: All prices are based on the most recently available market prices.)
1. 2014 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder (California) – With this mountain cab, Freemark Abbey is firing on all cylinders. A deceptively gentle body kicks off with notes of dark chocolate, raspberries, and blueberries, then folds in layers of baking spice and, ultimately, some brambly notes that evoke charred wood. The tannins are integrating beautifully here, though the wine still has some time left ahead for further improvement. A killer. $100 -CN
2. 2006 Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut “Cuvee Nicolas Francois” (France) – A beautifully dry vintage Champagne, paired with a pushy, powerful body. With none of the yeasty notes typical of the style, Cuvee Nicolas lets nutty and fresh brioche notes shine alongside a growing grapefruit character. The choice for your New Year’s toast! $160 -CN [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
3. 2017 Quinta do Noval Vintage Port Nacional (Portugal) – Quinta do Noval’s Nacional bottling is an unbelievable rarity – and the most expensive vintage Port on the market, alas – but if you can find (and afford) this release, it’s worth it. It’s a beast of a wine, bold with chocolate and vanilla notes up front, delving from there into an incredibly deep level of tannin, featuring tobacco, tar, and licorice before finishing on a citrus note. As gorgeous now as it will be in 2050. $1000 -CN [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
4. 2006 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva (Spain) – The exceptional 2006 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva will treat the taster to robust aromas of red fruit, leather, earth, and dried herbs. It’s well balanced too with acid, tannin, weight and alcohol all keeping one another in check. The wine is grippy and hearty enough for red meat, yet it isn’t so hefty as to overpower poultry or pork. A great wine from a consistently excellent producer. $40 -SA [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
5. 2017 Bouchard Pere & Fils Chambertin-Clos de Beze Grand Cru (France) – I love Burgundy in the winter, and this top of the line bottling from Bouchard Pere is the perfect example why. Chewy and bold, it mixes spice and pepper notes with dried fruit on its powerful, seductive body. Gorgeous. $305 -CN
6. 2012 Domaine Carneros Le Reve (California) – This sparkler is a beautifully fruity concoction of apples and pears, touched with notes of peaches and lemon. The bubbles are perfectly integrated into a wine that offers the lightest touch of brioche atop a creamy, almost pillow texture. An excellent celebration wine at an approachable price point. $97 -CN [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
7. 2017 Maple Creek Winery Artevino Pinot Noir Estate Yorkville Highlands (California) – Fresh and fruit-focused, with ample blackberry and blueberry jam notes, but this wine is nonetheless ready to stand up to colder months and bolder meals, with notes of clove and cedar box adding a brooding complexity. $45 -CN
8. 2015 Primus The Blend Apalta (Chile) – A stealth, blue chip Chilean blend of cabernet, merlot, carmenere, and more, this wine has an incredible depth, loaded with chocolate and cassis. There’s an unusual botanical and spicy element here, a curious edge that hints at a bounty of elements ranging from honeysuckle to wet earth, dried flowers to toasted coconut. Again and again I went back to Primus to pick out new flavors and experiences, and again and again I found myself surprised. And now for the big reveal, the price tag: $16 -CN
9. 2016 Cartograph Pinot Noir Estate (California) – Another powerhouse pinot noir, this one made from estate fruit. Bold cherry and orange peel notes contribute to an impossibly bright body. Starry and acidic, it shows a touch of mint on the lively finish. $68 -CN
10. 2012 Masi Costasera Amarone (Italy) – This widely available Amarone is deep and rich. At 15% alcohol, this wine will keep you warm on a winter night, and while it goes very well with a range of foods, I like to just sit with it after dinner. If someone has another Amarone to recommend that is equally as good but perhaps less expensive, I would happily cede my selection. $40 -RL [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
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