I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely ready for some cooler weather… hopefully with some rain. If there’s a fire to be had, I want it in my hearth, not torching the hillside a few miles away.
With cooler temperatures in mind, here’s our annual look at the top 10 wines for the winter season, all drawn from our reviews over the last year and all tailor-made for cool-weather enjoyment.
If you’re looking to pick one up, you can find many of these wines via our partners at Total Wine and Wine.com. Also check out our list of the top 10 wines for summer 2020 — all of which are still perfectly drinkable today.
1. 2013 Sullivan Rutherford James O’Neil Merlot – A silky fruit explosion that drinks like dessert – but which offers ample spice and herbal notes to cut through some of the unctuous fruit. Still drinking at the top of its game. $280
2. 2015 Selvapiana Pomino Rosso Villa Di Petrognano DOC – A super-Tuscan style wine from a tiny region in Chianti, made from 60% Sangiovese and 20% each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Balanced and exciting, with notes running from black cherry to licorice, cola to coffee. Refined and just now starting to settle down, this is an outstanding pick for holiday meals despite its ultra-affordable price tag. $21
3. 2017 Clos Mogador Priorat Gratallops – Priorat is built for cold weather, but this wine has so much life that if you don’t tuck into it until springtime, you needn’t feel bad about it. Silky but incredibly complex, there’s both bright berries and austere tanned leather here, locked together in a gorgeous dance. $100
4. 2018 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Dundee Hills – Pinot is good pretty much any time of the year, but this Oregon bottling has the heft to handle just about anything you might throw at it, densely fruity with a touch of chocolate and a lightly bittersweet finish. $65
5. 2015 Famiglia Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG – Ah, Amarone, the sultry delight of Verona is a classic expression of Amarone at its best: spicy, fruity, with a lick of licorice bringing up the finish. It’s gorgeously constructed with a refreshing, surprisingly approachable finish. $50
6. 2016 Beaulieu Vineyard Maestro Collection Ranch 1 Rutherford – This blend of cabernet sauvignon plus merlot (16%) and petit verdot (6%) is a rich monster that will please any cab fanatic. Blackberries, black cherry, and a grind of pepper give the wine an incredible intensity that finishes with notes of lavender, vanilla, and chocolate. $95
7. 2015 Neyen Espiritu de Apalta Colchagua Valley – Chilean carmenere/cabernet sauvignon blends aren’t often my go-to, but this offering beautifully blends milk chocolate, strawberry, and baking spice notes. The tannins have settled down already, giving the finish an unexpected opulence. $60
8. 2016 Stags’ Leap Winery Malbec Napa Valley – A surprising delight from Stags’ Leap Winery, 100% malbec built to showcase notes of dark chocolate, black raspberry, and currants, with some herbal/spicy elements on the finish. Complex and immersive, save this one for the coolest months (and the biggest meals) of the year. $60
9. 2018 Lula Cellars Pinot Noir Mendocino Peterson Vineyard – Winter wines needn’t be overbearing with tannin or blown-out with fruit. This pinot offers some brightness courtesy of lively cherry and raspberry notes, with a racy acidity to keep the finish clean. $45
10. 2018 Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Woodford Reserve Barrel Finished – Here’s a wild card for number 10, the first and only whiskey-barrel finished wine that I’ve enjoyed. Pinot noir and Woodford Reserve? It’s tart but also sweet, sitting somewhere between dinner and dessert, which is how I suggest drinking it. $50