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J. Lohr's Proprietary Red Wine (2018) is just one of the top 10 wines in 2021. Photo via Facebook/J. Lohr
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Taste of Wine: Top 10 wines coming to a wine shop near you

Wine lovers are coming out of the closet in droves and saluting a strong year of wine and dine joy. Rico and I have again found ten beauties in the first half of 2021 that should be in your cooler to salute this comeback economy.

My five consists of 3 Paso Robles winners that best represent this burgeoning wine country of over 200 wineries. I’ve got a new Bordeaux style blend from DAOU Family Estates, a Syrah with a spritz of Viognier and Roussanne from Denner and an elegant cabernet/Petite Sirah from J.Lohr.

The five fill out with a pinot noir from Sonoma, made by Far Niente and an eight-grape blend from Chile that made 95 points from noted wine critic James Suckling.

Coyam Vina Emiliana Red Blend Chile 2018. $35.

This wine has incredible boldness and a sense of adventure as the winemaker has taken no less than 8 red wines and mixed a master blend expressed in organic and biodynamic agriculture, obtaining the essence of the offering in the richly endowed Colchagua Valley.

The dominant varietal is Syrah at 62% and in diminishing order, Coyam has Carmenere, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, malbec, Carignan, tempranillo and mourvedre. Coyam has a wide distribution in Vons and Gelson’s (Emiliana.cl)

Denner Dirt Worshipper Red Blend Paso Robles 2018. $75.    

DirtWorshipper was made by Ron Denner as a tribute to and to show the versatility of Syrah wines. It’s got 98% syrah, with 1% Roussanne and 1% Viognier co-fermented to add floral components to this hedonistic wine. Wine Spectator caught on and made it the No. 18 wine in the world for 2019 (Dennervineyards.com).

Daou Family Estate Cuvee Lizzy Paso Robles 2019. $85.

If you’re a frequent reader of TASTE OF WINE & FOOD you are by now familiar with the greatness of the Daou family of fine wines and the great strides that have been made to raise the bar of wine appreciation in the Paso Robles wine district.

The 2019 Daou Cuvee Lizzy is another premium wine from the Adelaida District of Paso Robles. Courtesy photo

With the highest quality guidelines, Daou has again demonstrated a consistent wine style that has won the hearts of those who demand the highest quality in the wines they prefer.

The Cuvee Lizzy is a signature Bordeaux-style blend, bursting with a floral bouquet of lilac and violet. A full-bodied palate flavor displays phenomenal texture and impressive fruit quality, revealing deep flavors of blackberry, blueberry and black current.

The entire experience is seamless through the finish, backed by a structure that will enable the wine to age beautifully in the bottle. The blend is: 49% malbec, 29% petit verdot, 14% cabernet franc and 8% cabernet sauvignon (daouvineyards.com).

EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir Sonoma 2018.  $60.

This exciting new pinot is the result of a new approach to wine production from the celebrated Far Niente winery in Napa Valley. It is their passion to produce this pinot noir blend, named for an apple orchard that once flourished in the Russian River Valley. Dark berry flavors embellish accents of clove and forest floor, to make this pinot lush and silky from start to luscious finish (Enroutewinery.com).

Lohr Pure Paso Proprietary Red Blend Paso Robles 2018. $27.

Lush taste and an unbelievable value pretty much sum up this stand-up wine, our third spotlight bottle from Paso Robles. A closer look and taste reveals that the 69% cabernet sauvignon is fortified by 27% Petite Sirah and 1% syrah. I love this combination with the black cherry statement of dark fruit and subtle spice (Jlohr.com).

Rico’s Picks

I loved Frank’s Top 5. As usual, we were able to experience most of these together along with my Top 5.  My list includes a second Daou Family Estate wine, their sauvignon blanc from Paso Robles, along with two Napa Valley wines, a local Temecula Valley, and a mind-blowing Brunello from Montalcino.

Antica Mountain Select Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2017. $70.

Antica is derived from Antinori California. Antinori represents over 600 years of winemaking across 26 generations with Piero Antinori at the helm. The Mountain Select benefits from Atlas Peak in Napa Valley.  With black cherry and vanilla bean notes, a nose of blackberry, and a palate of dense blueberry and spice.  The tannins are smooth and seamless (Anticanapavalley.com).

Daou Family Estates Sauvignon Blanc Paso Robles 2020. $17. 

It is hard to believe this Sauvignon Blanc is $17. It has an effervescent tropical nose and palate.  Your senses will experience pineapple, lemongrass and star jasmine with a palate that also includes Granny Smith apples with a nice clean finish and boasts a 90-point Wine Enthusiast score.

The Bigger Brother 2019 Estate Sauvignon Blanc ($50) Bordeaux style will further blow you away with great minerality and a perfect balance of fruit and acidity (daouvineyards.com).

Pertimali di Angelo Sassetti Brunello di Montalcino 2014, $80.

I discovered this gem recently on a road trip to Colorado via a premium by the glass wine menu. The Sangiovese grosso fruit in this wine from Sienna, Tuscany, was magical. The wine had dark fruits of black cherry, blackberry, plum and with spice with perfect structured acidity and elegant, tannins benefitting from 36 months in the barrel and 6 months in the bottle (pertimalisassetti.it/).

2018 O’Brien Estate Seduction Red Blend Napa Valley 2018, $78.

Barb and Bart O’Brien have been living in their Estate Winery for 20 years.  After nearly a decade of learning the subtleties of their vineyards and refining their approach, they realized their red wine potential and so did I!  A neighbor introduced me to the 2018 O’Brien Estate Seduction.

The nose of black currant, blackberry, cocoa and spice developed into the same flavors on the palate with a great mouthfeel.  A great Napa Valley wine!  obrienestate.com.

Robert Renzoni Riserva Syrah Temecula Valley 2016, $95.

The second I experienced the bouquet and palate of this 92pt Wine Enthusiast winner at a recent trip to Robert Renzoni winery with Frank, I knew this was going to be one of my top wines for the first half.  Proprietor Robert Renzoni said, “This is one of the best wines that can be grown in Temecula Valley.”

With currant, tobacco, and clove on the nose along with boysenberry jam with blueberries and vanilla on the palate with rich, chewy tannins, and well-balanced acidity, this was an easy Top 10 winner!

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator and one of the leading commentators on the web. Reach him at [email protected]

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