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Before I started going to public and industry wine tastings, my options for trying new wines were limited to by the glass wine lists, liquor store sales, and whatever my friends were drinking. I was convinced I only liked red wines except for Sauvignon Blanc, and always ordered something familiar from a wine list. Fast forward to today, and I think I’ve tried about two hundred different wines this year. Most of them were good, a few of them were unpleasant, and some of them were instant classics. These are the wines that stood out heads and tails amongst tastings of sometimes up to 40 wines at a time. If you are looking to try a new wine next time you are at Binny’s or your local wine store, consider one of my recommendations.
Dopff au Moulin: Cremant D’Alsace Julien Brut (~$18/bottle)
Dopff au Moulin created the first sparkling wine outside of the Champagne region that used the traditional Méthode Champenoise. This method allows final fermentation to occur in bottle. Considerably less expensive than its Champagne cousin, Cremant D’Alsace is a new wine style for me, and one that I quite enjoy. This toasty, citrusy, sparkling wine is a blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois, with tiny bubbles and strong pear notes. I had the opportunity to discover this gorgeous wine at the chateau itself when I was visiting Alsace last year.
Henriot Champagne: Brut Souverain (~$35/bottle)
The wine house of Henriot is celebrating its 210 year anniversary in 2018. This year, I finally tried Cristal and thought it was too tart for my liking. Discovering this much more wallet friendly Champagne was a treat. Not to mention I discovered it at a super interesting War and Wine class. With Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Chardonnay grapes, it is citrusy, fruity, and buttery, taming the tartness that turned me off from the Cristal.
2015 Chateau La Fleur-Pétrus: Pomerol (~$285/bottle)
I’ll be very honest: I will never be able to justify buying this wine on my own. But, with the famed winemaker pouring, the tasting was certainly memorable. He also poured the 2008 and 2005 vintages on the same day, with price points in the $1500 range. Regardless, the 2015 was my preferred vintage. As the first Pomerol I’d ever had, I learned about a new Bordeaux wine and had a wine celebrity sighting to boot. It’s got the fruit forward boldness of a Cabernet Sauvignon, the velvety mouthfeel of Merlot, and the complex minerality of the Old World. Really good.
Fujishin Family Cellars: 2015 Amatino (~$27/bottle)
I had never tried an Idaho wine until I visited Idaho for my honeymoon this year. While there, I had the pleasure to explore the Sunnyslope Wine Trail, a new wine region for me. I stopped at Fujishin Family Cellars on my tour. The 2018 Idaho Winery of the Year, Fujishin Family Cellars Amatino is a love story in a bottle. The name is derived from the avatar names of winemaker Martin and his now fiancée Theresa. They met in the gaming community nearly ten years ago. I’m a sucker for a love story, and this blend of Syrah, Petite Syrah, and Viognier is one of a kind.
Château Phélan Ségur: 2015 Saint-Estèphe (~$45/bottle)
2015 is a great year for Saint-Estèphe and Pomerol varietals from Bordeaux. If you are looking to branch out and try some new wine from Bordeaux,try this vintage. It is young enough to be affordable, it will age well, and it’s delicious now too. This tannic, licorice, and blackberry elixir has a medium body and complexity of soil that made it stand out on a night dedicated to 100 Bordeaux houses.
Luce Della Vite: 2012 Luce (~$95/bottle but currently on sale for $79.99)
Truth be told, of all the new wine I tried this year, this Luce Della Vite was my favorite. Super Tuscan wines are known for their full body and intense flavor, and this Sangiovese Merlot blend is just that. Created by Robert Mondavi and Lamberto Frescobaldi, this wine is complex and powerful. There are other Super Tuscans, but if you are looking for a new wine to try, this is my recommendation.