At the end of the year, we reflect. Unique to 2019 is the option to reflect on a whole decade now coming to an end. The 2010s are over, and we are on the precipice of ushering in the 2020s. It’s hard to believe. It really does seem like just yesterday we were worried about the ramifications of shifting computer systems from 19 to 20 in the Y2k crisis, and now we are 20 years beyond that. Where does the time go?
Back to Wine!
Though the year isn’t completely over, I wanted to take the time to reminisce about my favorite bottles of 2019. Now, this isn’t a “best of” list, but merely a “best to me” list. All of these wines I tasted for the first time in 2019, and for whatever reason, whether it was the memory of the moment or the outstanding quality of the wine, these particular bottles come to the front of my mind as the stars of the year. Each of them carries a story, and every single one of them inspired me in some way.
The original list was going to be five, but I just couldn’t narrow it down anymore. So, here are my seven favorite bottles of 2019.
Gusbourne Brut Reserve
Sparkling wine from England
I was introduced to Gusbourne at the Winebow showcase in Miami, and I was immediately in love. It was frankly my first English sparkling wine, and maybe that is why it holds a special place in my heart, but I was extremely impressed with the quality. Silky smooth finesse, and bright, fresh citrus flavors and crisp acidity. It’s something I did not expect from an English wine. It had so much character!
The wine itself is a traditional blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. It spends a minimum of three years on lees and another three months in bottle before it hits the market. I just found this wine to be balanced in all the right places, as an invigorating sparkling wine should be. The bottle retails for around $60 in the U.S., and if you are in Miami (or can have wine shipped to you), you can buy Gusbourne through 305wines.
Phillip Leonard Pinot Noir, 2014
Barowsky Disesa Vineyards, Sonoma Coast, California
This wine is very special to us in Miami primarily because there is only one retail location where you can buy Phillip Leonard Pinot Noir in person across the whole United States, and that is at Abaco Wines & Wine Bar in Miami’s Design District. This wine has an interesting story as the product of winemaker, Ben Disesa, who I’ve written about before in South Florida Luxury Guide. I really got to know Ben a bit better this year and enjoyed tasting through his Pinot Noirs and Syrah rosés. This particular wine is made from three different Pinot Noir clones and estate-grown grapes. It’s an elegant and complex wine that will stand up to any heartier meal, cheese, or just fine conversation. I love the model that Ben and his partner have where they make small-batch, high-quality wines in Sonoma and bring them back to us in Miami. Stop into Abaco and say hi to Ben and grab a bottle of his very own Pinot Noir. Retail $69.99
Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut Champagne
Because I spent time in the region of Champagne this year, there are several Champagnes that I was able to try for the first time, many of them not even available in the U.S. market. However, there is still one that stands out to me as my favorite above all the “new-to-me” Champagnes. I actually tried this Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut for the first time at a meeting with the Laurent-Perrier U.S. leadership team here in Miami. We tasted through several bottles in their portfolio, but the Brut Nature stole the show.
Zero dosage means no residual sugar in this super dry wine, but it’s so well balanced that you don’t miss the sweetness at all. Such an elegant Champagne. I was excited to introduce this wine as the first bottle we enjoyed with dinner while in Reims, France, and again, it was a crowd-pleaser. Not only am I crazy about this Champagne, but I have two wonderful memories across two continents drinking it. I look forward to many more! Retails for around $80.
DeLille Cellars Chaleur Blanc, 2017
Columbia Valley, Washington
Admittedly, I am not often “wowed” by a bottle of white wine. As a wine lover & writer, I appreciate great quality across the spectrum of styles, but it takes a lot for me to stop in my tracks when tasting a white wine and say, “this one is phenomenal.” DeLille Cellars’ Chaleur Blanc did that to me once when I received it as a sample, and it did it to me again when I had the chance to visit their Woodinville tasting room and try it along with others from the portfolio while in Washington.
It is beautiful, and I mean a stunning Bordeaux-style white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Perfectly rounded in the palate with honied characteristics and balanced fruit like grapefruit and citrus. It’s not frumpy either, as the acidity holds firm and keeps the structure intact to make for a complex yet inviting wine. DeLille is at the forefront of Bordeaux-style wines in Washington state and this blend may be the perfect representation of that. Chaleur Blanc retails for about $35.
Howard Park Flint Rock Syrah, 2016
Great Southern, Australia
When I say that some wines inspired me, this bottle is a good example of one that broadened my horizons and doubled my desire for exploration. Great Southern is a wine region in the ultra-remote area outside Perth in Western Australia. Far from other well-known regions on the continent, Great Southern is the largest wine region in Australia, covering about 200 kilometers from east to west and 100 km from north to south. The northern end of the region is about a four-hour drive from Perth. I’m dying to go.
This Howard Park Flint Rock Syrah was one of several wines presented during a seminar about Australian Shiraz while Wine Australia was in Miami for their American tour. Again, this wine stood out to me as one of superb quality, even against other varietal wines of equally as impressive quality. I loved the spice, licorice, and sweeter red fruit blended with gently gripping tannins. It’s not in-your-face but has a lovely presence and is complex and elegant. Retails for only around $24. That’s a steal.
Domaine Royal de Jarras (BIO) Gris de Gris Tête de Cuvée, 2017
Say what you want about this wine, but it’s one of my favorites of the year because we ordered it while sitting at a street-side café in Paris, and I drank it alongside the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had in my life. My only regret from that moment was offering to split the cheeseburger with my boyfriend instead of having it all to myself.
This producer is known for its organic wines, and in fact, this one is certified organic. A soft and subtle “grey” rosé wine with floral and peachy aromas, followed by fresh peaches and citrus in the palate, which is surprisingly rounded and with a fuller flavor profile than the light color of the wine suggests. As I said, I had this wine paired with a burger, and it was actually a lovely accompaniment; one I will not forget! Retails around $40.
Domaine de la Grand’Cour Cuvee Vieilles Vignes Brouilly, 2018
This is another wine that is tied to such a wonderful memory. We found this wine in a tiny shop in the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the South of France where we stayed over the summer. I believe we even went back to the little wine cave for another bottle at some point in the evening because we enjoyed it so much. We drank the wine while we cooked a traditional French meal in the kitchen of a charming historic home in the medieval village that once belonged to poet, Jacques Prévert.
If you haven’t gotten into Beaujolais wines yet, now is the time. Forget everything you experienced with Beaujolais Nouveau and expand your horizons to the crus in the region, like Brouilly. Expect high quality, juicy red fruit of Gamay, with a silky-smooth finish and super light tannins. It’s flavorful and fresh! Perfect for all occasions. This wine retails for about $35.
There you have it! My top seven favorite wines of 2019. Not your favorites? I don’t care. They’re mine, and I enjoyed every last sip. If you want to know more about any of these wines, please drop me a comment or send a message.