My Top Wines of 2020 List That You Don’t Care About Reading

Be warned, this is actually just another “tops” list that you are probably only reading while you sit on the toilet, but I’ll write it anyway.

I recently asked my Facebook “friends” if they cared about “tops” lists, and the replies were mixed. Actually, I take that back. The replies were mostly down the middle on whether I should write a top wines of 2020 list between people who aren’t in the wine industry (Yes! We’d love a list!), and those who are in the industry or peripherally in the industry who frankly don’t give a crap (pun intended) what my favorite bottles were this year. Then, there were a few of my ever so supportive friends who chimed in that they would love to read my list (probably while on the toilet).

Anyway, I’m writing this as the remnants of COVID-19 leave my body, and I’d rather just take a nap, but perhaps venturing on a journey back through several bottles that brought me pure joy over the past year of whatever-the-hell-that-was would be good for my mental health. If only I could taste them again…

For the five of you who enthusiastically asked…

Here are a few bottles of wine I tasted in 2020 that I really hope I can taste again.

Vérité Le Désir 2016

I was lucky enough to indulge in this wine multiple times this past year. The first being as a sample sent to me prior to my meeting with Vigneron, Pierre Seillan, back in January when all was well. The second time being at dinner with Pierre and his wife before social distancing, and the third as I re-tasted for an upcoming article much later in the year. Perks right here, amiright? As a cult favorite of the 1% out of Sonoma, Le Désir typically retails for over $400, so this is not an everyday drinker, unless, of course, you recently received a stimulus check from the U.S. government. Just kidding, you can barely buy one bottle with that.

Le Désir is the Cab Franc dominant bottle in the trio of Vérité wines (La Muse, La Joie). As a Cab Franc lova, I was immediately drawn to this particular blend (82% CF, 12% Merlot, 6% Malbec). I’m too tired to write out my tasting notes, but you should just know it’s a damn good bottle. If you made any money this year, you should spend it on buying a few bottles of Vérité, or paying your rent, which is probably about the same.

Krug Vintage 2006 Champagne

This is another totally unfair pick because most of you will not be running out last minute and purchasing bottles of Krug. However, if you are/have the means to, I would appreciate an invite to your NYE countdown (I’ll wear a mask!). Another fantastic meeting that I was lucky enough to be invited to at the beginning of the year took place at Miami Beach’s swanky Edition Hotel with Oliver Krug, the sixth-generation heir of the Krug dynasty. Oli and I chatted about the famous Champagne House and how they have incorporated music into part of their tasting program. I wrote a whole article about it for Winetraveler. Anyway, we tasted through a couple bottles of Krug, and as expected, they were absolutely incredible. I’ve been a big Krug fan for years, despite the fact that I will not be using my government stimulus check to buy this Champagne (the money is already allocated to buy more wine education at Florida Wine Academy), but I think you will most certainly not be disappointed by the 2006 vintage (or the Grande Cuvée). If I could find the notebook with my tasting notes, I would write them here, but honestly, you don’t need them to know you’d enjoy this bottle.

La Crema Saralee’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2017

La Crema winemaker, Jen Walsh, came to visit Miami over Sobe Food & Wine Festival week in February, and we had a fantastic night out on South Beach innocently dining at Juvia. I’m not at liberty to tell you about the end of that evening, but it involved Mojitos and not Chardonnay. However, prior to the Mojitos and salsa dancing, there were a few bottles of La Crema Chardonnay. Full disclosure–I am typically an ABC type of gal, but I was most impressed by Jen’s wines, especially the Saralee’s Vineyard Chardonnay. Just a perfect bottle of Chardonnay, if you ask me, and you totally didn’t, but I’m telling you anyway. Barrel time nine months, and well balanced 100% Chardonnay from RRV that retails for about $45.

Walsh Family Wine 2017 Merlot

I’m pretty sure Walsh is out of this wine because IT’S HONESTLY THE BEST MERLOT I’VE EVER HAD! I had nothing to do with their sales, it’s just so good that other people actually think so too.

I was lucky enough to spend one of my last moments outside of my home traveling through Loudoun County, VA before all hell broke loose in the world, and I spent an evening with Sarah and Nate Walsh tasting through their wines at a quaint restaurant in Leesburg, VA. (For those of you who don’t know, I spent a fair amount of my childhood traveling to Leesburg to visit my aunt, and I have fond memories here, but these feelings did not influence my appreciation of this wine at this place and time.)

I don’t know what else to say, other than ask Sarah Phillips to back me up here. Walsh Family Wine is damn good wine, and I don’t even drink that much Merlot, but I would drink ONLY this bottle of Merlot for all of 2021 if they let me.

All of the wine at Wine by the Bay consumed on March 1, 2020

How we ended up at Wine by the Bay after drinking on Cesar of Rhône‘s balcony for five hours one Sunday afternoon, I cannot explain. But somehow, six of us ended up in a warehouse off of the railroad tracks in Little Haiti/Little River, and we drank some phenomenal wines, and we haven’t been able to recreate this moment again because… COVID. A bottle of Monthélie 1er Cru was involved. There was a Lambrusco, a Sicilian red (OMG), and some strange dancing. It was another lifetime.

All of the wines consumed as part of Florida Wine Academy’s 10-week long twice-a-week educational webinars during lockdown

Thank GOD for Florida Wine Academy during the darkest days of our early quarantine. We only survived because we got to look forward to tasting with our wine friends virtually on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Honestly, we drank A LOT during Marpril. You can find my quarantine tasting notes here. I won’t pick favorites because I can’t; it was all a blur. But if I did, Villa Sparina Gavi would be one.

Virginia Petit Manseng

I participated in a Virginia Petit Manseng seminar with wines by my buddies at Walsh Family Wine, Early Mountain, and Michael Shaps, and honestly, they were all fantastic. I recommend any of these bottles. This was one of my favorite webinars outside of Florida Wine Academy’s lineup this year.

I’m getting tired, is this enough?

Fine, Prosecco Zero

I’m not just adding this in here because Ervin Machado needs some publicity because he doesn’t. In fact, I’m sure he’s doing just fine promoting his new prosecco brand to all the Italian bubbly lovers around these here bars. However, I will say that I enjoyed tasting Prosecco Zero–his new partnership with Peninsola Wines to offer a super-duper low sugar prosecco. For those of you who don’t know, prosecco can be sweet–and it’s cool if you like it that way. I prefer drier wines, so I found Prosecco Zero to be a nice addition to the market. I look forward to seeing that chubby cherub sitting on brunch tables everywhere (the label, not Ervin–he’s quite fit).

Jardin Oculto Bolivian Wines

If you can pronounce Vischoqueña without any help, you are a better wine professional than I. I still can’t say it without stumbling through the word, but it doesn’t make it a bad wine. In fact, this native Bolivian black grape makes a lovely wine–especially when it ends up as an accidental still white wine at Jardin Oculto by winemaker, Nayan Gowda, and owner, Maria Jose Granier. You can’t find it in the U.S. yet, but haha, I had it first. At the very least, follow Jardin Oculto on Instagram.

Ok, one more because it surprised me.

Serge Dagueneau et Filles 2019 La Centenaire (Pouilly-sur-Loire)

What the heck is Chasselas grape? That’s what I asked when I tasted this wine, which I genuinely enjoyed. Really beautiful white wine from Pouilly-sur-Loire, not Pouilly-Fumé. I’m actually looking forward to having this wine again sometime soon. It was a sample sent by Wines of Loire, and it was a surprise favorite of the latter part of the year. You should totally look for it (good luck).

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