By Andy Young
Wine Spectator has revealed its top 10 most exciting wines of 2016, as part of its overall top 100 wines of the year.
The top spot in this year's list goes to Lewis 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that is described as "remarkably elegant and refined".
Speaking about the top wine, Wine Spectator's Senior Editor, James Laube, said: "What the Lewis Cabernet typifies is modern winemaking. The grapes are very, very ripe, expressive, opulent; there's an underlying seem of elegance and finesse and grace and harmony. You notice the acidity is lively, you notice the tannins are there but they're soft and agreeable.
"Even though I do love this wine right now, I do think it will age well for 10 to 20 years, it will demonstrate why it was chosen for the Wine of the Year and I think people will be talking about this wine for many years."
The top 100 for Wine Spectator comes from the blind tasting of over 18,000 wines in 2016. The company says of its process, "we looked for compelling stories and the biggest surprises, we call this the X-factor, along with quality (score), value (price) and availability (cases made or imported)".
The average score and average price of the 2016 top 100 are 93 points and US$46, which, the company said, is the same as in 2015 and 2014.
The full top 10, along with the Wine Spectator tasting notes is below:
Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2013
Remarkably elegant and refined for a wine of this size and depth, with tiers of plum, blackberry and currant flavours, as well as subtle touches of black liquorice that remain pure and graceful on the long, lingering aftertaste. Drink now through 2028.
Domaine Serene Chardonnay Dundee Hills Evenstad Reserve 2014
Focused and expressive, this is layered with wet stone, tangy citrus, pear and green guava flavours that swirl through an expansive finish, gaining momentum and extra dimensions with each sip. Drink now through 2024.
Beaux Frères Pinot Noir Ribbon Ridge The Beaux Frères Vineyard 2014
Supple, expressive and multilayered, exhibiting flavours of plum, currant, pomegranate and violet that come together harmoniously, persisting into the long and exceptionally well-balanced finish. Drink now through 2024.
Château Climens Barsac 2013
There’s loads here, with apricot, nectarine and clementine flavours stitched with a racy orange zest note to give energy, while tropical papaya and mango flavours add a sublimely creamy edge. The finish sails on and on, coating the palate with a porcelain feel, while an echo of bitter almond lingers effortlessly, like a lace curtain hanging on an endless breeze. Stunning. Best from 2018 through 2043.
Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Asili Riserva 2011
Intense aromas of cherry, rose, liquorice and tar pick up tobacco, spice and mineral elements on the palate. Concentrated, yet elegant and expressive, with more to give. Ends with a long aftertaste of fruit, underbrush and mineral. Best from 2018 through 2032.
Orin Swift Machete California 2014
Generous and expressive, big and brawny, this offers a mouthful of tannins but also brims with flavours and aromas, including Earl Grey tea, dark chocolate, dried violet and toasted gingerbread. Rich notes of plum and black cherry are balanced by forest floor and earth accents, which linger on the long finish. Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. Drink now through 2030.
Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains 2012
A beautifully structured wine, with firm acidity and tannins that show grip and grit amid a core of dense, tense currant and blackberry fruit, turning juicy. Those seeking classic old-school Cabernet will embrace this. Cellaring for five to seven years is the right approach. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2020 through 2035.
Antinori Toscana Tignanello 2013
Aromas of graphite, smoke and tobacco introduce the cherry flavour in this expressive, focused red. Firm tannins and lively acidity balance the fruit and purity, while herbal, spice and mineral elements all gather steam as this plays out on the long finish. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2017 through 2027.
Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte Pessac-Léognan White 2013
This has a gorgeous feel, with opulent fruit offset by racy herb notes and acidity, showing lemon sherbet, shortbread and white peach flavours backed by a salted butter– and tarragon-laced finish, with hints of talc and fennel skittering in the background. Seriously long and still a touch youthful on the finish, this is one for the cellar. Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Semillon. Best from 2017 through 2023.
Hartford Family Zinfandel Russian River Valley Old Vine 2014
Plump and fleshy, with a dense core of focused tannins and lively acidity. Aromas of ripe black raspberry, anise and liquorice open to layered, slightly jammy flavours of black cherry, blueberry pie and smoky cracked pepper. Drink now through 2024.