These are my favorite wines of 2015. I probably tasted some other wines that should have made the list, but if I didn’t write a note about it, I don’t remember it. I did a number of handwritten notes for the Diploma class that I was taking & those generally were tossed. I listed the wines by vintage with the non-vintage wines first. These aren’t in order of preference. I have prices by the wines, but of course prices vary. If I were to go through all of the wines I tasted in 2015 & taste them again, I’m sure that I would have come to different conclusions about a few.
My list this year is dominated by Bordeaux, Napa, & Champagne. That isn’t because I prefer those regions to others. It is a reflection of what I had the opportunity to try in 2015. I don’t have any Burgundy on the list, although I had some very nice Burgundies this year. I just didn’t have any that blew me away (that I managed to save tasting notes for at least). I attended a couple of huge Bordeaux tastings & was able to pull from notes for over 200 Bordeaux wines that I tasted in 2015, so that region may be over represented. That being said, they were great wines that couldn’t be left off the list.
There are four sweet wines on the list. I know that some of my friends who like wine wouldn’t ever consider drinking a sweet wine. These are all examples of why a great sweet wine can hold its own with any other wine in the world. Anyone who opts not to try them because they don’t like sweet wines is just missing out. I’m happy to drink their share.
With all of those disclaimers, I will say that there are some tremendous wines here. If you have a chance, you should give them a try.
Please feel free to leave comments below & let me know what wines you liked best in 2015.
NV Extra Brut Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru Champagne Chapuy $46
This is liquid French toast. I could add things like flavors of poached pear
& peach & spice. I could mention the creamy nature of the wine or the nice minerality, but really liquid French toast says it all. 1,850 cases made.
NV Brut Rose’ Andre Clouet Champagne $42
I tasted this on an evening when I tasted 85 Champagnes. One of my notes for this wine is this is why so many others just got a “meh.” This is a great rose’ Champagne, especially for the price. It has rich red fruit, floral notes, & the classic toast brioche that you want.
1998 Chateau de Fesles Bonnezeaux $60
I drank this over the course of about 3 days. It was just as fresh & wonderful on the third day as it was the first. Even though it was almost 17 years old, it seemed youthful. I probably could have left this in my wine rack for another 30 years. There are honey, jam, & marmalade flavors. They never become cloying due to the crisp acidity. Other intense flavors of this wine include beeswax, luscious apple & pear notes. La Revue du Vin de France has called Fesles the “Yquem of the Loire Valley.”
2000 Cuvee 2000 Henriot Champagne Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut $100
This spends 12 years on the lees & it shows. It has an intense nose of marmalade, orange peel, liqueur, acacia, peach, apricot, & toast, with other floral notes blending in. The flavors follow the nose, with a nutty flavor thrown in as well. The fruit is incredibly fresh given the age. This tastes like a wine that could be spread on toast! It is just an excellent creamy, rich wine. It could pair with a wide variety of food, but I would prefer just to sip it.
2004 Brut Rose’ Dom Pérignon Champagne 60% Pinot Noir & 40% Chardonnay. $324
This had a high intensity nose with floral notes, red fruit & tart cherry. On the palate, it had the red fruit & tart cherry, but it also showed some citrus…particularly grapefruit. This wine has light pinot noir notes similar to a light Burgundy. There are toast notes at the long finish. This is just a delicious, complex wine. It is great by itself, but would be wonderful with fish, chicken, or cheese.
2005 Clos des Goisses Champagne Philipponnat Brut $161
While I think this is excellent Champagne, I know that it won’t be for everyone. It is a single vineyard wine, which is somewhat unusual in a region known for blending. It does not go through malolactic fermentation to soften the acid, which is also not the way the majority of champagne is produced. It s barrel fermented & then spends 9 years on the lees. It is finished with a 4 grams per liter dosage of sugar, which is on the dry side. It is 67% pinot noir & 33% chardonnay. The finished product is creamy with a nice all-spice character & a lingering finish.
2009 Domaine de Baumards Clos du Papillon Savennières $36
This has the minerality & smokiness that I look for in a
Savennières. I also tasted beeswax & honey, although somehow even with the honey flavor it is still dead dry. This is a terrific food wine. It would be easier to list the things that it wouldn’t pair with than to list all of the ones where it would. Asian food would be a go to though.
2010 Chateau Rauzan Gassies Bordeaux 2nd Growth (Margaux) $63
Dark ruby. There is an interesting nose to this wine. It has dark fruit with leather & dust. I would peg this as Bordeaux from a distance. It has much more vibrant fruit than I expected, with blackberry & raspberry & some boysenberry. There is some minerality, but not the leather that I expected. It is really a delicious fruit forward wine. This is either a great example of new wine making techniques in Bordeaux or a terrible one depending on how you feel about Parkerization.
2010 Chateau Calon Segur Saint-Estephe $110 3rd Growth 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot
Deep ruby colored wine. It has a beautiful nose, with red fruit black fruit spice & perfume. If they can get this into cologne I would buy it. There is a heavy toasted oak flavor that I am getting as coffee. I’m also getting a lot of dark fruit on the palate. The tannins & acid seem to be only medium. This will age, but maybe not as much as some of the others from Bordeaux’s 2010 vintage. If I had a case of this I don’t think that aging would be an issue though since I would drink it all before a year was out. There is always a good reason to drink a wine like this, fireplace weather, nice steak, it’s Tuesday, whatever. It has a long finish with some blueberry.
2010 Chateau Angelus St. Émilion Grand Cru $400
This is almost black. It has blackberry on the nose with some liquorice. The palate has intense anise with plum & raspberry. It has medium plus tannin & acid. This is a powerful wine. It almost overpowers right now, but it is delicious & this won’t get anything but better for the next 10 years.
2010 E. Guigal Cote Rotie Brune et Blonde de Guigal $60
This has a garnet color. It has a perfumed nose with blueberry, savory spices, rose, smoked meat, & acacia. There are nicely integrated, almost silky tannins. Flavors of smoked meat with baking spices, savory spices, pepper, dark red fruit & some blueberry (almost smoked). It’s a good quality wine that will improve with age
2010 Chateau Cheval Blanc St. Émilion Grand Cru $1,500
52% Cabernet Franc 48% Merlot.
This smells like St. Émilion. I get dust & cherry & raspberry. On the palate I get darker raspberry medium acid & tannins. It is a juicy & delicious wine. I really don’t see how someone who doesn’t like merlot wouldn’t like this! Rib roast would be great with this, but you can’t really go wrong. It is hard to justify the price of this wine & I can’t see myself buying a bottle anytime soon, but it is an excellent wine.
2010 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes Premier Cru Superieur 2010 $650
This is cold liquid honey, only better. The acid is great, so the sugar isn’t cloying. There is some lemon & citrus, peach, white flowers and lanolin, but the honey is overpowering in a good way. This is a short review, but there isn’t much to add. This isn’t just one of the great sweet wines of the world; it is one of the great wines of the world period.
2010 Chateau Climens 2010 Barsac Premiere Cru $125
Wow! If you like Yquem, you should try this. It isn’t as smooth, but it is honeyed & interesting & hundreds of dollars cheaper. It tastes of honeyed, lanolin. There are also tropical fruit notes including mango & pineapple. I also noticed some apricot & vanilla. It has really high acid. This is very nice.
2012 Spreitzer Rosengarten Grosses Gewachs VDP Riesling Trocken Rheingau 13% $37.99
This medium gold wine has thick clear legs, which in this case are indicative of the sugar content. The nose has a pronounced intensity with baked fruit flavors, peach, nectarine, apricot, nuttiness, & caramel. There is a botrytis note here as well. This wine is still developing. On the palate, the wine is sweet with medium plus acid which keeps the sweetness from being cloying. The palate has a long finish that reveals that it is Riesling rather than Sauternes. There are mineral notes on the palate. There is almost a mushroom taste, which indicates botrytis. The big botrytis marker of orange marmalade is there as well. This is an outstanding wine that can be drunk now, but should age well for years.
The Black Bottle Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $1,000
I know this wine is stupidly expensive, but every time I try it I really like it. It has beautiful blackberry, raspberry, plum, chocolate & mint. There are nice medium plus tannins that have a green tea quality. It has a long finish. It is 15.2% alcohol, but I wouldn’t have guessed it was that high. This is an odd wine to review because I have tried two different vintages & really liked both of them. At the same time, I think it is more expensive than Napa Cabernet should really be at this point. I believe that it sells out each year though, so I guess it is worth it. Either way, it is a delicious wine.
2013 Antonutti Poppone (Not available yet in the U.S. about $20)
Merlot & Pignola grapes are dried like an Amarone. After fermentation, it goes into barrel for 12 months. It tastes like roasted raspberry chipotle. There is also some tart cherry. This is a ridiculously interesting wine. I want to drink a bottle of it while I’m grilling & then have it with grilled meat.
2013 Hofgut Falkenstein Riesling Sekt. Brut 11.5% Germany Saar BA $26.99
60-80 year old vines all grown on slate
This is a lemon green sparkling wine with persistent small bubbles. The nose shows petrol, citrus, lemon, honey, honeysuckle, mineral, slate, & lime. It is dry, with high acid, medium alcohol, & medium plus intensity. I tasted citrus including lemon& tart & sour lime. There was also white flower, honeysuckle, & honey. This is a very good quality sparkling wine. The intensity of complex flavors is enhanced by the high acid. This would be great with seafood. It is a mouthwatering wine. Drink now or over 3-5 years This might be cheating a bit since I don’t know that it is as good as the other wines on the list. On the other hand, if you compare its price to some of the others on the list, it is just amazing quality for the price.
2014 Azienda Agricole Franco Roero Chardonnay (No price here because it isn’t available yet in the United States)
This surprised me. It is in a Bordeaux bottle & I expected something light. Instead this is a heavy, textured Chardonnay with lots of toasted nuts. There is no oak so I have no idea how they do this. Citrus with lemon peel is a major component. This is the best non burgundy Chardonnay I have had in some time.
2014 Ca’ Tullio Traminer Not available in the U.S. About $10 Euro
This is a dead dry Gewürztraminer. It has lots of floral notes & fresh fruit on the nose that make you think that it is going to be sweet, but it finishes dry. It has floral flavors with plenty of lychees. This is really a fantastic wine for the price. I will lay in a supply when this becomes available in the U.S.