© Liner & Elsen, all rights reserved. Availability and prices may have changed since publication (Jan. 2022)

OUR TOP PICKS OF 2021

It's official! The staff voted, and here are our twelve favorite wines of 2021

NOTE: Availability and prices may have changed since the publication date (Jan. 2022)


 

WHITE WINES


2019 Chao do Prado Bucelas ... 14.99 / 161.89

An October 2021 newsletter selection

Bucelas is a tiny white wine denomination just north of Lisbon which features the indigenous Arinto as its flagship varietal. Respected for its high acidity and subtle aromatic profile, Arinto – thanks to conscientious growers like António João Paneiro Pinto – is once again commanding the prestige it enjoyed in times past. The Chão do Prado Bucelas is crafted from Arinto (85%) and Sercial fermented on ambient yeasts in stainless steel to capture the varieties’ subtle aromatic nuances. A medium lemon-gold in the glass, the wine casts zesty aromas of papaya, apricot, and salted lemons. The Bucelas’ brisk and zesty palate adds notes of honeysuckle blossoms, grapefruit, green pineapple, and Key lime underpinned by zippy acidity and a persistent saline mineral undercurrent. Long and delicious, the finish is clean and fresh with reprises of orchard and citrus fruits infused with limestone minerality and salinity from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy this rare Portuguese wonder with all things seafood, sautéed zucchini, fresh chèvres, or as a satisfying conclusion to a hard day’s work. Staff pick!

 

2019 Terlano Terlaner 2019 ... 22.99 / 248.29

A November 2021 newsletter selection

In the foothills of the Alps near Italy’s border with Austria, we find the delicious confluence of classic French varieties, Italian boldness, and Austrian precision. Fashioned from a century-old blend of Pinot Blanc (60%), Chardonnay (30%), and Sauvignon Blanc, the Cantina Terlano’s Terlaner opens with a lemon-gold color and resinous aromas of Golden Delicious apples, white peaches, pineapple, lemon balm, matcha green tea, mint, and smoky limestone soil. The Terlaner cuvée conveys impressive breadth and texture, refreshingly fusing Pinot Blanc’s structure and smokiness with Chardonnay’s richness and Sauvignon Blanc’s unbridled herbal nature. Fresh and pure as the Alpine air from which it emerges, the Terlaner graces the palate with nuances of fresh white meadow flowers, crystalline apple, peach and passion fruit, pine nuts, and a bracing spine of smoky, mineral-driven acidity. The wine finishes as clean and complex as it started and will surely wow fans of Alsatian Pinot Blanc, Austrian Grüner Veltliner, Pouilly-Fumé and other racy, incisive white wines. Enjoy now and over the next three to ten years with fresh goat cheeses, brook trout, light pork sausages, roast turkey, asparagus, green vegetable frittata, and myriad seafood.
James Suckling: 93 points
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: 92+ points

 

2020 Atalier Rias Baixas Albarino "A Cruz das Animas" ... 27.99 / 302.29

A September 2021 newsletter selection

Raúl Pérez’s bottling, A Cruz das Ánimas (crossroads of the soul), shows the incredible heights that old-vine Albariño can reach when treated with the respect, care, and patience it deserves. The Atalier Albariño hails from a trio of vineyards within a kilometer of the coast that survived the phylloxera crisis of the late 19th century. This makes them some of the oldest ungrafted vitis vinifera plantings in the world, estimated to be somewhere around 150 years old. The wine reflects a lovely pale lemon-gold color in the glass followed by penetrating aromas of white flowers, cinnamon, grapefruit, and saline minerals. Pérez balances the texture imparted by neutral barrel fermentation and ageing by blocking the malolactic conversion. This provides an impressive palate presence while conveying complex impressions of salted fennel, white peaches, lime zest, and wild herbs. Floral, saline, and packed with juicy citrus fruit pulp, the wine finishes with complex hints of chamomile, preserved lemon, briny kelp, and white pepper. This is superb, genre-defining Albariño that will pair nicely now with sauteed asparagus and green vegetables, and with all things seafood. The wine of the newsletter! Limited: only ten cases available.

 

2019 Iacopo Paolucci Trebbiano Il San Ponziano ... 19.99 / 215.89

A December 2020 newsletter selection

Focusing exclusively on indigenous Umbrian varieties, Iacopo Paolucci combines organic winegrowing with gentle winemaking to craft this superb Trebbiano Spoletino. A deep straw gold in the bowl, Paolucci’s Il San Ponziano casts crisp, high-altitude aromas of fresh apricots, persimmon, hops, and iodine. Bright and bracing on the fore-palate, the Trebbiano’s rich texture on the palate reflects the four days spent on the lees, expressing nuances of lime zest, tangerine, Asian pear, and fresh rosemary. A persistent marine mineral undercurrent runs through the wine and segues it to a juicy and lingering finish. Truly delicious, versatile, and filled with character (like their superb Grechetto de Todi) Paolucci’s Il San Ponziano will work fantastically as an attention-grabbing starter white or, ideally, as a partner to prosciutto di Parma, pork pates and terrines, braised lentils, vegetable-based risottos, and linguine with a white clam sauce. Enjoy now and over the coming two years. Fantastic wine!

 

2019 Orgo Teleda Dila'O Kakheti Rkatsiteli-Mtsvane ... 15.99 / 172.69

A June 2021 newsletter selection

One of the hottest categories in fine wine today is skin-contact white wines – sometimes called orange wines or amber wines – fermented, macerated, and aged in large clay amphorae. The Republic of Georgia is, according to most historians, the birthplace of wine, and has a long tradition of crafting wines in this manner. In Georgia, the amphorae are called qvevri, and the grapes are primarily Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane. This month, we are again delighted to feature Teleda’s Dila'o, a superb and affordable example of the amber wine genre. Reflecting a brilliant amber robe, Teleda’s Dila'o presents captivating aromas of apricots, cinnamon, honeycomb, bay leaf, pine resin, and malted barley. The wine’s fleshy palate conveys a panoply of dried apricot, ripe pear, yellow apple, and cantaloupe fruit. Rich on the attack yet light on the palate, the wine compliments its orchard fruit core with dry, savory tannins framing suggestions of agave nectar, fenugreek, and acacia honey. A terrific and authentic introduction to Georgia’s fascinating ancient winemaking tradition, Teleda’s Dila'o will prove a lovely partner for pan-fried trout, roast chicken, potato tapas, sausages, savory bean stews, mature cheeses, goulash, and dishes featuring fresh paprika.
Wine & Spirits, 92 points


RED WINES


2020 Angelo Negro Rosso ... 17.99 / 194.29

A July 2021 newsletter selection

The Roero’s great Negro estate traces its origins back to 1670. Owning some of the Roero’s most desirable vineyard sites, Negro is one of the indisputable legends of the region. Giovanni Negro, the estate’s present owner, is one of the first producers in the Roero to be certified organic – a rarity in this sector of Piemonte. Reflecting a gorgeous rose-petal garnet hue, Negro’s Vino Rosso is crafted exclusively from the unheralded Brachetto grape (rumored to be the wine of choice of Cleopatra and brought to her by Marc Antony and Julius Caesar to order to gain her favor). Packed with pie cherry, cranberry, and black raspberry fruit, Negro’s Vino Rosso leverages the Brachetto’s unbridled aromatic nature to unleash beguiling expressions of rose petals, violets, tart strawberries, bitter orange zest, Earl Grey tea, sweet herbs, and sandy minerals. Utterly delicious, this is your wine to pair – lightly chilled or at cool cellar temperature – with spicy and smoky meats, barbecued chicken and ribs, piquant kebabs, peppery salumi, vegetable antipasti, and marinated mushrooms. You’ve got to try a bottle of this wine! Enjoy now. Now! Now! Now!

 

2016 Eraldo Borgogno Barolo Vignane ... 41.99 / 430.82

A January 2021 newsletter selection

This is exhilarating Barolo from a tiny and rare cru that deserves its exalted reputation. Rated “outstanding” by Antonio Galloni, the Vignane cru is superbly situated between Cannubi and Bussia in the heart of the traditional Barolo zone. Wines from the Vignane cru are renowned for their purity of fruit, expressive aromatics and soft tannins. Eraldo Borgogno’s Vignane reflects a transparent garnet hue gradating to a gorgeous amber rim. Immediately expressive, the wine radiates aromas of licorice, dried rose petals, wild cherries, and red currants. Fresh and invigorating, the wine stains the palate with cherry and loganberry fruit accented by complex undertones of sassafras, cedar, shiitake mushrooms, and clay. Fine, framing tannins usher the Vignane to a long, classic Barolo finish of menthol, licorice, brown spices, white pepper, and mushroomy underbrush. Pair this beauty now and over the coming two decades with traditional Piemontese cuisine such as risotto con funghi, tajarin topped with a hearty ragù and shaved truffles, or slow-braised oxtail. Only 400 cases produced…for the world!

 

2015 Chateau du Cayrou Cahors ... 18.99 / 205.09

A December 2021 newsletter selection

The apex of Southwestern French red wines are those from the hallowed Cahors appellation. Historically considered a rival to the wines of Bordeaux, Cahors was devastated by the phylloxera epidemic that decimated most French vineyards in the mid- to late-1800s. Today the wines of Cahors are again being recognized for their distinctiveness, versatility, and impressive ability to age. Among Cahors’ top estates is the Château du Cayrou, whose wines offer incredible value and extraordinarily age-ability. A true, authentic expression of Cahors. Cayrou’s beauty – composed exclusively of 45-year-old Malbec – opens with meaty Bordeaux-like aromas of cassis, black raspberries, tobacco, and loamy earth. On the palate the wine’s shows an unusually lush and suave texture with only whispers of the Malbec’s traditional, palate-coating tannins. Suggestions of walnuts, wood smoke, tobacco, bitter orange, and blueberry mark the impressively long finish. 2015 is considered the greatest Cahors vintage since 2010, and we suggest enjoying this reference-standard Cahors now and over the next decade with roast goose, grilled ribeye steaks, braised short ribs, rich eggplant casseroles, and potatoes au gratin.

 

2019 La Miraja Grignolino d'Asti ... 18.99 / 205.09

A March 2021 newsletter selection

The singular wines of La Miraja have heretofore been impossible to find in the United States. The estate is nestled within the original castle of Castagnole Monferrato, constructed in the 11th century. It is here that Eugenio Gatti devotes his life’s work to producing 840 transcendent cases of wine each year. Grignolino is one of the true wonders of the wine world. Like Poulsard, it’s too pale to be a proper “red” wine, and too dark to be a classical rosé. The truth is that Grignolino gives an utterly unique and compelling wine that easily serves both purposes. La Miraja’s Grignolino reflects a pale, transparent amber-rimmed garnet robe and gorgeous aromas of rose petals, geranium, tart pie cherries, and pomegranate seeds. Fresh and invigorating on the palate, the wine frames its pure red-fruited kernel with plentiful fine tannins and spine-tingling acidity. Floral notes of rose petals and rosehips join a subtle note of morel mushroom and an undercurrent of dusty limestone minerality on the long, thrilling finish. We are enthusiastic fans of the noble Grignolino, and we encourage you to pair this reference-setting, artisanal rendition now and over the coming five years with vegetable, seafood and mushroom risottos, roast chicken and duck, savory vegetable medleys, broiled salmon, and pan-seared pork chops.

 

2017 Castell'in Villa Chianti Classico ... 27.99 / 302.29

A November 2021 newsletter selection

Chianti Classico does not get any better – or any more traditional – than this. Bastions of tradition, the Castell’in Villa domaine issues a complete portfolio of the most old-school, long-lived Chiantis from its vineyards in Chianti Classico’s southernmost Castelnuovo Berardenga zone. An absolute winner from the moment it’s poured, the 2017 Chianti Classico sports a crimson-ruby hue and warm Chianti aromas of macerated cherries, cedar, woodspice, and leather. The wine continues with a firm red-fruited palate expression accented by an electric current of dusty, chalky soil. Suggestions of Montmorency cherries, pomegranate, and red plums grace the palate before segueing to complex hints of tobacco, sage, licorice, wintergreen, and dried bay leaf. Graceful yet firmly tannic on its long finish, Castell’in Villa’s Chianti announces that it is first and foremost a food wine and should be paired with hearty, rustic fare like rich pasta dishes, roasts of lamb or beef, or long simmered stews. Drink now to reminisce about the way great, age-worthy Chianti used to be, and then age some bottles long enough to last you six to nine years.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous: 92 points

 

2019 Luis Seabra Douro Tinto Xisto Ilimitado ... 26.99 / 291.49

A November 2021 newsletter selection

After a decade as Niepoort’s winemaker, Luis Seabra founded his own domaine to craft wines “that really tell you where they come from...wines that are true and honest, raw, and pure.” Primarily a blend of old-vine Touriga Franca, Tinta Amarela, and Tinta Roriz grown on yellow schist soil at 1,200-2,000 feet, Seabra’s Xisto Ilimitado casts an opaque plum color in the bowl followed by pungent, soil-driven aromas of bitter cherries, cassis, violet petals, and smoky schistose minerals. The wine’s high-altitude origins impart impressive lift on the palate while also packing a mouthful of concentrated currant, cherry, and cranberry fruit. Zesty, refreshing, and full of flavor, Seabra’s Xisto Ilimitado finishes with a persistent lashing of dusty schistose minerals (hence the name), plentiful, food-friendly tannins, and hints of dried herbs, licorice, and black tea. Enjoy now and over the coming seven years with roast rack of lamb, grilled burgers, braised rabbit, and mushroom and potato tapas. Limited.

 

2017 Biscarelle Cotes du Rhone ... 15.99 / 172.69

A September 2021 newsletter selection

This is a deep, resinous, and complete Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, and one that delivers old-school Southern Rhône authenticity and goodness way beyond its price tag. Domaine de la Biscarelle’s Côtes-du-Rhône Villages is fashioned from 40- to 70-year-old vines abutting the northwestern sector of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Essentially a baby Châteauneuf, the Biscarelle’s core is predominantly Grenache, accented by Syrah and Carignan with a dollop of Cinsault thrown in for extra complexity. A deep, opaque black plum color in the glass, the wine opens with exhilarating Châteauneuf-like aromas of Provençal cherries complimented by hints of cinnamon, cloves, freshly cracked black pepper, licorice, and orange zest. Deep, chewy, and satisfying on the palate, plentiful tannins frame the wine’s kernel of black currant and black cherry fruit followed by a persistent parched-stone soil signature that segues the wine to its long, lingering finish. We suggest buying this by the case for enjoyment now and over the next ten years with roast herbed leg of lamb, dishes featuring porcini mushrooms, anchovy-rich tapenades, and bean-rich cassoulets.

© Liner & Elsen, all rights reserved. Availability and prices may have changed since the publication date (Jan. 2022)