2017 was an intense year for Grand Cata. We tasted over a 1,000 wines, hosted our biggest wine tasting event to date with eight winemakers visiting from South America, and over 100 wine classes on demand. We participated in numerous wine dinners, and in October, we handed out our Winemaker of the Year award to Rafael Tirado of Chile. We are hungry (dare we say...thirsty) for more!
After a thorough analysis and review of all the wines we tasted throughout the year, we have picked our top five favorite beauties that speak about history, style, sense of place and, of course, balance and drinkability.
So, how did we pick them? Well, we set the criteria as follows:
All wines available at the store in 2017 qualify, not necessary only those released from the winery this year.
Nominees must represent the best possible expression of their varietal and place.
Since we already gave our Winemaker of the Year award to Rafael, we decided that his wines could not be considered for a place on this list. They easily could have, had we allowed it!
You can still purchase these wines! They are all available at Grand Cata right now.
Without further ado, we present the top five wines at Grand Cata for 2017:
First Place: Cavas de Weinert - Gran Vino 2006 - Mendoza, Argentina - $42
If you have not had the pleasure to imbibe wines from Weinert, we pity you. This house helped start and fuel the Malbec revolution in Argentina, and has never faltered in terms of quality, or philosophy.
Even though we have had this vintage in the past, we chose it this year because it is showing perfectly. While built to last even longer, it’s in its prime right now.
The first thing you’ll notice about this Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend when you open it is the gorgeous bouquet it has developed while maturing in the bottle. The fruit notes have soften a tad and fallen back into the mix of other flavors, which include espresso, violets, green tobacco and subtle notes of sage.
Decant if you’d like, but be very, very careful so as not to disturb the bouquet. A better approach would be to open the bottle, pour a half glass, and leave both the glass and the bottle alone for at least an hour.
Second Place: Azienda Agricola - “Marion” - Amarone della Valpolicella 2013 - Veneto, Italy - $99
This one truly epitomizes our second rule regarding showcasing varietal and place. Amarone must come from the Valpolicella region and must be made with Corvina. If you are unfamiliar with how Amarone is made, have a look at this post where we dive into its offspring, Ripasso.
In this wine, expect a kick in the mouth. Very few wines are bolder or more intense than Amarone, and this one is perfectly in line with the style. You’ll find flavors of licorice, dark chocolate, raisin and black cherry packaged in one of the thickest wines on the planet.
Third Place: Cacique Maravilla - “Vino Naranja” - Moscatel and Corinto 2016 - $25
Orange wine has certainly blown up in 2017. And for good reason: it’s delicious. But what is it?
Orange wine is wine made from white grapes where the winemaker opts to keep skins involved. Usually in white wine production, the grapes are pressed and only the juice gets used. Not the case with orange wine.
In addition, orange wine is allowed to oxidize slightly. The combination of skin maceration and oxidation gives the wine its orange hue. It also gives it the distinct flavor profile that many wine drinkers love. Expect to taste plenty of citrus and flowers, along with notes that resemble sour beer.
Fourth Place: Filipa Pato - “Territorio Vivo” - Baga 2015 - Bairrada, Portugal - $33
Never heard of Baga? You’re not alone. But please, don’t let that stop you from trying Filipa Pato’s gorgeous wine made from this wonderful indigenous Portuguese grape.
If Touriga National is Portugal’s Cabernet Sauvignon, then Baga is its Merlot. This wine has a beautifully lush and soft texture, with appropriate acidity to balance. The fruit profile revolves around fresh red berries set in a frame of dark chocolate and baking spice.
Fifth Place: Raventos i Blanc - Blanc de Blancs Cava 2015 - Conca del Riu Anoia, Catalonia, Spain - $23
All of you who’ve spent time chatting with any of our Catadores know that we love Cava at Grand Cata. Value-wise, nothing compares. Similarly excellent Champagne costs nearly twice as much.
But we didn’t choose this wine simply because it over delivers on price. It simply over delivers. The bubbles are so fine and soft it feels like the wine dissolves on your tongue. Subtle bready notes from sur lies ageing intermingle with citrus notes of lime and grapefruit, while hints of lavender and jasmine jump out of the glass. This wine will immediately make any celebration more memorable.
There you have it! Our annual award season comes to a close with this list. And stay tuned, we have plans in the works for an event to celebrate these wines in the new year!