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We have a ton of wine come through our doors. Our distributor and importer friends constantly brings us new and fascinating suggestions, many of which we put on our shelves in the hopes of providing you with your next favorite wine.

Inevitably, some of these wines just blow us away. There are so many talented and innovative winemakers in the regions that we focus on. This makes putting together our “Top 5 Wines of the Year” award pretty challenging, but also super fun!

Before we announce them, let just run through the ground rules:

1) We considered all wines available at the store in 2018, not necessary those released from the winery this year.

2) We consider the selections to be the best possible representation of their varietal and place.

3) You can still purchase these wines! They are all available at Grand Cata. 

Most importantly, they tell the story of the year we had at the shop and embody the Grand Cata spirit.

So, here goes! These are in order from number one to number five:

1) Deicas Tannat 2015 - San Jose, Uruguay - $49

We’ve been touting the merits of tannat since before we opened the shop, but even we were surprised by the depth, complexity, structure, and balance of this wine. It’s somehow very serious and fun at the same time. The wine has a lovely earthiness consisting of briar, chocolate and hazelnut that underpins dark fruit flavors. Pair with roasted lamb and root vegetables.

2) Poço do Lobo Arinto 1995 - Beiras, Portugal - $40

Yes, it really was released this year! Lovers of manzanilla sherry will appreciate this wine’s savory, almost salty, backbone and herbal aromas. Let breathe for a few hours at least, but do not decant. A wine this old and delicate will lose its bouquet if poured too intensely. Also, pay attention to serving temperature. Too cold and the wine will smell muted. Too warm and you’ll throw off the balance of the acidity. Just right (around 55 degrees), and memories of this beauty will haunt your palate for years to come!

3) Escándalo Carignan 2017 - Valle de Colchagua, Chile - $24

Perhaps no other grapes exemplified 2018 at Grand Cata more than Carignan. We chose this wine not only because it’s delectable, but also because it’s representational of old vine carignan from Chile, a style we believe is about to explode in popularity. The wine has a distinct color, a pale purplish ruby hue that’s a touch cloudy, which it owes to being unfiltered. Expect aromas of flowers, raspberries and fresh herbs and flavors of cherries and bbq smoke, all undercut with a vibrancy that will have you taking a second sip before you have time to put the glass back on the table.

4) Angerosa Taurasi DOCG 2007 - Campania, Italy - $51

To be a Taurasi DOCG, the wine must be made from at least 85% aglianico. Taurasi is a subregion of the larger Campania region on the western coast of southern Italy (the shin of the boot, essentially). This wine proves that aglianico is a world class grape in the right hands. The decade plus this wine’s spent in the bottle has made a huge difference, taming the tannins and softening its edge. Based on the noticeably present tannin, this wine could still chill for another five years, though we think now’s the time to open it. Like the arinto from Portugal, we strongly suggest letting the wine breathe for at least a few hours. The wine has a good amount of sediment, so we recommend decanting, but do so very carefully and slowly to avoid blowing the bouquet away.

5) Revolver Chardonnay 2015 - Valle de Tupungato, Argentina - $38

We learned many things over the course of the year, and a big one was that Argentina’s chardonnay game is on point. We’re not sure there’s any place outside Burgundy and California that can touch what’s going on in (mostly) Mendoza. The wine has a light smokiness on the nose evoking ripe grapefruit, pineapple, red apple, and spring water. It’s actually fairly lean, and although it obviously spent time in a barrel, the flavors of the barrel are perfectly integrated.

We’ve stocked up on these, so if you’re looking for the perfect gift for a wine lover this Christmas, one of these should do the trick! Happy Holidays!


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