There has not been much to be excited about this year, unless you count the debilitating anxiety and economic woes so many of us have faced since the world shut down back in early March. That’s the wrong kind of emotional stimulation. We’re at the end of what has been an unprecedented year for many of us. But hope is emerging with vaccines that promise relief, and we know that our lives will eventually be back to whatever ‘normal’ will look like in the coming year. In spite of the screeching halt to many of our daily activities, life went on, and that included life in the world of wine.
The year’s end is an opportunity to reflect, find joy, and savor moments where happiness could be found. To that end, here’s a recap of some of the wines that gave me happiness this past year: wines that elevated meals, and provided me with great memories. I encourage you to give these wines a try if you have a chance, and if you have, and have the opportunity, perhaps revisit these ‘cups of kindness’.
Primus Carmenere 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I got was a real treat. The wine was so redolent with dark berry aromas, and it had such a full palate. From Chile, the new home of Carmenere, it was and still is an excellent value for the money.
Chai Du Grand Vaudasniere Vouvray Demi-Sec 2017, Loire Valley, France
I had already sampled wonderful dry Vouvray from the Loire, but this one took Chenin Blanc up a big notch. Its layered, luscious fruitiness and depth were held in place with a discreet but firm acid. A wine to indulge right now, but I have a few in my cellar that I intend to let lie, just to chronicle the development over the next 2-3 years.
Craggy Range Te Muna Road Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Martinborough, New Zealand
Textbook textbook Burgundy, from the Southern Hemisphere mirror region. A supple, perfumed, beguiling beauty. It walks a tightrope balance of lightness, silk, and layering with effortless style. One of the best Pinot Noirs I’ve had this year.
Andreas Bender Pinot Noir 2017 QbA Pfalz, Germany
Speaking of Pinot Noir, here’s one from the “Maverick from the Mosel”, Andreas Bender. A beautiful expression from a wine maker whose roots are embedded in tradition, but one who is unafraid to market his products with modern vision. This is a true Old World Pinot: it goes to show how much the wine world in Germany has evolved.
Underraga TH Rarities Cauquenes Grenache, Carinena, Monastrell 2012, DO Maule Valley, Chile
This limited production wine showed real muscle. I drank it too early in its life, even though it was already into almost its ninth year. It is big and extracted, and even though this was the 2012 vintage, it still had a ways to go before settling down. For those who like that big, powerful style. A wine that has the chops to take all comers.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery Organic Pinot Gris 2019, Okanagan Valley, B.C.
What a beauty! I wrote this up as a ‘Ken’s Pick’ for December. It has a Canadian provenance, and an old Alsace soul. It brought me back to decades ago, when on a once in a lifetime vacation with close friends I shared many an Alsatian Pinot Gris right in the fairy tale towns of Riquewihr, Hunawihr, and Eguisheim.
Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc 2016, W.O. Tygerberg, South Africa
Something about this year and Chenin Blanc.. Another extremely hinged and balanced wine. One of the best experiences I`ve had this year. But don`t take my word for it: the 2016 vintage took the ISWC (International Wine & Spirit Competition) Chenin Blanc of the Year in 2018.
So there are some of my ‘cups of kindness’. Thanks for your attention, dear reader. Wishing you all the best in 2021.