With 2020 finally nearing an end (bye!), we thought it might be fun if we shared some of the best and worst wines we've tried over the past 12 months. Because of the disruption to our normal everyday lives, this pandemic has provided us a unique opportunity to enjoy good wines more regularly than ever before (I mean, there has to be an upside to a global pandemic, right?). This post is a compilation of wines that stole the show in both good ways and bad over the last year... read on for the highs and lows of 2020!
Best Wine Under $15:
We tend to drink a fair amount of wine in this range, since we really believe that there is a great opportunity to find very good wines at a solid QPR (quality-to-price ratio). Over-delivering on it's $10 price tag is the Quinta da Romaneira, Douro Tinto (Portugal, $10 - WTSO). If you see it, buy it. You will not be disappointed! Two honorable mentions here must go to Alcance Cabernet (Chile) and Emporium Appassimento, Rosso Salento (Italy).
Worst Wine of 2020:
Old Soul Cabernet, Lodi, CA. This wine was introduced to us at a family gathering and the reaction from the VinoVistas was... well, less than positive. Bleh! Please don't buy this "wine". There wasn't even a close second here. Apologies to Mom and Dad - we still love you!
Best Porch Pounder of 2020:
Only in 2020 could we think about having a category dedicated to day drinking sippers. An overabundance of free time and warm climes helped us get through the dog days of the pandemic. The Kirkland Sauvignon Blanc was our favorite easy drinking white of the year, with a close second going to any Portuguese Vinho Verde!
Biggest Disappointment of 2020:
We can think of many things that could fall into this list for 2020, but in our wine adventures over the last year, one wine stood head and shoulders above the rest as the biggest let down. 2017 Stag's Leap "Artemis" Cabernet Sauvignon. Hailing from a much-heralded region of Napa Valley and commanding a price of $60/bottle, we were hoping to get more for our investment than cooking wine.
Most Interesting Wine of 2020:
Pinotage from South Africa. We've only had one Pinotage in our entire lives (we think), and it was very memorable - Fleur Du Cap "Essence du Cap" Pinotage 2016 - it's like drinking smoky BBQ ribs. Weird and wonderful. Runner-up honors go to a white wine from the island of Tenerife - Los Loros Blanco Sobre Lías. We are going to be keeping an eye out for wines from both of these emerging wine regions.
Best Pizza Wine of 2020:
What happens when you combine a pandemic with a new pizza oven? In addition to the 10 extra pounds around your waistline, you get the opportunity to try many different pizza and wine pairings. Our favorite pairing? Barbera. Two wines that stood out from the pack were the 2018 Eugenio Bocchino Barbera d'Alba, and a 2016 Prunotto Barbera d'Alba "Pian Romualdo," both are stunning examples of the varietal. Oh, and how can we forget - Scarzello 2016 Barbera d'Alba Superiore. Or the 2011 San Fereolo "Austri" Barbera?!? The list could go on and on. So, fire up your pizza oven or call your favorite local pizzeria, pop a bottle of Barbera and Mangia! You won't regret it for a second.
Best American Wine of 2020:
Admittedly, we drink far fewer domestic wines than wines from the Old World, but we did enjoy a number of excellent wines from the good ol' US of A. The most memorable bottle was Stewart Cellars' Tartan, a terrific cabernet dominant red blend from Napa Valley. Other favorites include a 2012 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Foss Vineyard, Russian River Valley and 2013 Adelsheim Bryan Creek Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon. We anticipate next year might include some nice little gems that we picked up in Santa Barbara County Wine Country this past July - fantastic wines being produced there.
The Kirkland Signature List
Best Kirkland Wine of 2020:
2015 Barolo. This is a terrific wine. This bottle combines great varietal character with incredible value - a $20 bottle that drinks like a $40 bottle? Sign us up! We are quite sure that this is the first vintage sold of Barolo at Costco and we can only hope that it returns with the much lauded 2016 vintage of these wines. Honorable mentions here have to be given to the 2017 (and 2018) vintages of the Chablis Premier Cru, as well as the the 2014 Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva. All terrific wines.
Worst Kirkland Wine of 2020:
Another easy winner (loser?) here - Sonoma County Chardonnay. This wine quickly made the jump from sipping wine into the cooking wine category. Not much for us to like in that bottle. Runner-up "honors" go to the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Steer clear!
Best Kirkland Wine Under $10:
While there are a host of solid wines at this price point, we quickly narrowed this "best of" list down to 3 wines - Rioja Reserva, Chianti Classico Riserva, and Côtes du Rhône. Of these wines, the clear favorite for us is the Rioja. This value packed wine easily competes with bottles 2 and 3 times more expensive. We've got wines from Spain, France, and Italy here - if you are looking to learn more about Old World Wines, give any one of these a try and you will get something that is not only easy on the wallet, but something that is high quality as well. Chapeau, Kirkland.
Best Overall (and Memorable) Wine of 2020:
How can we possibly pick? We've had so many terrific wines this year. The VinoVistas have to split this one, as we truly can't agree on one bottle that we thought was better (and more memorable) than the rest. Liz's pick is the Massimo Clerico, Coste della Sesia Rosso (Nebbiolo), “Ca’ du Leria” Piedmont, Italy 2015 ($29, SommSelect). Mike also chose a Nebbiolo wine - 1997 Pertinace "Vigneto Nervo" Barbaresco ($60, Garagiste). Both wines are singing and fabulous in character, just a slight variation of the theme of Nebbiolo.
There you have it! Our "Best of / Worst of" lists for 2020! What were your best or worst wines from 2020? We would love to hear from you!
We hope all of you have a wonderful, healthy, happy, and wine-filled 2021!