We’re heading into the final weeks of 2017, which means an announcement is quickly forthcoming for this years Winepisser Best Wine award. The contenders so far are a wild, rambling mix of whites and reds, dry and sweet, including — for the first time — an actual dessert wine. Here’s the list so far:
- Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red – Napa – 2014
- Pittacum La Prohibición – Spain – 2012
- Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Hehimmelreich Spätlese – Germany – 2012
- Walla Walla Vintners Cuvée Red Blend – Washington – 2013
- Protos Ribera del Duero Roble – Spain – 2015
- Navarro Correas Structura Ultra – Argentina – 2010
- Hugel Gentil – France – 2015
- Alvear’s Pedro Pedro Ximénez de Añada – Spain – 2014
- Dr. Loosen Riesling Beerenauslese – Germany – 2013
- Hestia Cellars Riesling Yakima Valley – Washington – 2013
- Hugel Alsace Cuvée les Amours Pinot Blanc – France – 2014
There’s still time for a last-minute entry, but the only wines in the tasting pipeline between now and decision time are a few low-end whites and the same Narbona Tannat that won last year. At least one event is coming up in the final days of December, which may see us getting a chance to buy some more exotic bottles, but that may get pushed into 2018.
What’s unusual, to me at least, is that not a single Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc made the top list, despite a tremendous showing. 29 of the 150 wines reviewed for 2017 were Sauvignon Blanc, with 18 of those from New Zealand. The average score of the essbies, however, ran only at about 3.25, which is surprising since it’s a wine I enjoy so much, that overall average was reduced by the non-NZ offerings, though, as the average for the NZ SBs was almost 4.0. I was sure that at least one would hit the 5-star mark this year, and none did. I’m enjoying the wines, for sure, but they just couldn’t outshine the whites that did make it to the top.
Following on from SB, Riesling was the 2nd most-rated wine of 2017, comprising 15 wines. That’s not a surprise, since I am a reesfan with no shame, even if I think it takes a back seat to its far more colorful cousin, Gewurztraminer. Of that grape, two made the 5-star list: a Dr. Loosen from Germany, and a fantastic reez from Hestia Cellars in Washington State.
The red blends took third most-rated wine, and a number of those won the coveted cincoestrellas, as shown in the list above. Meanwhile, Chardonnay, a grape I find typically resting somewhere between dull and loathsome, is climbing the list, and I suspect may get more play in 2018 as I explore less of the over-oaked California offerings and go back to the Old World to check its roots. I’m also expecting great things from Chenin Blanc, which may well surpass my Sauvignon Blanc obsession.
I am excited a dessert wine made the list, a Pedro Ximénez from Spain. This was a shockingly sweet wine, too, which usually turns me off, even for dessert wines, but wow! — this was a knockout. How they managed to get that much sugar in the wine without destroying it utterly is just amazing.
In previous years, it was clear the reds were likely to win the Best Wine Award, but this year I’d have to say it’s 50-50 between the reds and whites.