This year I spent Thanksgiving in Scottsdale, Arizona. We actually got in on Thanksgiving Day and went straight to lunch. Lunch turned to dinner, and by the time we left it was getting dark. But we needed booze. It was Thursday, we had a long day of traveling, and we needed a stiff drink before we settled in. We hopped in the car, and headed to BevMo!. BevMo is my my happy place… one of the best liquor stores around, with the best selection I have seen anywhere.
When we got to BevMo, they were closed. Duh… it’s a holiday. Why would they be open on Thanksgiving? But wait… what’s that… a Total Wine SPIRITS • BEER & MORE across the street. They were open! Total Wine is similar to BevMo. Their prices are about the same, too. They were open, so we headed over there to shop around. While walking around the store, I saw a Top 20 Wines of 2011 list. I picked one up, and starting flipping through it. Total Wine carries all of the wines listed, and Total Wine employees voted on these. It was pretty neat to see what the staff liked.
In the spirit of this list, the holidays, and sharing a good bottle of wine I have decided to share the list of the top 20 wines of 2011 with you as well. Below are the 20 wines and a brief description of each wine. I have not had them all, but this gives me something to do… let’s drink people!
#1 – CULT Cabernet • Napa, California • 90 Wine Enthusiast
The #1 wine of 2011, a 90-point Wine Enthusiast’s choice CULT Napa Valley Cabernet comes with a family of pedigrees that dates back more than 60 years. The Salvestrin family began growing grapes for local wineries with the repeal of prohibition and added winemaking to the family portfolio in 1987.
California is home to many heavy-hitting cult wines – offerings from famous winemakers that catch the eye of collectors and fetch astounding process. CULT Cabernet made the top spot on the list because it offers you the opportunity to try a great cult wine at a reasonable price. Salvestrin Winery delivers a product as good as any cult winemaker could offer; handcrafted, smooth and smoky, full-bodied Cabernet with black fruit flavors and dark chocolate nuances.
#2 – Kitchen Sink White Blend • California • 90 Wine Enthusiast
This wine makes the list because it offers everything… including the kitchen sink. This delightful blend is a party-perfect, easy-drinking fantastic value that is meant to be enjoyed, not analyzed.
(This wine is awesome. It’s cheap, and tastes great. I love sharing wine… but this wine is so good, you might want to grab a bottle for yourself!)
#3 – Domaine Mas du Bouquet Vacqueyras • 2009 France • 91 Wine Enthusiast
The Rhone Valley is a treasure trove of value, and this highly rated Grenache-Syrah blend should not be missed in the fantastic 2009 vintage.
(I have had this wine, and it is delicious. This wine goes really well with red meats and has a wonderful finish. Might be one of the better red wines I have had in 2011.)
#4 Chateau La Papeterie Montage St Emilion • 2009 France • 92 Wine Enthusiast
Savvy shoppers are seeking out values like this impressive Merlot-based red from critically acclaimed 2009 vintage in Bordeaux. Merlot is my least favorite red… but this one is worth trying.
#5 Tesoro della Regina Pinor Grigio • 2010 Italy • 91 Wine Enthusiast
The Valdadige is home to some Italy’s most complex whites, and this stunning and stylish Pinot Grigio will top your list of crisp and refreshing whites.
#6 Maipe cabernet Reserve • 2009 Argentina • 90 Wine Enthusiast
Renowned Italian winemaker Alberto Antonini makes this velvety and dark berry flavored Cabernet Sauvignon from prime Mendoza vineyards.
#7 Muirwood Chardonnay Reserve Zanetta • California • NA Wine Enthusiast
Muriwood Reserve Chardonnay reflects the family’s commitment to produce distinctive wines with great nuance and depth from their finest vineyard estates.
#8 Anam Cara Pinot Noir Nicholas Estate • 2008 Oregon • NA Wine Enthusiast
Owner Nick Nicholas grows the grapes for his outstanding 2008 vintage Pinot in Oregon’s famous Chehalem Mountain District of the Willamette Valley.
#9 Flichman Malbec Tupungato • Argentina • NA Wine Enthusiast
Allow the magic of Malbec to charm you with this plush and vibrant red from high-altitude vineyards in the prime Tupungato zone from Mendoza, Argentina.
#10 Villa Lanata Moscato d’Asti • Italy • NA Wine Enthusiast
Fragrant, fruity, lightly sparkling and delightful with desserts or as an aperitif, this delicious bubbly hails from Italy’s famous Piedmont region.
#11 Clos des Quatre Vents Fleurie • 2009 France • 91 Wine Enthusiast
Fleurie is one of the finest villages of Beaujolias and in the outstanding 2009 vintage… you won’t want to miss this medium-bodied and fabulous single-vineyard red.
#12 Radius Merlot • Washington State • NA Wine Enthusiast
Super bargains like this crowd-pleasing Merlot have earned the wines of Washington state critical acclaim and legions of loyal consumers.
#13 Sobon Zinfandel Rocky Top • California • NA Wine Enthusiast
Paul Sobon makes a firm commitment to our environment by handcrafting this outstanding Zinfandel from organic grapes at this carbon-neutral winery.
#14 Casisano Colombaio Brunelo • 2004 Italy • 90 Wine Enthusiast
Brunello is one of the most prestigious wines of Italy and owner Riccardo Ciarpella has taken his classic 2004 vintage Brunello of the top tier of the region’s greatest producers.
#15 Martin Ray Cabernet Santa Cruz • 2007 California • 90 Wine Enthusiast
The Santa Cruz Mountains have long been recognized as ideal for producing world class wines like this outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon value.
#16 Aspaldi Rioja Reserva • 2006 Spain • 90 Wine Enthusiast
Aged to perfection by the Ugarte family in Rioja Spain, this silky bargain is ready for your enjoyment.
#17 River Road Pinot Noir • Russian River Valley • NA Wine Enthusiast
Gary Mills owns vineyards smack in the heart of the Russian River Valley and is dedicated to producing world-class Pinot Noir.
(Pinot Noir is my favorite style… I follow the 20/20 rule with most wines, but I totally prefer my Pinot chilled. Not cold… slightly chilled. )
#18 Kemblefield Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough • New Zealand • NA Wine Enthusiast
Winemaker John Kemble makes the list with his racy, yet bargain-priced Sauvignon Blanc from the prestigious Marlborough region of New Zealand.
#19 Chateau Ferrand St Emilion Grand Cru • 2005 France • 90 Wine Enthusiast
The critics all agree that the 2005 vintage in Bordeaux is one of the best ever produced. Total Wine selected this Grand Cru, Merlot-based red for its excellent value.
#20 Gumdale Chardonnay • Australia • NA Wine Enthusiast
One way to stretch your wine-buying dollar is to focus on value-oriented producers like the Casella family.
Like I said, I haven’t had all of these wines, but the ones that I have had are amazing. I am excited to try more of these, as these wines will still be good into the 2012 season. I wonder if they do this every year… because that’s a really cool concept! Total Wine is known for having the lowest prices, the best service, and an incredible selection. Based on what I saw while in Arizona… I would have to agree!
Have you had any of these wines? What was your favorite 2011 wine?