After reviewing close to 12,000 wines last year, jamessuckling. com declared its 100 Wines of the Year. Here, James Suckling hones that list down to the Ten Best Wines of 2016, all of which scored 100 points
OPUS ONE NAPA VALLEY 2013
The greatest Opus ever. Terrific aromas of crushed blackcurrant, blueberry and flowers with hints of sweet tobacco. Roses continue to exude opulence and class. Full body, superb balance of ultrafine tannins and vibrant acidity. Complex aftertaste of black fruit and citrus. Extremely persistent. Will be even better in 2019 and beyond. 79% cabernet sauvignon, 7% cabernet franc, 6% merlot, 6% petit verdot, 2% malbec. This will always be beautiful to drink.
VIÑEDO CHADWICK CABERNET SAUVIGNON VALLE DE MAIPO 2014
Simultaneously defines elegance and power. Complex aromas of blueberry, blackcurrant and liquorice. Full body, refined and beautiful. Stunning length and complexity, energy and brightness. It has a transparency that shows such greatness and beauty. Half the normal production. Chile’s first perfect wine and well deserved. Better in 2020.
RENIERI BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO RISERVA 2010
A young Brunello with precision and complexity showing violet, blackberry, tea leaf and minerals. Stone undertones, too. Full body, a compressed palate and firm and velvety tannins. Powerful and long. Truly fantastic. Breathtaking. Better in 2018.
MARQUÉS DE MURRIETA RIOJA CASTILLO YGAY GRAN RESERVA ESPECIAL 1986
A triumph. An amazing white showing roasted pineapple, dried apple, flowers and hints of lemon curd and almonds on the nose. Full-bodied, closed and tight with amazing depth and beauty. Waxy, salty and creamy. Goes on for minutes. 21 years in wood, seven in concrete and about three years in bottle. First year since 1978. Viura with a hint of malvasia. I have the same mind-tingling sensation tasting this as tasting the 1963 Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco. 8,000 bottles made.
CATENA ZAPATA ADRIANNA VINEYARD MALBEC MENDOZA FORTUNA TERRAE 2012
Incredible purity of malbec and clarity. So much wildflower and stone character. Full body, firm, with silky tannins and an incredible depth and precision. Tangy acidity. Ethereal; this is the La Tâche of Argentina. A definition for malbec. 3,000 bottles made. Try in 2018 onwards.
DOMINUS NAPA VALLEY 2013
Fascinating multidimensional aromas, with black truffle, bark, clove, blackcurrant, citrus and even ginseng. Full-bodied yet reserved and austere, with chewy, powerful tannins that remain polished and refined. The flavours are more umami and savoury. Then there are forest fruits and blood-orange undertones. Goes on for minutes. A wine to age for a lifetime. A new classic.
KRUG CHAMPAGNE BRUT 2002 TYRRELL’S SHIRAZ HUNTER VALLEY OLD PATCH 1867 2014
Sourced from vines planted in 1867. Purity and finesse—a perfectly shaped structure and perfectly pitched ripeness. Deceptively silky and seductive. Has the ripe red and dark plum aromas you only find in the best wines from the best terroirs. Ridiculously silky, supple and yet concentrated style. There is a ripeness and soft, fleshy and enveloping richness through the mid-palate that extrudes long into the finish. Drink it now or hold. Impeccable detail and depth with a lot of chalky, stony and flinty elements on the nose and a very fresh edge. There are aromas of lemon rind, lime juice and a lime custard all at once, complemented by a restrained hazelnut-like edge. Undertones of brown mushrooms, chalky minerals and lemon leaf. The palate has a core of intense, concentrated chardonnay framed within a powerful phenolic structure that will underpin the future of this Champagne. Flawlessly fresh and as perfect as it gets.
FRANZ HIRTZBERGER RIESLING WACHAU SINGERRIEDEL SMARAGD 2015
An aromatic masterpiece with fine lemon and lime pith, grapefruit and ripe white nectarines and peaches. A lot of sweet aromatics. It’s salty and smooth, elegant, precise and shows a deeply rich palate with great balance and power. It’s long and super concentrated, and acidity has the final say. Perfect ripeness. Thrilling to drink now, but wait for 5+ years for this to reach perfection.
GAJA BARBARESCO SORI SAN LORENZO 2013
Majestic aromas of crushed berries, meat and orange peel. Full body, lots of powerful yet ripe tannins and exquisite fruit. Amazing depth and density. They macerated a little more than normal because the fruit was perfect. A classic nebbiolo that reminds me of the great 1996. Don’t touch for five to 10 years.