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The Most Brilliant Wines of 2020

Pick your next wine from this list of double gold winners from the 2020 Sommeliers Choice Awards.

Life’s too short for bad food, bad music, and bad wine. They say these things are subject to taste and we agree for the most part. These wines have been tasted and judged by some of the most esteemed sommeliers, master sommeliers, and wine experts in the country, giving their stamp of approval to only the best of the best. 

The annual Sommeliers Choice Awards, hosted in San Francisco, awards wines based on the typicity (how it resonates with its region and origin), how it pairs with food, quality, value, and packaging. Wines are scored out of 100, and those that receive points above 95 are awarded a double-gold medal, amongst other special category awards. 

With so many award-winning wines for the picking, why go through your days trying one mediocre bottle after another. 

Kalaris Pinot Noir

98 points

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Named after the owner of the brand, Gus Kalaris, Kalaris Wines have evolved from his love of wines of Burgundy and his passion for producing California wines. Coming from the Calistoga Kalaris Family, the Kalaris Pinot Noir has notes of fresh and inviting aromas of moss, dried leaves, and red currants that lead to red cherry, red plum, cranberry, and wild strawberry flavors on the palate along with fine-grained texture supporting the structure. With a whopping 98 points awarded at the Sommelier’s Choice Awards, the Kalaris Pinot Noir was also titled  ‘Wine of the Year’, ‘Red Wine of the Year By The Glass’, ‘Wine of the Year by Country’, and ‘Wine of the Year by Varietal’

Matilde - Lamadrid Estate Wines

97 points

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Rising from the Agrelo wine region in Argentina, the Matilde Malbec by Lamadrid Estate Wines, as described by judges “huge value for the price. It is very well made, potentially world-class” - deserving of the 97 points earned.  The wine boasts dense black fruit and plum flavors, along with notes of dark chocolate and hints of orange peel typical of ts Agrelo terroir. A great wine to pair with a medium-rare steak with a side of mash. 

Vigne de Maurival 2018 - Château de Lacroux

97 points

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Vigne de Maurival, a product of Château de Lacroux from the Gaillac region of France was named as ‘White Wine of the Year’. Judges at the competition also deemed it to be ‘Wine of the Year by Country’, making it 2020’s best French wine.  On the bouquet, the Vigne De Maurival opens with notes of under-ripe peaches and fresh white flowers. This wine is textured, but not too intense, and pairs impeccably with any chicken dish or a grilled lobster plate. 

Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon

97 points 

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Hailing from the Napa Valley, this wine is a true representation of a rich and full-bodied wine. The Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from different blocks on the property opens with aromas of cassis, wild blackberries, licorice, herbs de Provence, cedar, and tobacco leaf. The bright mouthfeel showcases flavors of cassis, dark cherries, sweet chocolate, black pepper, and saffron, with a long mineral post-taste. Judges gave this wine the title of ‘Wine of the Year by Varietal’, making it 2020’s favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, and described it to be a ‘true Napa legend’. The wine pairs beautifully with all sorts of meat, from roast chicken to steak, and even venison. It’s also a treat with mature cheese like a well-aged Manchego. 

Cuvelier Los Andes - Malbec

97 points

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2020 was a great year for Argentinian wines, as they found their space between many pioneering wine regions. The Cuvelier Los Andes Malbec is an Argentinian wine that shone last year, sparking adulation amongst judges at the Sommeliers Choice Awards. The 2016 Malbec took home three titles, namely, ‘Red Wine of the year By The Glass’, ‘Wine of the Year by Country’, and ‘Wine of the Year By The Glass’ boosted with a double gold medal. The wine starts off with aromas of ripe black fruit, with great complexity on the palate, and notes of cocoa nib, ripe blackberry, plum, and sweet tobacco. 

Doña Silvina Rosado Malbec

97 points

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Another bottle of Argentinian goodness is on this stellar list. Crafted at Bodegas Krontiras, the Doña Silvina Rosado Malbec was awarded 97 points. After a 24-month aging in new French oak barrels and a 12-month resting in a bottle, the wine releases plum and blueberry aromas combined with soft cocoa, coffee, and smoke notes. It keeps a lively acidity with smooth tannins and leads to a long, elegant finish. 

Sin Banderas 2019 Rhône Rosé

97 points

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Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault come together to create this rosé blend that gloats notes of bright ripe red cherry and fresh floral notes. With a kiss of sweetness, this reveals a soft texture alongside minerals and bright red fruits. Sin Banderas’ 2019 Rhône Rosé impressed judges at the Sommeliers Choice Awards, earning both rosé accolades, namely, ‘Rosé Wine of the Year’ and ‘Rosé Wine of the Year by the Glass’.

Cannonball ELEVEN Chardonnay

96 points

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Made by seeking small, meticulously tended vineyards that bear fruit of exceptional character, the Cannonball ELEVEN Chardonnay is described as ‘very elegant on the palate’ by judges at the Sommeliers Choice Awards. The 100% Chardonnay shows notes of apple, pear, and melon fruit, with succulent preserved lemon and lime zest back, complimented by honeycomb accents. The white wine along with the coveted double gold medal took home titles of ‘Wine of the Year by Varietal’ and ‘White Wine of the Year by the Glass’

Crémant de Loire Château - Château Piéguë

96 points 

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Made with equal portions of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes, the Crémant de Loire Château by Château Piéguë was awarded 96 points, making it the highest-scoring sparkling wine at the competition, and won a double gold medal and ‘Sparkling Wine of the Year’.  On the palate, the wine gives off notes of honeycomb, white flowers, and bosc pear. The silky body, complexity, and richness make it very easy to pair the wine with different dishes. Try this sparkling wine with a Lemon Meringue pie and enjoy the bubbles.

Poet's Leap Riesling

96 points

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Inspired by one of the most highly acclaimed Riesling producers, Armin Diel, the Poet’s Leap Riesling by Long Shadows Vintners is an off-dry riesling with spicy aromas and refreshing flavors. Crowned ‘Wine of the Year by Varietal’, and carrying the appellation of the Columbia Valley, the wine expresses notes of fresh melon, honey, ripe apricot, and a hint of citrus jump on the palate leaving a vibrant, racy impression and a long, clean finish.

Ehlers Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

96 points

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With a fantastic 96 point score, the Ehlers Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a great representation of the Cabernet grapes from the valley. Deep garnet-purple layers are shown in this outstanding blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc. The wine is very intense in aromas, showing Asian spice mix, violets, dark berry jam, black olives, sweet cherries, sage, and a deep long minerality. On the palate, the wine shows off a beautiful tannin structure with balanced acidity and an especially long finish, of minerals, cedar, dark chocolate, and wild berries jam. 

Chalone 2018 Estate Chardonnay

96 points 

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The bouquet opens with nuances of stone fruit, wet rock, and a hint of oak, with notes of rich green apples, lemon, and pears. Chalone Vineyard’s 2018 Estate Chardonnay is often described as lemon zesty and refreshing — an ideal wine to pair with a roast dinner or a seafood platter with rich fish like tuna or salmon. A double gold medalist at the Sommeliers Choice Awards, this Chardonnay is a treat for white wine lovers. 

Chaleur Blanc De Lille Cellars

96 points 

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Coming to us from Columbia Valley, the 2019 Chaleur Blanc is the 25th Chaleur Blanc vintage produced by De Lille Cellars. This energetic, canary yellow wine presents a complex nose with aromas of grapefruit, golden hay, lemon zest, petrichor, and pastry dough. Judges at the Sommeliers Choice Awards described this wine to be “easy to quaff with good concentration of fruit”, making it a 96 point double gold medalist with the title of the 'Wine of the year by Varietal’.

Kirrihill 2018 E.B's The Squire Clare Shiraz

96 points

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Australia’s 2018 Squire Shiraz, with 96 points was the highest awarded Shiraz along with the titles of ‘Wine of the Year by Country’ and ‘Wine of the Year by Varietal’. The wine is a bold, inky mahogany red color, with intensely aromatic and powerful notes of dark roasted coffee, toasted almonds, and dried fruits. The palate is plush and rich with char and spice flavors derived from extended oak barrel maturation. Abundant tannins add structure and length to the concentrated fruit core. Hailing from the Clare Valley down under and crafted by Kirrihill Wines, this wine is a “great example of some incredibly well-made wine” as expressed by Sommeliers Choice Awards’ judges. 

Poundstone Chardonnay

96 points

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Grown in the Catarina vineyard in the Carneros region of Sonoma, the Poundstone Chardonnay is steered in ways in which it showcases the natural flavor of the Chardonnay grape. With floral aromas accented by citrus, pineapple, pear, and vanilla, this wine has vibrant acidity and is fresh on the palate. The wine is bright, and the flavors of pear, apple, vanilla, and honeysuckle show complexity. The balanced flavors on the finish leave a lasting impression, one that judges at the Sommeliers Choice Awards appreciated, awarding the wine with a double-gold medal. 

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