Tell us about wines you enjoyed in 2018!

Happy New Year! As we approach the end of another swing around the Sun, it’s a time when wine enthusiasts enjoy looking back over the wines we’ve particularly enjoyed in the past 12 months.

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I’ve assembled a list of ten good, reasonably priced wines that I’ve especially enjoyed, and you’re invited to join the conversation in our WineLovers Discussion Group forum or WineLovers Facebook Page by sounding off about the wines that have particularly caught your attention in 2018.

By sharing these wines that touched our hearts and palates, you’ll offer the rest of us the opportunity to rush out and look for the bottles that rang your chimes, and that’s a fine way to wrap up the year.

Here’s my list, arranged in chronological order, most recent first. They range from the lower teens to middle twenties, because that’s the range in which I usually drink. Somewhat to my surprise, they are all from Europe: Five from France, two from Italy, two from Spain and one from Portugal. On the other hand, there’s a good mix of colors: Four are red, three are white, two are fortified, and one is rosé.

Happy New Year!

These aren’t necessarily the most expensive wines I opened all year, or even the highest rated on points. Rather, they are wines that brought me simple enjoyment, paired well with food, and, at the end of the first glass, put a smile on my face. I hope you found some wines that met these criteria, too, and I hope you’ll take a moment to join in the New Year’s fun by telling us about them.

Again, please feel free to check in at our WineLovers Discussion Group forum or WineLovers Facebook Page. I look forward to hearing from you.

E. Guigal 2016 Côtes du Rhône Blanc ($14.99)

E. Guigal

This clear, light but bright gold wine comprises a typical Southern Rhône white blend of 60% Viognier, 15% Roussanne, 10% Marsanne, 8 % Clairette, 5% Bourboulenc, and 2% Grenache Blanc. Delicious yet subtle scents of tropical fruit – mangoes, green figs and pineapple – flirt with white flowers and a distinct note of honeycomb in the background. Fresh and bright in flavor, it’s medium-bodied or perhaps a bit more on the palate, reading as rich but stopping well short of unctuous. The mixed fruits of the nose merge into something not quite as complex but just as delicious that speaks of peaches and pears, wrapped up with a firm structure of fresh acidity and 13.5% alcohol. U.S. importer: Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, N.Y. (Dec. 6, 2018)

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Domaine Laroche 2016 Chablis “Saint Martin” ($21.99)

Domaine Laroche

Clear gold, pale and transparent. Fresh, tart apple aromas and a whiff of white wildflowers. Mouth-filling, elegant apple and pear flavors give way to chalky minerality, framed by crisp, palate-cleansing acidity and moderate 12% alcohol. U.S. importer: Wilson Daniels LLC, St. Helena, Calif. (Nov. 22, 2018)

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Ruffino 2015 “Aziano” Chianti Classico ($16.99)

Ruffino Chianti Classico

If you want a good Chianti that could serve as the picture next to the definition for Chianti in the dictionary, I don’t think you could do much better than this Ruffino “Aziano” Chianti Classico. It shows the reddish-purple color and ruby flashes that are typical of this beloved Tuscan Sangiovese blend, and its aroma and flavor offer the dark cherry and dried-cherry fruit that describe Chianti, plus a subtle earthy note. It’s brisk and tart in the mouth, with a rational 13 percent alcohol and the mouth-watering acidity that makes Chianti a wonderful companion with the Italian tomato flavors of pasta and pizza sauce and cheese, but it’s not too harsh to sip on its own, at least not for me. Sour cherry flavors linger in the long finish, along with crisp acidity and a whiff of tannic astringency. U.S. importer: Ruffino Import Co., Rutherford, Calif. (Nov. 8, 2018)

Check prices and find places to buy Ruffino “Aziano” Chianti Classico on

Find dozens of Chianti Classico wines and vendors, plus a concise article about Chianti Classico on this Wine-Searcher link.


Château de Poncie 2015 “Le Prê Roi” Fleurie ($20.99)

Château de Poncie

This is a clear, dark garnet Beaujolais, with reddish-orange glints against the light. Pleasant red-fruit aromas, subtle cherries and raspberries, are backed by a pleasant earthy sense of damp red clay. Delicious cherry-berry flavors are framed by surprising tannins for a Beaujolais, crisp, mouth-watering acidity and firm but not overwhelming 13.5 percent alcohol. A good wine that clearly shows the style of named-village Cru Beaujolais. U.S. importer: Henriot Inc., NYC. (Oct. 11, 2018)

Check prices and view vendors for Château de Poncie “Le Prê Roi” Fleurie on

For an extensive list of other Fleurie producers and vendors, view this Wine-Searcher link.


Julien Braud 2016 “Les Vignes du Bourg” Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie ($13.99)

Julien Braud Muscadet

Transparent light gold color, a pretty hue in the glass, perhaps an effect of Muscadet’s sur lie wine making in which the fermented yeast remains in the wine as it develops in fermenting tanks. The combination of sur lie, the chalky soil in its vineyards near the mouth of the Loire Valley, against the rather neutral palate of the Melon (“Meh-lawN”) de Bourgogne grape, pave the way for a wine of surprising complexity and flavor interest for a relatively affordable white. Notes of pears and white flowers are accented by chalky notes on the nose and a distinct minerality in the dry, gently acidic, medium-bodied flavor. Moderate 12% alcohol makes it easy to enjoy another glass; don’t serve it too cold, so you can enjoy its flavor nuances. U.S. importer: WineCRAFT, Cincinnati. (Sept. 27, 2018)

Find vendors and compare prices for Julien Braud “Les Vignes du Bourg” Muscadet on

If you can’t find this particular label near you, use this link to browse; page down to find a large variety of other Muscadets and their vendors.


Croft Reserve Tawny Porto ($11.99)


Clear reddish-amber, a pretty color that looks almost more like a light red than a tawny. Interesting aromas of caramel and dried cherries loft from the glass, with more subtle grace notes of aromatic brown spices. The nutty walnut and pecan flavors typical of tawny Port are more evident in the luscious, full-bodied flavor, but there’s good sweet red fruit there, too. The smooth sweetness somewhat conceals the potent 20 percent alcohol, but its gentle heat becomes more evident along with soft tannins in a long finish that speaks of dried fruit and caramel. A fine tawny and a very good value. U.S. importer: Kobrand Corp., Purchase, N.Y. (July 26, 2018)

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Delaille 2017 Domaine du Salvard Cheverny Rosé ($17.99)

Domaine du Salvard

Pretty, rather light copper color. Very pleasant and surprisingly complex for a rosé: Red berries and a distinct hint of lime on the nose. On the palate it’s bright and tart, bone-dry with fresh acidity. Light, appealing red-berry flavors add notes of melon, shifting subtly into an intriguing stony minerality that lasts into a very long, shimmering finish. Really an excellent rosé from the Loire Valley, a blend of 65 percent Pinot Noir and 35 percent Gamay in a modest 12% alcohol. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (July 3, 2018)

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Marchese di Barolo 2014 “Maraia” Barbera del Monferrato ($13.99)

Marchese di Barolo

Clear dark purple, this 100 percent Barbera shows garnet glints against the light. Scents of fresh red cherries, blackberries and dried cherries plus a light whiff of smoke carry over on the palate with bright, tart fruit shaped by crisp acidity and soft, fuzzy tannins, with a moderate 13% alcohol. Cherry-berry notes and zippy acidity linger in a very long finish. U.S. importer: Frederick Wildman & Sons Ltd., NYC. (April 21, 2018)

Find vendors and compare prices for Marchese di Barolo “Maraia” Barbera del Monferrato on

Here’s a long list of links to vendors for other wines from Barbera del Monferrato, as well as information about the region.


Torres 2013 “Altos Ibéricos” Rioja Crianza ($14.99)


“Crianza” signals an oak-aged Rioja, and this model, 100 percent Tempranillo, spends a full year in barrel. Dark garnet with a bronze edge, it offers tart cherries on the nose and palate, opening up to a dark earthy minerality. Very dry, very acidic, 13.5% alcohol claimed; there’s an edge of soft, palatable tannins in the finish. U.S. importer: Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Woodinville, Wash. (Jan. 6, 2018)

Find vendors and compare prices for Torres “Altos Ibéricos” Rioja Crianza on


Broadbent Reserve Madeira 5 Years Old ($24.99)

Broadbent Reserve Madeira

Clear, dark copper color with glints of gold. Pleasant scents of meyer lemon, walnuts and pecans lead into a full, rich mixed-nut flavor with tart, lemony acidity holding light fresh-fruit sweetness in balance; its 19% alcoholic warmth fills the mouth in a long, pleasant finish that goes on and on. U.S. importer: Broadbent Selections Inc., Sonoma, Calif. (Dec. 31, 2017)

Find vendors and compare prices for Broadbent Reserve Madeira 5 Years Old on

For much more about Madeira, read this Wine-Searcher info page. After the article you’ll find an extensive list of Madeira wines and vendors.


More affordable wines

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10 or less that I’ve told you about during the past year or two. Please tell us about your favorites!

  • Laroque 2016 Cité de Carcassonne Cabernet Franc ($9.99)
  • Domaine de Pouy 2016 Côtes de Gascogne ($7.99)
  • Alamos 2015 Salta Torrontés ($9.99)
  • Alamos 2015 Mendoza Malbec ($9.99)
  • Caposaldo 2014 Chianti ($8.99)
  • d’Arenberg 2012 McLaren Vale “The Stump Jump” ($9.99)
  • Oveja Negra 2014 Maule Valley Cabernet Franc – Carmenere Reserva ($9.99)
  • Côté Mas 2016 “Rouge Intense” Sud de France Pays d’Oc ($12.99/1 liter)

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