The best wines in the world battled it out at the third annual Sommeliers Choice Awards held in San Francisco. Master Sommeliers, wine buyers and wine directors from top U.S. restaurants and bars judged the entries on the basis of food pairing ability (how well a wine pairs with different cuisines), typicity (how well the wine represents the varietal), quality (how well the wine suits its target audience right from its aroma, taste and body), value (whether the wine’s quality and its price are in sync) and packaging (how well the wine will be perceived by the customers).
Upon a thorough judging process that saw them judge wines from over 26 countries and more than 142 different types of wines and varietals, scores were awarded to each wine on the five aforementioned parameters. According to the elite judging panel, these were the Top 50 Wines at the 2021 Sommeliers Choice Awards.
1. Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen 2019 Eroica Riesling
A collaboration between noted winemakers Bob Bertheau and Ernst Loosen, the Chateau Ste. Michelle x Dr. Loosen 2019 Eroica Riesling rose head and shoulders above to win the Wine of the Year award at the competition. Aromas of sweet lime with mandarin oranges and subtle mineral notes make for an inviting nose. The palate has a tartness that pairs well with a green Pad Thai. The Eroica style, one of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s best collection brings this wine that focuses on bright fruit with crisp acidity and enhanced minerality. The wine also took home the White Wine of the Year, Best in Show by Country and Best in Show by Varietal awards.
The Reynolds Family Winery brought the Red Wine of the Year and double gold winner Persistence from the doorstep of the Stags Leap District on the Silverado Trail. Persistence is the winery’s flagship Bordeaux style blend. The wine draws one in with its opulent fruit-driven bouquet. Aromas of raisin bread pudding and halvah are followed by a palate of Jordan almonds, chocolate babka and honey. The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend is a delicious and appealing vintage that goes well with a pot roast or beef stew. Persistence was also among the awardees for Best in Show by Varietal.
3. Long Shadows Vintners- Poet’s Leap Riesling
Inspired by winemaker Armin Diel, Gilles Nicault crafted this exquisite wine in the style of its winemaker. The Long Shadows Vintners- Poet’s Leap Riesling is a racy wine with fragrant white flower blossoms, kumquat and citrus rind aromas. A lively and pure wine, the 2019 vintage was recognized by the judges as the Wine of the Year BTG and White Wine of the Year BTG. The riesling has just a small trace of residual sugar which gives it a vibrant mouthfeel and a long, satisfying finish. A double gold winner we could definitely sip on!
The flagship wine from Bodega del Abad, the Carracedo is an unparalleled expression of the authentic Mencía Berciana and is named after the Monastery of Carracedo. A full-bodied wine with great character and structure, the Carracedo has a persistent finish and is a great option for a long drink. It has an intriguing nose with notes of rose and lavender. The slight hints of charcuterie notes and savory herbs add a nice layer to the wine also recognized as the Best Wine by Country from Spain and Red Wine of the Year BTG.
5. Merlot Estate
L’Ecole N° 41, one of Washington’s premium Merlot producers, is behind this top-quality wine. The Merlot Estate is an elegant expression of the varietal with aromatics of dark fruit, tobacco leaf, cedar, violet and rose. The flavors of black cherry and peppercorn elevate the wine’s rich texture which is grounded by Ferguson vineyard’s graphite minerality. The finish is fresh and persistent and full of flavors. Walla Walla Valley’s finest is the best Merlot in the world.
6. UNO MALBEC
Argentina’s best wine, the UNO MALBEC, comes from the Uco Valley in Mendoza. The nose and the palate of this 100% Malbec consist of rich chocolate, fig, plum, blackberry and spices. A complex and delicious wine, the UNO MALBEC pairs well with a range of red meats, pasta dishes, tapas and medium intensity cheese boards. The flavors of blackberry pie, redcurrants and plum stand out in what is a terrific representation of a Malbec.
7. Albinea Canali Lambrusco "FB" Metodo Ancestrale
Albinea Canali’s sparkling jewel, the Albinea Canali Lambrusco FB Metodo Ancestrale is a fresh wine, pink in color with purplish highlights. The nose has a hint of crusty bread with a dry mouth and a characteristic acidulous note. A semi-sparkling wine, it is ideal to be accompanied with cold cuts, ravioli and tortellini pasta or grilled meats and pizza. A great wine that will uplift even the simplest of meals, the Albinea Canali Lambrusco FB Metodo Ancestrale was the fitting recipient of the titles of Sparkling Wine of the Year and the Sparkling Wine of the Year BTG.
Garnet red in color with a bouquet of licorice and tobacco, the Marcenasco is a Nebbiolo from Società Agricola Ratti. The palate of this red wine is a conviction of strength, fullness and harmony making it a master at the table. The elegant, full-flavored and full-bodied wine can be paired with grilled red and white meats, game and aged cheeses.
Closely following the Marcenasco is the Ochetti, again from Società Agricola Ratti. Nebbiolo’s classic notes of strawberry and raspberry are present in the Ochetti and are followed by savory and earthy notes. It is a velvety wine with a pleasantly bitterish taste and fine, delicate aromas. It goes well with finely cooked red and white meats in white or brown sauces. A solid expression of a Nebbiolo.
10. LE GINESTRE BAROLO DOCG SOTTOCASTELLO DI NOVELLO 2016
The wine derives its name from the precious Sottocastello di Novello area in the municipality of Novello where the vineyards are located. The wine has an intense ruby red color with slight orange reflections. At the nose, you can smell aromas of violet, vanilla, cinnamon, sweet tobacco and licorice. Full in flavor with soft tannins and a pleasant and spicy finish, the LE GINESTRE BAROLO DOCG SOTTOCASTELLO DI NOVELLO 2016 is a wine that shows exceptional longevity.
11. Black Label
The Black Label from La Scolca was a gold medal winner at the competition. Pale straw in color with greenish highlights, the nose of the Black Label is intense and long with fruit and flower notes. The palate has highly typical and flinty accents that one would find in a Cortese along with notes of almond and hazelnuts. The fragrance and the flavors of the wine are in perfect harmony and make it an ideal choice for an aperitif or an after-dinner drink.
A typical Gavi wine from La Scolca, the D’Antan was the finest Cortese on show and won the Best Wine by Country award. The wine is made with strictly traditional and ancient methods. The nose of the D’Antan is lasting with flavors varying from fruitiness to florality with time. The palate has notes of a Gavi with walnuts and toasted almond lingering on the finish. The wine can be enjoyed with a meal or as an aperitif. Take your time with this one and enjoy the magic of the D’Antan with every sip.
13. Abbazia di Novacella Kerner Alto Adige Valle Isarco DOC 2019
The seventh Italian wine in a row on the list, the Abbazia di Novacella Kerner Alto Adige Valle Isarco DOC 2019 is just as good as its predecessors. Made in the Bressanone basin, in the valley of Isarco, this white wine has floral aromas on the nose that blend well with notes of apricot and peach. Fresh and sapid on the palate, it is ideal to pair it with sushi and sashimi or a smoked freshwater fish.
14. Baron De Ley Rioja Rosado 2020
A pale, fresh and mineral rosé made from the first pressings of Garnacha, the Baron De Ley Rioja Rosado took home the coveted titles of Rosé Wine of the Year and Rosé Wine of the Year BTG. Complex and clean on the nose with white blossom aromas beautifully enhanced by hints of balsamic and ripe red fruits. The palate is luscious, fresh and perfectly balanced making it a great pairing option for grilled fish and Asian cuisine. It can also be enjoyed as a chilled aperitif.
15. Sass Pinot Noir 2016
The highest-rated Pinot Noir on the list with a Best in Show by Varietal award to back it up, the Sass Pinot Noir 2016 is as close as one can get to Pinot Noir perfection. Dark, fruit driven, with ripe cherries, black raspberries and violets, Sass Pinot Noir 2016 has a peppery spice and silky texture to it. The tannins are fine-grained and mature and the wine has a fantastic, lengthy finish. Sass Winery’s top wine.
16. Pieropan Soave Classico 2019
The fresher and younger expression of the Soave Classic, the 2019 Pieropan is a generous wine with a lot of freshness and versatility. Made exclusively from the vineyards located in the Soave region, the Pieropan Soave Classico 2019 has a delicate nose with hints of vine flowers, cherry and elderberry. Dry, savory and pleasant on the palate, the wine is an ideal option for pairing with multiple types of meals. Whether it is with soups, first courses based on vegetables, eggs and fish, the 2019 vintage is a great wine to sip with your meal at a restaurant.
17. Pinot Gris 2019
Montinore Estate’s Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio blend is a stunning wine with fruit-forward aromas of pineapple, key lime, mango and kiwi. The fresh and clean palate offers flavors of citrus, Granny Smith apples and green pear along with slight grassiness. A versatile wine, this Best in Show by Varietal winner can be paired with veggie kabobs, grilled halibuts or salads and can also be chilled and enjoyed as an aperitif. The Pinot Gris 2019 is a crowd-pleaser.
18. 2015 Levrier by Jo Irvine Anubis Cabernet Sauvignon
The 2015 Lévrier by Jo Irvine Anubis Cabernet Sauvignon was the Best Wine by Country winner for Australia. The wine has an intense red color and opens with notes of redcurrants, dark cherry fruit, and mulberry. On the palate, it is crafted with flavors of dark cherry and cassis with new French Oak. A plush and juicy wine, the 2015 Lévrier by Jo Irvine Anubis Cabernet Sauvignon finishes with velvety tannins.
19. Ehlers Estate 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
The only non-estate wine from Ehlers Estate, the Ehlers Estate 2018 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits dusty aromas of dark and red berries, dry herbs and spices. Deep dark garnet in color, the wine’s first sip is earthy with notes of blueberries and dark chocolate on the palate. Great minerality with a well-defined structure and tannins, a very enjoyable cabernet sauvignon.
20. Porta da Ravessa Branco 2020
Portugal’s top wine at the 2021 Sommeliers Choice Awards, the Porta da Ravessa Branco 2020 is a bright lemon and grapefruit wine with great savoriness. The element of savoriness makes it a great wine to pair with multiple cuisines, especially scallops.
21. Etoile Rosé
Seductive and subtle with fresh plum, black currant, dried apricot, and cocoa powder aromas and flavors. Rich, creamy texture complements its bright acidity and elegant mouthfeel, setting up a lingering, complex finish. Pair the Etoile Rosé from Chandon with rich and intensely flavored dishes.
22. Blanc de Blancs Brut
A sparkling wine from Szigeti wines in Austria, the Blanc de Blancs Brut has a light golden yellow color. The bouquet consists of apples and honeydew melon with a hint of peach. The creamy and fruity palate has a lot of fresh elegance and finesse to it. Delicate citrus and biscuit notes linger on the finish.
23. Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
A rich wine from Napa Valley, the Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is full-bodied and intense. The aromas of blackberry, blackcurrants and ripe plums on the nose and notes of lavender, cocoa, black pepper and vanilla beans on the palate make for an intriguing but enjoyable red.
24. Diana Nemorensis I
Dedicated to Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting and the enchanting protector of femininity, the Diana Nemorensis I is a cuvée of classic Bordeaux varieties with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Supple and mouth-filling, the red blend has great intensity and length.
25. Fiano di avellino terredora docg 2020
Italian winery Terredora Di Paolo SSA brings us this white vintage. An elegant and complex wine, the Fiano di avellino terredora docg 2020 is dry on the palate. The nose has nice and ripe aromas of pear, apricot, citrus, hazelnut and more. Ideal as an aperitif, this one should be paired with oysters, scallops and other seafood or with Asian cuisine.
26. TERRA COSTANTINO Nerello Mascalese Red
This Italian red blend is delicate and pretty on the nose with pure notes of strawberry and red cherry and a slight touch of smoke and mushroom nuances. The palate is ripe with notes of red cherries, goji berries and sweet tobacco.
27. Cabo da Roca Reserva Regional Lisboa Syrah 2016
Dense, aromatic and robust, the Cabo da Roca Reserva Regional Lisboa Syrah 2016 is full of black fruits, blackberries and plum on the nose. The peppery notes and hints of coffee and caramel are ideal to drink with steak, sausage, lamb and mushroom dishes.
28. Trois Noix Chardonnay
Trois Noix, French for Three Nuts is a homage to the Araujos and the winemaker's love for France. The 2019 Trois Noix Chardonnay is another world-class Napa Valley wine on this list. A lively and refreshing wine with loads of pineapples, ripe apples, cinnamon and vanilla. A truly crisp Chardonnay that was recognized as the best Chardonnay in the competition with its Best Wine by Varietal award.
A classic Barbera d’Asti with a bouquet of ripe fruit with an undercurrent of spices.
The wine has a full flavor with long persistence that can be served with first courses and red meats. Another high scoring wine from Italian winery Società Agricola Ratti.
30. LE GINESTRE BAROLO DOCG SOTTOCASTELLO DI NOVELLO 2015 RISERVA
Yet another example of why Italian wines deserve your attention, this Nebbiolo has a bright ruby red color with slight orange highlights. Its clean nose features sweet tobacco, liquorice, cinnamon, vanilla and violet. The palate is smooth, well structured and slightly dry in taste with a pleasant, spicy finish.
31. Blu Barolo, DOCG
The wine has a lifted character that is balanced well by flavors of ripe fruits and nuances of dried savory herbs. Notes of dried raspberries linger on the palate of this Nebbiolo from Signature Selections LLC.
32. PALAZZO 2017 "Left Bank" Master Blend Red Cuvée
Wonderfully balanced, long and distinctive is how you could describe the PALAZZO 2017 "Left Bank" Master Blend Red Cuvée. Chocolate, coffee, blackberry fruit, cassis and cocoa notes make up the nose and the palate of this red cuvée. A wine that can be enjoyed by itself or with assorted charcuterie, lamb chops, Italian food or a rib eye.
33. Gaderian Pinot Noir
Gaderian is an old English verb meaning ‘to gather'. And that is exactly what you can do with this Pinot Noir, gather your friends and have a sip. On the nose, the Gaderian Pinot Noir has cranberry, raspberry and red cherries. The palate contains flavors of pomegranate with cherry and subtle hints of vanilla and spice.
34. Reius Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Using the grapes made in the hills of the Northern part of Verona, the Reius Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico has a full, velvety body. The wine has alluring aromas of red fruit jam and hints of spice on the finish. Enjoy it with rich and strongly flavored meats and aged cheeses.
The Gruet NV Sauvage Rosé from Precept Wine has fruit flavors of wild strawberry and cherry that shine on the nose and the palate. The wine has a hint of exotic peachy stone fruit and nice floral components that lend this sparkling non-vintage great freshness.
36. Thymiopoulos Vineyards Xinomavro
Greek winery Thymiopoulos Vineyards’ 2017 vintage contains really juicy, fresh and easy-going red fruit. Lush and accessible with great concentration, the Thymiopoulos Vineyards Xinomavro showcases the Xinomavro varietal brilliantly.
37. Robert Foley Vineyards Claret 2015
The flagship wine from Robert Foley Vineyards, the Robert Foley Vineyards Claret 2015 is full and rich across the nose and palate. The nose has intoxicating aromas of black cherry and open ripe berries. There is a great lushness across the palate with ripe delicious flavors and fine tannins that finish long. A classic Left Bank Bordeaux-style blend made in Napa-style.
38. Tornatore Etna Rosso 2017
One of E & J Gallo Winery’s shining wines, the Tornatore Etna Rosso 2017 is a blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. A wine with intense and spicy aromas that will be an ideal accompaniment to roasted or boiled meats. Made after combining generations of experience with modern techniques and the highest quality grapes from Etna.
39. Doña Silvina Reserva Malbec
A 100% Malbec, the Doña Silvina Reserva Malbec is made with organic and biodynamic grapes. 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.
40. Krontiras Explore Aglianico
The first-ever biodynamic Aglianico from Argentina, Bodegas Krontiras’ is a homage to the winery’s Greek roots. The wine has an inky-black color, with powerful and firm tannins, notable acidity and dark fruit flavors.
41. Sei Querce/ 2015 Six Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon
A classic Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the Sei Querce/ 2015 Six Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon comes together seamlessly. Whether it is the notes of boysenberry, black cherry and pomegranate or the delicious notes of chocolate cake, marzipan and nutmeg, all of them work in perfect sync with each other to create this delightful red wine.
42. Sei Querce/ 2016 Ranch House Cabernet Sauvignon
Gorgeous floral aromas of dusty roses and violets open the wine. The palate contains plenty of juicy red fruit, raspberries and strawberries along with hints of bone marrow and sage. A delicious wine from start to finish, the Sei Querce/ 2016 Ranch House Cabernet Sauvignon is from their best vintage.
43. Sin Banderas Rosé 2020
An intriguing blend of Grenache, Monastrell and Cinsaut, the Sin Banderas Rosé 2020 is a great quality rose from Sin Banderas Wines. It brings together a lot of berry fruits, white flowers and sweet spices and also has a slight herbal and minty note to it.
44. 2017 Domaine of the Bee
France’s top wine at the 2021 Sommeliers Choice Awards, the 2017 Domaine of the Bee is a Grenache Noir and Carignan blend. It is the biggest and most concentrated Bee the winery has ever made and bursts with flavors of blackberry, fennel, dark damson and black cherry. A very smooth and lusciously rich wine.
45. Ehlers Estate 2018 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon
Made during the perfect weather from a vintage standpoint, the Ehlers Estate 2018 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon has a deep red-purple layer of color. Boysenberries, blackberries, dark cherries and cassis make up the nose while the wine tastes sweet with white chocolates, mocha and thyme. Ehlers Estate has also brought this wine out in a custom bottle.
46. Porfyros PGI
A brooding blend of Agiorgitiko, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the Porfyros PGI contains dark fruits, dark strawberry and blueberry jams. It is a great wine to pair with a meal and has a sweet baking spice to its finish.
47. Porta da Ravessa Colheita Especial 2020
An incredibly refreshing wine from Adega Cooperativa de Redondo, the Porta da Ravessa Colheita Especial 2020 has aromas of lemon and orange on the nose that lead to flavors of almond skin and yellow apples. Pair it with some grilled vegetables to get the best out of the wine.
48. Real Lavrador Selection
Made from the Rabo de Ovelha varietal, the Real Lavrador Selection sublimely combines lemons, lime peel and sea salt. The perfect wine to have by the pool on a hot day, the 2020 vintage also has floral components of honeysuckle and jasmine that lift on the palate.
49. Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc
A part of Alvi’s Drift’s icon range, the Albertus Viljoen Chenin Blanc was South Africa’s Wine of the Year by Country winner. It has an extremely complex and classic nose with aromas of apricot preserves, mango, guava, and honeysuckle. Ripe Asian pear, herbs and sweet spices lend a beautiful balance to the palate of this gold medal winner.
50. Chandon Rosé
Ending the list of the best wines at the 2021 Sommeliers Choice Awards is the Chandon Rosé, a sparkling wine from Chandon Wines. Nuances of ripe berries and cherry blossom flowers with hints of salted almonds make an intriguing palate. The wine also shows light toasty notes with raspberries and under-ripe strawberries.
50 amazing wines that will help you identify with the flavors and the winemaking techniques of the world. These are the wines to look out for on wine lists or ask your sommelier for when enjoying your meal at a restaurant.