The Best Old World Wines to Drink in 2020

For this latest round of Beverage Wholesaler wine reviews, we tasked our panel of independent experts to drink and rate Old World wines.

The write-ups below represent a wide range of styles and countries, giving readers a broad look at what has defined the classic viticulture regions in recent years. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’re a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Kyle Swartz at 763-383-4400 x2225, or email him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com.

Our wine panels from this past year included:

Five Stars

(95) Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino 1997 (Italy)

All good things come to those who wait. This wine is spectacular right now: smooth, silky and filled with aromas of cocoa, cedar and rich, ripe, red cherries. ($45)

(94) Borsao berola Red Blend 2015 (Spain)

One of the best values in Spanish red blends. Garnacha, syrah and cabernet sauvignon from high-altitude, 40-year-old vines produce a perfectly blended mouthful of berries, vanilla, light smoke and pepper. Pour it with roasted pork or lamb. ($15.95)

(94) Bluegray Priorat 2015 (Portugal)

This is a beautifully constructed wine with garnacha, mazuelo and cabernet sauvignon. Dense, rich flavors of black cherry and blackberry are elegantly balanced with firm and balanced tannin. A must-have for backyard barbecues. ($20)

(93) Chateau de Nages Rouge Vieille Vignes Costieres de Nimes, 2018 (France)

A spicy nose that matches the rustic mouthfeel with a texture that is dense and packed with flavor. The dark fruits are front and center in this old vine wine, which also has a mix of roasted meat and roasted nut notes. ($19.99)

(93) J. Lohr Cuvee Pau 2016 (CA)

Winemaker Steve Peck offers his homage to the great wines of Bordeaux with a uniquely styled trio of red blends. The Cuvee Pau highlights vineyard-specific cab from the acclaimed Paso Robles AVA in a Pauillac style. Cab franc, petit verdot and malbec make up the balance of the blend, with all fruit handpicked and sorted. Aged 18 months, with an additional 20 months bottle aging, yield a rich, fruit-driven and complex wine. A little over 6,000 bottles produced, with the potential to age until 2028 . . . if you can be that patient! ($69.99)

(92) Chateau Macard 2015 (France)

Great Bordeaux value. Blend of 60% cabernet franc, 30% merlot and 10% cabernet. Smooth and balanced with friendly aromas of dark cherries and chocolate. Easy to enjoy for every-day occasions. ($15)

(92) Laudato Pinot Grigio 2019 (Italy)

Bottled by Santa Margherita, this perfectly balanced wine lives up to a high bar set by one of the finest estates in the region. There is a roundness in texture that surrounds the bright citrus and stone fruit flavors, bringing back a smooth, silky finish that is found in only the best pinot grigios. ($16.99)

(92) Volvoreta Toro 2015 (Spain)

Powerful aromatics of ripe black fruits and minerals with damp earth notes and fleshy texture with an inherent brightness. ($24.99)

(92) Chateau de Camarsac Bordeaux Superieur 2018 (France)

Smooth and complex with aromas and tastes of blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. A luscious and mouth-filling texture that over-delivers and carries the fruit notes from beginning to end. ($19.99)

(92) Borrasca Prosecco DOCG NV (Italy)

White flowers, Bartlett pears and almonds layer and show the elevated quality of this prosecco. The wine is rich while keeping a fruit-forward soft side, giving a nice texture on the mid-pallet and finish. ($16.99)

(92) J. Lohr Cuvee St. E 2016 (CA)

Third part of the J. Lohr trio highlights the unique style of St. Emilion. Cab franc from the Home Ranch vineyards dominates, with additions of cab, merlot, malbec and petit verdot. Very specific French oak aging protocol to this style of wine yields rich concentrated fruit-forward flavors. Best New World interpretation of Bordeaux wines I’ve ever tasted! ($69.99)

(91) J. Lohr Cuvee Pom 2016 (CA)

Second part of the Bordeaux-inspired wines from J. Lohr, paying tribute to the Pomeral style. Merlot dominates this right bank-styled blend, with cab franc, cab and malbec rounding out the breakdown. 30% saignee yields rich concentrated black fruit flavors. Unique French oak aging for 18 months offers wonderful complexity. Only 5,000 bottles produced. Save this one for that great dinner after the end of the coronavirus pandemic. ($69.99)

(92) Le Pre Vaujour Sancerre 2018 (France)

Hailing from one of the best regions for the varietal, this is 100% sauvignon blanc in its purest expression. Citrus, white flowers and minerality are a through line from start to finish. This will elevate your favorite seafood and chicken dishes, and is also perfect with a salad or cheese plate. ($29.99)

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash.

Four Stars

(91) Chateau Fabregues Costieres de Nimes 2019 (France)

This full-flavored rosé has it all: notes of wild strawberries, a touch of spice, a perfect balance of freshness and body that makes this rosé great in almost any application. Try it on its own, in a cocktail, or with your favorite summer dish. ($16.99)

(91) Olivares Rosato 2019 (Spain)

Offering raspberry and strawberry flavors with a perfectly balanced dry character, this is an exceptional wine for a warm afternoon. ($9.99)

(91) Luc Pirlet Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2018 (France)

This Languedoc cabernet is herbal and complex beneath bigger, bolder blackberry and dark cherry notes. Laden with dark fruit, balanced acidity and peppery on the palate, this is a formidable wine. ($14.99)

(91) Armani Pinot Grigio 2019 (Italy)

Opening with scents of honeysuckle and a ripe apple and pear medley. The energetic tree fruit flavors from the nose carry onto the pallet and the zippy texture carries throughout the finish. ($14.99)

(91) Chateau Bois Redon 2018 (France)

An easygoing wine that is heavy on red fruit notes and a soft texture that is energized with a nice acidity. The tannins on the finish add to the texture with grip that keeps the flavors going. ($14.99)

(91) Remoissenet Bourgogne Blanc 2016 (France)

Fresh white cherries, Meyer lemon pith and chopped herbs accent this medium-bodied beauty. ($29.99)

(91) Domaine Fournier Les Belles Vignes Sancerre 2016 (France)

This Loire Valley sauvignon blanc expresses all the amazing elements that the Loire has to offer. Minerality and controlled melon fruit combine to pop off your palate. The gentle acidity makes this wine the perfect partner for many seafood dishes. ($29)

(90) Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva (Italy)

A firm backbone of fruit, such as cherry and plum, offer a depth of flavor and makes this Chianti standout. A balance of soft tannins and rich fruit offer a lingering finish. ($25)

(90) Domaine Pastou “Vieilles Vignes” Sancerre 2019 (France)

Balanced minerality and not overly grassy. Easy to enjoy with that plate of oysters or fresh goat cheese. ($22)

(90) Chateau Montet Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (France)

Shimmering with energy this is a clean dry Bordeaux wine that is racy and loaded with melon and grapefruit notes. There is a tropical element that gives the finish a fruity ripe feeling. ($14.99)

(90) NeroOro Appassimento Nero d’Avola 2019 (Italy)

Fruit-forward and showing classic notes of dark cherries, raspberry and pepper. A grippy texture that is mouth-filling, with powerful dark fruit notes that are lengthy on the finish. ($9.99)

(90) Tasca Cavallo delle Fate Grillo 2019 (Italy)

An oft-overlooked varietal, grillo is a versatile white and very well done by the Tasca folks. Pale straw color, with crisp citrus, apricot and a big dry mineral finish. Perfect for any grilled or fried seafood. ($14.95)

(90) Candoni Prosecco (Italy)

Fresh and delicate, this honey-laced bubbly is a big value sipper with a dry finish. From the DOC Glera NV. Warm brie and honey on the patio, anyone? ($13.95)

(90) Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler Riesling QBA 2018 (Germany)

Meyer lemon, mandarin orange and apricot abound in this unpretentious juicy and mineral wine. With just a touch of sweetness, this wine is light on its feet and has a refreshing, focused finish that makes this hard to resist. ($12.99)

(90) Domaine Guy Mousset Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2018 (France)

Produced from 40-year-old vines, this Cotes du Rhone punches far above its weight class, and is packed with intense flavors of black berries, cherries and baking spice. Easily pair this with glazed ham, roasted leg of lamb, or even a juicy burger. ($14.99)

(90) Leitz Eins Zwei Dry Riesling Trocken “3” 2018 (Germany)

Pleasant aromas of lime and spiced apple, plus hints of peach and melon. Medium-bodied with balanced acidity and minerality. Long, dry finish. Easy to enjoy. ($18) BD

(89) Chateau de Chantres “Les Sables” Saumur-Champigny 2016 (France)

100% cabernet franc from the Loire Valley, with fresh, ripe, snappy red fruit flavors, and aromas of spice and black pepper. ($19.99)

(88) Tenuta Sant’Antonio “Scaia” Corvina (Italy)

Polished and clean with distinctive and inviting purple flower aromatics. A lightness and a touch of sweetness that pairs perfectly with lightly spiced Asian cuisine. ($14.99)

Feature photo by Jean-Luc Benazet on Unsplash.

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