Our Top 100 Wines of 2015 (Wines 76-100)

It’s that time of year again…

…when everyone publishes their top cars, movies, books, TV shows, and wines of the year. Wine Enthusiast (#1 San Felice 2011 Il Grigio Gran Selezione Chianti Classico) revealed theirs, and Wine Spectator (# 1 Peter Michael Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Au Paradis’) unveiled theirs. Now it’s time to release ours.

Over the next few weeks we will be releasing our lists of the top wines that we tasted in 2015. We took the thousands of wines that we tasted and narrowed it down to the best of the best. Our rankings are based upon our staff’s ratings during tastings, as well as popularity with our clients.  Lucky for us – and you – most are currently available.

#76 – 2005 Tournesol

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

Tournesol Cabernet 2005 T3075Wine Spectrum Rated 95+: Deep, dark dense red in color. Ripe blackberry, black currant, pomegranate and bright cherry aromas leap from the glass along with smoky notes. Concentrated flavors of blackberry, black currant, Damson plum with hints of stone and an appealing gaminess. Enticing rich flavors reminiscent of dark-chocolate covered sun-dried cherries. Middle impression on the palate is lush and expansive giving a full feeling in the mouth. This is a big, juicy, compelling wine of great structure and balance with long lingering tannins and a hint of smokiness in the finish. While showing delicious components upon release, this wine will benefit from additional aging and will be very long-lived. The Tournesol Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a big, rich elixir bound to please serious collectors. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 326 cases produced. 

#77 – 2011 Araujo ‘Altagracia Estate’

Red Wine  |  Napa Valley |  Inquire Here

2011-altagraciaWine Spectrum Rated 96, Antonio Galloni: The 2011 Altagracia is round, sexy, supple and beautiful, especially within the context of the year. Sweet red berries, mint, tobacco, savory herbs and anise meld together in a distinctive wine long on personality. With time in the glass the wine fleshes out nicely, as the flavors become darker, richer and layered. Altagracia is a blend of mostly Eisele fruit, plus a bit of Vine Hill Ranch, a well-draining site in Oakville that is among Napa Valley’s very best.

Winemaker Nigel Kinsman notes “the Eisele Vineyard has again shown its ability to deliver wines of distinction in atypical vintages. The minerality and quality of tannins which are Eisele hallmarks couple with fine, generous texture to give us a delicious wine of particular vitality and elegance. 2011 Altagracia bears the signature of this unique place.” 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot.

#78 – 2012 Remoissenet ‘Grand Cru’

Red Burgundy |  Clos Vougeot, Burgundy  |  Inquire Here

R6912Wine Spectrum Rated 96, Antonio Galloni: The 2012 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru is finely cut and focused to the core. Graphite, crushed rocks, plums and black cherries burst from the glass as the 2012 shows off its energy and intensity. There is a brightness and pure, saline-infused tension I find hugely appealing. The Clos Vougeot is another wine that demands patience. Check out the #3 wine of the year, the 2006 Remoissenet ‘Le Montrachet’ Grand Cru, White Burgundy.


#79 – 2012 Teeter Totter

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

T4562Wine Spectrum Rated 95+: Benoit describes the wines as “opaque ruby/purple-colored, exhibit[ing] tons of fruit on the nose: crème de cassis, black currants and blackberries intermixed with notes of baking spices, lavender, graphite and licorice. It is a medium to full-bodied, round and juicy wine that could be drunk now or over the next decade or more.” Sourced from Pritchard Hill, Calistoga, Oakville and Saint Helena, the inaugural release of this wine was aged in 60% new French oak for 16 months. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, 3% Zinfandel, 2% Petit Verdot. 1000 cases produced. 


#80 – 2012 Ramey ‘Annum’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

Ramey_2010_Annum_Cabernet_zoomWine Spectrum Rated 96, Robert Parker 96: From a vineyard in the Oakville Corridor, just below Dalla Valle, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Annum (950 cases) is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc. It boasts an opaque purple color as well as copious aromas of licorice, smoked meats, camphor, graphite and oodles of crème de cassis and coffee beans. Full-bodied with sweet tannin and a dramatic, ostentatious personality, it should drink well for 15-20 years.



#81 – NV Egly Ouriet ‘Tradition’  Grand Cru

Brut  |  Champagne |  Inquire Here

E869Wine Spectrum Rated 96: A remarkably fresh, unfined and unfiltered, deliciously profound “basic” brut that is leagues above many other comparable bottles.  70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay; from Egly’s finest grand cru, old-vine vineyards in Ambonnay, Bouzy, Verzy and Versenay.  Warmed crepes drizzled with red fruit compote; pink and white flowers; a touch of vanilla and butter on the expressive nose.  The mouth is electric, with plenty of pepper and fresh ginger—powerful yet elegant, with notes of black and red cherries made frothy and creamy with a hint of bubbles.  A tribute to the greatness of Ambonnay and certainly to the peerless quality of Egly.Disgorged November 2014.

Egly-Ouriet remains one of Champagne’s leading small growers. From top to bottom these wines impress for their inimitable class. A non-interventionalist approach in the vineyards and cellar, old-vine parcels in top vineyards and long lees-aging are some of the qualities that define these sublime Champagnes. ~ Antonio Galloni

#82 – 2001 Macauley ‘Tall Trees Vineyard’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

M8271 2001 Macauley ‘Tall Trees Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon Napa ValleyWine Spectrum Rated 96: The 2001 vintage was characterized by its early start, quick growing season and ideal summer weather. These conditions produced ripe, well-balanced, aromatic and flavorful fruit. Tall Trees Vineyard, located in Napa Valley’s Yountville District, provided the backbone for Macauley’s first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon. The aromatics on the 2001 are fresh and bright – this wine still has a good bit of life ahead of it. Its inky, ruby-brick color gives way to red fruit notes of strawberries, red plums and bing cherries. Hints of spice, red licorice and bramble are woven throughout to underscore this wine’s complexity. Supple and harmonious, with graceful tannins and balanced acidity. Unfined and unfiltered. 580 cases made. Tasted April 2015.


#83 – 2012 Kathryn Kennedy ‘Estate’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Santa Cruz Mountains  |  Available Online

imagesWine Spectrum Rated 95+: No one disputes that Kathryn Kennedy is a top quality Cabernet from the under appreci- ated Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation. Cognoscenti have already looked beyond the major California wine regions and are very aware of the potential to find world-class cab- ernets from this overlooked area. Partly due to the steep topography limiting plantable acres and partly due to its location to the south of San Francisco, the Santa Cruz Moun- tains as a whole continues to fly under the radar but is capable of yielding stunning suc- cesses. Such is the case with the Kathryn Kennedy Estate Cabernet. It won’t be found on very many shelves nor many winelist, but now is your chance to be one of those. When customer see a wine of this caliber featured at your establishment they will instantly think highly of your selection. Seize this opportunity! 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 

After a series of cool and cold vintages, 2012 brought a warm and more typical growing season. The larger than normal crop load served only to usher a slow and long ripening. This new vintage surprises in its appeal as current drinking big scale Cabernet. It has a spectatular mouthfeel with a dense core of fruit and soil flavors all carried by an “on target” balance. We are bringing this special wine to the consumer early because it shows an ideal expression of this great vineyard site. 600 cases produced.

#84 – 2013 Shypoke

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Available Online

ShypokeWine Spectrum Rated 93: These vines prove why the Napa Valley is known for some fantastic cabernets. Aromatic, powerful, yet elegant, dusted summer blackberries and creme de cassis. Fine-tuned French oak is in perfect balance, creating a stage that this amazing fruit plays upon. Silky tannins detail the singularity of Napa Valley Cabernet.

Only 6 barrels produced. 


#85 – 2012 Stolpman ‘Hilltops Estate’

Syrah  |  Ballard Canyon  |  Available Online

2012 Stolpman ‘Hilltops Estate’ Syrah Ballard CanyonWine Spectrum Rated 95: The deep and enveloping nose spreads out to lighter notes of Blackberry, sage, and toast.  As the nose opens up, ripe black cherries appear backed by tobacco. On the palate, the flavor profile is high toned and the wine finishes with excitement.  Notes of rosemary behind bright red fruit.  The mid-palate will continue to fill in with age promising a decades-long life. The 2012 Hiltops arrives in the new, custom Ballard Canyon Syrah bottle with the words BALLARD CANYON subtly raised in the shoulder of the glass.  The debut of the bottle, only used by Ballard Canyon grower-producers for Syrah, happens to coincide with the ideal, even 2012 growing season. 550 cases produced. 


#86 – 2013 Saint Helena Winery

Chardonnay  |  Sonoma Mountain  |  Available Online

2012 Chard EmailSaint Helena Winery’s Chardonnay fruit is grown on Scopus Vineyard in the Sonoma Mountain appellation of California, farmed by Ulises Valdez, one of California’s most respected vineyard managers. The Scopus vineyard is 15 acres, all Chardonnay, sitting at roughly 700 feet above sea level, sloping eastward above the town of Glen Ellen. During summer, the Pacific coastal fog lingers here, creating cool nights and mornings. The soils are very rocky with volcanic red earth on the hillside.

This wine is made by Aaron Pott. The clusters are pressed whole before tank fermentation using native yeasts. The fermented wine is then put into French oak barrels (half new, half once-used) where it goes through malo-lactic fermentation and then is aged sur lie with battonage for 16 months before bottling. 

#87 – 2011 Talisman ‘Weir Vineyard’

Pinot Noir  |  Yorkville Highlands  |  Available Online

Talisman WeirWine Spectrum Rated 95: This pretty wine starts with a drool-inducing spicy note reminiscent of strawberry jam smeared on a big, warm rock in the mountains on a sunny day. Lots of bass notes and a hint of cinnamon like little red hard candy valentine hearts melded with a streak of sweet cherry, all perfectly integrated. With a bit of air, layers of aromas emerge: rose petal, mallow, mineral, oolong tea, sandalwood and shiitake aromas along with cola and black cherry flavor accents. The texture is smooth, round, and voluptuous and the finish is mouthwateringly persistent. 220 cases produced.


#88 – 2011 Saint Siffrein

Rhone Blend  |  Chateauneuf du Pape  |  Inquire Here

Saint Siffrein, Chateauneuf du PapeWine Spectrum Rated 95: With vineyards located near Chateau Beaucastel, the 2011 vintage of our Chateuneuf du Pape has a glowing ruby red color, with freshly baked dark fruits and licorice spice on the nose. Its mouth is round, long and complex with abundant body and fruit as well as terrific purity and texture. A harmonious and elegant wine with soft, smooth tannins with a long finish.

65% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah, and 5% Cinsault. 


#89 – 2013 David Arthur ‘Three Acre’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

David Arthur threeacreWine Spectrum Rated 95: This wine’s color is a very dark ruby and a nearly opaque hue. It offers lifted aromas of dark currant and black raspberry followed by hints of sage and lavender. These characters intermingle with baking spices and notes of toffee and espresso. The palate is plush and punchy with forward style tannins yet firm and bold flavors of dark cherries, chocolate and candied licorice. The finish is long and persistent with fine grained tannins. Best from 2015-2025. 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 436 cases produced. 


#90 – 2013 Martinelli ‘Blue Slide Ridge’

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Coast  |  Inquire Here

martinelli_logoWine Spectrum Rated 96, Antonio Galloni 94+: The 2013 Pinot Noir Blue Slide Ridge is the most powerful and tannic of the 2013 Pinots I tasted at Martinelli. Beams of firm tannin and acidity give the 2013 much of its energy, focus and intensity. The flavors are dark and savory, but not fully expressive today. Ideally, the 2013 should be cellared for at least another year or two. 237 cases produced. 

Blue Slide Ridge is named for its magnificent formations of blue rock. Directly below the vineyard a sheer cliff drops into the small winding creek, the south fork tributary of the Gualala River, showing off great cerulean shards jutting out from beneath the earth’s surface. This vineyard site was nearly named “Rattle Snake Ridge” due to the large population of rattlers that populate the cool hollows beneath the great blue rocks. In 1995 my parents, Lee and Carolyn Martinelli, planted this 6 acre vineyard of Pinot Noir on a steep slope which was once prime grazing land for sheep. This small vineyard was planted to the specifications of our former winemaker, Helen Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer.  The denser spacing creates more intense flavor in the grapes because each individual vine is asked to focus more attention onto a fewer number of grape clusters. This vineyard is truly a “coastal” vineyard, being located on the second ridge inland from the Pacific coastline.

#91 – 2009 The Grade ‘Winfield Vineyard’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

GradeWine Spectrum Rated 95: This 2009 vintage is a true, blended expression of our estate vineyard’s diverse blocks. The vintage is a dark in color with a supple core of our darker Block 5 fruit with noticeable luscious Block 1 chocolate-earth and a well-balanced nose including bittersweet cocoa, anise-laced currant, cedar, fig sage and loamy earth. On the palate, there are luscious notes of spice, leather and black cherry mingling with the long, fine tannins earthy cedar tones. The combined juiciness and creaminess of this vintage show off this wonderfully maturing vineyard spot! 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 265 cases produced. 

The Grade is currently made by Thomas Rivers Brown.


#92 – 2013 Ferren ‘Silver Eagle Vineyard’

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Coast  |  Inquire Here

logo_ferrenWine Spectrum Rated 94: The 2013 Ferren ‘Silver Eagle Vineyard’ Pinot Noir is a deep magenta color. The nose is incredibly fragrant, floral and earthy, with brambly black cherries, blood orange and anise aromas. The mouthfeel is rich, fresh and pure. Enticing flavors of bing cherries, plum, clove, and fresh tea lead to a long, clean finish. A wonderful balance of ripe fruit, acidity and tannic structure. 

#93 – 2013 Tantara ‘Evelyn’ Reserve

Pinot Noir  |  Santa Maria Valley  |  Inquire Here

Tantara EvelynWine Spectrum Rated 96: ‘Evelyn’s Reserve’ is the flagship Tantara cuvee of select barrels representing the pinnacle of each vintage. Named in memory of Evelyn Waldron, mother of owner Bill Cates, a beautiful, gracious woman whose generosity and faith helped make Tantara Winery a reality. It exhibits those characteristics that make a wine great – balance, suppleness, elegance and mystery. The primary vineyard sites are Dierberg and Tondre H Block. Exceptionally aromatic with notes of truffles, tobacco, and smoked meats. The palate is dense and full weighted showcasing black cherries, kirsch and warm mixed spices. Aged for 16 months in French oak barrels, using 60% new oak. 99 cases made.


#94 – 2012 ElevenEleven ‘Bacigalupi Vineyard’

Pinot Noir  |  Russian River Valley  |  Inquire Here

ElevenEleven Pinot NoirWine Spectrum Rated 95: The debut production of this 100% varietal is a Pinotphile’s fantasy – full of character, color and style. The aromas that lift from the glass are round and ripe with notes of bright raspberry, ripe strawberry basket and a delicate oak vanillin background. The approachable yet layered palate remains strong and voluminous from front to back, while plush red fruit flavors swirl to balance the tannins. The fruit-forward entry settles toward a deeper finish punctuated by vibrant acidity. 316 cases produced. 

Kirk Venge is one of the most recognized and sought-after winemakers in Napa and Sonoma. He is the owner and winemaker of Venge Estate Vineyards and Winery and the new label, Croix Estate. He is also the Consulting Winemaker for several boutique producers throughout Napa Valley, including B Cellars, Bacio Divino Cellars and the Janzen label, Beau Vigne, Entrepreneur Wines, Hunnicutt Wines, Jax Vineyards, Macauley Vineyard, Renteria Wines and Trespass Vineyards.

#95 – 2012 La Pousse d’Or ‘Le Caillerets’ 1er Cru

White Burgundy  |  Puligny Montrachet  |  Inquire Here

La Pousse d'Or 'Le Caillerets' 1er CruWine Spectrum Rated 94+: Elegant mineral overtones with hints of tasty white and yellow peaches and lemon chiffon with slight vanilla and mouth watering acidity. Aged in oak for 15 months. This wine is classically powerful, mineral driven and beautiful.

The vineyard is located directly next to Montrachet. 


#96 – 2012 Ancien ‘Red Dog Vineyard’

Pinot Noir  |  Sonoma Mountain  |  Inquire Here

Ancien Pinot Noir Red Dog 2012Wine Spectrum Rated 95: Subtle and alluring, with a finish that goes on for a long, long time.  This vineyard is maturing nicely, exhibiting its dramatically unique terroir within a package of quiet and exotic beauty.  The nose opens to an exotic perfume of candied rapsberry, rose hips, cherry, and orange peelcigar, cedar, followed by more organic and rich aromas of cigar, cedar, and forest floor.  Spiced throughout with orange peel, cinnamon, lavender, and sage.  The fruit expands in the glass and fills the palate with fresh pomegranate, boysenberry, black cherry, cherry preserve, ripe plums, dried cranberries, and hints of geranium, dried mushroom, clove, and mandarin.  The mouth feel is soft and rich, with a considerable acidic lift.  Toward the back, it reveals an earthen and tannic strength, and the finish is long and dominated by fine, dry tannins and dried spices and fruits.  With age this wine deepens and softens, rewarding the palate, while also exhibiting an even more exotic nose as the bouquet develops.  Cellar this wine for anywhere from 6-12 year, and beyond.

#97 – 2014 Branham

Chardonnay  |  Russian River Valley  |  Available Online

Branham Chardonnay 2014 B5060Wine Spectrum Rated 92+: Year after year this all stainless steel ~ sur lie ~ zero percent malolactic fermented Chardonnay bursts with the essence of this great varietal. An artist’s palette of green and yellow fruits; on the palate: crisp green apple, kiwi, grapefruit, lemon and pineapple. Day in, day out, if you seek that one glass of white wine after a long day, or for that outdoor lunch, or a true crowd-pleasing, party wine, you need look no further. Enjoy now! 110 cases produced.


#98 – 2009 Parador ‘Hossfeld Vineyard’

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Inquire Here

Parador Cabernet Hossfeld 2009Wine Spectrum Rated 96: Hossfeld Vineyard is located midway up Soda Canyon on a steep, southeast-facing amphitheater bowl. This site has always been the backbone of the Parador Blend. It has very low-yielding, small berry fruit with tough skins, and is meticulously farmed for maximum quality, not quantity, from 25+ year-old vines. The 2009 Hossfeld Cabernet is supple with nicely developed earthen-fruit flavors with a deep ruby red color hue. The bouquet is reminiscent of black cherry, cassis, cedarwood and graphite, and the palate is full of rich, red fruits, solid structure, and lean tannins. This Cabernet is powerful, yet elegant, with layers of intense complexity and concentration. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 102 cases produced. 


#99 – 2013 Honig

Cabernet Sauvignon  |  Napa Valley  |  Available Online


Wine Spectrum Rated 94: Plenty of ripe, wild berry and plum aromas and flavors, framed by vanilla, spice, and toasty oak. Lush mid-palate tannins flow into a lengthy finish accented by bright fruit. Aged for 18 months in 35% new American oak. Drink now through 2025. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with small percentages of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.

Perhaps the best Napa Valley Cabernet that Honig has produced!


#100 – 2014 Stolpman

Viognier  |  Ballard Canyon  |  Inquire Here

S6050 2014 Stolpman Viognier Ballard CanyonWine Spectrum Rated 95: A nose of fresh flowers and tangerines spring from the young wine around a core of fuzzy pear.  In the mouth the wine coats long and smooth, cleanly finishing with notes of orange blossom and firm yellow peach. The wine has an addictive crunchiness that differentiates it from most other Viogniers.  The texture speaks of the 50 degree night when La Cuadrilla hand-picked these taut grapes early in the season.


Q. Why should I pay attention to the Wine Spectrum score?

A. The reason is simple. We taste and score wines with our entire sale’s team – the owner, the wine buyer, the sales manager, and all of our sale’s advisors. It’s not only one person’s opinion and rating of the wine, but a total average of the whole tasting panel. That adds up to  decades of combined tasting experience to ensure that we bring only the BEST wines to our clients. 

It is because of this and many other factors that our clients have come to respect our score and use it to help determine what wines they want to procure for their cellars and display on their tables. At Wine Spectrum you get a much better representation of how people will ENJOY a wine.


2015 wines of the year release schedule


December Schedule

12/10: #10#9, and #8 ranked wines

12/11: #7#6, and #5 ranked wines

12/14: #4 and #3 ranked wines

12/15: #2 ranked wine

12/16: #1 ranked wine

12/18: #11 – #25 ranked wines

12/21: #26 – #50 ranked wines

12/21: 2015 Winemaker of the Year

12/22: #51 – #75 ranked wines

12/23: #76 – #100 ranked wines


January Schedule

1/4: Top Chardonnay’s of the Year

1/7: Top Pinot Noir’s of the Year

1/11: Top Cabernet Sauvignon’s of the Year

1/14: Top Other Domestic Red’s of the Year

1/18: Top International Wines of the Year

1/21: Top Wines of the Year under $60


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