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Wine Reviews: Old World Wines

We asked the our national wine panel to taste and rate Old World wines from this past year. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’s retail price (which can vary from store to store and market to market).

Unless noted otherwise, prices reflect a 750-ml. bottle. If you are a beverage professional with a specialty in wine who is interested in participating in the panel, please contact Kyle Swartz at

Rating System

Five Stars (100-92): A top-flight wine, superior in taste and character, and providing a superior price/value ratio.

Four Stars (91-86): A very good wine and an excellent value. A wine for which customers will keep coming back.


(97) Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional 2016 (Portugal)

Exceptionally dense bright purple in the glass, the nose is dominated by dark berry fruit, with a subtle floral hint. Lush and weighty on the palate, with rich fruit and tannins, the finish lingers and lingers. Delicious now, it’s also a great candidate for aging. ($79)

(97) Donnafugata Mille e una Notte 2019 (Italy)

Intense ruby color in the glass, the nose is complex, with notes of black and red fruits, enhanced by hints of bright spice and vanilla tones. In the mouth, the extended finish is previewed by accessible dark fruit with excellent texture and volume. Absolutely stunning. ($91)

(96) Herdade do Rocim Terracotta Clay Aged Tinto (Portugal)

A very modern wine, produced using ancient techniques. After crushing, the wine is aged for over a year in clay containers, which contributes to the wine’s smooth texture, along with weight on the palate, allowing the red fruits prevalent on the nose to echo on the palate. Lovely now, worthy of some aging. ($63.99)

(96) Champagne Georges Cartier Brut Tradition NV (France)

With a majority of the wine produced using pinot meunier, the fruit really shines in this outstanding example of high-quality Champagne. Brilliant pale gold, with a fine and delicate mousse, the nose and palate showcase the superb fruit, as well as the extended aging in bottle. Complexity and lovely fruit are the dominant aspects of this superb sparkler. ($61)

(96) Quinta de Ventozelo Touriga Franca (Portugal)

A wonderful example of a wine produced from a variety that deserves much more attention and respect. Deep and brilliant ruby/garnet in the glass, the entrancing nose of elegant black fruit and spice is attractive and alluring. In the mouth, the wine is supple with an underlying power, showcasing its potential for aging. At this price point, it’s a superb value. ($25)

(96) Muriel Reserva Rioja DOC 2018 (Spain)

Tempranillo is developing a huge following around the world, but the easiest way is to go to the source in the famed Rioja region. Sourcing from the Alavesa region, this family-owned vineyard hand-harvests their fruit, and follows the strict guidelines for the Riserva designation (24 months in oak/12 months in bottle). Robust red coloring leads to notes of coffee, vanilla and rich red fruits. Over-delivers for the money! ($19.99)

(95) Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2020 (France)

A lovely example of what one of the Rhône Valley’s top appellations is capable of producing. A bright saturated purple in the glass, the nose and palate are highlighted by berry and cherry fruit, with hints of spice. The palate reflects the nose, with warmth and spice, in addition to the exquisite red fruit. ($68.99)

(95) San Felice Vigorello 2019 (Italy)

From one of the pioneers of the Super Tuscan movement, the usual, regional blend is augmented and elevated by the use of pugnitello, a native variety that contributes complexity and structure to the wine. Intensely dark ruby in the glass, the nose and palate both reflect the dark red fruit, with spice and a subtle floral character. Wonderfully flexible in terms of the wide range of dishes that the wine complements. ($57.99)

(95) Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut NV (France)

Reflecting the house style, this blend of wines produced from multiple parcels provides a cross section of the region’s terroir. The wine is brilliant pale gold in the glass, with a fine and persistent mousse. The extended bottle aging provides multiple layers of tree fruit and toasted nuts. In the mouth, it is supple and lively. A great example of an attractive house style, from one of the region’s leading producers. ($70)

(94) Quona Chianti Rufina Reserva 2020 (Italy)

This elegant Chianti is thoughtfully balanced. The velvety mouthfeel of fruit and structure conducts a symphony of flavors across your palate. Every note is controlled and perfect positioned for flavor and experience. ($44)

(93) Domaine Daulny Sancerre 2022 (France)

This sancerre has an amazing balance of acidity and minerality with subtle notes of melon and pineapple. The elegant layers of flavor do not disappoint from the beginning to the end. ($29)

(93) Torre de Golban Crianza 2017 (Spain)

Aged in French oak, the light spice, tobacco and fresh, delicious black cherry fruit of this tempranillo clone is a major value for its price. Grill up some meat and vegetables and enjoy. ($16)

(92) Henri Goutorbe 1er Cru Cuvee Prestige Brut Champagne NV (France)

A grower cuvee Champagne from three vineyards in Ay. Fresh, brisk apple with creamy almond, the savory palate works with roasted white fish and mushrooms. ($65)

(92) Pardon et Fils Beaujolais Villages 2022 (France)

Produced by the Pardon family who have been winegrowers in Beaujolais since 1820. It is 100% gamay, light bodied and authentic to the regional style. Red berries, rich red grape and cassis notes with a balanced, lightly tannic finish that lingers pleasantly. ($13.99)

(92) Domaine de Bellevue Signargues Cotes du Rhone 2021 (France)

This won’t disappoint Rhone lovers. A great option for those searching for the classic notes of garrigue, herbs, plum and ripe red berries. The finish is soft and fresh but has a gently spice that balances this wine into something great for the price. Would pair well with lamb. ($16.99)

(92) Truffle Hunter Leda Barbera D’ Asti DOCG 2021 (Italy)

This whimsical wine is produced by the Bosio family to honor their prized truffle hunting dog “Leda.” Sourced grapes come from the famed Asti district in Piedmont with an average of 25-year-old vines. Medium-bodied, with zesty acidity. Dark rich color offers up deep plum, black cherry and strawberry notes. Fermented in stainless steel and then aged for 12 months (six in barrel, six in bottle). This food-friendly wine is a great alternative to traditional Chianti’s and is perfect with a hardy winter beef stew. A great value. ($14.99)


(91) Armani Pinot Grigio Corvara 2023 (Italy)

A bit weightier than your average pinot grigio. Medium bodied with notes of lemon, crisp green apple, lime and a touch of melon. Pleasant and balanced finish. Great summer wine. ($16.99)

(91) O de Mer Muscadet 2021 (France)

Highly aromatic nose of lemon, blossoms and tropical fruits. A very clean and crisp style wine made from 100% melon de Bourgogne. Refreshing with lively acidity on the palate. Would pick this up for a dinner party for food-pairing friendliness or a casual Tuesday night with friends. ($12.99)

(91) Guy Mousset Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2022 (France)

A blend of grenache blanc and clairette. This is a great value for the glass. The aromas are elegant but intense: honey blossom and other white flowers, apricot and peach. The rich and creamy notes on the palate would pair wonderfully with any spicy dishes. ($14.99)

(91) Zulal Vayots Dzor Areni 2018 (Armenia)

There are many layers of flavor that you experience with every sip. Stone fruit, such as slightly underripe cherry, are layered with hints of plum. The dense flavors are all very controlled, releasing gently from the initial sip to the finish. A wonderful alternative if you do not want a jammy fruit bomb of flavors. ($25)

(90) Nobilis Vinho Verde (Portugal)

Pale yellow gold color with aromas of citrus, orange and grapefruit rinds. This is a “better for you” take on vinho verde with a lower 9% alcohol and only 84 calories. The palate is light and almost effervescent with a light lime zest finish. ($10.99)

(90) Les Filets Piquepoul 2022 (France)

From one of the oldest planted vineyard areas, Cotes de Thau, this wine is a solid choice for piquepoul fans. It’s golden yellow with notes of mango, lemon curd and a minerality that lends it a crisp and refreshing finish. ($12.99)

(90) Artesania Alvarinho 2022 (Portugal)

Juicy and fresh. This white wine shows notes of peach, apricot and white blossoms that practically jump out of the glass. The long, lingering finish is brought to life by rich citrus flavors like orange and lemon. A creamier mouthfeel than expected, this would pair well with any seafood dish. ($14.99)

(90) Weingut Esterhazy 2019 (Austria)

Wake up the chardonnay drinkers with this exceptional gruner! A nose full of fresh fruit and nuts, the peppery, spicey palate is full of pear and quince. The balanced acidity brings any food to life. Perfect for a holiday party. ($25)

(90) San Vita Sangiovese 2021 (Italy)

This sangiovese is medium bodied, but its fruit-forward nature may deceive you. Intense notes of tart cherries, oranges, strawberries and a hint of spice develop into light tannins. Great value for sangiovese lovers. ($9.99)

(90) Famille Bouey Cuvee 58 AOC Bordeaux 2020 (France)

The Bouey family has been farming the Medoc region for more than 200 years, and the Cuvee 58 pays homage to the founding of Famille Bouey group. Blending sourcing from the best sites in the AOC designation with the best of modern winemaking (minimal sulfites, no chemicals, HVE certification) makes for wines that are very user friendly. 80% merlot and 20% cabernet epitomizes the classic Bordeaux style of blending. Classic earthy musk on the nose leads to hints of anise, currant and blackberry on the nose. Silky as you sip with balanced acidity and a definite potential for aging. A value-driven introduction to the Bordeaux region. ($14.99)

(90) Christian Moreau Chablis 2020 (France)

A benchmark style showcasing the minerality that chardonnay from this northerly cool climate (Burgundy) displays. ($40) 

(89) Bodegas Larchago “Izarbe” Rioja Reserva 2014 (Spain)

All tempranillo from the highest elevation of the three subzone of Rioja-Rioja Alta. Aging in oak gives this wine its hallmark dill, coconut and sawdust aromas on a sleek and immediately accessible wine. ($28) 

(88) Chateau Ribebon Bordeaux Superieur 2018 (France)

Almost entirely merlot from older vines, accented by cabernets producing a user-friendly red and black-fruited beauty with earthy tones. A great value. ($15)

Want more reviews? Our wine panels in the past year have included:

Favorites from 2023

American Wines

Rosé for 2023

South American Wine

Spring and Summer Wines

Feature photo by N. on Unsplash.

The post Wine Reviews: Old World Wines appeared first on Cheers.

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