Katie Kelly Bell chooses her favorite wines of 2017:
Americans are drinking more wine than ever before (and with the daily news feed it isn’t hard to understand why). Consumption spikes during the holiday season–duh, but it is worth noting that last year alone we guzzled almost 239 million bottles from the week of Thanksgiving through the week of Christmas. Reds and red blends are most popular and they dominate my list of the ten best for 2017. This year’s list features two wines from the East Coast, one Aussie, a life-changing Gewurztraminer and two terrific wines for less than $25. This is always a hard list to edit because I tasted more than ten stunning wines this past year (in fact I tasted close to 1000 wines in 2017), but in an effort to be useful to readers, I endeavored to cite wines that are still available online or in stores.
Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, CA, 2013: Brothers Charles and Stuart Smith are chief cook and bottle washers at Smith-Madrone—managing the winemaking and grape-growing–they tend smaller estate plots high atop the steep terrain of Spring Mountain in Napa. Blended with 12% Cabernet Franc, this wine from an epic California vintage shows supple, smooth tannins threaded with almost juicy-savory black cherry and warm spices, while currant and cassis sing in the background. Authentic and a trifle rustic. The almost entirely dry-farmed vines grow on steep slopes at elevations of 1,400 to 1,900 feet. Lovers of Smith-Madrone should also look for their reserve label: Cook’s Flat Reserve.