Skip to Content

The CORKSCREWER 13: Best Wines of 2016


Why 13? Because 100 is too damn many.



Because 13 is more satisfying than 10 or 12. Because we believe, like the Chinese do, the number 13 is a fortuitous one. The number 13 forces us to be very picky and very disciplined in putting our annual list together. Our list could easily be 50, but these are the ones you absolutely must know.

These are the wines that, in their own way, made a bold statement upon their release in 2016. There’s an element of surprise in each of these wines, or of greatly surpassing expectations. Whatever the price, there’s deep value and bang-for-buck in these 13. There’s infinite and uniquely individual personality, and there is something to learn from each one. 

Wine is an endless highway we travel, and these 13 wines are significant markers we have laid down in our journey, and we hope they will be a part of yours. 


1.      TOR Tierra Roja Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Oakville, Napa Valley, California | $150 | 100 pts

Astonishing in its boldness, originality, depth and complexity, the excitement this wine generates is a confluence of amazing vintage, tremendous winemaking and world-class terroir; if great Napa Cab has become a staid museum collection of unsurprising classics, the Tierra Roja is the arrival of a Basquiat—here to shake up our senses as well as our expectations   search   direct

2.      VALDICAVA Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Madonna del Piano 2010

Tuscany, Italy | $200 | 99 pts

Sangiovese this stunning should not come as a surprise from a property as vaunted as Valdicava, but the magnificent craft behind a wine with such incredible balance and structural complexity, not to mention exquisite fruit quality, is rather shocking in the most pleasing way possible   search   direct

3.      HENTLEY FARM “The Stray Mongrel” Grenache Blend 2014

Barossa Valley, Australia | $26 | 93 pts

The new Australia is on a scorchingly hot pace for putting out gorgeous wines that suit the modern palate, and this unbelievably lovely, delightfully succulent and powerful blend of Barossa Grenache, Syrah and Zinfandel is the kind of bargain you’re willing to make with the devil   search   direct

4.      FAIVELEY Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2014

Burgundy, France | $210 | 98 pts

Things have changed quite a bit at this revered Burgundian estate, and this extraordinarily elegant and pristine Chardonnay fully proves that what’s old can be new again—so rich, fresh and lively from the start and taking you on a seamless, lengthy ride of unbound, ethereal bliss   search   direct

5.      RAMEY Chardonnay, Woolsey Road Vineyard 2013

Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California | $60 | 95 pts

A pioneering California winemaker looks to the future and adds a new vineyard source to the portfolio—and this, only the second vintage of the Martinelli family-owned Woolsey Road, is a chic, uniquely complex, elegantly sophisticated and vivacious Chardonnay, putting it squarely in the vicinity of modern tastes, and thus, a dream pairing with a meal at any of the world’s finest seafood establishments   search   direct

6.      DOM PERIGNON Brut 2006

Champagne, France | $170 | 97 pts

Icons don’t stay relevant without reinventing themselves, and The Dom has certainly reached an apotheosis with the 2006, striking such an attractive balance between austerity vs. voluptuousness, dryness vs. sweetness, and delicacy vs. power for a fascinating and scintillatingly complete Champagne that will remind everyone who’s king as well as change the hearts & minds of many   search   direct

7.      CLOS SOLÈNE La Rose 2015

Paso Robles, California | $38 | 93 pts

One of the great American rosés from a most humble, unassuming winemaking region of California—made with equal parts great technique and passion, resulting in an indelibly distinctive, refined, graceful and seriously, seriously structured wine that stands out far above the standard fare   search   direct

8.      CATENA ZAPATA Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae Malbec 2012

Mendoza, Argentina | $200 | 100 pts

WOW, from a very special parcel of one of the great vineyards of the Southern Hemisphere comes a pure, driven, precise expression of Malbec that awakens the consciousness to profound new knowledge—a dazzling intricacy of texture, depth of flavor, and complexity that is just so damn sexy and provocative   search   direct

9.      ANCIENT PEAKS Zinfandel 2013

Paso Robles, California | $18 | 92 pts

A wine from a ruggedly American grape (which immigrated from Croatia) that is so fresh and vibrant and alive, while priced so reasonably, ought to be considered an American treasure—it’s the best under-$20 bottle we had all year and expect the tantalizing and crowd-pleasing expression of rich, dark fruit from the winery’s expansive estate to remain a timeless classic   search   direct

10.    PALACIOS REMONDO Placet Valtomelloso Viura 2011

Rioja, Spain | $28 | 93 pts

Viura, the white wine grape of Rioja, Spain, would be our grape of the year—and, as rendered by Palacios Remondo, a thoroughly contemporary winery that best represents the “new Spain,” this lightly perfumed, deliciously round, and sexily bright and crisp attention-grabber is proof positive that Viura is really finding its groove and ready for a major breakout   search   direct

11.    SINEGAL Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Mayacamas Range, Napa Valley, California | $95 | 97 pts

Masterfully crafted in every aspect to a gorgeous, sumptuous level of heightened reality, this is truly the stuff that dreams are made of—beautiful structure, silky purity, and immense concentration of glorious fruit all combine for a Napa Cab that reaches such lofty heights it could have only have been dreamed up in the clouds; this young estate winery is ready to be counted among the giants of Napa Valley    search   direct

12.    CASTELLO DI AMA “L’Apparita” Merlot 2011

Siena, Italy | $150 | 99 pts

“When the legend becomes fact, print the fact”—okay, so that’s a bad rewrite of a line from one of John Ford’s best films, but when one of the world’s great Merlots is relatively unknown outside of Italian borders and approaches perfection in the 2011 vintage with its intoxicatingly sexy silkiness on the palate while blowing you away with its stunningly complex structural integrity, not to mention the sensuous, succulent red fruit notes—it’s time that everyone knows the fact about the legend   search   direct

13.    PENFOLDS Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2014

New South Wales, Australia | $38 | 94 pts

The name alone—toom-ba-room-ba—is irresistible as the wine itself, and gives one the proper sense of zesty, vibrant acidity and minerality that characterizes this high-altitude, cool climate Chardonnay—so fruit-driven, focused and defined; a beauty of danceable delight that embodies the ever-adventurous spirit of Australia’s most historic winery   search   direct


January 29, 2017


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked