Top 100 Wines of 2020 – James Melendez

Yes, 2020 was a year that we will always be remembered or a year we will always want to forget!  I also try to capture as many wines before publishing my top 100 – some wine reviewers publish in October—not sure why anyone feels the need to do that?  Declaring a top 100 list is not a race but a collection of great experiences best shared when you can taste from January to December not January to August or October but a full 12 months worth of tasting experiences.

I cannot believe I was in Europa this year – I was fortunate to visit Alba, Italy this year to attend Grandi Langhe and Nebbiolo Prima.  It was a delight to taste the wines of the Langhe and tasting was a glorious in-depth experience.  Looking at beginning of the year was so different that it is today.  I was looking forward to so much including tasting more wines.

This year I did taste a lot of wines and attended four events in addition to the Grandi Langhe and Nebbiolo Prima.  I attended Tre Bicchieri, Great Wines of Italy, Oregon Wine Trail, and Milano Wine Week in San Francisco.   Additionally, I attended singular brands on zoom also Consorzio and other wine events.  I had never attended more online virtual tasting as I had said in past videos and podcasts–I thought there would never be anymore virtual tastings post 2019–I was wrong.

Italy and Italian wines were on fire in 2020.  Conzorzio, wine producers and US importers were firing on all cylinders.  I tasted more Langhe’s wines this year than all years before–also, I tasted DOC/DOCG and IGT wines from many known and those that need to be known – Alta Langa DOCG, Lugana, and Buttafuoco and others.

I tasted almost no wines from Spain, Austria, Germany, Greece, Eastern Europe and the new world was nearly absent except from Oregon, Washington, California and Arizona from tasting from producers or trade associations.  Since travel was limited I was only able to get to Napa and Sonoma four times this year which would have been 3-4x more.

Wine events and traveling to wine regions is essential to get an in-depth experience so I was very limited this year but can still stand by my top 100 wines.   I always begin with a preamble I don’t believe in naming a ‘wine of the year’–that I would find to be sacrilegious.  So I don’t get or pretend to understand why a wine writer or publication would do that.  Look at Wine Spectator’s Top 100 has wine scores that are all over the map and yet to create an ascendancy of wines and to think about a wine that is “number 1” is to call obviously one brand to the number one position and by that extension means that standing goes to the region and variety….  I don’t agree with such an assessment and not only do I know agree it simply doesn’t make any sense.  Wine Spectator named Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial as number 1 wine of the year – so why isn’t the highest rated wine not the number 1 wine: an Filippo Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucére was one of 5 wine with 97 points not number 1?  There really isn’t a great explanation for it.

My top 100 is not about number 1 being number 1 it is a list that is in alphabetical order.  It is a list of top 100 but a selection of wines of excellence and impression in beauty.  I am not creating a list of hierarchy or a descending order list.  My top 100 is about giving a list of beautiful wines and no hierarchy – you might interpret that the highest score is the “best” wine but I caution against that.  I would say that the score represent a score of the wine’s region, variety and vintage and can be compared with other wines from the same variety, vintage and region and cross comparing regions, vintages or variety is not my intention.

I hope you find this top 100 wine list of 2020 valuable and insightful!

(click on any underline title to see video review).

Adami “Col Credas” Valdobbiadene DOCG Rive Di Farra Di Soligo Brut 2019 94 Points
Alloro Estate Chehalem Mountain Riservata Estate Pinot Noir 2018 – 95 Points
Aridus Barrel Select California Chardonnay 2015 94 Points
August Kesseler The Daily August Rheingau Pinot Noir 2018 94 Points
Barone Ricasoli Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015 95 Points
Barone Ricasoli Roncicone Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016 97 Points
Bava Barolo DOCG Scarrone 2012 94 Points
Beni di Batasiolo Barolo Riserva DOCG 2012 94 Points
Bera Alta Langa Brut DOCG 2013 95 Points
Bera Rabaja Riserva Barbaresco DOCG 2013 95 Points
Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine 2016 94 Points
Blackbird Vineyards Paramour Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine 2016 95 Points
Boroli Cerequio Barolo DOCG 2013 95 Points
Brezza Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC Vigna Santa Rosalia 2017 94 Points
Bricco Carlina Barolo DOCG 2015 94 Points
Bricco Maiolica Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore Vigna Vigia 2016 94 Points
Bricco Maiolica Barolo DOCG Contain Del Commune di Diano d’Alba 94 Points
Calla Lily AUDAX Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ’15 – 95 Points
Calvi Vigna Montarzolo Buttafuoco 2015 94 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Badiòla Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Siepi Toscana IGT 2018 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Vicoreggio 36 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Verduno Campot Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2018 94 Points
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV – 95 Points
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV 95 Points
Château Bianca Van Duzer Corridor Pinot Gris 2018 94 Points
Château Climens Asphodèle Grand Vin Blanc Sec 2019 94 Points
Claudio Alario Barbera D’Alba DOC Valletta 2017 94 Points
Colli Vaibò Lugana DOC 2018 94 Points
Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 94 Points
Costa di Bussia Tenuta Arnulfo Barbera d’Alba DOC Vigna Campo del Gatto 2017 94 Points
Cowhorn Sentience Estate Applegate Valley Syrah 2015 94 Points
Curto Marco Barolo Riserva DOCG La Foia Arborina 2013 94 Points
Diego Morra Barbera d’Alba DOC 2016 94 Points
Domaine Matrot Maranges Vieilles Vignes 2017 94 Points
Domaine Xavier & Agnès Amirault Crémant de Loire Les Quarterons NV 94 Points
Donnachiara Taurasi DOGC 2016 94 Points
Donnafugata Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Sicilia DOC Rosato 2019 – 94 Points Episode #2930
Donnafugata Fragore Etna Rosso DOC Contrada Montelaguardia 2016 – 95 Points
Donnafugata Passito di Pantalleria DOC Ben Ryé ’17 95 Points
Fratelli Alessandra Verduno Pelaverga DOC 2018 94 Points
Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno Cannubi Riserva Barolo DOCG 2005 95 Points
G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba DOC Coste e Fosati 2018 94 Points
Gary Farrell Bien Nacido Vyd Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir ’16 95 Points
Gary Farrell Ft. Ross Vineyard Ft. Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir ’16 95 Points
Ghiomo Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC Ruit Hora 2017 94 Points
Ghiomo Nebbiolo d’Alba Superiore DOC Sansteu 2017 94 Points
Girard Napa Valley Mixed Blacks ’18 – 95 Points
Giuseppe Cortese Rabaja Riserva Barbaresco DOCG 2013 95 Points
Hawk & Horse Red Hills Lake County Block 3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 95 Points
Icardi Starderi Barbaresco DOCG Starderi 95 Points
Josetta Saffirio Barolo Riserva DOCG Millenovento 48 Del Commune di Monteforte d’Alba 2014 94 Points
Kunde Reserve Century Vines Sonoma Valley Zinfandel ’17 95 Points
La Carlina Barolo DOCG 2015 94 Points
LAN Culmen Rioja Reserva 2011 94 Points
Le Cadeau Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2017 94 Points
Le Colture Valdobbiadene DOCG Spumante Superiore di Cartizze 2019 95 Points
Lenné Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay 2018 95 Points
Malabaila Pas Dosè VSQ Metodo Classico 94 Points
Malabaila Pradvaj Roero Arneis DOCG 2018 94 Points
Marcarini Barolo DOCG Brunate 2015 95 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Dolcetto D’Alba DOC Monte Aribaldo 2018 94 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Gaiun Martinenga Barbaresco DOCG 1971 98 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Gaiun Martinenga Barbaresco DOCG 2005 97 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Langhe Virtus Rosso 2009 94 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Villa Giulia Bianco 2018 94 Points
Marsuret Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Brut Rive di Guia 2019 94 Points
Masottina RDO Le Rive Di Ogliano Prosecco Extra Dry 2019 – 94 Points
Mauro Molino Barolo DOCG Gallinotto Berri 2016 94 Points
Mauro Sebate Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore Centobricchi 2016 94 Points
Mauro Sebate Barolo DOCG Cerretta 2016 94 Points
Michele Chiarolo Cerequioi Barolo DOCG 2015 95 Points
Moccagatta Barbaresco DOCG Bric Balin 2012 95 Points
Montonale Montunal Lugana DOC 2018 – 95 Points
Negro Angelo Barbaresco DOCG Basarin 2016 94 Points
Negro Angelo Barolo DOCG Baudana 2016 94 Points
Negro Angelo Roero Riserva Ciabot San Giorgio 2016 94 Points
Pace Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC 2016 94 Points
Pace Langhe DOC Pinot Nero 2017 94 Points
Palladino Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC 2018
Peccheinino Bricco Botti Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore DOCG 2016 94 Points
Pelassa Barolo DOCG San Lorenzo di Verduno 2015 95 Points
Perrone Fabio Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2018 94 Points
Perrone Fabio Langhe DOC Nebbiolo Vigna Ciabot 2017 94 Points
Pietro Colla Extra Brut Spumante VSQ Metodo Classico Millesimato 2016 94 Points
Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2016 95 Points
Pio Cesare Barolo 2016 95 Points
Pio Cesare Piodilei Langhe DOC Chardonnay 207 95 Points
Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo DOCG 2004 96 Points
Sassetti Livio Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Pertimali 2004 96 Points
Selva Capuzza Minasso Lugana DOC Riserva ’15 95 Points
Silas Eola-Amith Hills Pinot Blanc 2016 94 Points
Tenuta di Fessina a’Puddara Etna Bianco DOC 2017 95 Points
Tenuta di Fessina Erse Etna Rosato DOC 2018 94 Points
The Eyrie Vineyard Dundee Hills Trousseau 2017
Val D’Oca Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 94 Points
Valdinera Roero Riserva DOCG San Carlo 2016 94 Points
Yealands Estate Single Block L5 Marlboroguh Sauvignon Blanc 2019 94 Points
Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 94 Points

(click on any underline title to see video review).

Thank you for your support this year and be sure to subscribe to my site to get the latest articles and also sign up on my YouTube Channel to see the latest videos I am producing.

Happy Holidays and a good New Year to you!



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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About James Melendez

II love wine and business. I am obsessed with the subject, the art, the history, the sciences, organization management, and making things less complex I have been a former national wine marketing manager for a large off-premise food and wine retailer (280+ retail locations in 30 US States); the love for wine taught me the good practice of using the best methodologies to right side a business which unto itself is complex. Further complexity is wine. Wine simple to enjoy and yet profoundly complex because of many factors: Many grape varieties States of wine: sparkling, still and fortified wines Vintage Blends Regions/AVAs/DOCs etc. Many producer styles Many producers Limited supply Limited and often restricted distribution My experience is still a lot of intimidation with respect to wine. Wine means many things to many people; status, fear, success, ‘you’ve arrived’, enjoyment, good times, tradition and even ceremony. I have consulted with wine producers and association. I have spoken on Wine and Social Media, Wine and Video and The Business of Wine in conferences in the United States and Europe. Beer and spirits do have the same dynamics–there are many producers but compared to wine there is no other consumer product like it. I have been writing about since November 2006 on my site and I have over 2,890 wine videos on my YouTube channel talking about general wine subject matter as well as specific educational topics on wine and reviews. I have been a wine judge and have traveled to many wine countries in the new and old world. Wine has taken me to great places. Life is tough for most of us and it is nice to celebrate life with those near and even far. What wine is really about is sitting around a table with family and friends raising your wine glass and saying—to life! I love to write about travel, food, technology and business–please subscribe! Salute, *** A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine © 2020, 2018, 2017, 2010 James P. Melendez – All Rights Reserved.
This entry was posted in Aglianico, Arneis, Barbera, Barolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Chardonnay, DOC Etna, Dolcetto, Etna, Lake County, Lugana, Marlborough, Napa Valley, Nebbiolo, Pantelleria, Pinot Noir, Roero, Santa Maria Valley, Taurasi DOCG, Top 100 Wines, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Top 100 Wines of 2020 – James Melendez

  1. Pingback: December 2020 Wine & Spirits Reviews | James the Wine Guy

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