Our Top 25 Wines of 2016 As Selected by Vinstudinen & Foodie Stories

It has been a good year of food and wine for me and my good friend Linn Johnsen. You may know her better as Vinstudinen – the wine student. As 2016 comes close to an end we want to share some of our favorite wine experiences with you. These are bottles that we wouldn’t mind meeting again in 2017. In total, the list contains our top 25 wines of 2016. Diplomatic as we are, we’ve selected roughly half each, although there’s quite a few we’ve both drunk, some even together, and can agree on wholeheartedly.

Linn & Anders in one of our rare shots together. Photographer: Unknown stranger
Linn & Anders in one of our rare shots together. Photographer: Unknown stranger

Since I’m mostly into just drinking wine (preferably lots of it when I find a bottle I like), I’ve brought in Linn as a guest contributor in order to raise the level of expertise of the commentary and tasting notes. In addition, I’ve made an effort to list whether the wines are available through the Norwegian wine monopoly or not, and we’re also giving you suggestions of restaurants and wine bars where we’ve come across these stellar examples of fermented grape juice. The wines are divided into the categories bubbly, white, rosé and red, with the ones available at the wine monopoly being listed first. Other than that, there is no particular order of the top 25 we have selected.

BUBBLY WINES

Laherte Frères, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Nature, Champagne, France

Sometimes you need to judge a book by the cover and a Champagne by the label. Laherte is an excellent Champagne house, and we’re thrilled that they didn’t just deliver on a beautiful label, but also made a Champagne sufficiently rich to be enjoyed with all kinds of food. This is proof why a Champagne is always a good idea!

Laherte Frères, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Nature, Champagne, France
Laherte Frères, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Nature, Champagne, France
Where to Buy or Drink

Fêtembulles, Robinot 2015

Nothing says New Year’s like these party bubbles from the eccentric Jean Pierre Robinot in the Loire valley. Made from lovely Chenin Blanc, with no dosage, it feels both refreshing, with ripe apples, peach and grapefruit, and edgy like the feeling you sometimes get with Pét-Nat. Wellmade and fun!

Fêtembulles, Robinot 2015
Fêtembulles, Robinot 2015
Where to Buy or Drink

Tripoz Crémant de Bourgogne Nature Brut

While Champagne is always a good idea, your wallet might sometimes lead you to other sparkling wines. Linn had this wine for the first time this summer at Cave Madeleine in Beaune and was thrilled to find out it was also available in Norway. She has seldom had a crémant so similar to Champagne in style. A typical blanc de blancs, with ripe apples, citrus and biscuits, and a creamy mousse that lasts.

Tripoz Crémant de Bourgogne Nature Brut. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Tripoz Crémant de Bourgogne Nature Brut. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Yes! This wine is available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Cave Madeleine, Beaune

Lammidia Bianchetto 2015

Because Pét-Nat is always a good idea! We love fresh Italian bubbles with a personality. Deliberately made to cheer us up, these lightly sparkling bubbles made from Trebbiano d’Abruzzo tastes of summer and happiness – some say it’s like drinking fruit juice infused with wild flowers of the summer. Now that is pure grape juice delivered!

Lammidia Bianchetto 2015
Lammidia Bianchetto 2015
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Trattoria La Strega, Gothenburg
108, Copenhagen
Veranda, Antwerp

Sui Lieviti, Orsi, Vigneto San Vito, Pignoletto Frizzante, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Far north in Italy you find the small winemaker Orsi in Emilia Romagna. While this lightly white frizzante might be the perfect summer drink, we won’t mind having this as our aperitif any day. Linn was a bit taken away by the grape variety which she hadn’t even heard of before. Who wouldn’t want to drink Pignoletto blended with a tiny bit of Riesling? Fresh with fruit from the mrden and a slight citrus touch, alive and drinkable – just perfect for any social gathering.

Sui Lieviti, Orsi, Vigneto San Vito, Pignoletto Frizzante, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Sui Lieviti, Orsi, Vigneto San Vito, Pignoletto Frizzante, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Amass, Copenhagen
Manfreds, Copenhagen
Osteria Trefanti, Venice

Charles Dufour, #4 Vinorama

Dufour is a young Champagne-maker that we hope to see even more from in the future. This zero dosage Vinorama makes perfect sense as a stand-alone. On the other hand; ripe apples, brioche and a string of acidity also makes it perfect for a lobster bisque – or any type of Christmas food we can think of.

#4 Vinorama, Charles Dufour. Photo: Linn Johnsen
#4 Vinorama, Charles Dufour. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly, but you will find Dufour’s Bulles de Comptoir there.

We love to drink this wine at:
Den Vandrette, Copenhagen

WHITE WINES

Matassa, Cuvee Margeruite 2015

Do we even need to mention Matassa? Tom Lubbe started Matassa after working at the famous Rousillon producer Gauby (one to try as well) and delivers on quality as always with this aromatic blend on a rock solid bottom of citrus, apple and pears. Grown on ancient vines with low yields, there is an excellent concentration further supported by some skin maceration. We can think of a variety of pasta dishes, seafood, shellfish and poultry that would go perfectly with it. This is value for money – although not cheap!

Matassa, Cuvee Margeruite 2015
Matassa, Cuvee Margeruite 2015

Château de Béru Vaucoupin 1er Cru

Athénaïs Beru has taken over the family property in Chablis and makes some of the highest quality Chablis available. She will often say that nature gives and nature takes, especially after the last year’s terrible weather conditions in Chablis. Due to this, her quantities for the coming years are reduced. Linn found it a pleasure to spend some time tasting with Athénaïs last April. This is serious Chablis, with citrus fruit and a record-breaking length. The salinity and chalk of this premier cru, immediately makes us long for oysters. Dig into your savings account and enjoy! By the way: if you ever come across her flagship “Château de Béru Monopole” – don’t hesitate. YOLO!

Château de Béru Vaucoupin 1er cru
Château de Béru Vaucoupin 1er cru
Where to Buy or Drink

Yes! This wine is available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Smalhans, Oslo
Titulus, Brussels
Etiquette Wine Bar, Brussels

Domaine Lucci, Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, Australia 2010

So you thought Sauvignon Blanc was boring, giving you nothing but predictable flowers and grassiness? Well, it’s time to move on. Australia is bringing it on and with this cool cuvée. A mouth-filling bottle of happiness, with a rich nose and enough exotic fruit to make us want to go down under immediately. Add the summer’s flowers to that and we’re still convinced it’s actually Sauvignon Blanc we’re drinking. We haven’t had Sauvignon Blanc made us feel like this since we had the Pét-Nat from De Conti a while back, of which Linn bought all the remaining bottles at the wine monopoly in Oslo for last New Year’s Eve (leaving nothing for me!).

Domaine Lucci, Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, Australia 2010
Domaine Lucci, Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, Australia 2010
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly. However, the importer Unico Real Wines have several other Domaine Lucci- / Lucy Margeaux Vineyards-wines available as special order.

We love to drink this wine at:
Nabo, Copenhagen
Pjoltergeist, Oslo

Flora, Michael Gindl 2014

The Austrians keep surprising us with delicious and innovative wines like this Riesling-dominated blend. While the acidity is evened out a bit with some more aromatic grapes we just love how the fruitiness of this perfectly balances out the floral first impression – allowing it to blossom, but not overpowering us like grandma’s Chanel no. 5. Value for money alert!

Flora, Michael Gindl 2014
Flora, Michael Gindl 2014
Where to Buy or Drink

Love and Pif, Yann Durieux 2014

Aligoté is the forgotten grape of Burgundy, but will often be far more reasonably priced than its famous sophisticated sister Chardonnay. Love and Pif has convinced us time and time again. Not only with a pretty label but also with its vibrant and summery fruitiness. One of our favorite “enjoy life”-wines! We’re completely taken away by the hint of elderflower and the recurring thought that there might be a slight skin maceration here …

Love and Pif, Yann Durieux 2014
Love and Pif, Yann Durieux 2014
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Kadeau, Bornholm
Kadeau, Copenhagen
Clown Bar, Paris
Sager+Wilde Wine Bar, London

Rietsch Sylvaner, Nature, Alsace, France 2011

Sylvaner is the forgotten grape most often found in Germany, but when they want to make something extraordinary they know how to do it in Alsace. Rietsch is famous for its serious approach to natural wines, keeping the bottles for an extended time before its release. Maybe this is why this Sylvaner feels so much more fulfilling than the usual anonymous Sylvaner, with white and yellow stone fruits that linger on your tongue and makes you crave for more.

Rietsch Sylvaner, Nature, Alsace, France 2011
Rietsch Sylvaner, Nature, Alsace, France 2011
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Talldungen Gårdshotell, Tranås, Skåne

La Bégou, Maxime Magnon, 2014

This is so sweet! Not like sugar sweet, just sweet as pleasurable. White stone fruit with a waxy edge might be what describes it best alongside with elderflower. One of the whites we just cannot have enough of.

La Bégou, Maxime Magnon, 2014. Photo: Linn Johnsen
La Bégou, Maxime Magnon, 2014. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Noma, Copenhagen
Titulus, Brussels
Le Verre Volé, Paris

Solaris, Vexebo Vin 2012

In Veksebo, just north of Copenhagen we discovered this year’s most positive surprise in terms of wines. Who would have thought that a Danish wine could be so deliciously satisfying? Daniel Milan manages a modest hectar of vines and has taken on the biodynamic philosophy. In 2012 Milan still made use of cultured yeast, but since then he has moved on to spontaneous fermentation. Yet, the 2012 also has a lot of personality, in particular for the otherwise anonymous Solaris grape, with ripe apples, wild flowers and a soft acidity that makes the wine both balanced and refreshing. A producer to return to!

Solaris, Vexebo Vin, 2012. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Solaris, Vexebo Vin, 2012. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Relæ, Copenhagen
Amass, Copenhagen
Geranium, Copenhagen

We love to buy this wine at:
Sabotøren, Bar & Butik, Copenhagen
Le Pinard, Torvehallerne, Copenhagen, where you can also be lucky to find the winemaker Daniel Milan himself.

ROSÉ WINES

L’Anglore Tavel 2014

We’ve met several winemakers that told us that if they could only drink wine from one winemaker (other than themselves) it would have to be legendary Eric Pfifferling’s wines. He makes Tavel’s perhaps most interesting wine, a deeply coloured rosé (well, in this appellation they produce only rosé). The nose gives summery notes with ripe cherries, forest strawberries, orange peel and rose petals. A concentrated, rich taste with enough tannins and extraction to tackle a good piece of grilled lamb or pork. A cult wine that you have to try when you come across it.

L'Anglore Tavel 2014. Photo: Linn Johnsen
L’Anglore Tavel 2014. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Titulus, Brussels

Vinudilice Rosato, Vigneri di Salvo Foti, Etna, Italy

Legendary Salvo Foti makes this marvelous rosé wine at Etna, Sicily with the local cooperative I Vigneri, consisting of small high-quality producers. The grapes come from ancient vines and Vinudilice has a concentration not so often found in rosés. The main grapes are Alicante, Grecanico and Minella which are blended with other local grape varieties to make an intensely refreshing, yet mouth-filling rosé with a palate of fresh strawberries, citrus zest, rose petals and just a slight touch of sage.

Vinudilice Rosato, Vigneri di Salvo Foti, Etna, Italy. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Vinudilice Rosato, Vigneri di Salvo Foti, Etna, Italy. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly, but the cooperative I Vignieri is represented with a white and a red wine there.

We love to drink this wine at:
Titulus, Brussels

RED WINES

Jumpin’ Juice, Half Full, Patrick Sullivan 2015

Patrick Sullivan makes wine fun! No wonder why he calls it jumpin’ juice – after a (half) glass of this refreshing fermented fruit drink you will either jump or dance. An Australian cocktail of a blend, taking advantage of the Pinot Noirs ability to shine with red fruits and freshness, adding an aromatic touch with Sauvignon Blanc and enriching it with Sangiovese and Syrah. We love how the Aussies couldn’t care less about conventional blends. How come the wine glass is always half full?

Jumpin’ Juice, Half Full, Patrick Sullivan 2015
Jumpin’ Juice, Half Full, Patrick Sullivan 2015
Where to Buy or Drink

Yes! This wine is available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Pjoltergeist, Oslo
Bar Lardo, Oslo
Røst Teaterbistro, Trondheim

Morgon Côte du Py, Foillard 2014

Jean Foillard is an excellent producer that Linn had the pleasure of meeting this summer for a lovely wine tasting with his son, Alex, followed by a traditional French family lunch that she’ll never forget. Foillard was among the famous gang of four in Beaujolais and a pioneer in the natural wine movement. There’s just something about well-made Gamay grown on granitic and volcanic soil in this part of Beaujolais. From the honesty of the wine, the consistent quality from year to year and the way Foillard really makes the Gamay shine in all of its glory from different terroirs. Driven by mature, yet cold cherries and berries from the wood, you will also find notes of herbs. Perfectly complex, yet so easy to drink. A luxury companion for red pizzas, and at the same time an excellent choice for any kind of grilled meat. Always look for this in the wine list of a good restaurant. It’s usually a bargain when it comes to price/quality. Worth every cent.

Morgon Côte du Py, Foillard 2014
Morgon Côte du Py, Foillard 2014

El Pino Rojo, Barranco Oscuro 2014

Who would have thought that elegant and vibrant could be made in Andalucia, Spain? This high altitude pinot noir is deeply colored, vibrant with red, ripe fruits, spice and vanilla and an edge we haven’t seen with Pinots before. Yet, still so elegant that also the general Pinot lover will crave more from this Spaniard. To be honest, we will have anything from Barranco Oscuro if we find it.

El Pino Rojo, Barranco Oscuro, 2014. Photo: Linn Johnsen
El Pino Rojo, Barranco Oscuro, 2014. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Y’a Bon the Canon, Ganevat

Together with his sister, Ganevat is making great negotiant wines with grapes mostly sourced in Jura, sometimes in Loire. This is a blend of Gamay, Poulsard and Trousseau that makes us go “what and how?” and “please, more now.” Juicy and refreshing and just wild enough to be intellectually stimulating. Kriek, red currants, and candy – this is a true fruit bomb!

Y’a Bon the Canon, Ganevat. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Y’a Bon the Canon, Ganevat. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Arbois Pupillin, Poulsard, Bruyere-Houillon 2015

Let’s start with the color, because it’s impossible not to fall in love with the bright red of a young Poulsard. Although they say you can play football with the Poulsard grape because of the thick skin, the color extraction is minimal and the wine is sometimes mistaken for a rosé. Mostly found in Jura, and the world capital of Poulsard, tiny Pupillin outside Arbois, this wine is so zesty and fresh that its wilder sides just keeps you wanting more. A delicious harmony of red fruits driven by kriek, cranberries, and red currants.

Arbois Pupillin, Poulsard, Bruyere-Houillon 2015
Arbois Pupillin, Poulsard, Bruyere-Houillon 2015
Where to Buy or Drink

This wine is sometimes available at the Norwegian wine monopoly through special order from the wine importer Non Dos.

We love to drink this wine at:
Pjoltergeist, Oslo
Sentralen, Oslo
Saturne, Paris

VN Partida Creus 2014

An Italian winemaker in Spain that prefers old indigenous varieties with personality rather than industrial wines. The wines can sometimes be on the wilder side, but we like how the Creus wines are always edgy and often fruit-driven with a sufficient acidic spine. A wine that makes you feel alive. For experimental souls.

VN Partida Creus 2014
VN Partida Creus 2014
Where to Buy or Drink

This wine is sometimes available at the Norwegian wine monopoly through special order from the wine importer Vin John.

We love to drink this wine at:
Bar Lardo, Oslo
Smalhans, Oslo
Sentralen, Oslo
Den Vandrette, Copenhagen
B.A.R Naturlig Krog & Vinbar, Malmö
Veranda, Antwerp

Classe, Mas Coutelou 2013

Mas Coutelou is the name of a relatively small vineyard in Languedoc. The producer has deep respect for the environment and the terroir, and is a minimum interventionist by winemaking philosophy, both in the vineyard and the cellar. Classe is a decent GSM (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre) with a deep ruby color. It smells of ripe fruit and forest berries, it’s spicy with black pepper and a solid dose of rooibos tea. It has a body and mouthfeel that is sometimes lacking in natural wines, which tends to be very juicy. We’d have this any day, either in front of the fireplace or with a grilled entrecôte.

Classe, Mas Coutelou 2013. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Classe, Mas Coutelou 2013. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to buy this wine at:
Rødder & Vin, Copenhagen

Ànima Negra Àn/2 2013

Who would have thought this year’s winter red came from Mallorca? Ànima Negra is rich and just what you need when you snuggle up in the sofa with a wool blanket to watch your favorite romantic comedy (Linn’s words, not mine). Plums and raspberries are sufficiently backed up by acidity and just the right amount of sweet spices like vanilla and nutmeg to really call it a winter wine. On the other hand, it would also match your summer barbecue perfectly.

Ànima Negra Àn/2 2013. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Ànima Negra Àn/2 2013. Photo: Linn Johnsen

Savagnin, Overnoy, 1998 (Bottled in 2010)

Overnoy is the famous, natural winemaker, often referred to as the Pope of Jura. If you ever come across Overnoy’s wines, now co-branded with the winemaker Houillon, don’t hesitate to go for it! Famous for their low intervention approach combined with long elevage before bottling, these wines are made for aging. Still, they will always be ready for consumption upon release. Linn says the 1998 Savagnin may just about be the best wine she ever drank. Savagnin is a grape that develops so much in the course of 15 years that it is hardly recognizable from its fruity and floral youth to the curry, raisin and spiced version that develops with time. Always ask for Overnoy if you visit a restaurant in Jura!

Savagnin, Overnoy, 1998. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Savagnin, Overnoy, 1998. Photo: Linn Johnsen
Where to Buy or Drink

Unfortunately, this wine is not available at the Norwegian wine monopoly.

We love to drink this wine at:
Søllerød Kro, Copenhagen
Anarki, Copenhagen
Bistronome, Arbois

Have you drunk any of our favorites? Please leave a comment and share your opinion. Also, if you’re a restaurateur who has any of these wines in your cellar, or a Norwegian wine importer that can get hold of the most unavailable ones through special order – please let us know!

Anders Husa

I am Anders Husa – a foodie living in Oslo. I eat at the best restaurants in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and the major food destinations in the world. I share my foodie stories here.

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