The view from Ovid winery in Napa Valley, California - Ovid

Hal Oates’ Best Wine Experiences of 2017

By Hal Oates

The Harper Way | January 4, 2018

Hal Oates of Porthos is Andrew Harper's wine concierge. For personal wine recommendations and seasoned expertise, email Hal and the Porthos team at

As the Andrew Harper wine concierge, I judged more than 1,000 collector-level wines and visited over 100 wineries worldwide in 2017. My team and I at Porthos, a custom sommelier service, shared our best-of-the-best new discoveries with thousands of savvy Andrew Harper wine collectors last year. Here I reveal some of my most memorable new wine discoveries and experiences from 2017.

Top 10 Rare Wines of 2017

Best New Napa Cabernet
Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2014 ($195)

Best New Pinot Noir
CIRQ Pinot Noir 2014 ($170)

Best New Chardonnay
Lewis Chardonnay Barcaglia Lane 2015 ($79)

Best New Sauvignon Blanc
Arietta on the White Keys Reserve 2014 ($79)

Best New Burgundy White
Domaine Morey Coffinet Bâtard Montrachet Grand Cru 2015 ($299)

Best New Burgundy Red
Domaine Taupenot-Merme Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 2015 ($225)

Best Bordeaux
Château Tertre Roteboeuf St.-Emilion, Bordeaux Grand Cru 2010 ($375)

Best New Other European
Vega-Sicilia “Valbuena” Ribera del Duero Spain 2012 ($175)

Best Red Bargain
Christopher Tynan Syrah Sonoma Judge Estate 2013 ($59)

Best Red for Special Occasion (tie)
Levy & McClellan Cabernet Estate Res 2005 ($650) — library release
Araujo Eisele Estate Cabernet Napa 2010 ($399) — new release

Best Wine Experiences of 2017

Best New Winery Visit in Napa Valley

Lokoya Winery, on Spring Mountain
St. Helena, California

The tasting room at Lokoya Winery in St. Helena, California Lokoya

Founded in 1995, Lokoya produces acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignons from four of Napa Valley’s most celebrated mountain appellations: Mount Veeder, Howell Mountain, Spring Mountain and Diamond Mountain. These micro-production Cabernets are true thoroughbreds, coveted by collectors because of their ageability and impressive ratings by wine critics worldwide. Andrew Harper members who visited in 2017 were dazzled by the virtually unprecedented opportunity to sample multiple Cabernets rated 98 to 100 points side by side.

New Winery Visit in Sonoma Valley

Kosta Browne
Russian River Valley, California
These new Pinots are all superb and range in style from “hedonistic” (aka “full throttle”) to sublime, vineyard-designate releases reminiscent of ripe Burgundy vintages. This private winery is on the leading edge of America’s finest new Pinot Noir. 

New Château Winery Visit in France

Château Tertre Roteboeuf
Near Saint-Emilion, France
The tongue-twisting name of Le Tertre Roteboeuf refers to the original designation of the property as a hillside for cattle grazing centuries ago. Now it is a name that only an ardent Bordeaux aficionado would recognize, but my hunch is that that is about to change with the release of its monumentally delicious new vintages and a new distributor in the United States. The winery is connected to the private home of the vigneron and is a relatively modest structure compared to the extravagant château we had previously encountered. Our engaging host, Francois Mitjavile, is also the proprietor and a local legend for his effusive personality and savantlike knowledge of wine techniques and history. Our host graciously invited us to select a vintage from his private cellar to sample alongside the new releases. We chose a 2010, and this nectar ranked as the number one most exotic and opulent new discovery of the trip. The Tertre Roteboeuf 2016 was also awe-inspiring, worthy of a few spots in any savvy collector’s cellar. I highly recommend this exceptional opportunity to sample world-class Bordeaux not yet discovered by mainstream collectors.  

Best Winery View

Ovid Estate atop Prichard Hill
Napa Valley, California

The view from Ovid winery in Napa Valley, California Ovid

On a clear day, the sweeping view from Ovid’s terrace encompasses the San Francisco skyline to the south, Napa’s Mount St. Helena to the north and a bird’s-eye view over the most prized Cabernet vineyards in America in between.

Best Winery Meal

Château D’Issan
Bordeaux, France
The best winery meal of the year was the multicourse wine-pairing luncheon at Château D’Issan near the village of Margaux in Bordeaux. Our meal featured highly rated library vintages and locally raised filet mignon. 

Winemaker of the Year

Andy Erickson
Andy Erickson, who gained iconic winemaker status for his 100-point Screaming Eagle 2007, has hit his stride crafting breathtaking Cabernets at the highest level in Napa. This year, he consummated his legendary status with new releases for “cult” Cabernet brand Dalla Valle (Estate and “Maya” reserve), Arietta (Quartet blend is a tremendous value) and Erickson's personal project with his talented wife, Annie Favia. Their eponymous label is called Favia, and the Magdalena 2013 bottling is particularly delicious.

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