Random thoughts on the world of wine, presented in no particular order.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Splurge wines, holiday edition.

Looking at my Top 10 list yesterday, and I got to thinking... "what wines would I splurge on?"

Note that not all of these are wines I've had -- in fact, most, I haven't tried. But, if you had to get me a splurge-worthy wine, these would be the ones I'd love to see under the tree on Christmas... perhaps the wine geek on your Christmas list might enjoy one as well!

  • 10: Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval 2006 ($55-ish). I've never had it, but a friend of mine at work got to taste it this past year, and said it was sublime, a wonderful Left Bank style blend from Washington. I like Washington wines, and I like the Left Bank, so I think this'd be excellent.
  • 9: Pavillion Rouge de Ch. Margaux 2005 ($100-ish). I've always had good luck with second wines, and 2005 was -- as everyone has said -- an amazing year for Bordeaux. Pavillion Rouge is, traditionally, every bit as good as almost any other wine from the region.
  • 8: Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppfchen Riesling Auslese 2007 ($55). Sublime Riesling, and the perfect antidote for the person who thinks that "sweet" = "bad" for wine. A perfect balance of sugar and acidity, that finishes for seemingly days. Truly an experience, and one I'll gladly repeat.
  • 7: Dom de Perdrix Echezeaux 2005 ($150). A little young for drinking now, but... well, it's Grand Cru Burgundy. What more needs to be said?
  • 6: Bodega Catena Zapata Catena Alta 2006 ($50). A big Argentine red, but well-balanced, easy to access, and most importantly incredibly tasty! Argentine wines offer some of the best value on the market right now, and a wine of similar quality from California would easily cost thrice as much.
  • 5: Nickel & Nickel Chardonnay Searby Vineyard 2007 ($55). I loved Far Niente's charddonay... Nickel & Nickel is their single-vineyard line, and I'd love to see how it compares.
  • 4: Bodegas LAN Culmen 2004 ($65). Powerful, deep, complex wine from a producer that's best-known for more value driven, mass market crianzas. The big, cult-wine bottle doesn't hurt the presentation either!
  • 3: Titus Vineyards Reserve Cabernet 2006 ($60-ish). I've loved Titus' cabs for the last several vintages, and their '06 has amazing reviews (a better review than Screaming Eagle in Wine Spectator, if you can believe it!)... which I can say it's earned completely. A tasting pour is all I got to have, and I really, really want a bottle to cellar.
  • 2: BV Georges de Latour 2006 ($105 list, but often on sale for less). Yeah, I know, you're wondering... "BV? Really?" And while their lower-end wines are pretty pedantic, their Georges de Latour is... well, amazing. I've had several vintages (2005, 2004, and 1990), and enjoyed them both old and young. '06 is the latest release, and it's one of those wines that wound up being a diamond in the rough -- '06 wasn't a great year in Napa, but BV did admirably.
  • 1: Salon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs 1998 ($250-ish). Champagne Salon is arguably the best producer from Le Mesnil sur Orger, and 1998 (their latest release) is one of the better vintages available. It's pricy, but what better way to ring in the New Year than with cult Champagne! Only 6,000 cases per vintage are produced by Salon (they source only from the Le Mesnil vineyard, where Le Mesnil sur Orger gets it's name from), and they don't produce a wine every year, so it's really the definition of "cult wine."
Any one of these under the tree would be absolutely excellent! What would you like to find with a bow on it for Christmas?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Top 10 of 2009

Looking through my notes for the year, the following are my favorite wines of 2009 (note: not highest scoring wines, some of these are on the list for their quality to price ratio).

  • 10: Mendoza Station Torrontes 2008. For under $6, it's a crisp, clean white from a region best-known for it's heavy reds, and it's insanely tasty. One of the very few wines that I've bought more than one bottle of this year.
  • 9: San Andrea in Colle Il Rosso 2007. One of the best inexpensive Tuscan IGT's that I've had. Period. Again, one that I bought more than one bottle of; the perfect pairing for this one is a couch and a TV! Roughly $9.
  • 8: Nino Franco Prosecco Rustico. My favorite Prosecco of the year, wonderful white peach and spice notes, surprising intensity and complexity out of a wine that most people think of as Champagne's poor cousin, showing how Prosecco can really stand on it's own. About $18.
  • 7: Pertois-Moriset Grand Cru Champagne. Breathtaking blanc de blancs, from Le Mensil Sur Orger (home of Champagne Salon, and where Krug sourcers their Chardonnay). A surprise; generally I dislike blanc de blancs, as they're so think and over-acidic, but this one has a bit more weight on the palate, and the acidity is better balanced. Hard to find (only 250 cases were imported), but a great argument for RM Champagnes. A steal at $35. As a note, they also make a vintage -- the current release is the 2000, pictured, but it's even harder to find, as only 75 cases came into the US.
  • 6: Titus Chardonnay 2007. Opulent, plush Chardonnay from Carneros. This is a Rombauer-esque wine for half the price; wonderful ripe golden delicious apples, vanilla, and buttercream. They only make about 500 cases of this a year, but if you can find one, a bottle should set you back about $20, even though it's worth more.
  • 5: Coelho Pinot Noir Paciência 2006. When I tasted this, my immediate reaction was "so, this is why people keep going on about Oregon pinot..." It was spicy, full, and absolutely, insanely tasty. Fairly small-production (Coelho makes about 2500 cases a year), and $35.
  • 4: Château Doisy-Védrines 2005. An absolutely amazing Sauternes, powerful, with spot-on characteristics of the type -- including the "gym sock" note in the nose. At just under $40, it's a pricey dessert wine, but with some blue cheese or pate, it's an amazing experience and I highly recommend it.
  • 3: Pierre Amadieu Grande Romaine Gigondas 2006. It's like mature Châteauneuf-du-Pape, at half the price. Gigondas is my favorite "hidden gem" appellation of the Rhone, offering wonderful wine with the power and depth of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but since it's not as well-known, the wines from there cost less than half. This one was $22.
  • 2: Thorne-Clarke William Randall Shiraz 2005. A monster of an Aussie shiraz, but amazingly well-balanced. Is it over-the-top, huge wine? Yep. Do I want another bottle? Yep. Expensive, at about $40, but worth it.
  • 1: Château Haut-Bages Libéral 2006. One of Wine Spectator's top 100, and I can agree with that assessment. A rich, deep, chewy wine, one with a breadth and complexity that I found amazing. Young now -- I'd say drink 2012-2020. The most expensive wine on the list, at $45, and worth every penny.
What would your top 10 of 2009 be?

Image from Austin Keys, used under Creative Commons Sharealike 2.0.