Top Twelve of ’12
Here we are. 2012 is almost over. There were bad things, there were good things. And the world didn’t end on December 21st. Unexpected, huh? But we are talking about wine here, so let’s get to it. The time has come to finish summing up the year worth of wines, and come up with the dozen most memorable wines (my second dozen+ can be found here).
12. 2004 Retro Petite Sirah Howell Mountain ($35) – Power. More power. And more power. One of the biggest wines I tasted in 2012. Not in Barolo sense, not with the tannins which just close up your taste buds, but in the sheer amount of dense, chewy, dark fruit. It will be interesting to see how this wine will evolve…
11. 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Reserve Syrah Columbia Valley ($36) – I love roasted, meaty notes of Syrah (I can even go as far as proclaiming Syrah being the favorite wine, but it wouldn’t be entirely true – still, Syrah is definitely one of my favorite wines). This Syrah had that roasted, smokey and peppery notes, multiplied by juicy fruit. Very delicious – you should try it with your next BBQ and tell me what you think.
10. 2007 Villa Mt Eden Pinot Noir Reserve, Russian River Valley ($25) – I would typically describe California Pinot Noirs from the position of power – a lot of them are big wines, boasting of jammy fruit. And I would typically reserve the descriptor such as “finesse” for the Burgundy. When you taste this wine, actually the first word which comes to mind is finesse. It is absolutely elegant, with beautiful layered fruit, silky smooth tannins, and – very, very balanced.
9. 2010 Turley The Label Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($40) – in the old style bottle came beautifully styled Cabernet Sauvignon (you can read my escapades around the subject of the bottle if you will click on the name of this wine). This wine had everything you want from your Cabernet Sauvignon – black currant, mint, eucalyptus, touch of dark chocolate, supple tannins, perfect acidity – and it was not in-your-face, perfectly restrained and elegant. This was the very first vintage of this wine, produced by the venerable Zinfandel maker Turley, and I believe this wine has long life ahead of it.
8. 2009 Beaulieu Vineyards Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($125) – And then there was Rutherford dust. Absolutely perfect Cabernet Sauvignon, with all the classic traits and flavors, impeccably balanced, with an added bonus – a sensation of tiny particles coating your mouth, a very unusual and very memorable texture, associated only with wines produced in the area of Rutherford in Napa Valley. Before I tried this wine, I heard the “Rutherford dust” expression, but never experienced it – this was my first encounter, and boy, was that delicious!
7. 2010 Domaine Saint Prefert Cuvee Speciale Vieilles Clairettes Chateauneuf du Pape ($125 for magnum) – let me give you a very short description for this wine – a symphony in a glass. Do I need to clarify it any further? You know, all the memorable wines provoke certain association. Power, balance, finesse, roasted meat, sunshine, fresh meadows – and then there is this wine which you want to associate with music. Perfect clarity of this wine only makes you think of precisely taken high notes and how beautiful the music is. The wine has very little availability and only produced in Magnums, if I’m not mistaken – but, if you can experience it, you will not regret.
6. 1995 Gloria Ferrer Late Disgorged Carneros Sparkling Wine ($35) – who likes vintage sparklers – raise your hand! One of the best vintage sparkling wines I ever tried – perfectly mature fruit, yeast, brioche, toasted bread – everything in cohesive package, with enough acidity to support this massive sensation and keep the wine refreshing and enjoyable. I made a huge mistake with this wine – I bought only one bottle to try, and by the time I went back to the store, it was all gone… But – I’m glad I had a chance to experience it.
5. 2010 Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia, Toscana IGT ($45) – let me ask you a question – do you associate Sauvignon Blanc with Italy? Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, New Zealand, California, Chile – but Italy? It turns out that Sauvignon Blanc does very well in Italy, definitely when it comes from such a coveted winery as Tenuta dell’Ornelaia. Medium to full bodies wine, with beautiful white fruit, perfect balance and craving to drink it until anything left in that bottle. You have to taste it to believe it.
4. 2007 Beaulieu Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 6 ($140) – what a beauty! You know, I once read review by Joe Roberts, where he compared one of Cathy Corison Cabernet wines with black panther. I tasted that same wine, and the panther didn’t come to me. With this BV Clone 6 wine, I think I found my black panther. Slick, muscled, dangerous and stunning, this wine brings all together in one grand package – dark fruit, earthiness, coffee and dark chocolate. Hello, gorgeous!
3. 2000 Carlisle Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($35) – luscious deliciousness. Sounds overly enthusiastic? May be. But I will not accept any criticism here, until you will have a taste of this wine. It is possible that you will still not be able to share my enthusiasm – but for me, this was one beautiful wine. Layers upon layers of the fruit, dark fruit, blue fruit – blueberries, plums, blackberries, dark chocolate, all with perfect acidity and in perfect harmony. You would never tell that this wine has ABV of 16.5% – this is how delicious this wine was.
2. 1947 Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja ($400) – 65 years old wine – still bright and youthful. This was one amazing experience – tasting the wine of such an age, and finding that you can really like it without looking for any age discounts. Fruit was still bright, all wrapped into cedar box and eucalyptus notes, with soft tannins and fresh acidity.
And now ( drum roll, please)
2012 Wine of the Year
1. 2010 Phantasi Oregon White Wine ($100, Magnum price in the restaurant) – wine geeks, rejoice! This is your wine! If you read this blog for a while, you already know that I’m self-admitted wine snob. But – you probably also know that compare to the wine snob, I’m somewhat of a 100-fold wine geek. I would try absolutely any wine and I purposefully seek odd and unusual bottles.
When this wine was offered to us in the restaurant $100 for a magnum, this was an offer I couldn’t pass by. And what the wine it was! This is 100% Roussanne wine from Oregon, made by Antica Terra – unfortunately, you can’t even find any information about this wine on the winery web site.
The wine was served at the room temperature. Deep, pungent, concentrated – in the blind tasting (actually blind, so you would not be able to see the color in your glass) I’m sure this wine would be easily identified as red. Good acidity, good balance, very food friendly – and very unique.
That concludes my Top Twelve of ’12. I would love to see your comments and also to learn about your most memorable wines of the 2012.
Wishing you all wonderful wine, food and life experiences, each and every day. Cheers!