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Top Dozen Wines of 2010

December 29, 2010 20 comments

One more year is passing by, becoming memories. As the closing bell nears, we often like to count good things which happened during that year. After reading the post by Joe Roberts, where he talks about his ten most interesting wines of the year, the idea for this post was born.

Here we go – a dozen of wines which made special memories throughout the 2010. Are these the best ever wines I had? No. Are these the best wines of 2010? Not necessarily. Why is there a dozen? After going through my records, I simply counted 12 wines I want to reflect upon. A lot of these wines were covered in the prior posts – I will give you links and prices if I have them. And I will explain why I felt so special about these wines. And – I will make an effort to sort the list. Prioritizing memories and experiences is hard, but I will do it nevertheless – may be just to get a good chuckle later on. And now, without further delay…

12. Haut Charmes Sauternes 2007 ($17). One of the best Sauternes I ever had – clean, balanced, with white peaches and honeysuckle on the palate. Few reasons to be in the “Top Dozens” – legend has it is declassified Chateau D’Yquem, plus great QPR for the Sauternes.

11. Cambria Bench Break Chardonnay 2006, Santa Maria ($25). For the first time in a long while, California Chardonnay tasted like California Chardonnay – lots of vanilla, butter and toasted oak on the palate, extremely balanced at the same time. Real Chardonnay as opposed to wimpy white wine without identity.

10. Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir 2008, South Africa ($40). Totally unexpected – amazing Pinot Noir from South Africa (!). Profoundly Burgundian style, with tremendous finesse and balance. Great QPR. Worth seeking – if you like Pinot, you will enjoy it immensely.

9. Flora Springs Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($18). Literally the best California Sauvignon Blanc I ever had. In general, I love French, New Zealand and Chilean versions, and ignore California Sauvignon Blancs. However, this wine you can not ignore – beautiful combination of traditional grassiness with fruit forward and finesse. Outstanding!

8. Visp Chantone Eyholzer Roter 2008 ($26). Swiss wines are great – it is unfortunate that they literally can’t be found in US. I’m lucky to be able to experience the Swiss wines – and this particular red is probably the best Swiss wine I ever had. Playful, balanced, easy to drink and thought provoking – good till the last drop.

7. Domaine de Granajolo Corse Porto-Vecchio 2009 (€12). Best Rose wine I had in 2010. Nuf said.

6. Domaine de Torraccia Niellucciu 2009,  Corse Porto-Vecchio (€11). Accidental find in the wine shop in Paris (while hunting for the new grapes) – amazing. Playful, balanced and inviting – pure pleasure in the glass.

5. Chateau Hosanna 2003, Pomerol ($100). One of the best Bordeaux wines ever. Very approachable now, and will be amazing in another 20 years.

4. Jamesport Petit Verdot 2006, Long Island ($100). One of the biggest surprises of the year – having only bad experience with 100% Petit Verdot wines from Australia, this wine was absolutely pleasantly unexpected. Luscious , silky smooth, concentrated wine – no edges or rough corners. Lots of pleasure.

3. Satrapezo Saperavi 2006, Georgia ($28). This wine completely changed my perception of Georgian wines. Georgia was a birthplace of winemaking, but tasting Georgian wines until recent was saying that the art is lost. This wine changed that. Perfectly balanced and restrained, with earthiness, fruit, acidity and tannins coming to play as a team. Great wine, and great value.

2. Rozes Over 40 Years Old Port ($90). My best port ever. I can close eyes and imagine the smell and taste of this wine – multiple layers, tremendous complexity and great opportunity to reflect on life when the finish lasts for 15 minutes. Find this wine and experience for yourself.

1. Mara Laughlin Road Ranch Pinot Noir 2007, Russian River Valley ($45). Incredibly balanced, silky smooth wine, very powerful and round. Alcohol content is 15.6%, and it can’t be noticed unless you read the label. Great wine now, will improve with some cellar time. Find it if you can.

There were many other wines worth mentioning, and I did my best throughout the year to cover them. The wines in this group delivered special experiences – that’s why they listed here. That’s all, folks – for this post. I will be glad to hear, however, about YOUR special wines and wine experiences from 2010. Speak up – now is the time!

Tasting Series At Cost Less Wines – Part 3, Grand Tasting

December 24, 2010 3 comments

This the the third and last post in the series about tasting events at Cost Less Wines and Liquors. Usually the word “grand” assumes something of a substantial size, right? With “only” four wines being presented at the tasting, can we really call it “grand”? Yep, judging by the quality of the wines, this event is nothing but the “grand tasting”.

There were four wines in the tasting. The first was Pommery Champagne Grand Cru 1996. It was beautiful, mature “vintage champagne”, which tasted nothing like the regular non-vintage stuff – tremendous level of complexity with nuts and fresh bread presented on the palate in a very concentrated fashion. I have to stress though that vintage champagnes is an acquired taste. My first reaction about 6 years ago was “oh, my, what happened here? people can’t drink that”. And now – yes, just bring it on…

The next wine was Chateau Hosanna 2003. I was warned by Zak (owner of Cost Less Wines) that I will taste something special – I didn’t even expect how special this wine was. This wine comes from Pomerol region in Bordeaux, and the property is literally bordering legendary Chateau Petrus which makes some of the world’s best (and most expensive) wines. Pomerol wines are Merlot-based, and Chateau Hosanna is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. This wine was simply amazing. Tremendous balance of fruit, freshness, acidity and tannins, all arranged in the multiple layers with the long finish. The finish was so powerful that it came through even the next wine! This was one of the best wines I tasted in 2010, and I would give it Drinkability rating of 9.

The next wine was also not too shabby – Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2000, poured from the magnum (actually it was decanted). This was good clean Cabernet Sauivignon, with all classic Cabernet traits – hint of eucalyptus and black currant, nice and clean. The only problem was – it was no match to Chateau Hosanna, which came right through at the finish (the order of wines was switched later on).

Last but not least – Rozes over 40 years old port. Generally, I can drink port wines, but it would not be something I would crave – if other choices of desert wines would be present, like late harvest wines or Sauternes, I would gladly go with those. Anyway, this was true until now… This Rozes over 40 years old Port was unbelievable. I can’t even describe the nose – I can only tell you that it is impossible to let go of a glass. You really don’t want to drink that wine – all you want to do it to smell, and smell, and smell. Tremendous. I can’t do justice to that smell by trying to describe it. Once you finally convince yourself to give it a taste, it matches your expectations from the smell. Mature, layered, with honey, nuts and spices, but not overly sweet and not overly alcoholic, very very balanced. And finish? I can only tell you that this wine stayed in my mouth for the next 15 minutes… Drinkability – 9+. No more words are needed. Find this wine – you will not regret it.

Last thing I want to mention – all the wines represent great QPR. Vintage Champagne at $50, Mondavi Reserve Cabernet at $125, tremendous Bordeaux at $100 and 40 years old Port at $90 – these are great values for the wines of such quality and they shouldn’t be missed. And for me – great wines, great experience – makes me happy!

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