Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 10 Wines of 2011

Just for fun I thought I'd put together a list of my favorite wines from the past 12 months of gustatory indulgence. I didn't take vintage into account as this isn't a list of my favorite wines released in 2011. It's just anything that I really enjoyed over the past calendar year. I decided to immediately disqualify wines that I had inconsistent results with and prices are all over the map; ranging from $10 to about $50. It was tough cutting the list from 125 or so down to 10, but here's my best attempt, in alphabetical order, with a link to my original note:

2008 Argiolas Korem, IGT Isola dei Nuraghi - Bovale Sardo? What is that? A kind of beef? A famous opera singer? Nope It's a grape that pretty much only grows on the island of Sardinia. And if this one doesn't make you a believer in Bovale Sardo then maybe you should just stick to Sangiovese and Barbera.

2008 Bennett Lane Turn 4 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - I tried a lot of California Cabernets last year (no surprise there, huh?) and this was my favorite. Decadent fruit, licorice, judicious oak and good tannins for a very easy-to-swallow $25. What's not to like?

2006 Casar de Burbia, D.O. Bierzo - Like Bovale Sardo, this is a grape that I only discovered recently. Just a beautiful combination of rustic fruit, licorice and oak. If they grew Zinfandel in Spain, this is what it would taste like. And a great pairing with paella!

2010 Charles & Charles rose, Columbia Valley - Summertime to me is rose time. And of all the ones I enjoyed last year, this 100% Syrah version really stood out. Bold and dry - this isn't your aunt's White Zinfandel. A bit too chilly outside now to be drinking this wine, but as soon as it warms up again, I'll be buying again. Highly recommended with tuna tartare.

2005/7 Cuvelier los Andes Grand Vin, Mendoza - The best wine(s) I've ever had from Argentina. I was fortunate to have two vintages of this last year and since I couldn't decide which one I liked better, I just both on the list. Mostly Malbec with smaller amounts of Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot. Grill a slab of beef and allow this wine's Bordeaux roots to shine.

2008/9 Dunning Ridge Top Zinfandel, Paso Robles - Another one where I had multiple vintages and just couldn't pick one. I've written a lot about Dunning's wines and their picturesque B&B in Paso Robles and I'll continue to write about them. Not sure what kind of distribution this small, family-owned winery has outside of California, but I encourage everyone to sign up for their wine club. Their Cabernets and Syrahs are also outstanding.

2009 Sean Minor Red Wine, Napa Valley - This highly-anticipated Petit Verdot-heavy blend finally hit Kansas City last fall and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a bottle. If I had to pick one California label synonymous with "value" these days it would be Sean Minor. Even this, his most expensive wine, retails for under $20. And his $15 Pinot Noirs, Cabernets and Chardonnays are a steal, too. Buy this wine and anything else that says "Sean Minor" on the label.

2007 Kent Rasmussen Esoterica Chavez-Leeds Vineyard Petit Sirah, Rutherford - No jammy, tooty-fruity nonsense in this one. What we have here is a benchmark for structured, serious, rustic Petit Sirah that, sadly, seems to be harder and harder to find these days. Wonderful acidity and that trademark "Rutherford dust," too.

2010 Tablas Creek Patelin Blanc, Paso Robles - Another one that took a while to reach Kansas City, but it was worth the wait. I cant imagine a better white wine to pair with Mediterranean cuisine than this floral, honeyed white Rhone-style blend. Can't wait for the Patelin red that is supposed to reach Kansas early in 2012.

2007 Terlan Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige - One of the first wines I drank in 2011 and still one of the best. Oh, the tropical fruit and wet stone profile that this one offers! Artichokes are notoriously difficult to pair with wine, but this one pulled it off without a hitch.

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