My Ten Wines of the Year

Well, I guess it is that time of year again. As I read through many of the blogs I follow, it seems as though everyone is making their Wines of the Year list. The first year, I resisted a bit (but finally succumbed) and last year I posted my top twenty wines right on New Year’s Eve. So I guess that makes me a bit ahead of schedule this year.

This year, I also pared the list down to ten, since, well, twenty was too many. The criteria are the same, however: The wines were all wines that I purchased or given to me as a gift–none were samples, and all were Wines of the Week at some point over the year. I figure if a wine could not make it to Wine of the Week status, they can’t be a Wine of the Year. I guess it is kind of like College Football–you should not be able to make the playoff unless you at least win your conference. Yeah, I think the whole Wild Card thing is stupid.

So there were a total of 35 Wines of the Week this year (yes, I know there are 52 weeks in a year, but there were some weeks–I would say somewhere around 17–that I did not choose a Wine of the Week), 9 Pinot Noirs (all American, including two rosés), 8 Champagnes, 7 Chardonnays (5 American, 2 French), 3 Italian, 3 Alsatian, and one Bordeaux, Loire, California Cabernet, California Merlot, and Canadian Bordeaux blend.

Of course, I thought there would have been more champagnes on the list, but it just goes to show what incredible growth I exhibited over the past year.

So without any further ado, here are my Top Ten Wines of 2014.

20140113-090707.jpg1996 L. Aubry Fils Champagne Blanc de Blancs: Retail $65?. I finally realized that I am alone, all alone. At least among my friends (OK, there is one exception, maybe two, but they are married and live in France, so we rarely see them anymore). I love old champagne. That might be an understatement–I live for old Champers. My wife dutifully plays along, but it is not her favorite. Other than her, the list is virtually non-existent. This wine was a classic older bottle (although by no means ancient): A little lacking in fizz but not in personality. Nutty and tart with off the chart acidity. This is a champagne that is more than in my wheelhouse. It’s in my skivvies, in my blood stream. Unreal finish. Incredible. 93-95 Points.

2005 Belle Glos Pinot Noir Clark & Telephone Vineyard: Retail $45. Whoa. Skip double whoa and right to triple whoa. I worried since members of Cellar Tracker says this wine is way past its prime. Um, no. One of the better US Pinots I have had recently. Whoa. There I said it again. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

2001 Cosentino Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Hoopes Ranch Vineyard: Retail $65. Whoa. On the nose: Mocha. Raspberry. Ambrosia. On the palate? Rich and on the verge of ridiculous, still 13 years out. Some tannins on the backend suggest a little life to go but this is crazy good now. Outstanding. 94-96 Points.

IMG_33962005 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Starr Ridge Vineyard: Retail $65. We were going to a favorite restaurant that specializes in all things pork, so I thought this was a slam dunk. I was right. I ordered a pork chop that turned out to be as big as my head. The wine? A bit dark for a Pinot and on the nose surprising darker fruit (blackberry, cassis, even blueberry). On the palate all Cali Pinot. Great fruit and acid. And a finish to kill for, and I am pretty much a pacifist. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

1998 Gosset Champagne Celebris Rosé: Retail $120. I bought three of these a while ago, and was sitting on them for some time, not sure of the right time to pull the trigger–pretty much the story of my life. I finally decided to pop this with some good friends, since, well, is there a better reason? Little more than a sigh upon opening and a pale salmon in the glass. On the nose a bit of that “old” Champers musty smell but on the palate, wow. Tons of red fruit and a finish that lasted well beyond the norm. Outstanding+. 93-95 Points.

Still great color...

Still great color…

1964 Château Haut Brion: Retail $300-500? Whoa. Nose is crazy. Mocha? White pepper. Burnt caramel or is it crème brûlée? Whoa. I have only had a few old Bordeaux but this is amazing. Still some tannin even on the back-end. Whoa.  A bit of stewed fruit but in a good way. Whoa. On the verge of mind-blowing. Unique (and four “Whoas”). 94-96 Points.

1991 Hugel et Fils Tokay Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive: Retail $80? I picked this up from the winery several years ago and was surprised that the wise populace that is the Cellar Tracker community suggested that this wine should have been consumed by 2011. Nonetheless, I heeded the advice of my faceless CT “family” and popped the first of my two bottles back in ’10. I waited four and a half years to pop the other. I could have waited 3 times that. Easily. This is still as fresh and as vibrant as I remember it being when I tasted it at the tasting room in Riquewihr however many years ago. Just a fantastic wine. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

2000 Mailly Grand Cru Les Echansons Champagne: Retail $100. Whoa. I left Spain and took a bit of a hellish trip back to Paris where a great friend, a tasty meal, and this were waiting for me. Whoa again. Given the context, this was incredible. Hell, without the context this is incredible wine. Toast, brioche, biscuits–all were present and in harmony with the delicate citrus and pear. Wow. What a treat. Out-friggin’-standing. 95-97 Points.

20141015-094248.jpg2001 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin: Retail $50. I have used this forum countless times to disparage our Canadian neighbors to the North. I have a few reasons for that: 1. I grew up in Detroit, right across the border from Canada and 2. Ohmygod was Canadian. I have always been a fan of the wine being produced up there, however, and this is a case in point. An Outstanding wine from the first sniff to the last swallow—great red and black currants, vanilla, and a hint of spice, with a lasting finish. I only wish I had bought more as this was the last bottle. 92-94 Points.

2005 Domaine de l’Oriel Gérard Weinzorn Riesling Florimont: Retail $30. I bought these several years ago along with some of the ’04 Sommerberg. The last few bottles of the Sommerberg were a bit sketchy, so I was worried about these. No need to worry. This was fantastic–floral yet mineral, rich yet bracing–this was one of the better Alsatian Rieslings I have ever had. The finish lasted well into the night. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.




About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Alsace, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to My Ten Wines of the Year

  1. Very jealous of the Haut-Brion!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. seetinarun says:

    Thanks for posting early – heading to see family for a combo Christmas/New Year’s celebration – but not until I stop first at the wine store! Thanks for the rec’s!!! Happy New Year!


  3. wineismylife says:

    I remember some of those wines from throughout the year. Some very nice stuff in there.

    I haven’t done a top list in a few years. For years and years I did a WIML Top 100.


  4. talkavino says:

    Is that sorted in any way? Do you have a wine #1? I’m delaying my list so far, will be a big effort to get it out on time…


  5. Never had old Champagne, nice list, I am always so interested to see what the wine experts liked. Happy New Year.


  6. SAHMmelier says:

    That is quite a list, lucky you! Seems all of these would be extremely hard to get, no? Except maybe the 05 PNs? Guess we will have to leave it at vicarious tasting and daydreams. Happy New Year!


  7. ATdF says:

    ooohhh…no italian wine? next year i will bring you in a “giro d’italia”. rent a vito and bring your bike (-;
    happy new year!


  8. Its been years since I’ve had Gosset…will have to rectify that. Thanks for the reminder!


  9. What a great list. I like that most of your selections are under $100. Nothing to sneeze at, but nothing to take out a mortgage for!


  10. Cabfranca says:

    What a fantastic list! I appreciate your rating system, WHOAS count in my book and make sense to me. Also, you have a great representation of wines I may never see on a local wine shop shelf but now I know what to look for and fantasize over. I really like that you don’t rely on CT ratings; I have run into a few that I took umbrage at myself. And to love a champers with low bubbleage; I like that! Keep on cycling drunkenly and safely and expanding my neophyte pallette. I had been wondering about pinots from Sonoma Valley/Russian RIver area, and look forward to exploring more on my next trip to the area this Spring. Whoa.


  11. achilliad says:

    This post made me thirsty (and I am still at WORK! lol). Curious about the 1996 L. Aubry Fils Champagne Blanc de Blancs. Can I get it in The States?


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