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.
1996 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.
2005 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.
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.
2001 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.