Here is my third (and final) top Ten List of Wines. The first was my list of top wines that I consumed from my own private cellar. The second was the top ten wines that I tasted from Dry Creek Valley. this list, for lack of a better name, is the Top Ten Wines Sampled from Everywhere Else.
Yeah, I need to work on the title.
2013 Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Campbell Ranch Vineyard: Retail $46. Meatier fruit, but very tight, as it was just bottled a week ago and not yet released. Once the fruit mellows a bit this will be fantastic. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2010 Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Retail $80. 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot with an ABV of 14.7%. This wine is enjoyable now, but if you are willing to wait a while (5-10 years, I would guess), it will be well worth it. I think this has 94-96 point potential, certainly.
2011 Gary Farrell Bradford Vineyard Zinfandel: Retail $45. Much in the way that the ’95 GF Rochioli turned me on to American Pinot, the current GF Zinfandels are making me a Zin lover–I am still not on the big, huge, fruit bomb Zin wagon, but this is a Pinot lovers Zin: Refined and deep with great structure. All that and some rich fruit. I could smell and drink this for a very long time. Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2009 Halleck The Farm Vineyard Pinot Noir: Retail $75. From 2 acres at practically sea level in Russian River. Dark color and a beautiful nose. Unreal mouthfeel with seemless integration. And a finish that will still be there tomorrow. Best CA Pinot I’ve had? Not sure but it’s in the conversation. Incredible. 94-96 Points. Maybe more.
2007 Hidden Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 55% Slope Impassable Mountain Reserve: Retail $80. 14.9% ABV. Agglomerate cork? Really? Quick decant and then into the glass. Rather dark and ruby at the edges. Nose a bit closed despite the decant with hints of cassis, blackberry, and vanilla. A little heat comes in at the end. Lush fruit on the palate right away, but by no means a fruit bomb. Quite balanced throughout with an impressive tart mid palate with a bit of earth. The finish is really impressive, lasting well past a minute. This wine certainly is fabulous now, and normally I would not be in a hurry to drink it, but with that cork? Um…. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
NV J Vineyards & Winery Brut Rosé Russian River Valley: U.S. Retail $38. 66% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 1% Pinot Meunier. We tasted the J Rosé several bottles after the Cuvée 20, but this wine caused most in attendance to “ooh” and “aah” as well. Brioche and strawberry in abundance followed by a most impressive finish. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2012 Laetitia Winery Pinot Noir Estate Whole Cluster: Retail $40. A bit dark in color, black cherry and earth. Luscious mouth-feel, this is really good—with some grip on the backend. No hurry here, but what the hell? Buy two bottles (or more), drink one now and save the others for up to a decade—this is not going anywhere soon! Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2009 Native Sun Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain: Retail $50. Initially this seemed fruity. Even really fruity. Maybe even overly fruity. When compared to the 2010, it was no contest, the younger wine crushed this one. As the night wore on, though, this developed some secondary aromas of earth and soil and the fruit calmed down considerably. After that first glass, this ventured all the way to fantastic. This was one of the most dramatic transformations of a wine I have ever experienced. If you have a bottle of this, do yourself a favor and decant it for a good hour beforehand. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2013 Press Gang Cellars Savanna Rhea Grenache Rosé: Retail $20. Dedicated rosé There are few things I love more in my life than a dedicated rosé–a wine made from grapes that were grown to be a rosé (as opposed to a saignée). This wine is a rock star–a bit of a muted nose, but bright fruit, perfect acidity. Outstanding and at $20? Wow. 92-94 Points.
2010 Ridge Monte Bello: Retail $160. 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc. The Cab comes from 65 year-old vines, grown at 2500+ feet of elevation in the Santa Cruz mountains. Unlike many of the other wines in the Ridge line, this is not a field blend as all the varieties are fermented separately, aged in American oak (see above), and then blended. First, let me say that this is young. Not young as in “could use a decant” but young as in “opening this now could set off a political/religious argument that could determine an election.” The tannins were stringent and the wine was as tight as a drum, but that finish. Wholly cow. Mind blowing. With a moderate 13.2% alcohol, this is not a big Cali Cab, but it is a “big” wine in a different sense–as in the kind of impression it makes. If you have a child born in 2010, buy a case of this, and forget about it. When he turns 21, pray that he prefers beer. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.
2012 Trombetta Family Wines Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard Sonoma Coast: Retail $65. Similar flavor profile to the Trombetta Sonoma Coast, but noticeably deeper, with richer fruit and seamless integration. The finish here moves slightly beyond memorable, with lasting notes of vanilla and spice. I have had a lot of experience with Sonoma Coast Pinot and this ranks right up there with some of the best. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
So there you have it, my final (I am pretty sure) Top Ten list of 2014. All of the wines listed here are theoretically still available, and most of them are mostly affordable. Mostly.
Happy New Year!