My Top Whoas of the Year: The Reds (Part Two)

Even though many people have tried, I firmly believe that quantifying wine quality is not scientific at all. Yes, I do attach a numerical range to the wines that I taste (and have received a fair amount of criticism for that), but I do that to serve merely as a reference point. And let me be clear: it is my reference point and should not be mistaken for what I think other people should think about the wine.

There are times, though, when tasting a wine that I am compelled to utter the word “Whoa.” I can not describe the exact characteristics of a “Whoa Wine” but I know it as soon as I taste it. All the elements that I think are necessary to be considered an outstanding wine are there: fruit, structure, depth, balance. All of which come together beautifully. Whoa.

2012 Colomé Altura Maxima: Retail $120. 100% Malbec. Dark, but not brooding. Rose and violet dominate the nose: a really amazing sensation. On the palate “silky” is not apt. “Smooth” is an insult. I love words but I have few here, this is an amazing wine. Whoa. Outstanding Plus. 95-97 Points. 

Kristy offered us the rest of the bottle to take back to the campsite. We said yes.

2009 Foursight Wines Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir: Retail $50. 30% whole cluster. At the end of the tasting, Kristy asked if I would like to try one of their library wines. I tried not to answer too quickly seeing that we had just met and I did not want to frighten her. It was a different vintage, of course, but if this is any indication of the (at least shortish term age-ability) of Foursight Wines, well, in a word, whoa. Still great fruit, but more complex flavors and depth. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

img_62702012 MacPhail Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir: Retail $49. The vineyard is one of the more iconic names in the Valley, located just below Gap’s Crown. Only 7 barrels produced. 50% New French oak. Luscious fruit but also earthy. Whoa. Outstanding 94-96 Points.


2012 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Retail $63. 44% Grenache Noir, 37% Syrah, 14% Mourvedre, 5% Cinsault.  I have had many red CdP, but by no means have I had many of the legendary producers. La Nerthe has been around a while, but I doubt it is the first producer that comes to mind when one talks about the appellation. img_5576Well, it should be. I could just sniff this wine for the better part of what remains of my meager life: notes of black raspberry, vanilla, and an earthy note that is hard to classify, but I am pretty sure that I want to roll around in it naked. The palate is a shade behind the nose, but only a shade. I hesitate to make grandiose statements, but this is gangbusters, albeit just a baby. I will give it a Whoa. Nay. Two Whoas. In a decade or so? I might run out of Whoas. Outstanding+ 93-95 Points.

2014Merlot2013 Passaggio Coplan Vineyard Merlot Sonoma County: Retail $52. I have a degree of familiarity with Cindy Cosco and her Passaggio wines, but this was my first time trying her Merlot. Initially, this came off as reserved or even austere. Coming back a while later, this wine is nothing short of fantastic. Make no mistake, the prominent acidity is screaming for food, but even alone, it is a treat. Subtle fruit and a hint of tobacco, after a couple of hours open, this was absolutely singing. With a bit of patience or a good decant, this will show you what Merlot can, no, should be. Whoa. Outstanding, 93-95 Points.

img_74542013 Purple Angel by Montes Colchuagua Valley Chile: Retail $67. 92% Carménère, 8% Petit Verdot. Big heavy bottle (not a fan). Recommend an hour decant. Shy on the nose (didn’t decant) this is big without being overbearing—even without the decant this is gorgeous (am a fan). Outstanding. 94-96 Points.

DSC_00392012 Ramey Wine Cellars Annum Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Retail $100. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Cabernet Franc. From the best blocks that Ramey sources in Napa. Great nose of blackberry, mocha, and even toffee, that I could smell for a while. Great balance and weight, a full-bodied wine that stops well short of being over-powering. “Elegant” is an over used word in wine, but it is apt here. I would be in no hurry to drink this wine as it will improve over the next 10-20 years. Easily. Whoa. Outstanding. 94-96 Points. 

img_74242004 Red Lily Tempranillo Rogue Valley: Retail $35 (for newer vintages). 500 cases. 3500 cases total production for the winery. Rachael, the owner and winemaker studied criminal law and wanted to be a basil farmer but her dad talked her into growing grapes instead. Aged 50% in oak (mostly French, a touch of American). Red fruit with a dusty smokiness that is impressive. Fresh and young on the palate with depth and spice and plenty of tannic backbone left. Whoa. Holy Cow. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.  

img_62582012 Rodney Strong Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon:
 Retail $75. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
#59 in Wine Spectator Top 100. While the Alexander’s Crown exhibited mostly dark fruit flavors, this leans a bit more to the red fruit (cherry and red raspberry). Choosing between the two is like picking a favorite between my two boys–they are both incredible. Outstanding Plus (OK, I like this one slightly better). Whoa. 94-96 Points.

2015 Domaine de la Vigne Romaine Moulin-à-Vent: Retail $30. 100% Gamay. Really small production from vines that are just a few kilometers from Dubœuf home. Another whoa. And a holy cow. Big, rich, and full. Wine of the tasting. Outstanding. 93-95 Points. 

Georges and I spent a bit of time talking cycling after the tasting (I hope I could stay with him on the climbs).

Georges and I spent a bit of time talking cycling after the tasting (I hope I could stay with him on the climbs).





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 Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Grenache, Malbec, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo. Bookmark the permalink.

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