August 2012 1
Top 10 Wines and Best Wine
We keep hearing about people being unsure of which wines are the best, so we wanted to share some research we’ve done. We did some reconnaissance of both the Old World and the New, seeking wines that have caught the attention of reviewers and tasters. There are so many that it’s hard to narrow them down. In the end, we just made an executive decision and picked! Here is an unranked list of ten of the best wines in the world for your own browsing enjoyment.
1. Alain Graillot’s Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude 2009
La Guiraude is made from all-Syrah grapes grown on the Crozes plateau and harvested by hand in the Northern Rhône region of France. Organically-produced and aged in one to three year old oak barrels, this red wine consistently earns scores in the 90s. It is strongly structured but inviting even when young, offering aromas of cherries and blackberries as well as tastes of red berries mixed with licorice, tannin, and minerality. The finish is spicy and long. It’s not easy to find since the 650-case vintage is sold out, but we saw it listed for $416 per bottle from a store in Germany. 13% ABV.
2. Domaine de la Tourmaline 2010 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
Next we have the white Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie from Domaine de la Tourmaline in the Loire valley in France. Muscadets are not made from Muscat grapes, but from the Melon de Bourgogne varietal instead. This is a light wine aged on lees for half a year (“sur lie”), giving it a creamy feel. On the nose you can find apple and citrus mixed with a suggestion of pepper, while the taste is dry and crisp, finely acidic over a minerality owing to the chalky soils. It has been listed at around $15. 12% ABV.
3. Ribera del Duero Resalte Crianza 2005 From Bodegas Resalte De Peñafiel
Not all great wines come from France. Bodegas Resalte De Peñafiel in Spain produces the next one, a red wine from the Ribera del Duero region from 100% Tempranillo grapes. The wine’s brand name is Resalte, and the type is Crianza, which means it is aged about one year in oak barrels. Earning 94 points from Wine Spectator magazine, Resalte Crianza is complex on the nose with notes of cherries and blackberries and a hint of coffee and vanilla. On the palate it carries the vanilla forward along with cloves, more fruits, and herbs and spices, as well as a balanced acidity, definite oakiness, and strong tannin which are already improving with age. Typical price is around $30. ABV 15%.
4. Dehlinger Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2008
Now for a California wine. A rosé, Dehlinger’s 2008 Pinot Noir won fifth place in the Top 100 Wines of 2011, with high points from Wine Spectator and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Somewhere between deep plum and ruby red, on the nose are definite notes of plum, blackberries, black cherries, mixed with the sense of a forest with spice and flowers in the air. The palate continues the plum and berries, adding some bitter cherry into a medium structure of fine acidity and smooth tannin that is not too oaky. The finish is sweeter but still strong and floral. It sells for about $50 and contains 14.9% alcohol by volume.
5. Tarantas Sparkling Rosé
Hailing from Valencia, Spain, this sparkling rosé is produced from all organically-grown Bobal grapes certified by both the EU and the USDA with a historical pedigree dating back to 1335 in the form of a written grant by King Pedro I of Castilla. No oak is used in aging. This wine contains some of the highest levels measured of the natural antioxidant Resveratrol, partly due to its monovarietal (single grape) source. It announces itself with an aroma of dried strawberries which continue into the palate along with a taste of red currants. The finish is gentle but dry and can stand up to strong flavors like grilled chicken or fish. The price is $10. ABV 12.5%.
6. Quinta do Vallado Touriga Nacional Douro 2008
The Douro Valley in Portugal is famous as the home of port, but it is lately becoming known for its red wines as well. This one is a dark purple-ruby color and is aged for 16 months in both new and old French oak. Like the Tarantas, it is made from a single variety, in this case the Touriga Nacional. Nicely concentrated, the nose suggests black and sour cherries and other dark fruits, a touch of charcoal, with violets and spices. In the mouth the concentration continues as the firm tannic structure supports the strong notes of plums and berries, cherries, more dark fruits, vanilla, and wood, with a ferrous, mineral edge. In the long finish, the dark fruit persists, still backed up by the tannins, along with spicy mocha. The vintage is sold out, so you will need luck to find this one. Prices start around $60-$70. ABV 12.5%.
7. Sauska 2010 Villányi Rosé
For a change of pace, the next entry comes from Hungary. An excellent dry rosé, Sauska is produced all through the Villány region just north of the Croatian border. It is made from a remarkable blend of varietals: 35% Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch), 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 8% Syrah, and 7% Pinot Noir. The grapes grow in a mix of limestone, clay, loam, and loess. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and then aged for 1-4 months. Sporting a cranberry aroma, Sauska is dry and fresh in the mouth, with a balance of strawberries, wildflowers, sour cherries, and more cranberries. With medium body and pleasing acidity, it manages spicy foods well. It runs about $20 and has 12.5% ABV.
8. Kosta Browne Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2009
Grown and produced in Sonoma County, California with about a year in new oak, this bright red Pinot Noir comes to us from winemakers with no formal training. Dan Kosta and Michael Browne saved their money and found their way by trial and error to their current high level of excellence. Since 2002, 66 of their wines have won over 90 points. Remarkably, they own no vines and they rent their facilities. Their grapes come from three vineyards: Gap’s Crown, Terra de Promissio, and Walala Vineyard. The 2009 has a nose of raspberries, pepper, candied licorice, violets, herbs, and oak. The palate is full-bodied with black cherries, wild berries, and raspberries. The concentrated flavor and solid structure provides a lasting, mild tannic finish that covers the palate and leaves a hint of licorice. This one is available for $190 or so. 14.5% ABV.
9. Shiraz Barossa Valley Bella’s Garden 2008
Time to give the other side of the world a peek. Australian company Two Hands, co-owned by Michael Twelftree, made this Shiraz which has garnered high scores and praise. Dark red, almost black, it has a complex nose with dark red fruits and berries, as well as plums, cinnamon, and violets with a touch of chocolate. The tight palate continues strong and rich with red fruits and plums spiced with chocolate. The 2008 gifts you with a long finish of smooth balanced tannins and refreshing acidity. It can be yours for around $65. 16% ABV.
10. Domaine Huët Vouvray Moelleux Clos du Bourg Première Trie 2009
Returning to France, last and far from least is a wine that almost seems beyond awards and ratings. Huët’s Moelleux, a white dessert wine made from Chenin Blanc grapes grown in the Clos du Bourg vineyard outside the town of Vouvray near Tours in the Loire Valley in France, is ranked as Première Trie. Its color is medium yellow and its nose offers notes of figs, peach, spice, honey, and pear as well as chalk. The honey carries forward into the palate to mix with tastes of caramel, ripe fruit, ginger, and tea. The strong acidity compensates perfectly for the moderate sweetness and makes possible a very long finish of over a minute and a half. The same acidity will enable this wine to age and improve for as much as 30 more years. Going for about $70, it contains 12% alcohol by volume.
There you have it. Feel free to reel off information from this list to impress your friends and dismay your enemies. Better yet, buy one or two of the wines and share it with them so they’ll become friends too! In the face of this kind of quality, all other considerations go out the window. In any case, enjoy!