December 17, 2010

My Favorite Wines of 2010--Once Again, My List Goes to Eleven

As I asked last year, why is it that every December we get bombarded with lists of the year's bests: best movies, best sports plays, best wines, etc..? Perhaps it has something to do with our human desire to quanitfy and control things in nice, neat little lists.

Never one to shy away from bandwagonning, I've decided to contribute to the madness with a list of my top wines for 2010. It is, kidding aside, a good way to look back on wines drank, remember good times and stories shared, and memories made.

This list respresents wines that I found particularly moving throughout the year. Some are blockbuster wines that I was fortunate to taste, some are wines that I owned that showed well on a given night, perhaps due to the situation in which they were consumed. Many I've already discussed here.

You will find that most end of the year best-of lists go to well-rounded numbers like 10, or 25.
Well, in honor of one of the greatest movies of all time, my list, once again, Goes to Eleven. Sorry, Spinal Tap references never get old.

1993 Edmunds St John Syrah Durell-As reported in my post here, this wine was incredible and really stood out in a night of amazing wines. I can't think of how an aged California Sryah could show better than this wine did. Full of meaty, bacony-dark fruit goodness. Forget about wines of the year, this is just an incredible wine.
2001 Edmunds St John Los Robles Viejos-I like ESJ wines so much, they made my list twice this year. This little Rhone blend is a gem. A wine that costs all of $20 and continues to kick ass nearly 10 years from vintage. Steve Edmunds is the unsung genius of California wines. Provided, of course, you like old school wines that aren't all gooped up and spoofilated.

1994 Chateau Rays Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve-If not for the next wine in my list, I'd say this is the finest Chateauneuf du Pape I've ever had. I brought this wine to Rowdy's legendary Cassoulet dinner last spring. An intoxicating perfume...clean, spiced-red fruit palate that just dances through the mouth and leaves a lingering finish. Beautiful weight. So delicate, yet so penetrating. Profound wine.
1995 Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve de Celestins-As I said above, perhaps the finest Chateauneuf du Pape-based wine I've ever tasted.  Henri Bonneau's wines are things of legend. There isn't much of it, and it's very hard to find. Bonneau makes some of the longest lived Chateauneuf du Pape using traditional methods with out modern intervention. (<--See Bonneau's cellar in the pic to the left). The 1995 is a youngster still, but so damn good. Dark, dank, brooding nose. Palate is loaded with blood, smoked meat, tobacco, dark fruit, earth. So incredibly loaded with funky-earthy minerality and deep dark fruit, that it feels like a meal in a glass. Yet, it's so well-integrated and pure. A profound wine and a real treat.

1996 Domaine Lambrays Clos des Lambrays- My favorite Red Burgundy of recent memory. A beautiful, yet still youngish Grand Cru from Lambrays. I couldn't keep my face from returning to the haunting dark and perfumed nose. there's also an expressive, slightly sappy fruit. Incredibly feminine and powerful at the same time. A joy to drink.

1990 Krug Champagne Brut-No words for this. It's just brilliant. Thanks Rowdy.

1989 Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain- Textbook aged California Cabernet. Takes 30 minutes to come out of its slumber...and then it's pretty, tobacco, cedar nose. Palate features leathery candied red fruit, more tobacco, and a sweet dark plumminess that fills the mouth.

 1982 Hanzell Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma--Again, another brilliant older California Cabernet in a Bordeaux style. Drank this with my brother during my birthday weekend and it was a great bottle. Hardly shows its 28 years.

2000 Arcadian Pinot Noir Pisoni-I like me some Arcadian, I've made that point here plenty. Joe Davis' Pisonis can turn into real beauties with time. In the past year, I had both the 1997 and 2000, and both were stunners.

2000 D'Auvenay (Bize-Leroy) Puligny-Montrachet en la Richarde-A lowly village wine is not supposed to be profound. Unless its made by one of the genius domains in Burgundy, Domaine Leroy, owned by Madame Bize-Leroy. This 2000 D'auvanay la Richarde was really lovely. A Beautiful nose that was floral and captivating. So precise on the palate...Pure and refined. A minerality, the essence of wet stones and flowers. Like your grandmothers garden in spring. A revelation, but an expense revelation at that. 
2003 Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Jesbal Selection de Grains Noble-The only dessert wine on my list as I don't drink a lot of dessert wines. I would, however, if I could afford to drink nectar like this often. A revelation of what Pinot Gris can do when ripeness is pushed to the extreme and handled by the masters at Zind-Humbrecht. A beautiful and powerful wine that was so incredibly rich, yet also crisp, dry and long. It was incredible and paired well with the decadent desert pictured below and prepared by ThirstySouth:
It was a good year of drinking, for sure. Made even better by the fact that I shared many of these bottles with great blokes like Eat It Atlanta, Rowdyfood, and Thirsty South. Oh, yeah, The Legend, too, but he has no link. He's just The Legend. 
Cheers and See you in 2011.


  1. Just think what this list could have been if you had come to the two dinners with the 61 Mouton, and the 90 and 91 Chapoutier Ermitage Pavillon, and the 90 Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne.

    I'm glad to have been apart of some of these wines this year....hopefully many more in 2011!

  2. Thank you for the reminder, Mr Legend.
    I may not live missing those down.
    See ya soon.

  3. Great list!

    I have to agree with Legend though, the 90 Guigal Cote-Rotie Landonne & 61 Mouton were imperfect only due to your absence from the table.
    : )

    I'd probably throw in the 2004 mag of Fontaine-Gagnard Criots-Batard-Montrachet for my list. It started me down the path of seeking more magnums.


  4. Wow, some great stuff, and thankfully a few of them I was able to enjoy with you and friends. The 03 Zind Humbrecht, 96 Lambrays, and 90 Krug may have been my top three of 2010. The 02 Weinbach Muscat Reserve from that meal you pictured is not far behind, and a crazy 1993 Château Pajzos Tokaji Esszencia from Mr. Rowdy as well. From California, my favorite two were the 05 Salinia Chard and the 07 Salinia Syrah. Cheers indeed to more great wine in 2011!