Posts Filed Under best of
Here we go again! It’s time for the 1WineDude.com Top Ten Most Interesting Wines of the Year.
As in previous years, the “competition” (such as it is) was fierce, in terms of both the volume of wine I tasted (now over a thousand, I think, based on some very crude estimation on my part) and the overall quality of those wines (many of you will undoubtedly have noticed the plethora of ‘B’ range ratings this year, which I think is no accident considering how many very good wines are being made). Interestingly, the average price tag of the wines in this year’s list is pretty high (above $50), which I believe is a function of the very high quality level across the ‘playing field’ of wine globally, and therefore the essential Je ne sais pas needed for a wine to stand out and emblazon itself in a person’s memory banks (mine included).
And for all of my previous winging on the amount of California releases that made the list of 200+ “finalists” from which I chose the top ten wines, only two CA wines made the final cut.
For those of you who are new to this list and are wondering what the hell I’m on about:
- I put this list together every year. It is NOT intended to be a “best of” of “highest rating” list (though that’s pretty much how the PR folks treat it).
- It is intended to be a list of arbitrarily-chosen wines that stood out, to me, as being particularly interesting for a variety of reasons, not least of which are quality and complexity; the list is ultimately meant not to reward my most highly-rated wines (though many of them did get high marks from me), but to call attention to those wines that I found most compelling in 2010 – wines that gave me goosebumps, or that reminded me why I still love all things vino.
- These are not wines released in 2010 (though I try to favor recent releases so that you have a chance of actually trying the wines in this list), they are wines that I tasted in 2010. Not all the wines I tasted in 2010 qualified – the wines have to be at least somewhat available, which means that some downright legendary items that I had the good fortune of trying this year (but are only available for small fortunes) did not make the cut (wines from the exclusive Premiere Napa Valley tasting, for example, since most of us can’t actually buy those – however, in the case of the wines from Premiere that may change next year as the Napa Valley Vintners are making it easier for consumers to get access to those, though the prices will likely be pretty high).
- Also, the list of finalists included some wines tasted in late December 2009 (since this list is compiled in its final form in mid-December each year).
Analyzing the results is always fun for me, and what really jumps out at me this year is that only two of the wines in the Top Ten are in similar geographical areas (Napa) – the rest span the charted globe, including three distinct areas of France, Portugal, Greece, Northern Italy, the U.S. East Coast (once again representin‘, baby!), and a fairly large spot “down undah.”
As always, there are some surprises in this list and I am quite sure that some of you will think me insane for including / excluding certain releases – that’s part of the fun of this list, and I invite you to react, comment, and have fun with it, and treat it for what it really is: a celebration of wine’s subjectivity.
Read the rest of this stuff »
Master of Wine and Certified Wine Educator Tim Hanni has been lighting up the on-line wine world this week.
More specifically, what’s been lighting up the wine world is the release of a report of highlights from a study of wine consumer taste preferences that Tim has co-authored with Virginia Utermohlen, MD.
Titled “Beverage preferences attitudes and behavior of sweet vs. tolerant wine consumers,” the sixteen page report is getting a hell of a lot more than sixteen pages worth of discussion, as it draws conclusions from a series of studies that focus on the market of wine consumers and how they taste – conclusions that challenge the conventional notions of how (or even if) wine can be judged objectively and empirically, and just how wrong the wine industry might be getting it in how wine appreciation is taught.
In summary, Tim’s report might just be the hot topic of the wine world right now, with several wine personalities from Jeff Lefevere to Steve Heimoff to Jancis Robinson chiming in with their (mostly fascinating) interpretations of Tim’s results.
As you might expect from someone who has been in the wine and food biz for over thirty years, and who was one of the first Americans to become an MW, Tim is not shy about is views. In fact, he’s been an active participant in the fray and debate about the results of his study since its announcement (for a great example, see GoodGrape.com’s take on the report, which is one of the best overviews on the topic published to date, and contains fascinating tête-à-tête reading in the comments from Tim and others).
Clearly, based on the reaction to the report so far, Tim’s views – and the manner in which he presents them – can be polarizing. As Tim put it in one of our email exchanges, “It is intriguing to me how the idea that people are different and that the topic of sweet wine and defense of sweet wine consumers can generate so much hostility.”
Are the debates missing the point? Maybe. According to Tim, it’s not whether or not sweet wines are better or whether or not those that prefer them are superior tasters, but that there are significant differences in how we taste wine and food that is important: “This is a quote from Jancis Robinson MW from 4 years ago,” he told me, “when I had my scientific mentors, Dr. Chuck Wysocki from Monnell Senses center, Michael O’Mahony form UC Davis, present data and conduct demonstrations at the MW symposium in Napa:
‘The main point of the session was to suggest that there are all sorts of populations of people who will perceive wine differently, thanks to our own sensitivities and preferences, and that the wine business is crazy to act as though one message, or even one sort of wine, suits all.’“
I had the opportunity to ask Tim about the study, his work with Virginia Utermohlen, and his views on how to bring the power back to the wine consumer people. Whether you love or loathe Tim’s take on wine tasting preferences, few would challenge Tim’s passionate zeal for championing the empowerment of wine consumers, and I suspect few would find the following interview responses from Tim anything less than fodder for compelling wine conversation.
Read the rest of this stuff »
Ten years ago, on a trip with friends to New York’s Finger Lakes wine country, I bought a few bottles of bubbly.
I was not a pseudo-wine-pro back then; I was an avid consumer (that term still applies!), and the majority of my vacation travel was centered around wine exploration. I had a budding interest, passionate zeal, and I knew what I liked though I would have had a lot more trouble telling you why, or explaining how, a wine I liked got to that point.
It was one of those gorgeous sunny Autumn days that was quickly turning into a chilly Autumn evening (no sun = no heat) and most of the Finger Lakes tasting rooms were closed or moments-away-from closing; we happened upon what was then a joint-producer tasting room featuring only local sparkling wines.
I knew what I liked, and I really liked the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut that evening. So, my girlfriend and I bought some.
Ten years later, at the surprise 50th birthday party of one of dear friends (who helped us greatly in getting through the tough times leading up to the recent loss of our Weimaraner, Samson, and to whom we gave a bottle of 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio so you know we love her), I had occasion to open the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut – Dr. Frank is one of the birthday girl’s favorite wine producers (alongside the most recent offering of Chateau Frank’s non-vintage Riesling sparkler, Célèbre Cremant).
And it rocked.
The fruit had started to subside a bit, but what remained was bready, lively, and wonderful; still fresh, still food-friendly, still (in the words of Simple Minds) Alive & Kicking.
An apt comparison, it turns out, for the state of NY wine in general…
Read the rest of this stuff »