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The 1WineDude.com Top 10 Most Interesting Wines Of 2011

Vinted on December 20, 2011 binned in best of, Most Interesting Wines of the Year, wine review

It’s with great pleasure (and after a sh*tload of hard work, not to mention wine tastings) that I reveal the 2011 version of 1WineDude.com’s Most Interesting Wines Of The Year!

The “competition” (such as it is, though it really isn’t such) was once again fierce, due to the volume of wines I tried in 2011 (up again from 2010 – considerably) and in the high level of quality of many of the wines to which I had the good fortune of being exposed through hundreds of samples, dozens of visits, blah-blah-blah.

The average price tag of the wines in this year’s list is once again on the high side (around $69), but there’s a price to be paid in creating a product that stirs the emotions, I suppose – the good news is that while several *very* expensive bottles are on the list, some of the best can be had for a relatively-reasonable $35-$40 per bottle.

For those of you who are new all of this and at this point are wondering what the hell I’m raving on about:

  • I compile this list annually. It is NOT intended to be a “best of” or “highest rating” or “circle jerk” list (no mater what the PR folks do with it!).
  • It is intended to be a list of arbitrarily-chosen wines that stood out, to me, as being particularly interesting for any number of reasons, not least of which are quality and complexity, and to call attention to those wines that I found most compelling this year – wines that make me want tot tackle the mountain of samples in my basement in search of another that might be somewhat like it. Actually, isn’t that how most non-chemical addictions start? Ah, whatever…
  • These are not wines released in 2011 (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 2011.  Not all the wines I tasted in 2011 qualified – the wines have to be at least somewhat available so that you have a shot at trying them.
  • Also, the list of finalists included some wines tasted in late December 2010 (since this list is compiled in its final form in mid-December).

This year, I’m happy to also announce that the list comes complete with a new badge,  created by Mofunsun Enterprises, LLC (a.k.a. design rock-star Jeffrey Sun) who also designed the badges I use each week in my wine reviews (see above). Producers included in the list below are free to use the MIW badge in any way that they see fit, so long as it is not modified (those interested can contact me for details).

This is, by far, the most difficult content for me to compile each year. No pressure, but if you don’t enjoy it then bah-humbug, you can go sit on an inappropriate wine-stopper. As in previous years, you will find some surprises in this list.I invite you to react, comment, and have fun, so long as you agree to take it for what it really is: a celebration of wine’s pleasure and subjectivity.

Enjoy!…

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The 1WineDude.com Top Ten Most Interesting Wines of 2010

Vinted on December 16, 2010 binned in best of, Most Interesting Wines of the Year, wine review

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.

Enjoy!…

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Wine Review Four-Pack (And Thoughts on 2010’s Most Interesting Wines)

Four badges to hand out from the latest in the flow of near-never-ending samples coming to my door, so let’s get to it!

[ By the way, the reference to the never-ending sample stream is, quite honestly, not meant as a vehicle of self-aggrandizement in any way, but is in fact more a lament of both how woefully (and unprofessionally) behind I am in my tastings, and in the volume of technically-correct-but-fairly-uninspiring wines of which that stream is comprised! ]

2009 Paso a Paso Tempranillo (La Mancha): Plumy, floral & spicy proof that La Mancha is getting its fine wine shiz together. A bargain. $11 B

It’s such a pleasure to enjoy a bold, uncomplicated and fun wine like this, one that seems tailor-made for a plateful of hearty paella or chorizo.  Spain’s La Mancha region is mostly known for two famously insipid characters: 1) Don Quixote, and 2) the innocuous wines made from the Airén grape variety (though to be fair, not all of them suck). La Mancha’s reputation for cheap Airén can mean big bargains for the better wines made in the region, and Paso a Paso is a great example.

2004 Azul Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec (Mendoza): A tad heavy-handed but U might like that from someone this complex, dark & sexy. $32 B+

During an on-line / twitter tasting hosted by Vines of Mendoza, the word “sexy” appeared in description of this wine about ten million times (give or take a few million). At least, it seemed that way to me. Heed these words: when enough women say that a wine is sexy, then the only logical conclusion is that it is, in fact, sexy.

2009 Toquade Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley): NZ passion fruit comes to Napa, with a French twist of lemon & herbs. In a word: Fantastic. $20 B+

Last year, Opus One winemaker Mike Silacci dared me to try Toquade after I went on a tirade about how too much Napa Sauv Blanc tastes like Chardonnay on a diet.  I’m grateful to Mike for that introduction, and I’m happy to report that Toquade winemaker Christine Barbe is still on top of her game – in fact, the 2009 might be better than her `08 and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with the insane 2010 vintage.

2006 Hesperian Harry’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Go west young man, & find tannin chains long as the Alaskan pipeline. $60 A-

Christine sent along some of Hesperian’s wines to me, and I suppose I’m now also grateful to her for this introduction. It’s not that smoothness is the only thing going for Hesperian’s Coombsville Cab – far from it; it’s packed with currants and aromatic, woody spiciness. It’s just that the smoothness is the thing that will stick with you the most, the silkiness of it – it’s simply drinking beautifully right now.

Speaking of CA wines, if you feel that CA is getting a lot of positive coverage here, it’s probably not your imagination…

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The 1WineDude.com Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of 2009

Vinted on December 17, 2009 binned in best of, commentary, Most Interesting Wines of the Year, wine review

Here we go again. It is… that time.

That time when I present the 1WineDude.com Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of the Year.  Although I tried last year to set proper expectations around this year end recap of tasty vino, that didn’t stop my Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of 2008 list from being used as a bit of media-fodder “best of” list – which it wasn’t.

For those of you new to this annual list, here’s how it works: it’s NOT a list of the best wines released in 2009. It is a list of wines that I tasted in 2009 (that’s the only qualification for inclusion, by the way), and that I personally found to be the most interesting of those wines. The list is presented with my twitter mini-review, and reflections on why each wine was included.

I just want to caution everyone not to take this list too seriously.  Because, well, it’s not meant to be taken too seriously.  Which doesn’t mean that a lot of serious thought didn’t go into the compilation of this list.  It did.  As I mentioned in preface to the 2008 list:

“…there was nothing easy about compiling the list that I’m about to give to you, and I’m sure the inclusions and omissions will piss some people off somewhere. That isn’t my intention, and this is not a best-of list by any stretch of the imagination.”

That was even more true for this year’s list.  For one, the ‘competition’ (if it can be called that) was stiffer – I tasted more wines, and more wines of higher quality, than I ever have before.  I had access – through the kind generosity of many, many people in the wine industry – to more wines than I had in 2008, much of them of high quality.  Trying to nail this down to 10 wines was, at times, downright agonizing.  Many wines, made by people who in some cases I now count among my friends, that just didn’t make it but were ohhhh sooooo clooooose.

The list is not based on any numerical rating. The wines were chosen based on my tasting notes from all of the wines that I tasted this year. Since I am not employed as a wine critic, I do not taste thousands of wines per year. I do, however, taste well over an amount of wine than (I think) is normally accessible to the average wine lover.

The differences between the 2008 and 2009 lists are exciting for me:

As much as I consider myself a ‘red’ wine drinker at heart, the majority of the wines that made the cut are whites, with at least one of them being a grape that you probably haven’t had before (let alone heard of… or can likely pronounce).  The top 3 on the list are very, very exciting wines and I’m particularly stoked to hear (read) what you all think of those.

Sadly, I’m not sure that any of my picks are budget-priced wines – there’s something we can discuss in the comments! As with the 2008 list, and despite the high(ish) price tags, my aim is to expose you to something unique, different, and of (what I feel is) exceptional quality for the price – you can comment and let me know if I succeeded.

Enough of my yakin’ – let’s boogie! I give you –

The 1WineDude.com Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of 2009…

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