- 08 Apothic Red (CA): Comes on sweet, finishes rough, but the middle is pure cranberry & chocolate, velvety Zin-ish fun. $14 B- #
- 09 Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Reserva White (Douro): Lively, but you need to be into oak & vanilla cream to put this one on your list. $30 B- #
- Ramos Pinto Quinta do Bom Retiro 20 Year Old Tawny (Porto): As complex as you’d imagine when up to 50 diff. vintages are included. $55 A- #
- 07 Ramos Pinto Vintage Port (Porto): Extremely powerful, but seductively complex w/ mint leaf, spices, ripe & dried black fruits… $75 A- #
- 08 Ramos Pinto “Collection” (Douro): When it’s throwing eucalyptus, pepper & dark red fruit at you, U know U R not in Kansas anymore. $23 B+ #
- 07 Quinta de Ventozelo Vintage Port (Porto): Great mouthfeel doesn’t make up for subdued aromas. Weakest 07 VP I’ve come across so far €30 B #
- 09 Quinta de Ventozelo Branco (Douro): Quaffable, citrusy white? Yes. Anything to write home about? Not really. €4 C+ #
- 03 Quinta do Vallado Reserva Red (Douro): Old vines & true field blend that delivers kick-ass, focused, & gripping black fruit power. €25 B+ #
- 09 Quinta do Vallado Reserva White (Douro): Elegant, balanced & lovely combo. of cream, lemon spritz, & herbs. High yumminess factor. €16 B+ #
- 01 Quinta da Cavadinha Vintage Port (Porto): Like a dark, spiced, dried-fruit dessert, only about one billion times more complex. $35 A- #
- 01 Warre’s LBV Port (Porto): Finishes tough but comes on fresh, dark & beautiful when it wants to. She already owns you, buddy! $25 B+ #
- Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port (Porto): Been shakin’ up the entry Port world & with good reason; it’s a total bargain. $20 B #
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 »
I hope you’ll forgive the low production quality and complete lack of credits/intro/music in this vid – I’ve had a pretty difficult time trying to post this from Portugal (due in part to a busy schedule with few breaks, fewer Internet access points, and a rather massive laptop PC crash… the HORROR!).
Anyway, I felt it important in the Going Pro saga to report in from Portugal while I was still actually in Portugal – and especially since I was here in a “pro” context. In the short vid, I talk about a few of the inspirational things that struck me during the conference (most of which consisted of me getting to hang with some seriously talented MW peeps). As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments, so long as they’re not about my hair or the fact that I had to whisper since I was recording this vid early in the morning!).
Technically, this is actually Episode Three of my podcasts, but they’re running out of order. Because I feel like it.
Anyway, my strong suspicion is that today’s interview with James Suckling (formerly, of course, from Wine Spectator) is going to generate a lot of discussion. Like Robert Parker, Suckling is a bit of a polarizing figure in the wine world, mostly because for decades he represented concepts that wine geeks have come to either love or loathe: the assignment of numerical scores to assess a wine’s quality, handed down by either experts with exceptional palates honed by years of tastings, or by ivory-tower-dwelling egomaniacs, depending on your point of view of wine scores.
James braved intermittent cellphone coverage, technical Skype difficulties, and (most dangerously) L.A. traffic to be the next victim interview guest on “1WineDude Radio.”
In our interview, James talks about his new website (which launched last Monday, but will be referenced as still being in the future as we recorded the interview on December 3rd), his view on wine scores (and why he thinks they’re still important), why he left Wine Spectator, how he expects to make a living out on his own in the wine world; he also has some surprising things to say about wine blogs.
No doubt there will be many of you who will think I either wasn’t respectful enough or wasn’t hard-edged enough in this interview (likely depending on your points of view of wine scores). I think what you will find, if you keep an open mind, is that James shows a side of himself in this interview that isn’t evident in his Wine Spectator writings or his film appearances. As always, my interview approach is centrist; it’s meant to have the person voice their views themselves, in the most human and direct way possible; we can of course explore, debate, and discuss our reactions in the comments – which (as always), I encourage you to do!
1WineDude Radio: The James Suckling Interview