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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It’s often been cited that all 50 U.S. states make wine in some capacity (though not all make their wine from grapes). But outside of CA, WA, OR, and NY, only a handful of the remaining 46 states have any real public eye affixed on them in terms of seeking out quality wine. VA, PA, and TX are among the ‘second tier’, but few are running out to scoop up FL wines just yet.
Same with AZ. However, a couple of prominent AZ folk have been out to change the world’s view of the Arizona wine scene.
On February 19th, another wine film hits the big screen: Blood Into Wine, directed by Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke, chronicles the efforts of Tool front man (and Caduceus Cellars owner) Maynard James Keenan and Page Springs Cellars owner Eric Glomski to bring recognition to the budding AZ wine industry.
According to www.azstronghold.com, the joint venture of Keenan and Glomski, their mission is “to put Arizona on the fine wine map.” It looks like they’re bringing out the full PR machine to help them, and the movie will feature guests such as hotter-than-the-AZ-desert-itself Milla Jovovich. Wine Specatator’s James Suckling also makes an appearance (but I don’t think he’s hot).
Will Blood Into Wine do for the AZ wine scene what Sideways did for CA Pinot Noir? I suppose we’ll find out in February, but I wouldn’t go out and liquidate the 401k and bet it all on AZ wine industry stock just yet. Keenan has star power and street cred, and Jovovich has powers of extreme hotness, but it’s unlikely that Blood Into Wine will see distribution that is closer to the levels of Merlove and Mondovino than Sideways or Bottle Shock. But it just may leapfrog the publicity factor of AZ a few years when it comes to fine wine recognition, or at least brand recognition for Keenan and Glomski’s wineries.
Got an opinion on AZ wine, wine movies, Tool, Suckling, or the hotness of Milla Jovovich? Shout it out in the comments!
Yeah, yeah, I know… but I so infrequently plug sponsors on 1WineDude.com that you ought to cut me a little bit of slack, especially considering that this new sponsor could be a source of some pretty decent holiday gifts for the more-nice-than-naughty wine lovers on your list.
Metal Imagination has joined the list of blog sponsors here, and while I’ve yet to try their products, a brief glance at what they have to offer on their website reveals some pretty interesting gifts for those who dig wine and dig the metal look. I mean, they’ve bent metal into a Labrador retriever wine bottle holder, for pete’s sake – that’s just friggin’ cool.
Anyway, here’s a bit of history on MI:
An exclusive authorized dealer of H&K Sculptures, Metal Imagination offers wine bottle holders, business card holders, and metal sculptures recognized around the world. A light, tasteful European style whimsically depicting American style, the handcrafted artwork is the vision of German sculptor Guenter Scholz. Since 1997 the environmentally friendly sculptures possess a uniqueness and capacity for personalization second to none.
Introduced to the United States in 2000, the unique gifts from Metal Imagination have served a practical and artistic purpose to thousands of customers. Perfect for any holiday, corporate event, and any other occasion imaginable, personalized wine bottle holders and metal sculptures offer recipients a gift beyond the scope of the obvious. Depicting facets of American life including transportation, professions, and animals, hundreds of models are available with new models being conceptualized and created year around.
OK, shameless plug thus endeth.
Coming in two days – the 1WineDude.com Top 10 Most Interesting Wines of 2009!
(images: Metal Imagination)
What do you do when you and your spouse / significant other /favorite pet / whatever find yourselves double-booked for holiday party engagements?
If you’re me, you declare defeat, play holiday party hooky and instead grab three bottles from the samples stash and go out for a “date night” dinner alone to reconnect. That’s what we decided to do last Friday evening (with apologies to anyone involved in the two holiday parties that we ditched – it’s nothing personal), and the time away from the holiday hustle & bustle allowed me to make a few reflective observations about the more recent ‘state of things.’
For instance: reconnecting with your spouse isn’t simply a matter of having great food and really good wines – though those two thing help immensely in the process.
But you’re not here for the Dude familial matters, you’re here for the wine, right? Well, I made some reflections on that stuff, too:
- Napa has gone almost ‘all-in’ when it comes to wine blogs, and is sending more and more stellar, low-production wines our way – another big change from 12 months ago. I say “almost” because the cultiest of the cults are probably not going to divert any stock away from the allocation to the world’s yacht-owners to spare a bottle or two for me.
- South-African wine has really, really impressed me lately, and this is the first year that I can remember not having any wines from South Africa that I didn’t like. Which, upon reflection after 12 months of tasting is really a bit remarkable.
- From what I can discern, Wine & Spirits and Wine Spectator might have given 92 points to a flawed wine.
Let’s address each of these tidbits apiece, shall we?…
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