We are only three days into the new year (2012 incase you forgot), but I feel I’ve been late to the party in putting together my “Best Wines of 2011″ list.
On the real…
I’ve been reading these wrap-up posts on other blogs since the beginning of December.
The reason why I’ve been slow on delivering my own list is two-fold:
1. Knowing that I would be tasting quite a bit of wine over my winter vacation, I wanted to make sure to wait until the very end of 2011 to put together my list.
2. I wanted to come up with a unique angle with which to approach my “Top Wines of 2011″ list. The reality is that there is nothing original about making these lists. Nothing. Even blogging about why these lists are not original is not original.
But, I have to make one…
I have to.
It’s my way of putting a nice little bow on my first (half) year of wine blogging.
What you are about to read is an alphabetical list of my most memorable wines from 2011. These are not necessarily the top scoring wines that I tasted in 2011 (for that, just take a look at my Rad Wine Reviews page). These are the wines that were delicious, thought-provoking, and just plain rad. Along with each wine, I’ll give you the reason why I picked them, as well as my original tasting notes.
Without further ado…
The Rad List: The Raddest of the Rad from 2011
1. Argyle 2009 Nuthouse Pinot Noir – 93
Argyle 2009 Nuthouse Pinot Noir (Dundee $61): Quite possibly the best Pinot Noir I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. The gentleman serving the wine informed us that the Nuthouse vineyard used to be a nut farm. In the wine, you can definitely taste the earthy flavors from the soil. There is a bigtime macadamia and marcona almond presence in the mid-palate of this wine. Plenty of herbaceous notes on the finish… particularly rosemary. You have to try this. 93 big ass points.
Color: DARK Ruby Red… DARK!
Nose: Inky blueberry and chalk. Dope!
Taste: If this wine were a country music band, it would be called Big and Rich, because it is big and rich. The tannins are round and rad. There’s a bunch of ripe, lingering blue and blackberry fruit on the palate. It’s F-ing D-Lish!
Score: A BIG 92 for a BIG wine.
3. BV 2009 Coastal Estates Cabernet Sauvignon – 88 – 89+ (Depending on whether or not you are using a blender…)
This is not the best wine on the list.
Some may find it to be the worst.
What other wine are you going to put in a blender?
Please note that YouTube made me chop the video in half. Watch part 4.1 first, silly!
And now, part 4.2…
Chateau Gombaude Guillot 1996 Pomerol ($60): Oh my! The nose this wine is just dope! Loads of juicy blackberry get smoothed out with tannins of delicious cigar tobacco leaf. Wow! Sometimes I wish you could taste these things with me. Wow! 93
5. Chateau Haut-Peyraguey 2005 Sauternes – 91
Chateau Haut-Peyraguey 2005 Sauternes ($56): Jon capped off our tasting with this Permier Cru chateau from the epic 2005 vintage. In comparison to the L’Alliance, the Haut-Peyraguey is much more reserved with its fruit. This is a yeast-driven Sauternes (the way I think it should be). This dessert wine has a good sweetness, but it is not obnoxious. 91
Not obnoxious indeed.
Color: This wine is a dark beet red.
Nose: There is an immediate smell of lush dark plums. There are hints of smoke, leather, and blackberry. There is also this chalky mocha thing that I love. You know me by now. I’m a teacher. I love chalk!
Taste: Up front, there is a tart cran-raspberry cocktail flavor. The tannins are very soft, round, and pleasant. Probably because it is free run juice; it is very silky. It has a long, tart, mouth-watering finish. There is just a little bit of a buttery pie crust (or maybe crescent roll) component.
I’m a big fan of the Justin. This wine would pair well with a thick bloody steak. Give it a 91, and buy it.
I’m Justin love with this one.
Money can’t buy you class, but it can buy you a killer Chateauneuf-du-Pape at CostCo.
Don’t look at me like that!
Next, we hit up the Kirkland Signature 2009 Cuvee de Nalys Chateauneuf-du-Pape from CostCo. A blend of 59% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 4% Vaccarese, 4% Counoise, 3% Mourvedre, 3% Muscardin, and 2% Cinsault, the Cuvee de Nalys is sourced from 3 of the premier vineyards of the region.
Color: Dark ruby red. Darker than the Quinson.
Nose: Big chalk, raspberry, and orange zest.
Taste: There are some nice powdery tannins that coat the whole mouth. It’s hella smooth. The fruit is cranberry and orange. I’ve never really experienced orange as a flavor profile on a red wine before. Though it was unexpected, I loved it! There are some spices of clove and nutmeg on the back-end. I’m getting some tires as well.
Score: This would be the perfect wine for a festive holiday meal (if only there were one of those days coming up soon… if only). Rad! 91
A perfect example of why you drink wine with food… Plus, that burger was awesome.
Color: This wine is as red as red can get without being black. I’m talking BLACK! It’s what I would envision the back alley of Fangtasia from True Blood to look like.
Nose: My fist thought is of orange zest. Very ripe, but acidic in nature. There is a chalky feel to this nose. I love chalk. Throughout it all, there is a red raspberry fruit that balances everything out.
Taste: On the initial attack, there are these extremely dry, mouth-filling tannins. They are lasting 30+ seconds, easily. Dee-lish!
There is that same orange zest component that I smelled earlier, but it is rounded out with hints of lemon and lime. There is this not-so-ripe strawberry flavor that is really nice. Great acidity!
I just took my first bite of the burger…
It is F-ing Amazing!
The beefiness of the burger, paired with the lactic notes of the blue cheese and tanginess of the aioli bring out some chocolaty tones from the wine. It gives my entire mouth a rich milky feel.
You have to respect this wine for what it is. A red table wine. What do we put on our tables?
By itself, the wine is a solid 88. With food? Give it a 90. This is the perfect wine for a weeknight meal with the wife. And a steal at 5 bucks.
Pair it with Pizza, Pasta, Burgers, the Bachelorette, and possibly the Bad Girls Club. This wine is THAT versatile!
Color: This wine is a DARK ruby. There is a not quite rusty rose color along the outer edge of the glass.
Nose: One sniff of this tempranillo filled my mouth with cocoa powder. You know how you’ll be opening a packet of instant cocoa and a cloud of powder wafts up to your nose? THAT kind of cocoa powder. The chalkiness of the nose also reminds me of opening the box for a new bicycle tube. There is a green component to this wine as well. Slightly minty. A little like fresh lettuce from the garden. There is a deep note of plum.
Taste: I don’t want this to throw you off. My first thought in drinking this wine was of a grapefruit. Imagine that tart citrus component of a grapefruit. Now take away the mouth-puckering sour aspect. I guess I’d call it essence of grapefruit.
I’ve got to tell you, I could not have asked for a better wine to score first for you. This is THE threshold for me. I’m giving it 90 points, and I’m telling you that you MUST try this.
10. Ridge 2009 Perrone Cabernet Franc – 92
Though I do love the varietal, this is the only Chardonnay on the list. These notes were taken while folks in white clothes played croquet in the distance…
2007 The Cutrer Chardonnay ($35): For me, this was the pick of the litter. A classic, rich and viscous, creamy chardonnay. This guy was big, but not goopy. The Cutrer showed balance and restraint. You must try this 91-pointer.
Color: The Trimbach was a straw yellow.
Nose: The Trimbach was hella complex on the nose. Tons of small, not quite ripe, green apples. White raisins. There’s this crushed vitamin C characteristic that is really cool. There’s also a little lime, fig, and motor oil. The Rock Biter would also appreciate the lime stone minerality of it.
Taste: This is where it gets fun. The Trimbach is RAZOR SHARP in its acidity. I never understood the whole “Razor blades on the tongue” description that Gary Vaynerchuk talks about until I tasted this Riesling. This is intense! There’s a ton of lime and grapefruit on the palate. There are also hints of green apple skin and walnut. But really… the star of this wine is the dry, sharp, mouth-watering acidity.
Score: By all accounts, the Trimbach was everything I’ve read about Alsatian Rieslings, but nothing I could have ever expected. This wine is a game changer for me. I could write about this wine until my fingers fall off, and you still wouldn’t understand it. Much like The Nothing, I need you to know how great this is. Give it a 91. Buy it. Save it as an aperitif to a fancy seafood dinner at home.
There you go.
This was a really fun (half) year of tasting and blogging.
I’m looking forward to seeing what 2012 has in store.
Thanks for reading, everybody…