Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I tasted a lot of wines for 2008, and there are so many that were extraordinary that it is tough to really RANK them from first to last, yet the following Top 40 (My homage to Kasey Kasem) are the wines that made the biggest impression on me, ones that still resonate with me now.

40. Chateau d’Epire Savennieres 2007. Thank you Kermit Lynch for delivering an extraordinary Chenin Blanc from the Loire. I really love this wine.

39. Sausal Zinfandel Old Vines 2006. A limited wonder. I wish I could get more of this wine.

38. Santa Ema Rivalta 2005. One powerful, dynamic Bordeaux-influenced Chilean red. Outstanding.

37. Chateau Fonreaud Listrac-Medoc 2005. One of the more affordable 2005s out there. A great intro to one of Bordeaux’s finest vintages ever.

36. Bodegas Borsao Monte Oton 2006 & 2007. Thank you Jorge Ordonez for delivering yet another exceptional value red. Voluptuous old vine Grenache for under $10. Really? I’m all over this one.

35. Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes 2005. It’s a Sauternes for crying out loud. And 2005? This is simply gorgeous.

34. Duval-Leroy Brut NV. Always one of the best Champagnes most of you have never had. Don’t expect me to keep this one a secret ever!

33. Domaine Faury St.-Joseph 2005. Another golden nugget in Kermit Lynch’s luminous portfolio. Amazing Northern Rhone wine.

32. Edmeades Zinfandel 2006. A fantastic Zin from Mendocino County. One of our hidden gems!

31. Olvena Chardonnay 2007. Extraordinary value in New World Chardonnay from the Somontano region of Spain. Delicious and well-made.

30. Girard Artistry 2003. Always a beautiful Bordeaux-styled red.

29. Lemelson Pinot Noir Thea’s Selection 2006. One of my favorite Oregon producers and one of my favorite Pinot Noirs.

28. Kermit Lynch Cotes-du-Rhone 2006. Really exquisite CDR for any price. Kermit Lynch is my hero!

27. Lorca Pinot Blanc 2005. I thought this would be old. WRONG! Damn, what a delicious, complex white wine, and from California no less.

26. Chateau Pey La Tour Bordeaux Superieur 2005. My go-to Bordeaux for under $20. One of Michel Rolland’s infinite projects. A terrific red wine.

25. Brundlmeyer Gruner-Veltliner Terrassen 2007. One of a host of amazing GruVe wines I tasted this year. Ageworthy, complex and balanced. An incredible white wine.

24. Kanonkop Pinotage 2004. I truly think this is the best Pinotage I have ever had.

23. Achaval-Ferrer Malbec 2007. A real surprise as usual! I love this producer, and their “entry-level” Malbec is remarkable. Really overdelivers.

22. Clos de los Siete 2006. Michel Rolland strikes again! Terrific Malbec blend. Amazing value!

21. Stoller Pinot Noir JV 2006. I love the youthful exuberance of this wine. Always a favorite, vintage after vintage.

20. Chateau St.-Georges St.Georges-St.Emilion 2004. Yes, it’s not a 2005, but if this producer delivers a stunning red wine in the classic-oriented 2004 vintage, just image their 2005. Look for it on next year’s list.

19. Hirsch Gruner-Veltliner “Veltliner #1” 2007 and First Drop First Love Red 2006. A tie of sorts. I love the Hirsch #1 for being a really dynamic white wine and the First Love Red as an extraordinary, unique medium-bodied red. I just couldn’t decide.

18. Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 & 2006. Really delivers on the promise of being top quality at an affordable price. I think I may truly enjoy Napa Valley Cab again thanks to these guys.

17. Foppiano Petite Sirah 2004 and Vincent Vignaud Pouilly-Fuisse 2005. Tie #2 – thanks to Jo Diaz of Juicy Tales for putting me back on the PS trail, as well as Louis Foppiano for coming by to reintroduce this yummy red to me and my staff. And the Vignaud PF is a terrific find – a Pouilly Fuisse that is as affordable as it is really good.

16. Columbia Crest Two Vines Vineyard 10 Red 2005 & 2006. Hands down the best damn value in our stores. Way to go Columbia Crest. You guys are awesome!

15. Bodegas Muga Reserva 2004. Scary good!

14. Luca Malbec 2007. One unbelievably amazing Malbec.

13. Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County 2007. The opine begins – WS already gave these guys more props than they should have – now we may witness the end of this wine being under $25. A shame, because this is the best f@#$ing Zin under $25, period!

12. Donnhoff Riesling QbA 2006 & 2007. I fell in love with this wine years ago, and it’s string of successes with not just me, but any self-respecting Riesling lover, continues.

11. L. Aubry Brut Ivoire et Ebene 2002. An amazing sparkler! Just remarkable.

10. Mendel Malbec 2006. This is one decadent red wine!

9. Vilmart et Cie Cuvee Rubis NV. Quite the sexy sparkler.

8. Papapietro Perry Pinot Noir Leras Vineyard 2006. One monster-bad-ass Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley’s best kept secret. A PN for Cab drinkers. Takes days to open up, years to fully mature in the bottle.

7. St. Supery Virtu 2006. An absolute stunner! My top white wine of 2008!

6. Pedestal Merlot 2005. More of that Michel Rolland mojo workin’ – an experience not to be missed.

5. Dei Sancta Catharina 2006. Extremely limited, delicious red blend from the truly gifted Catharina Dei, the queen of Prugnolo Gentile in Tuscany.

4. Two Angels Divinity 2005. A massive homage to Rhone grapes. Hedonistic, sexy, full-bodied love in a glass.

3. Chateau Beychevelle Saint-Julien 2005. I have become completely enthralled by Bordeaux, partly because of my new found love of Beychevelle.

2. Chateau Sociando-Mallet Haut-Medoc 2005. This overachieving unclassified Chateau should – if there is any justice in this world – become a classified growth. A hidden gem of the left bank!

1. Cellers Can Blau Mas de Can Blau 2005. This wine certainly wins the “Holy Sh#$” award for being so friggin’ good. Your palate will never truly be fulfilled until you taste this wine.

There are a lot of honorable mentions (more than I have time or room for) but a few of the standouts are: Waterbrook Reserve Syrah 2006, Heidi Schrock Muscat 2007, Chehalem 3 Vineyards Pinot Noir 2006, Sierra Cantabria Rioja Crianza 2004, Mulderbosch Rose 2008, Huia Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Star Lane Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Fontanafredda Barbera Briccotondo 2007, Belle Vallee Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2006, Domaine Lafond Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005, Chateau Clerc-Milon Pauillac 2004, Marc Hebrart Brut Selection NV, MacRostie Syrah Wildcat Mountain 2004, and Terlano Pinot Grigio 2007.

We hope you have enjoyed our commentaries this year. We look forward to sharing a great many more tasting notes, diatribes and peculiar insights into this business in 2009.

Thank you and have a safe New Year!



Y A Li said...

This is an interesting list and valuable. Unfortunately I don't recognise any of the labels in our Liquor Control Board stores here in Toronto. Nevertheless an informative list and thanks for posting it. Good tasting and a very happy 2009. Y A Li

k2 said...

Wow! The Bordeaux you should at least recognize, but I can understand some of the Spanish and small Cali. I want to visit Toronto this year and take a look at the wine stores there. I have a lot of customers who live partly in Canada and winter in Florida or the Carolinas.

dhonig said...

I have seven bottles of the '98 Sociando Mallet in the cellar, and could not agree with you more.