From our notes we compile are favorite 21 wines. The list below reflects both great quality and great value, and sometimes a nice bit of both.
21. 2002 Arcadian Pinot Noir Fiddlestix $68
“Classic ruby. A more elegant and very pinot nose of red fruits framed by a discreet touch of wood precedes sweet, detailed and layered middle weight flavors…there is a good deal more finesse and I very much like the purity of expression.” -BH
20. 2010 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Mount Carmel $58
“The 2010 Pinot Noir Mount Carmel is gorgeous. A burst of dark red fruit makes a positive first impression, but everything about the 2010 speaks of balance. Layers of flavors continue to flesh out on the broad-shouldered frame. The Mt. Carmel is a wine of exceptional balance and pure pedigree.” -WA
19. 2010 Paco & Lola Albariño Rías Baixas $16.50
One of our favorite albarinos from the northwest corner of Spain. Bright, floral, distinctive, great acidity, and wonderful with oysters, Hamachi, or seared scallops.
18. 2007 William Harrison Cabernet Franc Rutherford $38.50
Everyone’s favorite cabernet franc. Classic Rutherford juice. Ripe and fleshy, with pure, rich dark berry and raspberry flavors. Both supple-textured and well-structured, ending with fine-grained tannins. A classy Cabernet Franc.
17. 2009 Ramey Chardonnay Sonoma Coast $call
The 2009 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast is a beautifully woven, chiseled wine laced with lemon, pear, almond and citrus notes. It possesses terrific energy and freshness through to the saline, vibrant finish. This is a terrific wine for the money.
16. 2010 Château Sixtine Châteauneuf-du-Pape $65
“The 2010 Chateau Sixtine Chateauneuf du Pape performed exquisitely and, again, was one of the top wines of the vintage…this wine’s opaque ruby/purple color possesses lots of licorice, asphalt, graphite, blackberry and kirsch notes as well as hints of lavender, forest floor and garrigue. This opulent, full-bodied effort is approachable, but it will not hit its full stride for another 2-4 years.” -WA
15. 2010 Régis Bouvier Bourgogne Montre Cul $24.50
Yes, there’s no denying this is Pinot Noir from France. Racy, sleek, sour cherry notes, but wait…give it a moment and let it develop in the glass. The wine puts on body, softens up, becomes almost creamy. Delicious with grilled salmon!
14. N.V. L. Aubry Fils Champagne 1er Cru Rosé $58
The NV Brut Rose is classy and elegant through and through. It shows lovely energy and focus in its freshly cut sweet roses, red berries and minerals. All of the aromas and flavors flow gracefully.
13. 2009 Domaine la Soumade Rasteau $19.50
We searched and searched for 8 months before finally tracking this wine down. The dark ruby/plum color is accompanied by plenty of black cherry liqueur, licorice, earth and spice characteristics. Medium to full-bodied, fleshy, succulent and hedonistic, this is
12. 2009 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain $58
“The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon comes across as gorgeous and round in its expressive dark red and black fruit, earthiness, menthol, spices and graphite. The firm Howell Mountain tannins are there, but the presence of Merlot (12%) helps to soften the wine. This is a gorgeous showing.” -WA
11. 2011 Orin Swift Abstract $28
There is nothing subtle about this wine. From a blend of Grenache, syrah, and petit sirah, this wine comes at you full-throttle. Big, jammy, ripe, with dark plum and chocolate notes, and a finish that will last through your dessert course. WOW!
10. N.V. Vilmart & Cie Champagne Grand Cellier Brut Premier Cru $72
“A very restrained, even discreet nose of green apple, freshly baked brioche and citrus dissolves into intense, pure and driving flavors that possess a wonderfully broad panoply of flavors that are gorgeously persistent. This is one of those rare Champagnes that can really have powerful flavor authority yet deliver it by dancing across the palate. A stunningly good effort that for all the impact remains understated and focused.” -BH
9. 2009 The Paring Pinot Noir $25
Does it matter if Screaming Eagle owns this label? Not really. What counts is what is in the bottle (or better yet in your glass). This has to be the best value in Pinots coming out of Santa Rita Hills. It delivers on all levels. Flavor, structure, finish. A don’t miss!
8. 2011 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis $28
We are IN LOVE WITH THIS WINE! I don’t know how many customers have said that this wine should be in everyone’s cellar (or every restaurant’s wine list). Dark, straw- yellow colour. Intense, fine and elegantly fruity bouquet reminiscent of peach, apricot, citrus, fruit and acacia flowers. Fresh and fragrant flavour with soft plentifulness.
7. N.V. Val de Mer Crémant de Bourgogne Rose $18.50
A sparkling burgundy pinot for under $20? Yes, and this one will make you sing. Stunningly delicious, with a soft prettiness to it. Creamy, red berries, dazzlingly effervescents, and a thoroughly complete finish.
6. 2009 Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso $23.50
Silky tannins frame a core of expressive red fruit in the 2009 Montefalco Rosso. Flowers and spices add complexity on the supple finish. A superb wine with lamb or pasta with red sauce. A house favorite these days.
5. 2009 Méo-Camuzet Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Clos Saint Philibert Blanc $38
Meo-Camuzet makes one white wine and it’s a beauty. With chardonnay like this who needs pinot (well, ok…we still need pinot). Another wine that has it all. Balance, lushness, acidity. It’s a wine that begs a second bottle after your first sip.
4. 2009 Calera Pinot Noir de Villiers Vineyard $48
Not only did the Wine Advocate give this wine 96+ points, read what they say about it: “…bursts from the glass with expressive, juicy fruit. Dark red berries, flowers, mint, spices and an orange rind follow, leading to a generous, inviting finish. The De Villiers is the only vineyard-designate Pinot made from fully de-stemmed fruit. It is a towering wine of incomparable class and elegance. Simply put, this is a stunning showing from Calera.” -WA
3. 2009 Château Bernadotte $39.50
This blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the best wines to yet come from this estate, owned by the proprietors of Pichon Lalande in Pauillac. Juicy, succulent, cedary black currant fruit intermixed with licorice, herbs and spice box are very pure, authoritative and substantial. Dark ruby/purple, medium to full-bodied and delicious.
2. 2010 Joseph Drouhin Rully $22
Our biggest selling Chardonnay all year. It hits the right note with everyone. Try a bottle and odds are you’ll pick up a case.
1. 2010 Bodegas Juan Gil Jumilla Honoro Vera $8.50
The best value in wine today? We certainly think so. And that’s why we awarded it the number one wine of 2012. This pleasing wine reveals notes of underbrush, mineral, and blueberry leading to a savory, spicy, nicely balanced medium-bodied wine. It’s definitely the best ‘everyday wine’ we had in 2012.
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