WINE OF THE YEAR 2008

The 2005 vintage of Bordeaux was so spectacular that only a lucky few ever were able to get their hands on the top level bottles. Futures for the entire vintage were driven up at such alarming rates (if they didn’t immediately sell out, which many did) that most of us abandoned any hope of ever tasting or cellaring any of the best wines that the 2005 Bordeaux vintage had to offer. It was with great pleasure, then, when the wine that I have named the 2008 Wine of the Year became widely available, and at a very reasonable price to boot. For those of you that do not wish to spend over $300 a bottle on Bordeaux futures in years to come, remember the name. This wine delivers on all cylinders, with elegance, focus and flavor.

My 2008 Wine of the Year:

9601

CHATEAU LAGRANGE ST. JULIEN 2005, 94 POINTS, $60, 24,165 cases made

Bursting with perfumey cherry and currant fruit on the nose with hints of powedery cocoa. Elegant and focused combination of black currants, cedar and violetly fruit above oak, caramel and chocolate undertones. Firm tannins provide dryness through the long finish, and light vanilla spice carries along with toasty chocolate. An essay in balance.

2008 WINES OF THE MONTH:

JANUARY: Columbia Crest Merlot Columbia Valley Grand Estates 2004, 89 Points

FEBRUARY: Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County 2006, 89 Points

MARCH: Falesco Sangiovese Umbria 2006, 89 Points

APRIL: Finca Sandoval Syrah Mancheula 2004, 91 Points

MAY: Kanonkop Estate Pinotage 2004, 90 Points

JUNE: Ridge Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Estate 2006, 91 Points

JULY: Tyrus Evan Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2005, 92 Points

AUGUST: Dominio del Plata Ben Marco Malbec Mendoza 2006, 90 Points

SEPTEMBER: Jim Barry Shiraz The Lodge Hill Clare Valley 2006, 90 Points/ Thorn-Clarke Shiraz Shotfire Barossa Valley 2006, 91 Points

OCTOBER: Vinas del Cenit Zamora Triton Toro 2005, 92 Points

NOVEMBER: Domaine Carneros Brut Carneros 2005, 90 Points

DECEMBER: Luca Uco Valley Malbec Mendoza 2007, 92 Points

Other wines that I scored above 92 Points and cost less than $100 a bottle:

Chateau Pape-Clement Pessac Leognan 2005, 95 Points, $90

Darioush Shiraz Signature 2005, 94 Points, $65

Torre Muga Rioja Riserva 2004, 94 Points, $90

Mollydooker Blue-Eyed Boy Shiraz South Australia 2006, 93 Points, $70

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nova 2003, 93 Points, $70

Marchesi di Frescobaldi Mormoreto Toscana 2004, 93 Points, $50

Allegrini Amarone della Valpolcetta 2001, 93 Points, $70

Alto Moncayo Garnacha Campo de Borja 2005, 93 Points, $40

Girard Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Napa Valley 2005, 93 Points, $75

Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley 2005, 93 Points, $90

Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District Napa Valley 2005, 93 Points, $50

Seavey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2004, 93 Points, $80

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $65

Donatella Cinelli Colombini Brunello di Montalcino 2001, 92 Points, $70

Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino 2004, 92 Points, $60

Pride Cabernet Sauvignon Napa-Sonoma Counties 2006, 92 Points, $60

Pride Syrah Sonoma County 2006, 92 Points, $60

St. Clement Star Vineyard Cabernet Napa Valley 2004, 92 Points, $80

Plumpjack McWilliams Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Napa Valley 2005, 92 Points, $75

Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2004, 92 Points, $50

Staglin Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Salus Napa Valley 2004, 92 Points, $90

Orin Swift The Prisoner Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $35

K Morrison Lane Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2005, 92 Points, $40

Rocca Syrah Napa Valley Yountville 2004, 92 Points, $45

Darioush Duel Napa Valley 2005, 92 Points, $40

Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County 2007, 92 Points, $25

Bodegas del Cenit Zamora Toro 2004, 92 Points, $45

Sierra Cantabria Privada Rioja 2005, 92 Points, $40

Bodegas Aalta Ribera del Duero 2004, 92 Points, $50

Alonso Yerro Maria Ribera del Duero 2005, 92 Points, $55

Chateau Lascombes Margaux 2005, 92 Points, $85

Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse Reserve Willamette Valley 2004, 92 Points, $50

Two Hands Lily’s Garden Shiraz McLaren Vale 2005, 92 Points, $65

Highest Rated Wines I tasted:

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Superiore Tuscany 2004, 96 Points, $150

El Nido Jumilla 2005, 95 Points, $140

Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley 2004, 94 Points, $125

Chateau Angelus St. Emilion 2003, 94 Points, $155

Chateau Cheval Blanc St. Emilion 2004, 94 Points, $260

Joseph Phelps Insignia 2004, 94 Points, $200

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