In a year that will be remembered as a time in which many Americans lost their jobs and countless others had to make drastic changes in their spending habits as the recession bore down hard on the nation, those of us who enjoy fine wines had to make changes as well. Granted, being forced to find an elegant wine for $50 instead of $200 doesn’t exactly compare to having to worry about where your next meal is going to come from, but the point here is that in a true recession, the trickle down effects are felt far and wide, and in 2009 the wine industry was no different, as consumers switched more and more to wines in lower price levels. Thankfully, with a little bit of direction, we were able to spend less money on wine this year without sacrificing much quality, and this was most true in up and coming wine regions like Australia, Argentina and Chile, and most notably and consistently, Spain. The wine I have chosen as my Wine of the Year for 2009 comes from the latter and is made by one of that nation’s most cutting edge and highly regarded producers, Numanthia-Termes. I had the opportunity to meet the winemaker at a small tasting in Chicago’s South Loop, and was offered the chance to taste and compare six samples of these delicious Tempranillo blends. All of their wines are monstrous, dark, tannic and heavy with layers of complexity and many years of cellaring ahead of them. Their potential shines through their darkness, and the difference in quality doesn’t seem to change as much as you’d think as the price points move up. My favorite of the wines I tasted was in the middle of the price range, and also seemed to be among the highest quality wines according to my palate, even at its young age. With wide availability and a price point that is well within reason for the quality it delivers, this was the one wine that really stopped me in my tracks in 2009, and I look forward to drinking it in the years to come.

My Wine of the Year for 2009:

68.1 Numanthia

NUMANTHIA TERMES NUMANTHIA TORO 2006, 95 Points, $60, 20,000 cases imported

Perfumey black fruit aromas of blackberry, cassis and black cherry overlay mocha and intriguing floral elements. Soft on the palate, with an explosion of black fruits, blueberry, blackberry and black cherry above smokey oak and creamy chocolate. This finishes with a distinct floral note that evolves back into deep chocolate and exotic spice through the long finish, a transition that is the stuff dreams are made of. Deep, creamy texture with muscular tannins, incredibly complex all the way through and will improve in the years to come.


JANUARY: Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero Crianza 2005, 91 Points, $25 

FEBRUARY: Costers del Priorat Pissarres Priorat 2005, 92 Points, $30

MARCH: Neyers Syrah Old Lakeville Road Sonoma Coast 2007, 93 Points, $30

APRIL: La Braccesca Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Santa Pia Vigneto 2004, 89 Points, $30

MAY: Peter Lehmann Shiraz Barossa Valley 2006, 90 Points, $15

JUNE: Catena Alta Chardonnay Mendoza 2006, $30, 91 Points

JULY: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2008, 90 Points, $18 

AUGUST: Yalumba Viognier Eden Valley 2007, 91 Points, $20

SEPTEMBER: Bodega Colome Malbec Calchaqui Valley 2006, 92 Points, $25

OCTOBER: Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico 2007, 90 Points, $15 

NOVEMBER: Seghesio Zinfandel Alexander Valley Home Ranch 2007, 93 Points, $35

DECEMBER: Gloria Ferrer Brut Sonoma County NV, 89 Points, $20


Shafer Relentless Napa Valley 2005, 95 Points, $70

Bodegas Alto Moncayo Garnacha Campo de Borja 2006, 94 Points, $45

Lewis Alec’s Blend Napa Valley 2006, 94 Points, $60

Lewis Syrah Napa Valley 2006, 94 Points, $60

Mollydooker Enchanted Path Australia 2007, 94 Points, $65

St. Clement Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain 2004, 94 Points, $80

Darioush Shiraz Signature Napa Valley 2006, 94 Points, $65

Chateau Pontet-Canet Pauillac 2004, 94 Points, $50

Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos San Roman Toro 2004, 93 Points, $50

Montevetrano Colli di Salerno 2004, 93 Points, $70

Marquis Philips Shiraz #9 McLaren Vale 2006, 93 Points, $40

Marquis Philips Cabernet Sauvignon S2 McLaren Vale, 93 Points, $35

Landmark Syrah Steel Plow Sonoma County 2006, 93 Points, $30

Novy Syrah Russian River Valley 2006, 93 Points, $27

St. Clement Orropas Napa Valley 2006, 93 Points, $55

Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon One Point Five Napa Valley 2006, 93 Points, $70

Numanthia Termes Termes Toro 2006, 93 Points, $30

Landmark Pinot Noir Kanzler Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2007, 93 Points, $65

Chateau Giscours Margaux 2005, 93 Points, $65

Chateau Lynch Bages Pauillac 2005, 93 Points, $95

Chateau Haut-Bailly Pessac Leognan 2006, 93 Points, $70

Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvee Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2005, 92 Points, $40

Chateau DuCru Beaucaillou St. Julien 2004, 92 Points, $75

Gaja Majari Toscana 2006, 92 Points, $70

Antinori Tignanello Toscana 2005, 92 Points, $80

Paolo Scavino Bricco Ambrogio Piedmonte 2003, 92 Points, $70

Dominio de Pingus Flor de Pingus Ribera del Duero 2006, 92 Points, $80

Vision Cellars Pinot Noir Sonoma County 2004, 92 Points, $20

R Winery Suxx Shiraz South Australia 2007, 92 Points, $25

Kesselstat Scharzhofberger Riesling Spatlese Germany 2007, 92 Points, $35

Siduri Pinot Noir Muirfield Vineyard Willamette Valley 2006, 92 Points, $40

Siduri Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard Santa Rita Hills 2006, 92 Points, $55

Novy Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands 2006, 92 Points, $27

Novy Syrah Santa Lucia Highlands 2007, 92 Points, $27

Sbragia Cabernet Sauvignon Cimarossa Howell Mountain Napa Valley 2005, 92 Points, $75

Hawkes Cabernet Sauvignon Pyramid Alexander Valley 2005, 92 Points, $60

Seghesio Zinfandel San Lorenzo Alexander Valley 2006, 92 Points, $60

Rosenblum Syrah England-Shaw Vineyard Solano County 2006, 92 Points, $35

St. Clement Cabernet Sauvignon Star Vineyard Napa Valley 2005, 92 Points, $80

Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005, 92 Points, $45

Darioush Duel Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $45

Girard Artistry Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $40

Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch Napa Valley Carneros 2007, 92 Points, $48

Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $40

Beckmen Syrah Purisima Vineyard Mountain Vineyard Block Six Santa Ynez 2006, 92 Points, $55

L’Ecole No. 41 Apogee Walla Walla Valley 2006, 92 Points, $45


El Nido Jumilla 2006, 97 Points, $125

Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select Napa Valley 2004, 96 Points, $215

Numanthia Termes Termanthia Toro 2006, 96 Points, $200

Tenuta dell’Orenellaia Superiore Bolgheri 2005, 95 Points, $170

Chateau LaTour Pauillac 2004, 95 Points, $350

Nicolas Catena Zapata Medoza 2005, 94 Points, $110

Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2004, 94 Points, $150


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