WINE OF THE YEAR- 2010

2010 was an exciting year for wine, especially in the United States. Wine Spectator writer James Laube crowned the 2007 vintage of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon the greatest of all time, Oregon’s Willamette Valley excelled with its elegant 2008 Pinot Noirs, and California’s Central Coast reached new heights with their take on Rhone varietals, highlighted at year end by Paso Robles vinter Saxum’s James Berry Vineyard Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre blend, which was named the #1 wine of the year by Wine Spectator. Amazingly, five of that publication’s top six wines were Californian, a feat that has never been seen before and will likely never be seen again.

I tasted about 550 wines this year, and as I look back it is equally amazing how concentrated my tasting experiences were upon wines made in America. Part of that is due my travel choices in 2010, but it should also be noted that this year, America provided the best quality of wine for the value worldwide. With all of the hype surrounding Napa Valley, Willamette Valley and Paso Robles this year, it was easy to forget about Washington State’s 2007 vintage, which was as strong as ever before. Unique regions like Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley have long succeeded in creating dark, earthy cool climate red wines that are deeply expressive of their terroir, and some of the best wines from 2007 (and even 2008) have perfected this style. I spent some time tasting in Washington back in May, and also have sought out as many of these wines as I could at tastings and at stores in recent months. It was during that search that I stumbled upon my pick for the Wine of the Year, a wine that combines power and elegance with affordability and availability.

MY WINE OF THE YEAR FOR 2010:



J. BOOKWALTER CABERNET SAUVIGNON COLUMBIA VALLEY FORESHADOW 2007, 94 Points, $40, 1180 Cases Made-
Rich and loamy on the nose, with lots of dark chocolate and cedar aromatics. Velvety mouthfeel, incredibly textured and balanced for its depth, as piney cedar and mineral flavors lead into blackberry, black cherry, mocha bean and tobacco spice. Long finish is impossibly elegant and focused, and lingers for minutes.

WINES OF THE MONTH 2010:

JANUARY- D’Arenberg Shiraz The Stump Jump McLaren Vale, 89 Points, $10

FEBRUARY- Marchesi de Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni 2007, 93 Points, $25

MARCH- Caravan Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007, 91 Points, $30

APRIL- Quinta do Vallado Douro Valley  2007, 91 Points, $20

MAY- Bodegas Alto Moncayo Garnacha Veraton Campo de Borja 2007, 92 Points, $30

JUNE- Argyle Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2008, 92 Points, $25

JULY- Landmark Chardonnay Overlook Sonoma-Santa Barbara-Monterey Counties 2007, 90 Points, $30

AUGUST- Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley, 88 Points, $10

SEPTEMBER- Dominio del Plata Susana Balbo Malbec Mendoza, 90 Points, $25

OCTOBER- Chateau Gigognan Vigne Du Regent Chateauneuf du Pape 2007, 93 Points, $40

NOVEMBER- Four Vines Zinfandel The Biker 2008, 92 Points, $25

DECEMBER- Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV, 89 Points, $20

WINES I RATED 92 POINTS OR HIGHER, UNDER $100 A BOTTLE:

Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz Barossa Valley 2005, 95 Points, $60

Pride Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007, 94 Points, $65

Cayuse Syrah Cailloux Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2006, 94 Points, $65

Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Napa Valley 2007, 94 Points, $80

Novy Syrah Simpson Vineyard Dry Creek Valley 2007, 93 Points, $30

Orin Swift The Prisoner Napa Valley 2005, 93 Points, $35

Alto Moncayo Garnacha Campo de Borja 2007, 93 Points, $50

Sierra Cantabria Collecion Privada Rioja 2007, 93 Points, $50

Pride Merlot Napa Valley 2007, 93 Points, $55

St. Clement Orropas Napa Valley 2007, 93 Points, $55

Penner-Ash Pinot Noir Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley 2008, 93 Points, $55

Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve Willamette Valley 2006, 93 Points, $60

Ghost Block Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007, 93 Points, $60

Landmark Pinot Noir Kanzler Sonoma Coast 2008, 93 Points, $65

Paolo Scavino Carobric Barolo Piedmonte 2005, 93 Points, $70

Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007, 93 Points, $70

Shafer Relentless Napa Valley 2006, 93 Points, $70

Azelia Bricco Fiasco Barolo Piedmonte  2004, 93 Points, $75

Argyle Pinot Noir Spirithouse Willamette Valley 2006, 93 Points, $75

St. Clement Cabernet Sauvignon Star Vineyard 2006, 93 Points, $80

Chateau de Myrat Sauternes 2007, 93 Points, $40 (375 ml)

Artadi Pagos Viejos Rioja 2006 , 93 Points, $90

Sherwin Family Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2006, 93 Points, $90

Zaca Mesa Syrah Santa Ynez Valley 2006, 92 Points, $20

Bodegas Triton Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon Toro 2008, 92 Points, $20

Emilio Moro Tinto Ribera del Duero 2006, 92 Points, $25

Orin Swift The Prisoner Napa Valley 2008, 92 Points, $35

Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007, 92 Points, $35

Rockblock Syrah Reserve Walla Walla Valley 2006, 92 Points, $40

Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $40

Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $40

Petrolo Torrione Toscana 2006, 92 Points, $40

Le Corti Chianti Classico Don Tommaso Toscana 2005, 92 Points, $40

Atteca Armas Garnacha Old Vines Catalayud 2007, 92 Points, $40

Chateau Manior de Gay Pomerol 2004, 92 Points, $40

Shafer Chardonnay Red Shoulder Ranch Russian River Valley 2007, 92 Points, $45

Shafer Merlot Napa Valley 2007, 92 Points, $45

Januik Cabernet Sauvignon Champoux Vineyard Columbia Valley 2007, 92 Points, $50

Ayoub Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2008, 92 Points, $50

Goldeneye Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2007, 92 Points, $50

St. Cosme Chateauneuf du Pape 2007, 92 Points, $50

Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2008, 92 Points, $60

Collemattoni Brunello di Montalcino 2004, 92 Points, $60

Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse Willamette Valley 2006, 92 Points, $60

Seghesio Zinfandel San Lorenzo Alexander Valley 2007, 92 Points, $60

Hawkes Cabernet Sauvignon Red Winery Road Alexander Valley 2006, 92 Points, $60

Georges Vernay Cotie Rotie Blonde du Seigneur 2005, 92 Points, $60

Sherwin Family Syrah Estate Dry CreekValley 2006, 92 Points, $70

Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Winery Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley 2006, 92 Points, $75

Mirror Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $75

Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Kathryn Hall Napa Valley 2005, 92 Points, $75

Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $80

St. Clement Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Napa Valley 2006, 92 Points, $80

Vall Llach Priorat 2005, 92 Points, $90

HIGHEST RATED WINES I TASTED:

El Nido Jumilla 2007, 95 Points, $105

Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia Superiore Toscana 2006, 95 Points, $180

Giacomo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia Piedmonte 2005, 94 Points, $120

Vietti Brunate Barolo Piedmonte 2005, 94 Points, $120

Pahlmeyer Red Wine Napa Valley 2005, 94 Points, $150

Groth Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2006, 94 Points, $150

Vinedos de Paganos La Nieta Rioja 2005, 94 Points, $150

Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley 2006, 94 Points, $150

Chateau Angelus St. Emilion 2006, 93 Points, $175

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