This is the time when we often reflect on the past year and think about our aspirations for the upcoming year. I decided to review my tasting notes from 2012 to see what I have learned about myself and the wine consumed.
The Golden State
Looking over the list, it is quite obvious that I have a “love affair” with California. I love the Cabernet/Bordeaux blends, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Over half the wine I consumed or tasted in 2012 was from California. Now you might think I have a “thing” for overripe, over extracted, high alcohol wines. That’s partially true. I do enjoy a big red wine, assuming that is has been properly aged and decanted for hours before consumption. Some of my favorites this year included: 2002 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 & 2004 Robert Young Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Scion, 2005 Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 Bond Melbury, and 2005 Quintessa.
I have also enjoyed some great “terroir” driven Pinot Noir: 2000 Marcassin Blue Slide, 2003 Marcassin Three Sisters, 2007 Hirsch Vineyards San Andreas, and 2009 Morlet Family Vineyards Coteaux Nobles.
I have had some great California Chardonnay this past year – too many to list but I will “name drop” my favorite producers: Mt. Eden, Ramey, Brewer-Clifton, Peter Michael, Aubert and Marcassin. These golden wines are often overripe with tropical fruit, oaked with vanilla, sweet baking spices, caramel or toffee and are 100% malo. In my opinion, these wines are crafted to perfection and are worth the splurge!
Here are some other great California producers to check out: Belle Glos, Donum, Paul Hobbs, Spottswoode, Stonestreet, Vineyard 7 & 8, and Williams Selyem.
This year I’ve taken the time to explore the lovely white wines of the Loire Valley – Sauvignon Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne and Chenin Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc (from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé) is bright, fresh and fruity. There is tart citrus, stone and tree fruit along with gooseberry and a fresh greenness. These primarily dry wines are mineral driven with high acidity. They pair well with fresh cheeses or shellfish.
Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet Sur Lie) is primarily grown in the western region of the Loire Valley near the Atlantic Coast. Muscadet Sur Lie is left on the lees for the winter allowing the development of yeasty aromas along with mineral, saline and subtle fruit and floral notes. These wines pair well with shellfish and fish.
Chenin Blanc (from Vouvray and Savennières) is the most complex and versatile of three. It can be made in varying styles and degrees of sweetness. There are riper tree fruit and citrus (off-dry wines may have aromas of melon and tropical fruits along with honey, ginger or marmalade). There are also oxidative notes such as bitter nuts, cheese rind or bruised fruit. These wines are also quite floral with green or herbal notes. There is higher minerality and acidity to balance out the wine. These wines pair well with cheeses, shellfish, fish and poultry.
La Dolce Vita
“The Sweet Life” comes to mind when I think of Vin Santo. While in Italy this past summer, I had the opportunity to enjoy Vin Santo with biscotti after dinner most evenings. Vin Santo is a dessert wine made in Tuscany from primarily Trebbiano and Malvasia and sometimes Sangiovese. The grapes dry on straw mats or hang from racks indoors in warm, well ventilated areas allowing the moisture in the grapes to evaporate and concentrating the sugars and flavors. The grapes are fermented with a small amount of finished Vin Santo from prior years which adds complexity to the wine. The wine is then aged in small barrels made from oak, chestnut, juniper or cherry wood which allows for oxidation. The wine is usually aged from three to ten years depending on where it’s produced.
2012 was a great year for drinking wine and exploring new and exciting wine varietals and regions. There were many hits with very few misses and I even indulged in the mandatory New Year’s Eve Champagne.
Happy New Year!!