Monday, January 3, 2011

This is Not a Top Ten List

This is not a top ten list.  This is a list of ten wines, selected with great difficulty and largely at random, that inspired me in 2010.  This was meant to be a New Year's Eve post... but I opted to unplug.  This is to say, drink wine... and don't forget to enjoy it.  This is to say, have a Happy New Year, dammit! 

Barbera d'Alba, Giuseppe Rinaldi 2008
Absolutely delicious, in an all one could possibly ask for from Barbera kind of way.  I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with Barbera but this was all love.  If only it were available in the US.... (My original write-up.)

Paso Robles Estate Rosé, L'Aventure 2009
One of the most memorable wines from my March trip to Paso Robles, CA, consumed during one of the most memorable events of the trip—dinner high up the Templeton Gap at the home of L'Aventure owner Stephane Asseo.  A dead ringer for the best side of Coteaux d'Aix rosé, with a dash more body courtesy of Cali-ripeness.

Barolo, Bartolo Mascarello 2005
Of the scores of Baroli from the 2005 vintage I've had the chance to taste this year, both at home and while in Piemonte in May for Nebbiolo Prima, Maria-Teresa Mascarello's stands out as the most graceful.

This is not a walrus.

Saar Ayler Kupp Riesling "Unterstenbersch" Faß 12, Weingut Peter Lauer 2008
The most inspiring Riesling I drank in 2010.  The combination of reserved character and intense depth in Florian Lauer's "Unterstenbersch" reminded me that I need to make it a serious mission to drink even more Riesling and to explore the M-S-R more thoroughly in 2011.  (My original write-up.)

Ribeira Sacra Summum, Guímaro (Pedro M. Rodríguez Pérez) 2008
The '08 Ribeira Sacra tinto from Pedro Rodriguez at Guimaro already received a nod in my 2010 in review post a few days back but what can I say....  It was one of the finest $15ish reds I drank all year and a bell-clear harbinger that, just as with Riesling (above), I'm in need of deeper exploration when it comes to the wines of Northern Spain.  (Original write-up.)

Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie "Vieilles Vignes," Château les Fromenteaux (Famille Luneau) 2005
I opened this just a couple of weeks ago, after the remnants of a bottle of Meursault proved inadequate for the evening meal.  The Meursault had improved over the course of five days but the Muscadet (which is farmed, vinified and bottled by Pierre Luneau-Papin, btw) still blew it right out of the water. Wonderful aromatics, brilliant minerality, fine balance, aging gracefully... it was one of those wines that made me pause and utter a little "Oh, shit!" under my breath after every few sips.  $12.50 seriously well spent—and proof that there is cellar-worthy wine out there in the sub-$15 price range.

Els Jelipins 2005
What was I just saying about Northern Spain...?  My friend Joe Manekin, whose own Top Ten of 2010 post was at least partially responsible for inspiring this one, included Els Jelipins on his list.  Here it is again.  Sometimes besotted minds think alike.  It's not often that I encounter a bottle that retails for $80 and feel compelled to run right out to buy some.  Heck, it's not often that I buy $80 bottles of wine, period.  It's even rarer that I call a wine "sexy," especially without my tongue firmly planted in cheek.  But that's exactly what I did, on both counts.  Not having been to Penedès, I can't really comment on the wine's terroir expression.  It would be equally feeble to declare it a great expression of Sumoll.  It's simply a great wine.  (Original write-up.)

This is crossing over....

Champagne Brut Blanc de Noirs "Inflorescence," Cédric Bouchard (2006)
In a year in which I had the opportunity to drink many excellent Champagnes, this was a tough choice.  But from its incredible up-front fruit richness and textural density, to its closing minerality and long, long finish, Cédric Bouchard's "Inflorescence" left a definite and lasting impression.

Sierra Foothills White Wine, La Clarine Farm 2009
Two American wines in my not-a-top-ten list?  I wouldn't have believed it if you'd told me but here it is....  It boils down to this: if more American wines tasted as good to me as does this Rhône-inspired white from Hank Beckmeyer's La Clarine Farm, as in "friggin' delicious" (cribbed straight from my raw tasting notes), I'd drink more American wine.  (Original write-up.)

Fleurie "Clos de la Roilette," Coudert Père et Fils 2009
As with the Champagne above, in a year in which I drank many excellent wines from the Beaujolais, this was a touch choice.  But not quite so tough.... Why?  Because the '09 Fleurie from Coudert is simply spot-on.  Whether to drink now or later, it's delicious wine—balanced, bright, expressive and incredibly enjoyable.  I'd be hard pressed to think of a wine I'd rather have a big stack of, sitting right next to me at all times, than this.  What better way to round out my "list"?  (Original write-up.)


ben wood said...

Great post! all delicous, and a few I even have on the shelves!

David McDuff said...

Thanks, Ben. It was tempting to throw in some golden oldies but these were the ten that first came to mind. On another day, it could easily have been at least a partially different list.

The Wine Mule said...

Great list. Haven't even seen any of these except the Muscadet, and certainly not that vintage. Gives me something to aspire to.

In the meantime,let us praise Pierre Luneau-Papin, he who humbles the Côte-d'Or!

David McDuff said...

Thanks, Dave. With the exception of the Barbera from Beppe Rinaldi, which is sold only in Europe, and the rosé from L'Aventure, which is sold only at the winery, you should be able to track down most of these wines on the NY market.

Some, like the white from La Clarine, are sold-out for the vintage. The '05 Muscadet was purchased on release and pulled from my cellar (not a late release); the '09 should be available now.

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