Sunday, December 30, 2007

My favorite wines of 2007, or the year I started to truly enjoy wine.

(these wines are not on my list, but I think it's a funny little photo)

As a relative newcomer to wine, I will always remember 2007 as the year that I gained a bit more first-hand knowledge, through tasting, of wines in their various states of maturity. As a former buyer of one of my retail accounts in Baltimore once told me, back when I worked for a distributor, "If you want to learn about wine, if you want to taste a lot of wine, get on the retail side of the business." Well, that is what I did in 2007. My palate, wine knowledge and overall enthusiasm for wine are much stronger now than ever before. Thank you, Peter.

This is a tough list to synthesize, but I'm going to scratch some wines out on paper, rank them, and then put 'em up here with varyingly brief, telling, or perhaps not at all descriptive, TN's, often supplemented by the circumstances in which I was enjoying a bottle. I ought to note that this is a contextualized list. Context is very difficult to separate from the wine itself, so I choose not to do so. Y ahorita, los vinos:

10. 1995 Lopez de Heredia Rosado

This was one of the highlights of a rose tasting this past summer. Someone once described this wine to me, before I had ever tried it, as port like. I think of it more as the perfect embodiment of traditional Rioja flavors, in the prettiest, most ethereal way imaginable.

9. 1978 Poujeaux Moulis-en-Medoc

Delicious, bright, lively claret. It tastes much younger than its 30 years.

8. 1989 Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Blanco Reserva - Read about it here.

7. 1995 Luneau Papin Muscadet L d'or

I tasted this alongside the 1989. It was my first exposure to first rate Muscadet with bottle age (I was a little behind, I know, chalk it up to youthful ignorance, and to living in the DC area for 9 years).

6. 1985 JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese

Sorry, no AP number...anyway, you know it was a good drinking year if this amazing wine did not quite crack the top five (and if you read this blog you know I love Riesling).

5. 1989 Chasse-Spleen

What can I say, I love Moulis. It showed a pretty, wonderfully perfumed nose with black cherry and licorice notes. Amazingly fresh and young on the palate. Tannins were still not fully resolved, but there is abundant, and abundantly pure, fruit there as well.

4. 1971 Jean Grivot Vosne-Romanee

My first '70's Burgundy experience, and a good one. '71 was when my parents married, August 25, 1971 to be exact. So my parents, brother and I enjoyed this bottle in August, in a Calistoga cabin, alongside roasted fingerling potatoes and grilled lamb chops. After some initial stage fright, this 36 year old opened up and showed admirably, with tangy sour cherry fruit. I do enjoy drinking wine that is older than I am, especially when the year is significant to others who are near and dear to me.

3. 1988 Krug

One of my good friends in the business, and straight up one of the best human beings I know in Washington, DC, Burnie Williams, gifted me this bottle. I decided that we would drink it over lunch at CP Steak. The wine was textbook Krug: rich, full flavored, and a finish that would not quit. To borrow Matt Kramer's description of Meursault, this was truly like drinking 'liquid gold.'

2. 1981 Cronin Pinot Noir 'Ventana Vineyard'

'WTF???' you may be asking yourself. 26 year old CA pinot from a now defunct winery that many people outside of Woodside, California do not know, this bottle was pure magic, and I wish I had bought more. Read more about Cronin.

And the #1 wine is...

1976 Domaine des Varoilles Charmes Chambertin

One of those vintages that at first concerned Burg drinkers due to the heat, many '76s, I am told, have aged incredibly well. This was my Burgundy Epiphany Bottle - I began to understand why people obsess and bankrupt their shit over this shit.

So that's it, those are just some of the wines I loved in 2007. You know, I was thinking of doing a similar list for current releases, but there are just too many enjoyable wines I have drunk this year to whittle it down into list form. To be honest it's too much work and I'm not up for that sort of work at this point in the year, you know? Maybe next year....


Brooklynguy said...

i like your list. it rings of honesty and the partnership of wine and food and emotion. and nice choice on the 95 rose. i loved it too. haven't opened one of the 97's yet, although i may any day now. happy new year-

Joe M. said...

Thanks. Happy New Year to you as well. Hope it's a good one for you, for wine and of course for your blog!