Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012: Top Wines Over $50

What were some of my favorite wines of the past year?

Welcome to my third, and last, Top Wines List. I have already posted my Top Ten Wines Under $15 and Top Ten Wines Over $15. It is now time for my Top Wines Over $50. This list only has nine entries as there were not enough worthy wines to complete ten entries. I have certainly tasted more than 9 delicious wines over $50, but that is expected from many of the high-end wines I tasted. For this list, I only added those which were especially fascinating.

Like the prior lists, this list includes wines that during the past year I have enjoyed very much and which I also found to be particularly compelling for various reasons. They might be especially delicious, something more unique or just excellent values for the price. They all stand out for some particular reason above the other wines I tasted this past year.

This is a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" wines out there. It is primarily the wines which spoke to me the loudest, even when they were subtle wines. These are all wines that I highly recommend and which I believe many other wine lovers will also enjoy.

The wines are not listed in any particular order and each choice is linked to my more detailed prior review. All of these value wines are worth your consideration but please also note that the prices are approximations and the actual price may vary in your area. In addition, some of the wines might not be available in your local area, though you might be able to order them from the winery or an online store, dependent on your state's shipping laws.

1) 2009 Sadie Family Palladius ($60)
This is the second year in a row that my good friend Adam, of Wine Zag, has introduced me to a wine that made this list. The South African Palladius is a blend of eight white grapes, though the exact blend appears unclear. It likely includes Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Clairette Blanc and Palomino. As for the other two grapes, they might be Chardonnay, Semillon, Marsanne, or Verdelho. The concept behind this wine was that it should age well in the bottle, pair well with food, and reflect terroir. It succeeds well and this is a sublime wine, which dazzles with its complexity, flavors and structure. From an alluring nose to a compelling taste, this wine is sure to impress almost any wine lover. Savor plenty of acidity, a very long and satisfying finish and its round, full mouth feel. It possesses an intriguing melange of flavors including citrus, peach, honey, spices, herbs, and minerality. In fact, the more time you savor and reflect on the wine, the more subtle flavors which seem to surface in your mouth. This wine receives my highest recommendation.

2) 2005 Telmo Rodriguez Matallana ($145)
Terroir is very significant to Telmo as well. The Matallana is from the Ribera del Duero and less than 300 cases are produced annually. The grapes are grown biodynamically, a careful selection from eight plots of old vine. The grapes are crushed by foot and fermentation occurs in open wooden vats. What an amazing wine, a silky, elegant, and complex creation which seduces your palate with its deep melange of enticing flavors and very lengthy finish. It is the type of wine that shuts down your logical senses and tells you merely to savor and enjoy. A superb choice worth its high price.

3) 2008 Ferrer Bobet ($50) & 2005 Ferrer Bobet Seleccio Especial ($85)
A relatively new producer, which released its first wine in 2008, they impressed me with both of their Priorat wines. They currently use old vine Carignan and Garnacha, from organic farms, seeking to produce wines of  elegance and finesse rather than the powerful, muscular wines you often find in this Spanish region. The 2008 Ferrer Bobet is made from 70% old vine Carignan and 30% Garnacha, fermented in small wooden and steel tanks and then aged in French oak for about 15 months. An elegant wine, with delicious black fruit and spice flavors, silky tannins and subtle floral notes. It has an intriguing complexity that will tantalize your palate, and its lengthy finish will satisfy even the most demanding of wine lovers. The 2008 Seleccio Especial is made from 100 year old Carignane with a tiny amount added of old vine Garnacha, and has been aged in French oak for about 18 months. It has a darker color, almost an opaque purple, and a deeper aroma. The black fruit flavors are more concentrated and its complexity shines forth, adding elements of earthiness, minerality, spice and floral notes. There is just so much going on in this wine, yet it too retains elegance and finesse. Both of these wines are highly recommended and this is a winery to watch in the near future.

4) 2005 Disznókő 5 Puttonyos Tokaji ($60)
Disznókő Winery, located in the Tokaj region of Hungary, was classified in 1772 as a first growth property, and currently consists of about 250 acres. The wines from this region are world renowned, especially their sweet wines, though they make dry wines too. This wine is a blend of 60% Furmint, 30% Harslevelu and 10% Zeta. Golden amber in color, it presents with a mild sweetness, balanced off by a fine acidity, and the flavors are intriguing, with notes of honey, almonds, apricots, and more. Seductive and elegant, it would also pair well with blue cheese or spicy Asian dishes. If you want a superb dessert wine, then look no further.

5) NV Barons de Rothschild Rosé Champagne ($125)
The famous Rothschild family has entered the Champagne realm and their offerings are quality. The Rosé is a blend of about 85% Chardonnay, from Côtes des Blancs crus, and 15% Pinot Noir, from Montagne de Reims. The blend includes 5-6% which is vinified as a red wine. This was a superb Rosé with a compelling aroma, subtle red fruit and citrus notes. On the palate, it was crisp, dry and elegant with flavors of red fruits, especially strawberry, and a little orange peel. Complex, a lengthy finish and an excellent balance. Food friendly, this is a hedonistic pleasure.

6) 2008 Barone Ricasoli Colledila Chianti Classico ($50-$60)
While in Chianti Classico, I tasted a number of high end wines, including some superb Super Tuscans, and two of their wines made this list. The Colledila is a single vineyard Sangiovese produced in a traditional style. This is only the second vintage of this wine, and Colledila is the name of the vineyard, a small, 7 hectare plot. Only about 14,000 bottles are produced annually. This was a stellar wine, elegant, complex and compelling. It has an intriguing melange of flavors, cherry, violets, spice, herbs and a little earthiness. Great acidity and a lengthy, satisfying finish. A perfect wine to accompany a fine meal, from pasta to beef. Highly recommended.

7) 2006 Isole e Olena Cepparello ($60-$70)
One of my favorite Chianti Classico wineries is Isole e Olena, and owner/wine maker Paolo die Marchi is a personable and intriguing man. His iconic Cepparello is a Super Tuscan, made from 100% Sangiovese, and I tasted through vintages 2006, 2007 and 2008. The 2006 most impressed me and the Cepparello generally benefits from aging. This wine had a medium red color with an alluring nose of cherry and spice. It seduces your palate with rich, lush flavors of vibrant fruit, spice, and licorice. It is incredibly smooth, with supple tannins, and is also well balanced with a lingering, hedonistic finish. Lots of subtle complexity in this wine, which shows much elegance and style. I cannot recommend the Cepparello enough.

8) 2005 Sine Qua Non "Atlantis Fe 203-1a,b,c" Syrah ($300+)
Sine Qua Non is a cult wine producer which is a favorite of Robert Parker and this specific wine received a score of 100 points. When I bought this wine, I was unaware of its score and found it at an excellent price. The wine is a blend of 93% Syrah, 5% Grenache & 2% Viognier and I thought that the wine might be big and powerful, a muscular beast that might throttle my palate. That was not the case. Instead, I encountered a silk-clad temptress, whose seductive wiles entranced me while her lush lips crushed against mine, inciting my own passions. Memories of that kiss lingered long and I craved for her touch once again. She was an elegant woman yet with the concentrated power and grace of a black panther. I wanted to explore all of her depths, to lose myself within her soft, smooth arms. This was an experience, more than just a taste of wine. Wow! Let me repeat. WOW!

Spain, with three wines, had the most spots on this list with Italy taking two, and Hungary, South Africa, France and California each with one spot. The list is also broken down into 1 Champagne, 1 White, 6 Red wines, and 1 Dessert Wine. Not all expensive wines are worth their high price but these are wines well worth the splurge. These are the type of wines that words often cannot do justice. These are wines to experience and savor, not to dissect and analyze.

If you have some of your own recommendations for wines over $50, please add them to the comments.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Rich, just thrilled I could share a bottle of Eben Sadie's wine with you. Palladius is a very special wine that is part of my discovery of how special the Swartland appellation is.