Friday, December 13, 2013

2013: 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 five entries as there were not enough worthy wines to complete ten entries. I have certainly tasted more than 5 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. They had to be more than merely delicious, but needed to possess something special.

Like the prior lists, this list includes wines that not only did I enjoy, but 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 at this price point that I have 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 Liparita Oakville Cabernet Savignon ($55).
This California wine has an alcohol content of 14.9% and spends about 32 months in French oak, 65% new. It possessed a dark purplish color with an alluring aroma, with red cherry, plum and spice on the nose. Its taste was a complex and compelling blend of red and black fruits, vanilla, black pepper and spice. It was more hedonistic and smooth, yet still possessed of a good structure. A wine of less power and more elegance, balanced well and possessed of a near endless finish that made you yearn for more and more. Once again, this Cabernet is as good as wines at least twice the price.

2) 1973 Beronia Gran Reserva (?)
This was the first wine produced by the Spanish winery Beronia and it is classic Rioja, produced in a more old fashioned method, a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Viura. Viura is a white grape and was once permitted in the making of red Rioja, but that is no longer the case. This was a sublime, complex and intriguing wine, just a pure stunner. The aroma seduced my nose while the taste tantalized my palate. It had strong acidity, lots of red fruit flavors, mild spice and hints of leather and chocolate. It is hard to do justice to this wine, which offers much to a wine lover. It is probably not something you might be able to buy but was a sublime experience this year for me.

3) 2005 Abacela Paramour ($90)
This Oregon wine is the top of Abacela's line, and was inspired by the iconic Vega Sicilia Unico. This is produced in a Gran Reserva style, though aged in French rather than American oak. This was an amazing wine, and reminded me of some high end Spanish Tempranillo wines. From its alluring aromas to its complex melange of flavors, this wine impressed from start to finish. I think it was very drinkable now, and will continue to remain strong for years to come. It is difficult to describe this wine, which is something you need to experience and which mere words cannot adequately encapsulate. Each sip brings new flavors to mind, and it is a wine to slowly savor over dinner, with great friends. This was the only wine I purchased in Oregon for very good reason.

4) 2011 Illahe "Project 1899" Pinot Noir ($65)
Another Oregon wine, this is the first vintage of this wine, which is essentially produced without electricity. For example, it is hand pumped and hand racked by candle. It is produced with 100% native fermentation, 50% whole cluster, and only 75 cases were made. It reminds me most of their Pinot Noir Reserve, but it possesses some unusual taste elements, which were hard to identify. They were pleasant flavors, just more unique and maybe more on the earthier side. Very intriguing taste which should tantalize any wine lover. A fascinating project that has produced a compelling wine.

5) 2008 Castello di Amorosa La Castellana ($68)
A taste of Italy from a California winery. This is a Super Tuscan-style blend, containing 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, and 14% Sangiovese. The wine is aged for 20 months in French oak, has an alcohol content of 14.6%, and about 1634 cases were produced. It is a complex and intense wine, yet the tannins are manageable and it doesn't pulverize you with its flavors. Dark berries, black cherry, a little tartness, a rich spiciness and hints of mocha. A lingering finish is very pleasant, and it probably would be best with a hearty dish, from a juicy steak to a Bolognese Tagliatelle.

The United States Spain dominated this small list, taking four of the five spots, with two California wines and two Oregon wines. Spain was the only other country to occupy a spot. All five wines were also Reds. Not all expensive wines are worth their high price but these five 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 unique and compelling wines over $50, please add them to the comments.

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