Given the quantity of Chateauneufs-du-Pape we drink each year, it is not surprising that one of them usually makes it to this exalted, end-of-year compilation – Napaman’s Best Wines of The Year.
This year’s Glorious Grenache Award goes to Domaine Monpertuis for its sensational, 2007 special cuvee, Secret de Gabriel, which my Coravin work mate, Peter Johnson, brought to dinner one night.
I already knew this wine; the producer, Paul Jeune is a personal friend and I have had this wine in his home in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Peter didn’t know this when he brought the wine for dinner.
I also knew that Eric Asimov, wine writer for the New York Times, had selected the standard cuvee 2007 Domaine Monpertuis as the top wine out of ten 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines his panel tasted in 2009. Peter didn’t know this when he brought the wine for dinner, either.
So it was pure coincidence that Peter brought to dinner one of the best wines we had all year.
It was filled with rich, ripe, red fruit, lots of bramble and cherry. The finish lasted a good thirty seconds. Thank you Peter for the bottle, thank you Paul, for making such great wine!
My other top wines of 2013, out of perhaps 500 we drank with meals this year, include the following four.
2005 Domaine Serene Guadalupe Vineyard, Pinot Noir.
What is it about Domaine Serene? Very often, one of their single-vineyard Pinot Noirs earns recognition on this Best Of Year list, and this year is no exception.
The 2005 Domaine Serene Guadalupe Vineyard is a highly laudable wine. It was enjoyed this past summer at a dinner with my daughter and her friends from LA and Vermont, served with center-cut fillets of Atlantic salmon, perfectly broiled by Carol.
This was a perfect dinner and a perfect wine. The Pinot was silken in texture, syrupy in pleasure, filled with dark ripe cherries, field fruits and sensual ripeness. I can’t recall having a better Pinot Noir the whole year.
Intellectually my left brain wants to scribble 96 or 97 points for the wine; emotionally my right brain is screaming “100 points!” There is nothing rationale, or logical, about love... and there is nothing logical or rationale about loving this wine – it is what it is - Love at first sip.
1978 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Cask 23, Cabernet Sauvignon
Not only was this one of the best wines of the year, but it was actually the oldest wine I had the pleasure to consume.
This spectacular wine was poured from a magnum at Press restaurant at the birthday bash of Alan Greenberg, a Toronto friend who visited Napa Valley to celebrate his 53rd birthday. What a bash we had – and what a wine this was.
The 35-year-old Cab, a dyslexic version of Alan’s age, was lively, fresh, totally balanced, and elegant. Loads of plum, currant and still-fresh, herby notes.
Had I tasted this wine blind, I would never have guessed that this was 35-years-old. A brilliant achievement in winemaking – thank you Warren Winiarski who owned Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars at the time this wine was made.
The wine has an historical pedigree that made it extra-special; Stag’s Leap’s second vintage, its 1973 Cab, was included in the famous Paris Tasting of 1976, where it trounced ALL the Bordeaux submissions. Tasted blind, it was chosen the No. 1 Cabernet-based wine by a group of professional wine writers.
Does anyone remember the furor that ensued? The seismic change in the way Napa Valley Cabs were perceived? Or the rush to buy Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ wines?
Wine writers have long claimed that Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ top cuvee since 1974 has been Cask 23; the two magnums served at Alan’s birthday were proof they have been right.
2001 Turnbull Cabernet, Weitz Vineyard
I’ve always loved the wines from Turnbull, often overlooked, I think, by the raters and rankers and influential wine wankers; in many vintages, the mid-priced Turnbull is a better made wine than many triple-digit-dollar Napa Valley Cabs.
I loved this 2001 offering from Turnbull right out of the gate and bought a six-pack, which I have been drinking slowly, to make the pleasure last.
On the visit of very close friends from London, UK, we drank this offering from the Weitz Vineyard. A glorious wine, silken in texture, with an almost syrupy, satin finish. Loads of black currants, and dark ripe black fruit. Oh what a wonderful wine this is/was.
2002 Spottswoode Cabernet
I purchase a 6-pack of Spottswoode most years, a tribute to the sensational winemaking talents at this St. Helena winery. The night we drank the Turnbull (above) we also enjoyed the 2002 Spottswoode, a virtually perfect wine-drinking experience. Two gloriously rich wines, each at its respective ripest moment of evolution. How lucky is that?