2009: The Year in Wine

2009: The Year in Wine
I kicked off the 2009 year in review by giving thanks to all of you that are reading this today! For the second part of this series I wanted to, much as I did in 2008, take a look across all of the wines I tasted during the year. As much as I would like to use a tool like Cellar Tracker or VinCellar on Vinfolio (who, by the way, just declared pseudo-bankruptcy) I am still chugging away with my little home grown (Microsoft Access) tool that could. That said, it allows me to take a good look into the rear view mirror so let’s get to the tale of the tape…

For the year I tasted 318 wines with an average cost per bottle of $10.18 which brought me back in line with my numbers from 2007 when I averaged $10.03 (versus $8.93 in ’08). This can be certainly attributed to the drop to 56% (avg. cost: $6.18), from 72% in ‘08, of purchases being made at Trader Joe’s. Winery direct at 14% (avg. cost: $17.86) and K&L Wines with 12% (avg. cost: $11.29) round out the top three in the purchasing category. 2007 (33%) replaced 2005 as the most prevalent vintage consumed with 2008 (23%) jumping past 2006 into second. Wonder how those ‘06’s are missing my cart… My oldest wine of the year was a ’94 Vintage Cava from Segura Viudas that I opened on New Year’s Eve.

As many of you know, what draws me to wine is the proxy it provides for physically traveling the world. First and foremost on my mind is always the opportunity to try a new grape or a new region. With that, in 2009, I samples wine spanning 44 grapes from 13 countries representing 54 different wine regions. The US led the way at 57% with Italy, France and Chile filling the next 3 spots. Red Blends were once again the dominant choice with Zinfandel moving into the 2nd spot and Pinot Noir the 3rd. I attribute Pinot being 3rd to the incredible offerings Trader Joe’s has had over the last six months that brought this varietal into a comfortable spending range from me.

Six wineries crossed into the 10+ bottle category this year. Three, Navarro, Rosenblum and Epicuro, are repeats from last year. Of the three to join the ranks one is a new favorite in Sobon Estates where I have tried many of the offerings and never been disappointed. Another is Central Coast Wine Warehouse who has been placing a number of private label offerings in Trader Joe’s. My personal favorite being the Franc Merlot which I am hoping to see a new vintage of soon. And the last is Jim Neal Wines, maker of the Chariot Gypsy which purely based on my consumption of that single wine…

To round out this segment the let’s take a look at both ends of the price spectrum. On the lower end I had 2 offerings at $3, the 2008 Down Under Chardonnay and 2008 Il Valore Sangiovese. Against the odds, I was a fan, and have repurchased, both! As I found this of interest I took a quick look at the $4 lot and was surprised to find that I found 25% (5 of 20) to my liking. Might dig further into the QPR aspects in a further post. As for the most expensive, for Open That Bottle Night I picked the 2003 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $55 which, while it didn’t disappoint, failed to excite me.

By the way Open That Bottle Night takes place on the last Saturday of every February. That means it is just around the corner. Start thinking about what you might want to pull out of that special hiding spot for the evening! While you’re thinking stay tuned for the last in this “2009 Year in Review” series where I plan to cover highlights of what I learned about wine, my most interesting wines of the year and some thoughts for where I see myself headed in 2010. Hope everyone’s New Year if off to a great start!

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4 thoughts on “2009: The Year in Wine

  1. Hey all,

    Happy New Year!

    Finally got the Tasting Team back up and running at #109 Alameda, so here’s my notes from last night, the first Tasting of 2010.
    (Sorry I didn’t right down all of the vintages, but I think most of them are 2007)

    Jacob’s Creek Shriaz: $4.99: Hustle Buy
    Sweet, friuty nose, light on the palate with some berry notes and a hot finish. I can see a lot of fans of Yellowtail (bleck!)liking this wine, but the Crew did not.

    Red Truck Mendocino Syrah: $7.99
    Berries on the nose, smoky with dark berries on the palate. I liked the smoky qualities and thought it to be fairly drinkable. The Crew was divided on this one.

    TJ’s Reserve Dry Creek Zinfandel: $9.99
    Delicious nose, big, bold and spicy on the palate with a nice slightly short finish.

    Most of the Crew liked this one but several people said they wouldn’t pay $10 for it.
    For my palate, I think it just might be worth it.

    And the favorite….
    Castle Rock Mendocino Zinfandel: $5.99
    Big berries on the nose, ever-so-slightly jammy, light on the palate without being thin, a nice everyday drinker.

    Not sure what we’re doing next week, but I’ll definitely keep y’all posted.

  2. @Angela Yeah! Happy New Year and glad you are back on track. Hit the Larkspur TJ’s this weekend and grabbed a few bottles of the Jacob’s Creek despite your notes. We have a long history together so hoping for the best. Will be interesting to try once blind and once not as the opinions would likely be wildly divergent given my previous good experiences when seeing the label. Guess which is the one from your list they were out of. Yip! The Castle Rock Zin, guess you sold ‘em out before I got there but I’ll continue to keep my eye out…

  3. Hi Jason,

    Yeah, I found out the Castle Rock Zin is Out of Stock right now after I posted. Hopefully back soon. And last night I believe I saw a case of Now & Zen at our store. Looking forward to grabbing a few more bottles if I can find where they stashed it.

    Next week I think we’re planning on Tacos, Beer and Latin wines. I’ll let you know.

  4. I was just drinking the Now & Zen again tonight. Never disappoints. As for the Latin wines I’m guessing they will thought would love for you to prove me otherwise. Outside of the Casillero del Diablo Carmenere (and their other offerings) I’ve been disappointed. Oh wait, there was that $1.99 Bonarda that rocked and I haven’t seen for ever but other than that…

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