2010: The Year in Review from A to Z

2010: The Year in Review from A to Z

I know I’ve been gone for a while. Apologies as life has been a bit hectic between my day job, buying a house, organizing a charity event (more on #Wines4JapanSF to come) and trying to launch a side business. I also know that 2010 is squarely in the rear view mirror for most. Q1 is over, 2010 tax season is behind us and most (me) are already behind on their New Year’s resolutions. That said given yesterday was the four year “birthday” of Jason’s Wine Blog I was feeling a bit retrospective and decided a sequel to the 2009 recap was in order. So first a quick nod once again to Tommy Oldre for the idea and then without further ado let’s get to it…

A is for an old flame; the Alsace. I’ve expressed my love here and here but have yet to dive in further. Changing that is one of my goals for 2011 and started with this 2009 Meyer-Fonne Riesling Reserve which was a certain winner. Also stay tuned as I plan (and already have been) exploring Assyrtiko (A seer’ tee ko) as well!

B is for… well it was tough to decide between Blue Danube Wines and Bonny Doon Vineyard. Blue Danube has introduced me to a plethora new and interesting varietals in the wines of eastern Europe. Where as Bonny Doon has rocked my palate with many fine and better yet value oriented wines (the Grenache is my favorite to date). I ultimately decided that since Randall Grahm and I both attended the Port4lio Tasting and agreed that the Patricius Yellow Muscat was the wine of the day that I would call it a tie. And Randall makes a nice Muscat of his own to boot…

C is for Cellar Tracker. This was the year I had finally made my leap from a little, personal system I used to becoming an active user of CellarTracker and I love it. I’ve posted over 200 notes in my first year onboard and have enjoyed reading others thoughts on wines I have stashed in my cellar. If you haven’t joined I highly recommend it! And if you do be sure to “friend” me so I can see what you are drinking…

D is for December. December 2010 to be exact. A season of festivities and I certainly celebrated by drinking some fine wines. Many of which I’ve yet to chronicle here. Two of my favorites were the Broadside Cabernet and Pierre Gonon Vin de Pays de l’Ardeche. Both were discovered via Jon Bonne’s No Stress Holiday Guide. Look for more on the palate matcher series I intend to delve into this year. In short the more I spend $12+ per bottle the more I am keeping score on who is steering me in the right direction for my palate. +2 for Jon and more to come.

E is for my evolving palate. It’s been five plus years since I’ve started seriously tracking my tasting notes and it is interesting to see how my perspective has changed over that time. Certainly in my earlier days I was much more a fan of rich, opulent wines like this 2004 Rosenblum “Heritage Clone” San Francisco Bay Petite Sirah which I still have two plus cases of in my cellar to more restrained offerings. I’m not sticking a branch into the beehive around balanced wines as it is just my take and I still enjoy a “bigger” wine on occasion. I’ll be interested to see how my palate continues to evolve in the next five years to come. Still so much to learn and try…

F is for Fronton. Fronton? Say what? Fronton is the the local wine of Toulouse and Negrette is the primary varietal these wines are composed of. And while I really enjoyed the Domaine Le Roc Classique this is more an ode to all of the other discoveries out there that are awaiting me. If I can find something like this from just outside France’s fourth largest city it speaks volumes to the amount of exploring I have left to do.

G is for Grüner Veltliner. I had my first deep dive into this native Austrian varietal at the aforementioned (see “B”) Port4lio tasting where I learned a great deal. I always appreciate the snappy, refreshing minerality they deliver and look forward to the differing complexities (floral notes, smoky, spice, etc.) that each brings to bear. My favorite of the year? The Graf Hardegg which made it to the final four of my summer wine extravaganza (75+ wines) last year. With warmer weather upon us I look forward to picking up my studies where I left off.

H is for Haiti. For those that don’t remember Haiti was struck by a major earthquake in January of last year. As part of this the wine community banded together to help support the relief efforts. The Wines for Haiti auction held on Palate Press was chief amongst these efforts. With the tragedy in Japan fresh on all of our minds I look forward to banding together as a community to once again support those in need. For those in the bay area stay tuned as we are in the midst of organizing a “Wines for Japan” tasting event.

I is for Israel and the wines of the Middle East. Not the first place that springs to mind when you think of wine but certainly somewhere the history runs deep. My first wine from Israel was the Golan Heights Cabernet Sauvignon which showed very well and encouraged me to explore further. And don’t even get me started on Lebanon. Learning the ins and outs (if there are any) of Chateau Musar is certainly on my agenda.

J is for Jadot, as in Louis Jadot who is just one of the producers mentioned in the best piece of wine writing I’ve likely ever read. If you haven’t yet stop reading now and click on over to Keith Levenberg’s Cellar-Book. That said be forewarned I have been on a relentless search for each (see Assyrtiko mention above) and every one of these wines. Wallet be damned. As for the Jadot I’ve yet to try it but I’m almost certain I‘ll love it. Stay tuned!

K is for K&L Wines. Those in the San Francisco area (and more recently LA) will surely recognize the name of one of my favorite retailers. Their email newsletters are well worth the subscription (if you can handle the temptation) and their selection is outstanding across all price points. My favorites range from the 2001 Château Larmande ($40) to QPR gems like the Urbanite Cellars Redart, Skouras White and Domaine Guillemarine Picpoul-de-Pinet. I’m looking forward to new discoveries in 2011!

L is for La Clarine Farm. 2010 was the year my interest piqued in “natural” wine. While the definition is widely debated I fall on the side of what’s in the bottle and I can tell you that I have yet to be disappointed. La Clarine delivers in spades with their Grenache Blanc and Syrah both interesting to the last drop and leaving you longing for the next bottle (need to get some of that Home Vineyard Red Blend). If interested in learning more about La Clarine Farms check out this interview with Hank Beckmeyer which was filmed as part of a documentary on natural wines in California called Wine from Here. Click on through to check the trailer. Great wine geek stuff!

M is once again for Mendocino and Navarro Vineyards. As mentioned last year I’m a big fan of this winery where I have been a club member for nearly a decade. I also mentioned I drink these wines far more than I review them which is a shame. In 2011 I’ll try and right that. Perhaps by tapping into a few of the verticals I’ve been building…

N is for the NPA or the Natural Process Alliance. For those that don’t remember their Sauvignon Blanc (my most consumed wine of 2010) was the winner of my Summer Stash series taking top honors amongst 50+ wines. I’ve since enjoyed their Red Hawk and Pinot Gris and love that their offerings can only be described as fun in a bottle. That is unless you give them nicknames of their own. Some of my faves are “sunshine”, “summer”, “the weekend”…

O is for older; as in older wines. I last lamented my lack of a wine sugar daddy (still accepting applications…) when talking Bordeaux earlier this year. Sadly my chances to try aged wine are few and far between. Last year I had a chance to taste the wines of Vina Valoria that spanned four decades; ’68 (my oldest), ’73, ’92, ’05, which was a unique experience. This year I recently had a 1994 Château Les Ormes de Pez. As for the rest of the year I’m hoping Musar (mentioned in “I” above) and Lopez de Heredia work their way onto my agenda (and into my cellar).

P is for palates and perspectives. This is building on my early note (see letter “D”) that the “the more I spend $12+ per bottle the more I am keeping score on who is steering me in the right direction for my palate.” My thought for 2011 is do dig deeper than the scores here. It is great that Parker gives a wine 90 points but what does my palate say. Likewise for you out there. I may love a wine you disdain or vice versa. To me this is part of the beauty of wine. That said I can’t help but try to apply a little bit of science to it ;)

Q is for QPR. I already mentioned some of my favorites from K&L Wines (see “K”) but I would be amiss not to share my a gem or two from a year of hunting the wines aisles of Trader Joe’s. My favorite of 2010? The Clos LaChance Merlot. The Picket Fence Pinot Noir was another favorite, though more polarizing, pick.

R is for Ridge Vineyards. Another case of enjoying the wines much more often than reviewing them. That said the Ridge Lytton Springs and York Creek Zinfandels are the only bottles I regularly spend $25+ per bottle on. This year I was lucky enough to join in for the 2nd version of their Wine Bloggers Tasting event. Hope I can make another one this year but either way looking forward to enjoying as many of their wines as I possibly can in 2011…

S is for the undiscovered Sherry. I have a lot of discovering to do in the realm of fortified wine and I intend to get it underway in 2011. No worries as I long ago identified my Obi Wan Kenobi in the Passionate Foodie, aka @RichardPF. My first Sherry? The Lustau Dry Amontillado “Los Arcos”. The first few nights I had this open it took some getting used to but after that I really enjoyed the bright orange rind, salty almond toast and a touch of carmel on the slightly sweet but dry finish. Looking forward to whatever my jedi master recommends next.

T is for Third Thirsty Thursday’s which is what I have preliminarily named my tasting club. I’ve long had a few friends who I’ve learned and tasted with but as we all have growing families it is time to formalize these events. First one May 19th. We also need to get a #SFWineMob up and running…

U is for Unique. Those that have been following along know that I am always on the lookout for a new experience and I’ll certainly have my eye open for any and all opportunities to explore further in 2011. Part of why I love wine so much is that there is always a new varietal or area to explore. For starters I have a trip planned later this summer to Switzerland which should offer plenty of discoveries. Excited to see what the year ahead will bring and already looking forward to your recommendations.

V is for Vinos Unico and Vinho Verde. No one was better to me in 2010 than Luis Moya and Vinos Unico. From Port4lio to Redart (see “K”) to Vina Valoria (see “O”) they delighted again and again. While the ’98 (along with a red and sparkling version of) Vinho Verde I sampled at their tasting dinner was incredibly unique I most enjoyed many warm summer afternoons on the patio with the 2009 Trajarinho Vinho Verde which is a steal at $9 and the 2009 Muralhas de Monaco Vinho Verde. Word on the street is that the 2010 Vinho Verde has arrived and is now available. Time for me to stock up!

W is still for my son William (and daughter Cecilia). As previously mentioned I’d like to build them a little cellar of birth wines and have stashed away a few for each. Assyrtiko, Riesling, Lopez de Heredia, Chateau Musar and Renaissance Winery are all on my shopping list. If you have any reasonable, affordable additions (~$40) do let me know…

X is another repeat for Xinomavro. Blame it on Keith Levenberg (see “J”) but I must taste the Domaine Karydas this year. But first I’ll start with the 2000 Hatzimichalis Xinomavro which I mentioned last year of which I was recently able to acquire another bottle of from Wine Chateau (along with a few others). With my friend Markus Stolz as a guide I look forward to discovering some terrific wines (at affordable prices).

Y is once again for You! I know I disappear from time to time and am less than diligent about responding to comments and apologize for both. I just want you all to know how much I appreciate sharing this journey with you. I’ve learned much, been turned on to some great wines, the Kanonkop Kadette comes to mine, and appreciated all the dialogue (even dissenting opinions) over the years. Thanks again and look forward to more of the same in 2011.

Z is for Zaca Mesa. First of interest after reading Steve Heimoff take on the Grenache I set out to track that one down. Alas all K&L Wines had on hand was the Syrah so I grabbed that and boy was I glad I did. Within that post I lamented not finding the Grenache which a friend was kind enough to gift me (along with a Viognier). Couple that with the extra bottles of Syrah I picked up and I look forward to spending more time with the wines of Zaca Mesa in 2011.

So there you have it! Have you had any of these? If so, would love to hear your thoughts. If not, let me know what wines have moved you over the last few years. I certainly love to try and track them down…

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5 thoughts on “2010: The Year in Review from A to Z

  1. Thanks again for the kind words Jason. Incidentally, Winex has the 2009 Clos du Grand Carquelin and Clos la Roche MaVs at very sharp prices. The Carquelin is something of the flagship of that lineup. I think that’s a wine that will seem a real gem in the cellar 15 or so years down the line.

    • My pleasure Keith! I’ll be sure to check out Winex though a little short on wine budget after my recent Renaissance acquisitions ;) Even better news it looks as if Gideon will be pouring his Clos Saron wines at the #Wines4JapanSF event I am helping to organize later this month. Can’t wait!

  2. Jason in terms of traders J’s wine blog and what has been on the “shelf” over the last 6 months you have really lost your way. The Gypsy and Rabbit R are long gone and were garbage. AND ! No mention of “The Tribunal 2008″, the best QPR at Tj’s in a decade ( a couple months ago) ? Dont bother with the 2009. So anyone reading this, let me rec 2 amazing QPR’s right now at TJ. Hogue Genesis and Beringer Alluvium, both reds. Buy 12 +. Cellar the Genesis.

  3. There you are!
    I was wondering what happened.
    Life certainly has a tendency of getting in the way of wine blogging ; )

    Not a whole lot to report recently as our latest Captain hasn’t approved a lot of tastings. : (

    However, the Crew buzz about the 2007 Lost Sonnet Napa Meritage($9.99) and the 2009 “C” Cabernet ($19.99) make these wines something you should check out right away before they’re gone.

    Also the 2007 Beringer Knights Valley Alluvium red (Bordeaux blend)is a screaming deal at $9.99 as it sells elsewhere for $21.99 and the Genesis ($7.99) you could cellar or open the night before and drink with a big hunk o’ meat.

    For easy drinking, I was quite surprised by the 2009 Les Portes de Bordeaux ($4.99) and a little more up the ladder, I liked the Picton Bay Pinot Noir ($7.99) with it’s cherry/berry notes, smooth and yummy.

    I’ll check to see if I can make your event depending on my work schedule.

    Hugs to all!
    Angela
    Wine Geek
    Store #109 Alameda

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