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11.05.2012

Highlights from the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Event

I attend a lot of public tasting events for the same reason I tell my readers to attend them. They are simply the best way to educate the palate, and often the only way to get a chance to taste certain wines that you might not otherwise have a chance to afford. Such tastings can be quite exhausting and by the end of the event, I'm usually ready to take a nap.Top100_2012_WS_logo.jpg

At the end of the annual Wine & Spirits Top 100 tasting every year, however, I find myself wishing I had another couple of hours to wander around and taste wine. Perhaps this is partly because of the bottomless oyster bar with fresh kumamoto oysters, a welcome respite from rounds of tasting, but mostly the wines on offer are generally of such high quality that I simply would like to taste them all.

Put on by Wine & Spirits Magazine, the tasting is a showcase of (most, but not all) the wineries that have made the magazine's annual list of Top 100 Wineries around the world. Such annual lists have only marginal value from my perspective, and often contain the same players over and over again, but it's certainly hard to deny the quality of the wines on offer at this particular tasting.

Held at the City View event space at the Metreon building in San Francisco, this event is great, especially when the weather is nice, as it was a couple of weeks ago when the tasting was held. Starting the afternoon out with a cold glass of Dom Perignon with a view of San Francisco on a balmy 75 degree day is hard to beat.

I had just flown in from New York at midnight before the tasting, and had a crazy week lined up, so I did not have as much energy or stamina as usual for this tasting, so my notes represent a smaller percentage of the wines on offer than usual, but here were my favorites.

White

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10
2010 C. von Schubert "Maximin Grünhäuser Abtsberg #37" Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany $45 Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright lemon and pears. In the mouth the wine is a neon lemon explosion in the mouth with laser beams of bright yellow flavors zinging across the palate even as a fine mist of pulverized stone and rainwater suffuses the palate. Moderately sweet. click to buy.

2003 Dom Perignon Champagne, France $149
Light gold in the glass this wine smells of pear, lemon zest and sea air. In the mouth rich, broad flavors of crusty bread, juicy lemon zest and liquid rocks all swirl on the palate with incredible richness. Expansive and richer than normal, this is definitely one of my favorite vintages of this wine I've tasted. Outstanding. click to buy.

2010 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler "Wehlener Sonnenuhr" Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany $38
Pale greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of honey and wet stones with a hint of petrol. In the mouth, stony notes of honey, lemon, and pears have a remarkable bright intensity that lingers through a very long finish. Excellent acidity. Pure, effortless, and utterly, knock you on your butt compelling. click to buy.

2010 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler "Bernkasteler Badstube" Riesling Beerenauslese, Mosel, Germany $60
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of grapefruit, honey, and wet stones. In the mouth, exquisite flavors of honey, mandarine oranges and candied ginger are crystalline bright, and linger long through the finish. Perfect acidity.Moderate to very sweet. Yum doesn't begin to cover it.click to buy.


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2002 Dom Perignon Champagne, France $149
Pale gold in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of saltines, ocean air, and a hint of lemon zest. In the mouth, lemon, apple, and butter crackers mix with the crisp tang of oyster shells. Long finish and beautifully velvety mousse. click to buy.

2009 Domaine Leflaive "1er Cru Les Pucelles" Blanc, Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy, France $260
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of resiny, piney lemon curd. In the mouth, zingy lemon curd, pine sap, and pink grapefruit flavors have a crystalline minerality that sparkles almost blindingly (if that wholly inappropriate visual metaphor can mean anything in the mouth). Extraordinary acidity and a hint of salinity make this wine utterly gulpable. Stupendous. click to buy.

2008 Domaine William Fevre "Grand Cru Bougros" Chablis, Burgundy, France $75
Palest greenish gold in the glass, this wine smells of gunpowder and lemon zest. In the mouth citrus zest, wet chalkboard and floral notes linger in exquisite balance through a long finish. Outstanding. click to buy.

2010 Dr. Loosen Mosel "Wehlener Sonnenuhr" Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany $??
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of bright floral, honey, and mineral aromas. In the mouth the wine is like sweet candied stone, liquified for our drinking pleasure. Floral notes waft above this river of crystal that flows across the palate. Long, fabulous finish. Wow. click to buy.

1999 Iron Horse "Joy!" Sparkling Wine, Green Valley, Sonoma, California $189
Light gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of yeasty sea air with hints of citrus. In the mouth the wine has a wonderful savory saline and saltine cracker quality before it moves on to deeper notes of oyster shell and citrus zest. Rich, balanced, and excellent. click to buy.

2009 Kante Malvasia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy $30
Palest orange in color, this wine smells of floral and wet stone aromas, with hints of berries. In the mouth flavors of orange peel, berries, and wet stones swirl mysteriously on the palate while remaining exquisitely balanced and poised, with great acidity. click to buy.

2004 Louis Roederer "Cristal" Brut, Champagne, France $200
Light gold in the glass, with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of yeasty lime zest and wet stones. In the mouth the wine is very dry, with a silky mousse and saline, crisp, mineral flavors that have but a whiff of citrus zest to them. Quite focused, as usual, and taut. click to buy.

2009 Zidarich Carso Vitovska, Carso, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy $50
Palest cloudy gold in the glass, this wine smells of melted creamsicle and floral aromas. In the mouth, flavors of sweet yellow blossoms and and candle wax swirl over deeper stony minerality. Excellent balance and length. Delicious. click to buy.

1991 R. Lopez de Heredia "Gran Reserva Vina Tondonia" Blanco, Rioja, Spain $105 click to buy.


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2002 Bollinger Brut "La Grande Annee" Champagne, France $129
Pale gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of lemon zest and sea air. In the mouth, crisp apple flavors have a bright saline and lemon zest quality -- bright and delicate with great balance. click to buy.

2011 Domaine William Fevre Chablis, Burgundy, France $28
Near colorless in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones and lime zest. In the mouth juicy lime and lime zest flavors mix with wet stones and rainwater for a crisp and delicious package. click to buy.

2010 Hermann J. Wiemer Finger Lakes "HJW Vineyard" Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York, USA $39
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of floral, honey and apple aromas. In the mouth fantastic acidity brings apple, pear, and honey flavors alive with a crisp underlying stony minerality that is quite compelling. Excellent. click to buy.

2011 Hermann J. Wiemer Late Harvest Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York, USA $26
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of honey and wet stones. In the mouth flavors of pear and honey are welded to wet granite minerality and sparkle with bright acidity. Long, floral, and quite delicious. Off-dry. click to buy.

2003 Roederer Estate "L'Ermitage"Brut Sparkling Wine, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California, USA $47
Light gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of apples and pears. In the mouth juicy apple flavors take on a hint of yeast, which turns a touch malted in the finish. Nice acidity. click to buy.

2009 Zidarich Venezia-Giulia Prulke White, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy $50
A cloudy light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells to me of the delicate blossoms of a tree known as "wintersweet" along with the mineral note of candle wax. In the mouth citrusy flavors of quince, saffron, and candle wax are layered on top of a deeper minerality that is quite compelling. Wonderfully balanced and distinctive, this is an extraordinary wine. click to buy.

1996 Bruno Paillard "Brut N.P.U." Champagne, France $450 click to buy.
NV Bruno Paillard "Brut Première Cuvée" Champagne, France $65 click to buy.
2009 Domaine Leflaive "1er Cru Sous le Dos d'Âne" Meursault, Burgundy, France $?? click to buy.
2009 Weinbach "Altenbourg" Pinot Gris, Alsace, France, USA $?? click to buy.
2010 Dr. Loosen Mosel "Wehlener Sonnenuhr Grosses Gewachs" Riesling, Mosel, Germany $?? click to buy.
2010 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler "Bernkasteler Badstube" Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany $24 click to buy.
2011 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler "Bernkasteler Badstube Am Doctorburg" Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany $?? click to buy.
2011 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler "Wehlener Sonnenuhr" Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany $?? click to buy.
2007 Benanti Etna Bianco Superiore Pietramarina, Etna, Sicily, Italy $?? click to buy.
2010 Nicolas Joly "Les Vieux Clos" Savennieres, Loire, France $?? click to buy.
2009 Louis Jadot "Grand Cru Domaine des Héritiers" Blanc, Corton-Charlemagne, Burgundy, France $?? click to buy.
2010 Peay Estate Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California, USA $52 click to buy.
2010 Prager "Achleiten Stockkultur Smaragd" Gruner Veltliner, Wachau, Niederosterreich, Austria $90 click to buy.


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2009 Zidarich Malvasia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy $50
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of exotic flowers and candle wax. In the mouth, flavors of lemon curd, flowers, saffron, and quince all mix beautifully on the palate, with fantastic bright acidity. click to buy.

2011 C. von Schubert "Maximin Grünhäuser Herrenberg" Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany $35 click to buy.
2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle "Eroica" Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington, USA $?? click to buy.
2009 Domaine de la Pepiere "Granite de Clisson" Muscadet, Loire, France $43 click to buy.
2011 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler "Bernkasteler Badstube Am Doctorburg" Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany $?? click to buy.
2009 Nicolas Joly "Coulee de Serrant Clos de la Coulee de Serrant" Savennieres, Loire, France $?? click to buy.
2011 Lamoreaux Landing Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York, USA $14 click to buy.
2010 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages Blanc, Macon-Villages, Burgundy, France $?? click to buy.
NV Louis Roederer "Brut Premier" Champagne, France $45 click to buy.
2011 Matetic Vineyards "EQ Coastal" Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca, Chile $18 click to buy.
2011 Prager "Hinter der Burg Federspiel" Gruner Veltliner, Wachau, Niederosterreich, Austria $40 click to buy.


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2012 Henschke Eden Valley Julius Riesling Eden Valley, Barossa, South Australia, Australia $36
2003 Iron Horse Green Valley Brut LD Green Valley, Sonoma, California, USA $85
2010 Rudi Pichler Wachau Smaragd Wösendorfer Kollmütz Gruner Veltliner, Wachau, Niederosterreich, Austria $??
2011 Rudi Pichler Wachau Smaragd Wösendorfer Kirchweg Riesling, Wachau, Niederosterreich, Austria $80


WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2011 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet 'Classique', Muscadet, Loire, France $14
2004 Iron horse Chinese cuvée Green Valley, Sonoma, California, USA $98
2011 Lamoreaux Landing Finger Lakes Red Oak Vineyard Riesling , Finger Lakes, New York, USA $20


Pink


PINK WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
NV Bollinger Rosé Champagne, France $89
Pale pink in color with fine bubbles this wine smells of hibiscus and wet stones. In the mouth a soft mousse delivers a cloud of citrusy rosehip and wet stone flavors. click to buy.

PINK WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
NV Diebolt-Vallois Brut Rosé Champagne, France $66
Pale pink in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of apple and pear, and in the mouth it delivers much of the same: apples, pears and bright zingy acidity. click to buy.

2004 Movia "Puro" Sparkling Rosé, Goriska-Brda, Slovenia $45
Cloudy salmon pink in the glass, this wine smells of exotic flowers and wet leaves. In the mouth flavors of citrus zest smoke, pears, and rosehips all mix amidst softer acidity. The mousse fades quickly both in the mouth and in the glass. click to buy.


Red


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2012 Drew "Talfryn & Calder" Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California $38
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar and sweet raspberry fruit. In the mouth tangy raspberry and redcurrant flavors explode on the palate even as savory notes of green herbs waft through the back of the mouth. Incredible acidity (the pH must be something crazy, too). Fantastic. click to buy.

2007 Penfolds "Grange Bin 95" Shiraz, Australia $500
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of minty cassis and dark cherry fruit. In the mouth notes of menthol chime wonderfully bright bells of cherry fruit. Excellent acidity and powdery, supple tannins coat the mouth while the fruit and mint jamboree plays all night long. Excellent. click to buy.

2001 R. Lopez de Heredia "Vina Tondonia Riserva" Red Wine, Rioja, Spain $45
Medium ruby in color this wine smells of earthy cedar aromas with a hint of red fruit underneath. In the mouth cedary cherry flavors mix with a bright citrus tanginess that lingers for a long time in the mouth. Balanced and beautiful. click to buy.

2010 Tenuta delle Terre Nere "Calderara" Rosso, Etna, Sicily $40
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of juicy redcurrant and stony earth. In the mouth this wine is a smooth operator, silky and taut with flavors of mulberry, redcurrant and sour cherry all wound tightly around sinews of tannin that flex just to show their rippling power. Rocking. click to buy.

2009 Peay "La Bruma" Syrah, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California $47. click to buy.


RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
1991 Kante "Terranum" Terrano, Carso, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy $80
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of leather and bacon fat. In the mouth flavors of leather, sour cherry, and wet stones mesh in a wonderfully pleasing melange, from which a distinct note of vanilla emerges on the finish. beautifully balanced. click to buy.

2010 Drew "Perli Vineyard" Syrah, Mendocino Ridge, California $40
Dark purple in the glass, this wine smells of floral cassis aromas mixed with wet stones. In the mouth those floral notes continue with a dark smoky haze through which deep earthen and mineral notes vibrate for a very long time. Excellent acidity and quite remarkable. Yum. click to buy.

2009 Eyrie "Original Vines Reserve" Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon $60
Pale garnet in color, this wine smells of redcurrant and raspberries. In the mouth redcurrant and raspberry flavors mix with wet redwood bark and wet dirt. Silky and long with nice balance and acidity. click to buy.

2010 Eyrie "Estate" Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA $35
Pale garnet in the glass, this wine smells of earth, wet tree bark and marijuana resin. In the mouth flavors of cherry, redwood bark and wet stones take on a citrus quality as the wine finishes. Great acidity and excellent balance. An unusual and pleasurable wine. click to buy.

2005 Kante Terrano, Carso, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy $30
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of mulberry and other fresh crushed berries. In the mouth a tart sour cherry quality pervades the wine along with wet stones and a juicy bright acidity that makes the wine bounce around the palate with a joyous energy. Fantastic. click to buy.

2009 Bodegas Roda "Cirsion" Red Wine, Rioja, Spain $100
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dark, earthy cassis and cherry notes. In the mouth the wine is equally dark, but with good acidity that brings flavors of cassis, cherry and earth to life with nice complexity and resonance. Faint tannins. click to buy.

2009 Tenuta delle Terre Nere "Santo Spirito" Rosso, Etna, Sicily $40
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of mulberries and sour cherries. In the mouth the wine conveys nothing so much as liquid earth and rocks tinged by sour cherry and redcurrant flavors. Excellent acidity and powdery tannins. Long in the finish. click to buy.

2006 Benanti "Serra della Contessa" Rosso, Etna, Sicily, Italy $?? click to buy.
2006 Bouchard Père & Fils "Grèves 1er Cru Vigne de L'Enfant Jésus" Rouge, Beaune, Burgundy, France $75 click to buy.
2009 Catherine & Pierre Breton "Clos Sénéchal" Rouge, Borgueil, Loire, France $30 click to buy.
2009 Catherine & Pierre Breton "Nuits d'Ivresse" Rouge, Borgueil, Loire, France $30 click to buy.
2009 Pago de los Capellanes Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain $30 click to buy.
2004 Podere Rocche dei Manzoni "Quatr'Nas" Rosso, Langhe, Piemonte, Italy $60 click to buy.
2007 Produttori del Barbaresco "Riserva Muncagota" Barbaresco, Piemonte, Italy $?? click to buy.
2009 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, Sonoma, California, USA $72 click to buy.


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2004 Bodegas Roda "RODA I" Reserva, Rioja, Spain $65 click to buy.
2010 Bouchard Père & Fils "1er Cru Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot" Volnay, Burgundy, France $90 click to buy.
2008 Henschke "Keyneton Euphonium" Red, Barossa, South Australia, Australia $55 click to buy.
2010 Mark Ryan Winery "Dead Horse" Red Blend, Red Mountain, Washington $52 click to buy.
2009 Matetic Vineyards "EQ" Syrah, San Antonio Valley, Chile $55 click to buy.
2008 Michel Gay et Fils "Toussaints 1er Cru Vieilles Vignes" Rouge, Beaune, Burgundy, France $45 click to buy.
2005 Podere Rocche dei Manzoni "Vigna Cappella di S. Stefano" Barolo, Piemonte, Italy $100 click to buy.
2005 R. Lopez de Heredia "Vina Cubillo" Rioja Crianza, Rioja, Spain $25 click to buy.
2010 Williams Selyem "Westside Road Neighbors" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California $69 click to buy.


RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2009 Lange Estate Winery "Lange Estate Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon $60
2009 Lange Estate Winery "Freedom Hill Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon $60
2008 Michel Gay et Fils Beaune-Greves 1er Cru, Beaune, Burgundy, France $45
2005 Pago de los Capellanes "Parcela El Picón" Red Wine, Ribera del Duero, Spain $200
2007 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco, Piemonte, Italy $??


RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2009 Mark Ryan Winery "Long Haul" Red Blend, Red Mountain, Washington $48

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.