It is that time of the year again, when we writers wrack our brains to come up with the most important events of the year.
In looking for my wine of the year, I have to weigh many factors. Not only does the wine have to be great, that of course is a given - and a very subjective one at that, but it also has to be important.
For me, a wine is important when it informs me about a greater movement. For example, a minor wine that performs spectacularly well in a great vintage could serve not only as a harbinger of things to come, but also as a gateway to a region whose wines of this quality are often prohibitively expensive.
To be honest, I’ve been around long enough that it is not easy to surprise me anymore, it is somewhat difficult to really open my eyes. Still, I freely admit that each year, I know a smaller and smaller percentage of what is available to be known about wine.
It is refreshing when I am forced outside of my comfort zone and discover something for myself. It’s a joyous occasion, replete with emotions and sentiment that recall my earliest days of vinous exploration. In a world where the ordinary becomes even more common, these bursts of inspiration punctuate a year filled with wine tastings.
It could have been low expectations that made my wine of the year stand out as clearly as it did, but I really don’t think so. I tasted this on location during one of my many visits to wine country this year. It was one of my last visits, so I had the benefit of context, too. The wines tasted exceeded my expectations. So what was it about them?
It was an explosion of potential and the refining of the idea that even Brazil can produce world-class wines. It took two wines to do that, in fact, so this year’s wine of the year is really a pair of wines of the year. Together, they embody the potential of Brazil and the skill of…