GDP on Wine

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Wine of the year?

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 25, 2011.

So, in an effort to return to being more of a presence here I'll start posting some new threads. I'm also going on vacation, I know imagine that, so I may not be able to answer everyday next week, but I'm gonna try.

What was your wine(s) of the year?

I'm digging through my notes to find mine. I have several lined up, a few of which will be rolled out during the early weeks ofthe new year on Snooth.

If I had to pick one wine, no limits, it would probably have to be the 1982 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino I enjoyed a few weeks ago. Absolutely profound wine.

Interested to here y'alls thoughts!


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Reply by spikedc, Dec 26, 2011.

For me the last year has been a real voyage of discovery and thanks to you guys I've discovered some wonderful wines. Amongst my highlights of the year are....

Kangarilla Road Shiraz 2009 Mclaren Vale - Keep going back to this, silky smooth. Got a real taste for Aussie Shiraz this year and this was up with the best.

Chateau Musar 2004 Bekaa valley Lebanon - Surprise hit of a wine tasting evening, went down a storm. Shared this wine with friends and everyone loved it.

But my overall favourite has to be Muga, Prado Enea 2004 Gran Reserva Rioja -  This definately had the Wow! factor.  Best Rioja I've tasted.

Reply by JonDerry, Dec 26, 2011.

I don't drink nearly enough wines, especially on release to know but i'm looking forward to trying the 2007 Shafer Hillside Select.

Out of the new wines I did try, I liked the 2009 Villa Creek High Road (James Berry Vineyard) quite a bit. Not really a WOTY candidate in all liklihood, but one I look forward to checking back with again and again.

Reply by JonDerry, Dec 26, 2011.

By the way, great idea Greg.

The boards could use some leadership.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 26, 2011.

I know.

Early 2012 resolution.

Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Dec 26, 2011.

I have 5 days to change my pick. Ruinart - Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 1998

Reply by dmcker, Dec 26, 2011.

Unfortunately not as much wine this year as generally in the past. Mostly European with some Aussie/Kiwi and very little CA and other US, thanks to availability in the marketplace here. Very, very little South American for some reason. Still, suppose I'm celebrating diversity!

No single best, but several memorable bottles...


French: Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy

  1. '96 Latour; not quite infanticide but still early; a great wine already, but building to more
  2. '09 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Coulee de Serrant: the usual great Savennieres chenin blanc, and though this was nothing but infanticide, felt the way the acidity balanced the fruit heralded this would be one of the great ones down the line...
  3. '09 Domaine aux Moines Savennieres Roche-aux-Moines: also hinted at longterm greatness, though the fruit/honey/lemon is starting to work well right now
  4. '53 Remoissenet Clos Vougeot; still surprisingly healthy and a friend born that year was over the moon.

USA: Napa, Pinnacles, Walla Walla

  1.  '82 Cakebread cab: mag for elder daughter; a little overripe but hedonistic pleasure; great birthday meal
  2. '86 Chalone AFrame cab (with '86 Calon Segur): for younger daughter; Chalone bigger, overpowering the CS but also with some finesse; to my knowledge they weren't marketing their cab back then except to shareholders and winery visitors; Chalone's wines in the Graff era were built to mature over time; another great birthday meal
  3. '95 Woodward Canyon Old Vines cab: drank, purchased loads of WC back in the '90s; this still very young

(Increasingly suffering from limited access to US West Coast wines these days, since my cellar is depleting and local supply is spotty and overly pricey)

Italy: Tuscany and islands

  1. 2001 Ornellaia (with 2008 Le Volte laying the groundwork): 2001 a spectacular wine, up there with the best of Bordeaux, or so it felt that evening
  2. '97 Masseto: as good as the Right Bank's best, certainly some of the best merlot outside of the Right Bank I've ever had; always a pleasure to drink, if not to pay for...
  3. 2005 Tenute Dettori Tenores: Sardinian; trippy on the nose, keep swooping in to inhale; have had several of his wines starting from trips to Sardinia in the late '90s; a conundrum for most people but to me a prime example of the fascination to be found in wine
  4. 2007 Cornilessen Magma Rosso: first time with his wines from the slopes of Mt. Aetna, though have been curious for awhile starting from a Ritterman post several years ago; one of  the leading apostles of non-interventionist winemaking; trippy just to look at; love it or hate it, uniquely fascinating; drank over two days, and a shapeshifting chameleon it was; currently like the Dettori better, but will be trying more of these...


  1. 1982 Yiannis Argyros Vinsanto: sweet dessert wine, beeswaxy texture, that worked surprisingly well. Won't replace vinsanto from sangiovese in Tuscany for me, or port/madeira, sauternes, trocken beeren ausleses from riesling or even late harvest gewurtztraminer, but an interesting addition to the pantheon
  2. 1998 Megas Oenos Red: mix of cab and agiorgitiko for which George Skouras out of Nemea in the Pelopponese is well known; provenance of the bottle was sketchy, and it seemed over the hill; anyway, it was damaged. Interesting enough that I'd like to try another one I knew was stored well.


  1. 2008 Pyramid Valley Angel Flower pinot noir: raises all expectations for what New Zealand can do with pinot noir (I've had so much insipid crap from there); like both this and the Earthsmoke very much, though this may be more elegant; oldworld classic sentiments taming the exoticism of new world fruit, so much lighter-colored than any pinot noir out of CA
  2. 2006 Pyramid Valley Earthsmoke pinot noir: lots of delcious herb scents and cherry flavors but think age is needed for more elegance
  3. 2007 Pyramid Valley Kerner Estate pinot blanc: satisfying texture, acid comes in well, most exciting new pinot blanc experience I've had (other than those from Italy and Alsace), since the Chalone offerings back in the '80s, though it seems like a work in progress and the winemaking will likely keep improving
  4. 2005 Leeuwin Estate Art Series chardonnay: well balanced, lovely, with great cheekbones (oops, there go my 'romantic' descriptors again), definitely sets the standards for chardonnay from Down Under....


  1. Some great aged, made-in-cedar-barrels, oldskool vintage (year delimited) sakes from Sawanoi in western Tokyo; never seen them in shops and only acquire them through visits to the brewery, which supposedly is the oldest continually operating business in Tokyo, fermenting rice since the 17th century
  2. Matsukura from Akita; an old standby that I hadn't had in more than a decade, but I fortuitously remet this year; its feminine character is always extremely pleasing

More that I haven't mentioned from Iberia, Germany (dry and dessert), sauternes/barsac, not to mention champagne, but running out of time so will stop here....

Reply by EMark, Dec 27, 2011.

Interpreting this as "What is the most memorable wine that I've had in 2011," and I'm not counting small tastings at various events, I am going to go with the 2001 Robert Mondavi Stags Leap District Cab that I had last summer.  Not as grand as many of the nominees that are cited above, but a terrific, smooth and balanced wine meant to go with a special meal.  Honorable mentions would go to

  • 2007 Caymus Special Selection
  • 1994 Clos Pegase Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2008 Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley Chardonnay

I freely admit that my judgement is always biased by the environment and the meal accompanying the wine.  In the above list this bias may have been particularly suspect in the cases of the Caymus, which will clearly mature and improve for the next 15 years, and the Beringer, which was enjoyed with a particularly fun picnic.

My predeliction for California wines is established, but I have enjoyed exploring new international experiences in 2011.  The quest continues.

As somebody mentioned above, if I have a WOW experience before the stroke of midnight, this Saturday, I'll come back and modify this posting.

Looking forward to 2012, and going deeper into the cellar.

Reply by JonDerry, Dec 27, 2011.

Will have to think about memorable bottles drunk over the year...

I had to look up the Antipodes D, which would comprise New Zealand and Australia from what I understand.

E-Mark, for some reason around the holidays I get a craving for Caymus, and i've heard the 2007 Special Selection, as well as the standard Cabernet Sauvignon is quite nice. If you go to their website, they freely admit that their wines are lower in acid, but what I didn't know is that they blend Mountain and Valley fruit from 7 or 8 different AVA's of the 15 in Napa. Had a bottle of the 2008 Special Select, and found it a very enjoyable drink, though not quite worth the lofty scores i've seen it receive. Also remember enjoying the standard 2006, but that was a year or two ago.


Reply by dmcker, Dec 27, 2011.
Edited Dec 30, 2011

Had years of enjoying that Caymus wine, starting in the '80s. My taste has evolved in ways that drop it lower in my purchasing priority list, but I still won't refuse any opportunity to drink it when offered. Don't think I've purchased any, though, since a visit to the winery in 2001 where I focused on their library offerings. May have a couple bottles left in the cellar from then.

Jon, I've always enjoyed that term not only because of its efficiency in including both Oz and NZ together in a single word, but also because I first encountered it when reading Aldous Huxley's Doors of Perception back as an early teen. I was chasing down just what it was that made Morrison and crew choose the name for their band. After reading that treatise I never listened to the Brandenburg Concertos in the same way again, either.

Reply by EMark, Dec 27, 2011.


As I said in my posting the enjoyment of wine for me is intertwined with the meal and the environment.  The night I had the Caymus was particularly festive.  I have a hard time defining my pleasures as totally sensual or being influenced by psychological factors.  That is why I added the equivocation.

I did not know that the Caymus was a blend of mountain and valley floor grapes.  That explains a lot to me.  I am very much biased towards mountain fruit.

Believe me I look forward to my next 2007 Caymus SS. 

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 28, 2011.

Nice list DM.

A very fine year of drinking!

Reply by outthere, Dec 28, 2011.

So far:

  • Bubbles: 91 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs - Jeroboam
  • White: 09 Rivers Marie B. Theriot Chardonnay
  • Red: 06 Ghost Horse Shadow
  • Stickie: 09 Bedrock Lachryma Montis
  • New Discovery: Hobel Wine Works
Reply by JonDerry, Dec 28, 2011.

Definitely like how Schramsberg makes vintage sparkling...can't wait to try the 2008. 

If it's good, I may try to seek out a large format, sounds like a good idea Outthere.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 29, 2011.

If I'd listed the bubbly I remembered from this past year, one of them would've been a 2000 Schramsberg blanc de noirs that I picked up at the winery early last decade. I'd set it aside to share with my daughter when I started working again after a break of what became several years. Though I started September of last year it wasn't until this spring that we had the right occasion to drink it. A big part of it was the occasion, of course, but the wine itself had aged wonderfully. Quite toasty and yeasty with very fine bubbles that rose straight, if leisurely. Golden color, great acidity, still plenty of years left in that vintage. I like blanc de blancs all the time, but also blanc de noirs from time to time.

Have had hundreds of Schramsberg bottles over the years, starting from the early '80s, and really haven't ever been disappointed (though part of that is likely because I know what to expect).

And outthere, all good looking wines. Don't know the Hobel; how was it?

Reply by outthere, Dec 29, 2011.

Dmcker, the Schramsberg was a real treat, no doubt. Enjoyed it with friends on my 50th BDay.

Was introduced to Hobel Wine Works just a couple months ago when I met the Hobels at an offline in Napa late October.  Thomas Rivers Brown is the winemaker and the 09 Cab is their first vintage. New world styled, big, structured wine with many years ahead of it. Took a 10 hour decant to come alive. If there can be a QPR in $75 cabs this is it. Drinks like wines twice its' price.


Reply by outthere, Dec 29, 2011.

Image wouldn't load in the last message...

Reply by JonDerry, Dec 29, 2011.

That's a beaut of a bottle OT.

Sounds like you have a ton of experience w/ Schram D, it's always nice to confirm quality from person to person. The only Blanc De Noirs I remember was a few NYE's ago, and it wound up being ok, but not quite what I usually expect from the BdB, maybe the BdN would figure to age better?

Honestly haven't thought much about aging Schramsberg, but I have a few 08's, so I think i'll give the others a rest for a while.

Also, noted on the Hobel rec Outthere...I was looking into Cliff Lede last night, another Napa Cab i've somehow missed...The Stag's Leap, Howell Mountain, and of course the Poetry seem like wines I should know.

Reply by cosmoscaf, Dec 29, 2011.

The best wine of the year is coming up next, I like to think. But looking back there were good memories for me from these wines.

 White: Les Deux Rives 2008, a Chablis by Olivier Leflaive. We had it several times and liked it better each time. Best with simple recipes, we had it with baked scallops as well as baked free range chicken (skinny thing but with huge and savory flavors). This is better than most cru rated Chablis.

 Red:  Rod’s Pride 2004, a Pinot Noir from Toad Hollow that was simply fantastic with baked pheasant and a cream sauce. At a dinner party, guests applauded the wine. There was also a bottle of Wine Spectator’s Number 1 wine in the world for 2009, the Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, a wonderful wine from a large Washington maker that exceeded my expectations so much it gave me hope for other impossibilities.

 Rosé:  Chateau de Trinquevedel 2010 from Tavel, France, was a revelation in wine world for me. It’s a big Rhone wine blend of reds and whites, fruity when young, it will age toward stewed or dried fruits. The flavors of each grape contribute to the whole in very masculine ways, each flavor individual and capable of standing on its own. Works with anything, leaves a smile.

Reply by dmcker, Dec 29, 2011.

Forgot to express thanks, Greg, for the sentiment. I honestly felt, though, like I wasn't drinking enough, and especially enough good stuff, this past year!

Jon, those numbers got cranked up since a) I've been drinking the stuff since the end of the '70s, and b) through multiple occasions over the past two decades where what started as a dinner party turned into a form of debauch as we went through a case of the Schram in a night. As well as a period from 2000 to 2005 where I was killing on average up to a half dozen bottles of bubbly a week, and Schramsberg was our 'house' champers, with special bottles (various grower champagnes as well as Grande Dame, Winston Churchill, Krug, Salon, et al.) also slipping in. Seem to remember going through a lot of caviar during that period since the person I was living with also loved it. Plenty of entertaining, too, to keep the average up. But that's history, now, and I've calmed down a bit recently.  ;-)

My experience is almost entirely with the wines labeled 'Schramsberg' (or J. Schram) and not their Mirabelle, Querencia or Davies Vineyard (reds) offerings which may be fine but I just haven't had any.

And regarding the aging, some people think BdN age better than BdB, but I find them both to age well if they're well made wines to start with.

Reply by outthere, Dec 29, 2011.

Mostdefinitely. My BdB was 20 years old and was a nutty bubbly dream.

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