It has been an interesting and enjoyable year in wine. Brown and I have produced an increasing amount of the satire we love doing. It’s a lot of fun to do and some of these pieces have generated what we consider to be an amazing amount of traffic to the blog. At the same time we are seemingly getting less invites to wine events, and certainly no more samples than we were getting a year ago. Maybe we are being taken less seriously because of the satire, or perhaps there are some thin-skinned people out there, but as a duo who sits outside the industry it has been an interesting trend to experience. Regardless, the satire will continue!
As with last year, the criteria remains the same: my Top 5 consists only of wines that I have sat down and tasted over at least a couple of hours and ideally over a couple of days, all with food. These are wines I have imbibed, rather than just tasted. They are not necessarily my 5 highest rated wines (though they all have scored well), but more importantly they are wines that left an impression and that I loved drinking. In no particular order -
2001 Produttori del Barbaresco Asili – Barbaresco, Italy - I’m going to single this out as my wine of the year. Supple and elegant, yet powerful and complex. Dare I say it, ethereal! It delivered an experience that was everything I want from Nebbiolo, everything I want from Barbaresco, and indeed everything I look for in great wine. Years in front of it.
2006 Marques du Murrieta Rioja Reserva – Rioja, Spain - This makes my list as it was my breakthrough wine with Rioja/tempranillo. I’ve admittedly not tried a lot of tempranillo, but that which I have had over the years generally left me pretty underwhelmed. This on the other hand had me giving out high fives. Sexy, yet serious. Succulent, yet structured. Great now, though will age well over the next 5-10 years.
2010 Ochota Barrels Fugazi Vineyard Grenache – Mclaren Vale - Simply put this is awesome Grenache. It bears testimony to the vintage, testimony to Mclaren Vale as a region for Grenache, and of course to Taras Ochota who is turning out some awesome wine. Perfumed, pure-fruited, and complex.
2010 PHI Pinot Noir – Yarra Valley - there are some superb Yarra Valley Pinots from the 2010 vintage, and this is one of the real highlights. I have high hopes that in 10 years time the bottles I have of this in my cellar will turn out to be the kind of profound Pinot people often rave about when it comes to Burgundy. Initially seductive, beautifully structured, and ultimately savoury, this is a beautiful Pinot Noir.
2011 Scott Fiano – Adelaide Hills – A wine that stood out in a blind line-up of about 40 white wines, and only got better over a few days of tasting. One of those wines that completely validates the exploration of “alternative” varieties in Australia. Lovely richness and viscosity is underpinned by a crisp acidity and a sense of minerality. It delivers a triumvirate of generosity, texture, and restraint that sets it apart from so many other white wines. Great drinking.