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Your 2008 Wines Of The Year

I guess this message is a week premature, but unless something unforseen happens, I will not be drinking any more wines that could possibly make my list this year.

Here are my top consumed wines of '08. This is based SOLELY on my personal enjoyment of the wines and not on "how good" I think they are. (eg. I'm leaving off 1959 Lafite and La Mission and yet including a quirky $68 Barolo on my 'runners-up' list.)

WOTY:
1997 DRC La Tache

Runners-Up (in no particular order):

Red:
1959 Latour
2004 Comm. G. B. Burlotto Barolo Vigneto Monvigliero
1991 Leroy Clos de la Roche
2001 Armand Rousseau Chambertin
2005 Mas de Boislauzon Chateauneuf du Pape "Cuvee du Quet"

White:
2005 Vincent Girardin Corton Charlemagne Quintessence

Dessert:
1985 Fonseca

Sparkling:
1995 Salon

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Red:
1959 Lafite
1959 La Mission Haut Brion
2005 Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pape Barbe Rac
2005 Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pape Croix du Bois
2004 Bussola Amarone TB Vigneto Alto
2001 La Spinetta Barolo Campe
2001 Edoardo Valentini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

White:
2004 Beaucastel Blanc
2004 Sighardt Donabaum Riesling Brandstatt S. Dona
2001 Domaine du Chevalier
2006 Dettori Bianco
1989 R. Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia Riserva

Sparkling:
1996 Salon
NV Raymond Boulard Blanc de Blanc

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  1. OH MY FRICKIN' GOD!!!!!!!! I have to put this in its own post as it is a response to my post. I just read my post. OH MY GOD!!!... I **LIVE** in Northern California. Whoa. This is the first time I can ever recall not even thinking twice about a CA wine to put on my list! WOW! What has happened to me?

    3 Replies
    1. re: whiner

      I can completely understand. I'm the same way. I live in SoCal, love traveling in NorCal, but to spend time going to Cal. wineries? Meh. My list is also French, but more downmarket: Just about anything from Francois Chidaine and Didier Dageauneu (RIP), the Rhone, South to North (Chateau Gigognan '05 at all price points), modest yet delicious Macon villages, and, my love, Champagne: Pierre Peters NV, Camille Savés NV, Coutier NV, Agrapart all levels, 1998 Elisabeth (Billecart-Salmon),

      Not a single domestic on the list. Shrug.

      1. re: vickib

        I haven't had the '98 Elisabeth yet but the '96 is EASILY the best rose Champagne I've ever had, and one of the best Champagnes I've had, period. Now you've got me wanting to try the '98 even more!

      2. re: whiner

        OOOPS! I just recalled *1* wine from CA that ought to be on the "honorable mentions" list -- 1978 Mount Eden Cabernet (Sant Cruz Mountains)

      3. 2000 Domaine Rapet Corton Pougets - This one I got 5 years ago, shoved immediately to the dungeons due to undrinkability. Now sublime.

        1990 Côte Rôtie by Jean Paul and Jean Luc Jamet . Rated 89 by the Guru. Tasted in a round table of winophiles, judged best CR ever.

        2007 Hospices de Beaune Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Forneret.
        Simply spectacular, quintessential Côtes de Beaune.
        Disclaimer: it's my very own first pièce, 290 bottles . WOW!

        1999 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Fattoria La Magia, by Fabian Schwarz.
        Very talented 25 yr old 2nd generation montalcinese from the Netherlands.

        1 Reply
        1. re: RicRios

          Don't personally love the Jamet, but I can totally see why it has a cult following. Had the '96 recently. Definitely had years to go.

        2. Wow, very nice list. Wish I had access to wines like that. My wine list for the year is decidedly more humble. I didn't drink much the first half of the year because I was pregnant, and then not much fancy stuff the second half of the year for multiple reasons (the economy, no time, most of my good stuff not yet ready to drink...)

          But here's my list. Most of these wines are under $30.
          1. 2006 Château de Coulaine Chinon Bonnaventure
          This drinks like a bottle at twice the price and is a really wonderful match with a lot of different foods, from meats to roast chicken to tomato-based dishes. Love love love Loire wines.

          2. 2006 Champalou Vouvray
          Wonderful, just wonderful stuff. Vibrant, honeyed, with just the tiniest hint of sweetness, but well-balanced by an ice-cold white streak of minerality.

          3. 1996 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame
          Didn't really expect to be impressed by this since I generally prefer grower champagnes, but man oh man was this good. Wish I had enough room to cellar champagne.

          4. 1997 R. López de Heredia Rioja Rosado Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia
          The most remarkable rosé I've ever had. Creamy vanilla, orange oil and wet stone, citrus, apricots, and almonds. Very complex. Very delicious.

          5. 2007 Catherine et Pierre Breton Bourgueil Trinch!
          This isn't by any means a special occasion wine, but it's probably the one I went back to the most often this year. For barbecues, for tuesday night dinner, for a night hanging out with friends. Fruity and juicy, medium-bodied, with good acidity. Basically, your perfect every day wine.

          1. Okay, I'll try to keep the list small...

            Bubbles
            1996 Pierre Peters "Cuvee Speciale" Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
            2000 Leclerc-Briant "Rubis de Noirs" Brut Rose
            NV A. Margaine "Traditionelle" Demi-Sec

            White
            2002 Basserman-Jordan Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Kabinett Trocken
            1998 Darting Durkheimer Nonnengarten Rieslaner Auslese
            1996 Huet "Clos du Bourg" Vouvray Demi-Sec

            Red
            1991 Jospeh Phelps "Eisele Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon
            1964 Bersano Barolo Riserva
            1998 Domaine de la Mordoree "Cuvee de le Reine des Bois" Chateauneuf-du-Pape

            Other
            1991 Fonseca Guimaraens
            1991 Taylor Fladgate Quinta de Vargellas
            1988 Climens

            1. Can't do just one wine of the year. A top-20 list in no particular order, taking into account price.

              '00 Brovia Barolo 'Garblet Sue'
              '05 Sassicaia
              '99 Philipponnat 'Clos des Goisses'
              '04 Nicolas Joly Savennieres 'Les Clos Sacres'
              '01 Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d'Abruzzo
              '02 Baumard Quarts de Chaume (decanting for a week helps)
              '96 Salon
              '06 Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir
              '94 Hanzell Chardonnay
              '04 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay, Art Series
              NV Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
              '01 La Togata 'Azzurreta'
              '05 Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage
              '01 Bonserine Cote-Rotie 'La Sarrasine'
              NV Krug 'Grande Cuvee'
              '04 Huet Vouvray Sec, 'Le Mont'
              '05 Eric Texier CDR 'Brezeme'
              '05 Rosenblum Syrah 'Kick Ranch'

              Plus these two, where the cost was zero, hence making the list...

              '89 Trimbach Riesling VT, 'Clos Ste Hune'
              '95 Krug Clos du Mesnil

              7 Replies
              1. re: mengathon

                Great list, mengathon!

                Do you have a tasting note on the '95 Clos du Mesnil? Had you ever had another vintage of it? And how didthey compare, if you had? The only vintage I've had is the '86 (out of magnum) and it is probably the best Champagne I've ever tasted.

                1. re: whiner

                  Sorry, I don't have a full tasting note on the '95 Krug Mesnil. Patching from memory, It was nothing like the NV Krug, which for me is dense, muscular, and at times, overpowering. On the other hand, it is unmistakably Krug. The Krug Mesnil was much more elegant, lighter in texture, yet stronger in primary fresh fruit aromas, and a finish that went on forever. Having had both of these wines in only one vintage and only once probably doesn't help, but it was remarkably reminiscent of the '96 Salon. It also had years and years to go. I think I prefer the '96 Salon (though no way to verify this unless one of you fine CH'ers feels like sending me a bottle of each) as my favorite blanc de blancs experience of all time, but the Krug would be in the top 5.

                  These aren't particularly useful descriptions, I know, but I can't help thinking of the following analogy:

                  NV Krug Grande Cuvee : baseball bat :: '95 Krug Mesnil : ninja sword.

                  I hope that makes sense. I'm terribly sorry it probably doesn't answer your question... =)

                  1. re: mengathon

                    Thanks, mengathon. I appreciate it.

                2. re: mengathon

                  Forgot to add the '05 La Rectorie Collioure to the list.

                  1. re: mengathon

                    Nice. I have that in my cellar, along with that Graillot I still haven't gotten around to drinking. Looks like I might have a good 2009 :)

                    I keep meaning to get some Quarts de Chaume too, but my measly 28-bottle fridge is full. It's a beautiful wine -- I still remember tasting the '02 in 2007 -- it was like drinking morning light.

                    1. re: oolah

                      2005 Loire Reds from many producers including Couly Dutheil Chinon La Baronnie Madeline and the various bottlings by Charles Joguet

                      1. re: oolah

                        Lucky you. I'm out of the Rectorie Collioure, and one bottle left of the Graillot. I'm most likely going to buy a couple of the '06 Graillot, and if they're as good as the '05, I'll probably pop open the '05 soon.

                        The Baumard Quarts de Chaume is going to last a couple of decades. I stocked quite a few. If you and I are still on this board when that puppy is ready to drink, and you can't find any of the '02 on the market at a decent price, lemme know. And since you live in NYC, a little note you might find useful. Crush on 57th street/3rd has a special on the '94 Baumard Coteaux du Layon 'Ste Catherine' at a ridiculous price. Might be worth checking out while we wait for the '02 to mature.

                  2. Most of you are playing in a different league than me, but here's what stands out from my 2008 ->

                    White:
                    2006 Scala Dei Priorat Les Brugueres (grenache blanc)

                    Red:
                    2003 Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape Chaupin
                    2004 Radio Coteau Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard
                    2005 Pax Cuvee Moriah

                    Dessert:
                    2004 Ponzi Vineyards Vino Gelato

                    Bargain:
                    2006 Aldo & Riccardo Seghesio Barbera d'Alba (~$15)
                    2006 Copain Zinfandel Sonoma Co. (~$20)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      Woops, meant Carlisle Sonoma Co. Zin.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        I think WineAG below is the one playing in the much different league than the rest of us...

                        Notes on the Janasse Chaupin?

                        1. re: mengathon

                          I've been a collector for many years and a lot of these wines were bought on release (at a fraction of today's prices). Also, a benefit of the work I do... consulting for individual collectors and the trade... gives me the opportunity to enjoy many fine wines. It's tough work, but someone has to do it.

                          I've never tried the 2003 Janesse Chaupin... should be great.

                          1. re: mengathon

                            Not sure these notes do it justice:

                            "Nose and flavor like candied raspberries, with flowery notes and a long, sweet, smooth, luxurious finish. Very pure and clean, a real pleasure to drink."

                        2. Wines that were particularly memorable this past year... in no particular order... but there's still tonight!

                          1945 Haut Brion - recorked in 1991
                          1989 Haut Brion
                          1990 Guigal La Mouline
                          1971 Penfolds Grange
                          2003 Lafite
                          1998 Petrus
                          1982 Latour
                          1990 Latour
                          1982 Pichon Lalande
                          1985 La Tache
                          1980 Dujac Clos La Roche
                          1907 Hiedsieck Champagne - from the shipwreck

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: WineAG

                            > 1907 Hiedsieck Champagne - from the shipwreck

                            Are you saying you drank champagne that was retrieved from the Titanic? That's completely insane! How could it have been preserved? Wouldn't the cork pop under all the pressure from being so deep underwater? What did it taste like?

                            1. re: oolah

                              No, not the Titanic. This Champagne often is thought of as coming from the Titanic, but it's from a Swedish schooner named Jönköping, which was sunk off the coast of Finland in 1916. Here's a great article that explains this wine nicely and why it was preserved so well... along with some tasting notes that I would say described my thoughts. I've had this wine 3 times, the comments below I'd agree with, however, one of the bottles was a little off... had a slight oily quality to it... yes, like engine oil and the mouse was not quite as alive as the other bottles I had. It's amazing how alive the good bottles were. Steady stream of fine bubbles. This wine changed a lot in the glass as it opened... improving for quite a while and then fading after about an hour. Of course the fun is drinking such an old bottle with the history behind it.

                              This article, by Jeni Port, appeared May 13, 2007 in the Australian Newspaper "The Age" regarding a tasting to drink this 100 year old rarity...

                              IT WAS the sound of a little girl sigh, a breathy moment suspended before a soft "pop", and the cork came out swift and clean. It cleared the sides of the heavy green champagne bottle effortlessly.

                              The bottle was naked, scrubbed clean of identity by eight decades of shifting sands at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, but there was a clear proprietary stamp on the shrunken toadstool of a cork.

                              Here was the answer: Heidsieck Monopole 1907. A pungent, cheesy stink from 1907 rushed to meet 2007 and then evaporated.

                              The wine was sweet golden, on the brink of orange. A fine line of bubbles beaded up, straight and strong, from the base of the champagne glass. There was a heady perfume: wild honey, nougat, blanched almonds. This wine was alive.

                              In 1916, 3000 bottles of Heidsieck Monopole 1907 had been sent from France via Sweden across the Baltic to Finland, destined for St Petersburg and the officers of the imperial army of Tsar Nicholas II. They never arrived.

                              Vintage 1907 was considered average in quality and that, by all accounts, was a generous assessment. That year, the wine growers in Champagne were at war with the powerful wine houses over grape prices. Fraud, over-production and bloody protests gripped the wine industry, and the phylloxera parasite was waging its own deadly battle with the vines of France, slowly sucking the lifeblood out of them.

                              It is a wonder that anything beautiful and everlasting came from a year like 1907.

                              As for wine style, the celebrated wines of Champagne were in crisis. A US wine importer at the time, Robert Tomes, reprimanded the houses for failing to be sensitive to the palates of foreign customers (who were then consuming 80 per cent of the region's production). He accused some producers of "smothering" their wine in sweetness.

                              That sweetness had a name: Gout Americain or "American taste". Loaded with 42.5 grams of sugar, wines like the 1907 Heidsieck Monopole were hugely popular outside France, notably in Russia and, of course, the US. Russia's Tsar Nicolas II had appointed Heidsieck official supplier of champagne to his court at the start of the century and some 250,000 bottles were shipped to Russia annually.

                              Which is why in 1916, at the height of World War I, a cache of 3000 bottles of 1907 Gout Americain along with 10,000 gallons of cognac and 17 barrels of burgundy was part of a special shipment ordered for the tsar's army headquarters in St Petersburg.

                              On November 3, 1916, off the coast of Finland, the ketch Jonpoking came across a German U-boat and was sunk. And there it lay, 64 metres under water, for 82 years.

                              Time stood still for the champagne, literally. It had been shipped in strong wooden boxes, which prevented it from breaking upon impact with the sea floor. Its new watery home was dark, cold (four degrees Celsius) with no parasites or worms to eat into the wooden boxes or corks.

                              Importantly, the water pressure at that depth almost equalled the pressure inside the champagne bottle (keeping the cork and bubble intact). Near perfect cellaring conditions, really.

                              The Jonpoking was sighted by a Swedish search team in 1997 and its cargo raised to the surface the following year. A lot had changed. The tsar was dead, the Romanovs had been consigned to the history books. Even champagne had changed. The modern style was dry.

                              On reflection, a Stanley knife would have done the job a lot faster but then the anticipation would have been short-lived. This was a drawn-out, dramatic affair.

                              Eight pairs of hands, eight small, fiddly knives on Waiter's Friends chipping away the heavy wax seal that had interred the corks soon after their ocean recovery.

                              "I wanted to build the momentum," said Walter Wagner, Crown Casino's executive general manager, food and beverage. Diners who had paid $888 a head to sup on a five-course champagne dinner in the lead-up to the opening of the 1907 Gout Americain got out their chairs and crowded the wine waiters.

                              Wagner didn't have anything particular in mind when Crown bought 12 bottles of the 1907 champagne some years back for $8000 each. A few bottles were given away to high rollers. Then Wagner, who was invited to take a sip once, discovered it was a special wine. This was no curio. It tasted damn good.

                              When the Casino's 10th birthday celebrations were planned for 2007, he knew the role the wine would take.

                              "We wanted our customers to share it," he said.

                              But what to serve with a 100-year-old champagne? Nothing.

                              "It is such a unique experience we didn't want the palate influenced by other factors."

                              This was no frail, aged beauty. It had arrived here strong in structure, flavour, length and bubble.

                              "It blew me away," gasped sommelier David Nichols. "I never expected that much fizz, that much flavour."

                              Flavour indeed: a heady, exotic concoction, a rich brocade texture on the tongue with a backdrop of sweet, crystallised orange peel, leatherwood honey and minerals.

                              Gout Americain? No longer essentially sweet, the sweetness was now balanced by a toastiness, bringing richness, a long life. An indestructible life force, in fact.

                              1. re: WineAG

                                Thank you for sharing the story! What an amazing experience.

                          2. 2005 Tim Smith TSW Reserve Shiraz Australia
                            1961 Latour
                            1998 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz
                            2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon

                            on the cheap 2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet

                            1. 2008 had its moments:

                              NV Krug "Grand Cuvée"
                              2005 Gerard Boulay Sancerre Blanc “Monts Damnés”
                              2005 Joh. Jos. Prüm Auslese “Graacher Himmelreich”
                              1998 Ch. Lynch-Bages
                              1990 Ch. Léoville-Barton
                              1982 Ch. La Lagune Haut-Médoc
                              1990 Dom. Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonnes Mares Grand Cru
                              2004 Vaudieu Chateauneuf du Papes Rouge
                              2005 Vieux Télégraphe Rouge
                              1992 Quilceda Creek Reserve Cab
                              2005 Quilceda Creek Cab
                              2005 Quilceda Creek Merlot
                              1998 Leonetti Cab
                              2005 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate “Grand Ciel” Cab (Red Mountain, Washington State)
                              2003 Cayuse Vineyards “Impulsivo” Tempranillo (Walla Walla Valley, Washington)
                              2005 Betz “Père de Famille” & “Le Parrain” (Washington State Cab-based blends)
                              1988 Ch. Rieussec
                              NV Lustau Oloroso “Emperatriz Eugenia” Sherry
                              NV Lustau Pedro Ximenez “Murillo” Sherry