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What were your 'discovery wines' of 2009?

2009 was a banner year wine year for me in terms of wine discoveries. I found lots of amazing new stuff that I had never tried before -- even after 16 years of being passionate about wine.

So I thought I'd share a couple, and meanwhile ask that you guys do the same...what were your newfound loves of 2009 that you had not 'discovered' before?

Here are a few to get things started:

Whites -- Picpoul de Pinet (Southern France) and Albarino (Spain).

Reds -- old vine, artisinal Montepulciano (Italy); Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley.

How about you?

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  1. At Airlie Winery up in Monmouth OR this past summer:

    White: Müller Thurgau
    Red: Maréchal Foch

    White: Txakoli (failed to make notes)

    1. I met Lillian and will never be the same.

      6 Replies
      1. re: duck833

        as in the Oregon syrah? What does it taste like?

        1. re: kaysyrahsyrah

          I am a Pinot Head. But I had to try this Lillian made by Maggie Harrison of Antica Terra. She trucks the fruit up from Santa Barbara in refer trucks and makes a very limited Lillian Syrah. She just released the 06 to her list and it is sold out now.

          Nice fruit, balanced syrah with light tannins, long finish. On CT it has received ratings from 93-98. I would give it a rating close to the top CT rating.

          Looking forward to more great things from Maggie!

          1. re: duck833

            I can't say enough great things about Maggie...not only does she make great wine, but we grew up in the same town back in Illinois. Her Lillian is incredible, and like a baby Sine Qua Non. I'm down to my last 2 mags of the '04, but it sure is drinking nice right now. Haven't tapped into the '05's or '06's yet though. Definitely on my must buy list though, as well as Antica Terra. Great wine made by a great diva! Love it! -mJ

            1. re: duck833

              yeah but what's that Antica Terra going for?

              1. re: ibstatguy

                Antica Terra is between $40-$45, and I have seen it for as low as $32. At $32 it is an absolute steal, and even in the $40 range I am still a buyer. I buy direct from the winery, and also pick some up locally.

                Over Christmas, I visited family in Chicago, and I didn't want to check a bag on the plane, so I ended up sourcing from Grand Cru in Arlington Heights. Needless to say, Craig had the '07 Antica Terra in stock, as well as the '06 Lillian. I picked up 2 Antica Terra for Christmas Eve, as well as one for the 27th. Needless to say, it is drinking surprisingly well right now. I was shocked at how well it was drinking. On Christmas Eve I decanted for a few hours at cellar temp in my parents cellar, and I actually found the popped and poured bottle to drink better on the 27th. Very odd. Notes are up on our blog.

                Also popped an '06 Lillian on the 27th, and this wine needs some time, but it opened up very nicely after 2 hours. It is a dark, inky wine which is exactly what I was expecting. Notes on the blog for this as well.

                Also had 3 of both wines shipped home, and they should be here later this week, and I look forward to hiding them in the cellar and revisiting them in a few years. Time will tell, but I think they'll be winners! We'll see! Cheers! -mJ

                1. re: njfoodies

                  thx - for some reason I thought it was much higher

        2. Pecorino - Le Marche

          Sangiovese - I never liked the grape much, until I tasted them at the hands of Fontodi's Flaccianello, Biondi-Sandi's Brunello, and Isole e Olena's Cepparello. I still think these are very notable exceptions to generally overpriced Tuscan wines.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mengathon

            First encountered Pecorino a year or two ago but just discovered the 2008 Pecorino "Villa Angela" (Offida DOC) from Velenosi. A gorgeous, bracing wine and a great buy at C$15.95. www.velenosivini.com/eng/profilo.asp?...

            1. I fell in love with the wines of Paolo Bea.

              1. Biondi Santi is, of course, the very original Brunello. Alas, I haven't had the pleasure

                I have a bottle of Paolo Bea's Sagrantino as well as a 375 ml. bottle of his passito. Have had since my last visit to Montefalco five years or so ago. Still waiting for the correct occasion.

                But my "find" for this year: Went to a tasting a couple of months ago and tried some "Paso e Paso" from Spain and was truly impressed. Asked the pourer the price and it was $5.65! Bought all 3 cases they had. Unbelievable stuff.

                1. A Cotes du Rhone Blanc. Yes a white CdR. $8. QPR star.
                  Falling closely behind are a Pinotage and a Bordeaux-blend from South Africa.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Cary

                    If you like CdR blanc, then check out the 2008 Chapoutier on the market right now. That is my current house selction for the not-chardonnay-but-not-SB-or-reisling-either wine. I'll guess the majority grape in that blend is voignier, followed by roussane and grenache blanc.

                  2. Discovered I absolutely hate sparkling Shiraz.

                    Continued discovering the new generation of Greek wines made from native grapes. Greece is one of the most interesting places on the planet these days, especially for lovers of affordable, offbeat and delicious wines.

                    Champagnes from Fleury, the appellation's first biodynamic grower.

                    Quartz, an astounding if atypical Sauvignon Blanc VDT from the Sologne made by Domaine Claude Courtois.

                    Dolcetto from Cantina Bartolo Mascarello. My mouth waters at the prospect of one day tasting their Barolo.

                    The wines of Camille Loye from Arbois in the Jura. Especially the 1988 Cuvée St-Paul, one of the most perfect Chardonnays I've tasted. He bottled that and his other 1988s last year, is bottling his 1989s this year and will bottle his 1990s next year, after which he unfortunately plans to call it quits.

                    There were others but those stand out.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: carswell

                      I think of sparkling shiraz as ice cold duck grown up, but still a scoundrel.

                      Thans for the tip on Camile Loye...I now own a bottle based on your recommendation.

                      1. re: kaysyrahsyrah

                        I happened to walk into my local wine store when a rep was pouring one a year or two ago, cold duck was the general consensus and the most kind compared to some of the other comments.

                    2. amongst others (including grower champagnes): 2008 Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils Beaujolais ; 2008 Bugay Vineyards Syrah Long Stem Rosé ; 2005 La Grange de Quatre Sous Vin de Pays d'Oc Les Serrottes

                      1. 1) Novello from Umbria, reported elsewhere: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/670919

                        2) The excellent cheverny (et alia) wines from Thierry & Jean-Marie Puzelat , the existence of which I learned from a thread in this board : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/607738

                        3) Two of the "lesser" stickies, of undescribable high both Q and QPR:
                        Quintessence du Petit Manseng from Domaine Cauhape (Jurançon), and
                        the amazing Monbazillac Tirecul La Gravière by Claudie & Bruno Bilancini.

                        4) The Coteaux-varois-en-provence Clos du Bécassier by Dom.du Deffends (Suzel de Lanversin). "Sa frâicheur juvénile se perçoit das ses accents de bourgeon de cassis, de bergamote et de confiture des mûres" says Guide Hachette 2010.

                        5) Some VERY old vintages of Anjou blanc / Coteaux du Layon by Moulin Touchais ( the 1956, 1949 and 1937 are begging for an extravagant vertical tasting. One of the 56s went down summa cum laude a few weeks back).

                        6) Bruno Giacosa revisited. Undoubtedly, the king of barbaresco.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: RicRios

                          >>6) Bruno Giacosa revisited. Undoubtedly, the king of barbaresco.<<

                          Hmmmmm.... Mauro Mascarello (Giuseppe Mascarello) and Roberto Conterno (Giacomo Conterno) might take issue with this statement. ;-)

                          1. re: RicRios

                            7) A post below by Ed Dibble reminded me of my other big discovery of 2009: tempranillos from Argentina. Forget malbec. Tempranillo from Arg is the best of both Q & Q/P ratio I've seen in a long while. Tasted down there, several producers (didn't record names), not sure if any gets imported. I'll unashamedly copy verbatim same comments as Ed re. tempranillos from CA: "It's got it all, fruit and tannins, taste and smoothness, boldness and subtlety".

                            1. re: RicRios

                              Thanks for the post. I remembered seeing an inexpensive Argentinian Temp (Buena Terra - has a gaudy label with a bull on it) and have tried a couple of bottles. It's not bad. Has some of those graphite/broken stone notes that you find in temps sometimes. Except for noting that the wine is from old vines in Mendoza region, no other info about the source is provided. The wine itself is bottled in Graton.

                          2. Barnwood Tempranillo (from SLO county CA).

                            I've never much liked most Spanish Tempranillos (that I can afford), but when a local wine/liquor store started selling the 2004 Barnwood at $3.99 a bottle - with case purchase - I tried it and was hooked. It's got it all, fruit and tannins, taste and smoothness, boldness and subtlety. I think the secret is that the grapes are grown in the vineyard with the highest elevation in CA.

                            Last time I looked at Barnwood's website, they were offering the '05 for $10 a bottle. My fear is that the wine has met with marketing issues (how many Americans know what a tempranillo is?) and that by now the vines may be grafted over to merlot or worse.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Ed Dibble

                              Tempranillo has a bright future in CA as long as it's grown with the careful attention it requires. Lake County, Paso Robles, Sierra Foothills, Central Valley, etc. all show some real promise.

                              This is a great website for those curious about tempranillo and similar grapes:


                              1. re: vinosnob

                                Great Link! Thanks! I didn't realize that there was so much attention to tempranillo these days. The only other CA temp that I've had was Matchbook from Dunnigan Hills and I wasn't as impressed by it.

                                I do worry because I don't find Barnwood (or the parent company Laetitia) on the list of wineries at TAPAS. Makes me wonder if they still have plans to produce from that high altitude vineyard.

                                1. re: Ed Dibble

                                  I was in Santa Barbara this past week and unable to find any Barnwood Temp there. Didn't have time to stop in AG on the trip back north.

                                2. re: vinosnob

                                  Good tip on these regions - I tried a few tempranillos from Paso Robles and agree with you. IMO, best of all was Bodegas Robles 2002.

                              2. just nice discoveries, nothing super wow comes to mind right now.
                                an alsatian style pinot gris from ata rangi and their pinot noir as well.
                                03 manu riesling from martinborough vineyards (slightly botrytised)

                                1. Anything above $10 is usually better than our everyday wine, and so qualifies as a discovery!

                                  Had a very nice Pinot Noir by O'Reilly (Oregon) with guests a few days ago.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: comestible

                                    Bogle vineyards Cabernet Savignon 2007...Pretty good!