The Best Wines of 2012 - According to Us
- Mike Willison
I drank enough fussy, indulgent, crappy, delicious, anemic, mustachioed, skeevy, elegant, flamboyant, flat, voluminous, aromatic, closed, oxidized (from age), oxidized (on purpose), natural, engineered, silly, enigmatic, meta, thought provoking, and stultifying wines this year to render my neighbors absolutely speechless on each and every recycling day. Some of them I absolutely adored. In no particular order, I give you my favorite wines of 2012:
Morgan Clendenen always kills Viognier in a decidedly un-California manner. The Syrah is no different. This wine is light on its feet and is great at parties. It says just enough and knows when to walk away from a vitriolic conversation. Shared with friends without food, we all agreed that the bottle was a tad bit too empty too very soon. This is Syrah for Pinot Lovers.
Its like rooting for the Yankees. Of course this is awesome. Chenin Blanc has been the new black in my wardrobe for the last 15 years and I don't see any reason to change that. If 70's punk style is still somehow considered "punk", and animal prints insist on showing up on runways every three years, then its okay for me to love Chenin with all of my heart and my closet full of Sperry top-siders.
I’ll root for the home team a bit here not because I have to, but because this wine is that good. 2011 was the miracle harvest wherein we stole victory from the jaws of defeat when the weather gods threw us some 9th inning sunshine like Mariano throwing off speed with location for the save. We broke bats, mystified right handed batters, and jammed up the lefties. Guaranteed to be a first-round hall of famer.
Another miracle vintage that hoisted Beaujolais into the spotlight for a spell, this was the kind of wine that makes one consider whether or not to share too loudly about it’s glories. To say that Beaujolais is underappreciated is akin to pointing out exactly when R.E.M. lost the plot (after Life's Rich Pageant and before Document, by the way, or whenever Mills scored that cape); it just, sadly, is. I don’t need to sell you on this; you either get it or not.
At $32, this is the best Meritage I've had in a very long time from a price-value standpoint. Even without its awesome price tag, this wine is a standout for its lush, rich, developed but staid intensity and delicate nuance that is so often squashed in modern winemaking. Bright and cheery, yet brooding and macho, this is an example of why everyone should be paying attention to Southern Oregon, but likely won't.
- Carrie Kalscheuer
As we head into 2013, it's time once again to reflect upon the prior year and all that it had to offer. I was fortunate enough to be able to do some great traveling this year, getting to taste wine in Tuscany, California, and even Arizona. As is usually the case, a combination of place, the wine itself, and the company with which I shared the particular wine all played important roles in determining my favorite wine of 2012. These in particular stood out on all counts. Here they are for your consideration:
- 2009 Santo Stefano Senaia IGT Valdichiana D.O.C. –Beautifully integrated and formed by a field-blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot (not even the winemaker knows exactly how much of each), this lovely wine was enjoyed at the Tuscan estate where it is produced, with a pasta lunch I helped to make. Accompanied by some great people and excellent hosts, I couldn’t carry enough of this wine home with me.
- 2007 Ridge Monte Bello – tasted at the Sonoma location, hosted by a very educated and hospitable staff member, and accompanied by my favorite person, this wine – which always makes an impression – became one of my top choices for the year.
- 2010 Fausse Piste Garde Manger Syrah – I think that Jesse Skiles is one of the most exciting winemakers in Oregon right now. Although I missed the already-sold out Ce lieu après Syrah this year (my historical favorite from the Fausse Piste line), the Garde Manger was an excellent second choice. Enjoyed with two of my best friends, this was a wine to remember!
- 2010 Alma Rosa Pinot Noir – Absolutely the most charming tasting room I have ever seen, with a wood-burning fireplace and a window that overlooks roaming goats on the hillsides behind. Tasted with a brand new (yet already so dear) friend, I was filled with child-like excitement over this new Richard and Thekla Sanford venture. Who needs pesky business partners, anyway??
- 2007 Francis Tannahill Pinot Noir “The Hermit” – One of the many perks of my job is getting to taste this wine on a daily basis. Never-released save direct from the winery, only 83 cases were produced. From one of my favorite vintages in the Willamette Valley, this wine rivals some of the best aged Burgundies I've had. So, so good.