Wine List

TOP 10 - BEST WINES ON 2011


NO 1

WINE OF THE YEAR 2011

James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles 2007
98 points / $67
950 cases made
California


In 1998, when 28-year-old Justin Smith started making wine in Paso Robles, it was a sleepy Central Coast area. Now the wine region is one of California’s fastest-growing. West Paso has a magical combination of rocky limestone soils, rolling hillsides and a not-too-cool climate that gives red Rhône varieties a firm structure to frame their rich, dark berry flavors.

Smith, who owns the 3,000-case Saxum winery with his wife, Heather, creates wines of distinctive character, depth and personality. In 2007, a near-perfect vintage, Saxum’s wines reached new heights. The 2007 James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah from a vineyard named after Smith’s father. The three varieties are aged 20 months in new and used barriques and large puncheons, to emphasize fruit purity. With its classic quality and reasonable price, this wine is a testament that Paso Robles has earned its place on the world stage.
 





NO 2


Shiraz Barossa Valley Bella’s Garden 2008
94 points / $55
2,600 cases made
Australia


Managing partner Michael Twelftree and winemaker Matt Wenk have found a winning formula with their Garden Series, an umbrella of six different Shiraz wines, each sourced from vineyards located in subappellations of South Australia. The Barossa bottling, Bella’s >Garden, has reached the Top 100 a total of six times since its first release (the 2001 vintage). Wenk used 18 percent new French oak hogsheads, minimal fining and no filtration to produce this fresh-tasting, complex wine.
  

WINEMAKING 

Crushed and fermented in 5, 7 and 10 tonne open top fermenters with three regular pump overs during peak fermentation to extract colour and tannin. Ferments receive between 11 to 21 days maceration on skins, before the dry free run is drained to tank and the pressings combined. After 24 hours the wine is then racked to barrel. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel. Minimal fining and unfiltered.

 

 

NO 3


Chardonnay Sonoma County Ma Belle-Fille 2008
97 points / $85
2,100 cases made
California


Ma Belle-Fille is the youngest vineyard on the winery’s Knights Valley estate, as well as the highest, reaching an elevation of 1,900 feet, and is quickly becoming the winery’s best source for Chardonnay. It’s a cool location but situated above the summer fog line, allowing for excellent sun exposure. Winemaker Nick Morlet uses native yeast; the wine is 100 percent barrel-fermented in French oak.  

The 2008 Ma Belle-Fille is spectacularly intense, boasting aromas of nectarine and Mirabelle plum, accented with wet stone-like minerality, brioche and lily flower notes. Generous in the mouth, rich and concentrated, the wine displays flavors of William pear, honey, dried almond, meringue, dry chamomile, orange rind and notes of baked Reinette apple. In the mouth, the wine is tactile, gourmand and extremely pure. Layered and seductive, the finish is very long.

 

 

NO 4


Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena 2007
97 points / $125
2,000 cases made
California

Houston cardiologist Madaiah Revana grew up in rural India, immigrated to America and caught the wine bug. In 1998, he planted 9 acres of grapes north of St. Helena, across Highway 29 from Grace Family. This 2007 is Revana’s best effort to date. Winemaker Heidi Peterson Barrett ferments small lots and ages them separately for 20 months in French oak (40 percent new) before making the final blend of 92 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, with Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.
 

The 2006 Revana Cabernet is deep ruby in color with aromas of ripe blackberry, black cherry and cassis. Hints of sweet French oak lead you into the first sip confirming this is a special wine. The wine is full, yet soft in the mouth, dense and structured with mouth coating velvety tannins. Flavors on the palate match the aromas of ripe black fruits layered with toasty, elegant oak components. The flavors persist with good balance and tremendous length. The 2006 Cabernet will benefit from a few years in the cellar and will be at its best from 2012 to 2020.

 

 

NO 5


Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007
96 points / $85
3,000 cases made
California


Altamura comes from one of the least-known corners of Napa, a small, remote area called Wooden Valley. Northeast of the city of Napa, this area is distinguished by a dramatic fog bank and cooler climate, and subsequently a longer growing season; temperatures here can be as many as 10 degrees lower than the Napa Valley average. Frank and Karen Altamura started planting grapes on their 600-acre family ranch in 1985. They also make Sangiovese and Sauvignon Blanc.

The aromas are layered with pipe tobacco, fermentation pumice, log cabin fire, moist steel, dried Poblano peppers and fine quality oak. Sweet, toasty fresh brown spice leads to the impression of richness and complexity.

We created this wine to be low in tartness yet abundant in tannins, providing impressions of friendly chock richness. The palate enters rich with sweet, ripe tannins, expanding to a greater breadth of refined textures. These harmonious qualities are so well integrated that not one takes the dominant role.

 

 

NO 6


Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2008
94 points / $45
3,644 cases made
California


Paul Hobbs made this exceptional Pinot Noir in a tricky year and made it in considerable volume, a challenge to most vintners. Hobbs founded his own label in 1991, but also consults for dozens of clients in California, Argentina, Chile and Hungary. This bottling is one of six different 2008 California Pinot Noirs from Hobbs; the grapes for this one come from six vineyards in Russian River Valley, including the Lindsey Estate, Valdez and Walker Station. 

With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines.

 

 

NO 7


Shiraz Barossa 2008
94 points / $20
5,000 cases imported
Australia


Schild’s entry-level Shiraz has all of the stuffing of a blue-chip bottling, but sells for a fraction of the price of other brands. The winery is able to achieve this because it’s one of the largest independent growers in the Barossa, with more than 600 acres under vine. Winemakers Jo Irvine and Scott Hazeldine used grapes from the cooler southern Barossa to produce this polished and complex red that was aged in both new and used American oak.

Schild's entry-level Shiraz has all of the stuffing of a blue-chip bottling, but sells for a fraction of the price of other brands. The winery is able to achieve this because it's one of the largest independent growers in the Barossa, with more than 400 acres under vine. Winemaker Scott Hazeldine used grapes from the cooler southern Barossa to produce this polished and complex red that was aged in both new and used American oak.

 

 

NO 8


Colli della Toscana Centrale Flaccianello 2007
95 points / $110
5,000 cases made
Italy


The area around Fontodi’s property in Panzano is known as the Conca d’Oro, or Golden Shell, for its heat-trapping amphitheater shape, excellent for ripening grapes. Flaccianello, 100 percent Sangiovese, is a selection of the estate’s best grapes. The 2007 was fermented in stainless steel, transferred to oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aged in new French oak for 18 months. This is the third Top 10 appearance for Flaccianello and owner Giovanni Manetti this decade. 

The area around Fontodi’s property in Panzano is known as the Conca d’Oro, or Golden Shell, for its heat-trapping amphitheater shape, excellent for ripening grapes. Flaccianello, 100 percent Sangiovese, is a selection of the estate’s best grapes. The 2007 was fermented in stainless steel, transferred to oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and aged in new French oak for 18 months. This is the third Top 10 appearance for Flaccianello and owner Giovanni Manetti this decade.

 

 

NO 9


Douro Reserva 2007
94 points / $27
8,600 cases made
Portugal


CARM stands for Casa Agrícola Roboredo Madeira. The Madeira family has owned vineyards in the Douro Valley since the 1600s, but until a decade ago, they were more focused on olive trees than their 150 acres of vines. Energetic Rui Roboredo Madeira has been the winemaker since 1999, farming seven vineyards at the extremely dry upper end of the Douro. The reserva is a blend of mostly Touriga Nacional, with some Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz, aged in French and American oak.

An elegant and powerful red, with intense aromas and flavors of red berry, smoke, raspberry and spice that are supported by well-integrated tannins, with plenty of structure. Very Burgundian in style, with a focused finish of crushed red fruits and fig. Just a baby. Best from 2012 through 2017. 8,500 cases made

 

 

NO 10


Châteauneuf-du-Pape White 2009
95 points / $100
1,000 cases made
France


Clos des Papes is widely recognized for its red cuvée (its 2005 earned Wine of the Year in 2007), but this estate also produces one of the appellation’s best whites. From the Southern Rhône’s excellent 2009 vintage, this wine blends equal parts Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Picpoul and Bourboulenc. To retain freshness, Vincent Avril fermented the wine in stainless steel tanks and avoided malolactic conversion. This white will benefit from a few years in the cellar.

The appellation stretches from the eastern bank of the Rhône river near Orange in the north-west to Sorgues near Avignon in the south-east. The altitude reaches 120 meters at its highest and is in the northern part of the appellation. It covers 3200 hectares of land with at least three distinct types of soil or terroirs. In the north and north-east the famous galets roulés, round rocks or pebbles covering the clay soil. The rocks are famous for retaining the heat from the plentiful sun, some 2800 hours a year, releasing it at night, ripening the grapes faster than in the eastern part of the appellation, where the soil is mostly sand, as well as to the south where the soil is more gritty. The powerful mistral  wind carries away the moisture, intensifying the dry climate.

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