I've been rooting around my wine cellar recently trying to decide what to open for the holidays.
Christmas Eve is easy because the menu is always the same and we drink sparkling wine. We have to start with shrimp cocktail because that has been a tradition in our family for 50 years, then we eat local Dungeness crab and sometimes a few oysters fresh from nearby Tomales Bay.
Our Christmas menu this year is down to two possibilities: a classic baked ham or a slow-roasted pork recipe that's boldly seasoned with citrus, garlic and aromatic herbs. It could go either way, but eventually, my wine mood and what's in the cellar will determine what we cook.
While I was sorting through the bottles of my cellar, I started to think about all the great wine I've tasted in 2012. Sadly, most are no longer in my cellar thanks to my feeble dedication to patience, but now that the year is coming to a close I'd like to highlight 10 of my favorite wines. They aren't necessarily the highest-rated wines, but they are ones that left a lasting impression. The order is alphabetical, and by the way, does anyone care to share his or her favorite wines of 2012?
Papa's All-Blacks Sonoma Valley 2010 (93 points, $35)
This eccentric blend of Zinfandel and other old-school California grapes is loaded with personality.
Zinfandel Russian River Valley Papera Ranch 2009 (92, $44)
A consistent favorite. That rare wine that captures a unique vineyard.
Hossfeld Coliseum Napa Valley 2009 (95, $75)
A Merlot-based blend that has both depth and finesse.
Pinot Noir Sonoma County 2010
Senior editor James Laube nailed this one: a rich and potent expression of California Pinot.
la Terre Rouge Vin Gris D'Amador Sierra Foothills 2011 (92, $16)
The best California rosé I've ever tasted. 'Nuff said.
Pinot Noir Napa Valley Carneros Hyde Vineyard 2010 (94, $75)
Laube called this rich and expansive. An excellent Pinot from a classic vineyard.
Brut Green Valley of Russian River Valley Classic Vintage 2007 (93, $38)
A sleek and seamless sparkling wine, capturing what's best about California bubbly.
Claret Reserve Sonoma-Napa Counties 2009 (93, $130)
The mountain-grown fruit shines through in the knockout Merlot-based blend.
Brut Mendocino County Excellence NV (90, $19)
A lively, balanced California sparkling wine for a great price.
Zinfandel Paso Robles Ueberroth Vineyard 2009 (95, $48)
Combines incredible depth with finesse and a rich texture. Offers a true sense of place.