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exploring wine with tim fish

My Favorite Wines of 2014

Plus a few winemaker friends pick their favorites of the year
Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Dec 10, 2014 10:30am ET

There just aren't enough days in the year to drink all the good wine. Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2014 is always my go-to list, but I also have personal favorites. They aren't necessarily the highest-rated, but these wines left an impression with me for all sorts of reasons—the mood I was in, the people I was with, the food I was eating. Some I tasted blind, others I didn't. 

Narrowing the list to just 10 was the real challenge; the order is alphabetical. WineSpectactor.com subscribers can read more detailed reviews by clicking on the links.

Bedrock The Bedrock Heritage Sonoma Valley 2012 (95 points, $42)
A knockout red that's a modern take on the hearty old California field blends.

Bouchard Père et Fils Clos Vougeot 2006 (93, $200)
Dark and brooding on release, it's starting to bloom now.

Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County 2012 (91, $24)
A great Zin at a great price.

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001 (93, $90)
Fleshing out after 10 years in the cellar. Rich, supple and earthy.

Failla Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2012 (88, $34)
Sleek and wonderfully complex, with notes of citrus, mineral and oyster shell.

Gaja Langhe Sorì San Lorenzo 2011 (94, $500)
What power, yet loads of finesse.

Krug Brut Champagne Grande Cuvée NV (95, $179)
Champagne doesn't get much better.

Le P'tit Paysan Mourvèdre San Benito County Rosé Pierre's Pirouette 2013 (91, $19)
A dry California rosé that puts many French pinks to shame.

Prats & Symington Douro Chryseia 2011 (97, $55)
A wine that truly shows the Douro is making rockin' still wines.

Turley Zinfandel Napa Valley Hayne Vineyard 1994 (95, $27)
Remarkably bold and youthful for a 20-year-old wine.

I also asked a few California winemakers to name their favorite wine of the year. You'll notice not one wine is from California. This is a worldly wine bunch, of course, and perhaps a tad shy about picking one friend's wine and ignoring another's. Either way, it's a fascinating list.

Adam Lee, Siduri and Novy, Sonoma County: Domaine de la Janasse Côtes du Rhone Les Garrigues 2012 ($49)

Philippe Melka, Melka, Napa Valley: Château Gracia St.-Emilion 2010 (91, $171)

Justin Smith, Saxum, Paso Robles: Rene Rostaing Cote-Rotie La Landonne 2010 (96, $160)

Melissa Stackhouse, J Vineyards, Russian River Valley: Olivier Leflaive Meursault Charmes 2011 (94, $105)

Mike Officer, Carlisle, Sonoma County: Dow Vintage Port 2011 (99, $82)
(Officer swears he fell in love with this wine before Wine Spectator named it the No. 1 Wine of 2014. He wouldn't lie, I'm pretty sure.)

What's your favorite wine of 2014? I'd like to hear.

David Rossi
Napa, CA —  December 10, 2014 12:23pm ET
CHÂTEAU D'YQUEM Sauternes 2011- WOW!!! David Rossi, Fulcrum Wines
John Kmiecik
Chicago —  December 10, 2014 12:27pm ET
2007 Maybach Materium...yes it received high scores but it delivered. Unbelievably plush and I think I can still taste the finish from back in June :)
Mark Lyon
Sonoma, California —  December 10, 2014 12:47pm ET
Ok, I'm biased. two Cabernets; One was a magnum of 1996 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Forest floor and cigar box aromas. More opulent Cabernet than their other first growth counterparts. The 2010 Cherryblock "Sonoma Valley" Cabernet (more restraint style) was not big, but great red fruits aromatics and elegance. Everyone I've poured this wine for raved about it.
Maurice Menocal
Madison, WI —  December 10, 2014 1:04pm ET
2011 Douro Altano, Symington Family - I convinced myself to invest in the greatness of the '11 vintage. Having sampled some, my favorite was the Altano because it was the most elegant. It's the best $10 spent on a bottle of wine.
Manuel Luiz
Paso Robles, ca —  December 10, 2014 2:13pm ET
Pruett 2010 CSP Syrah (I carry this and 10 other Pruetts in my shop). Loving some of the Garagiste producers from Paso Robles that are not in distribution-only available from me and the winery wine clubs.
In all fairness, some of the Paso wines were getting too big and out of balance. However, most of the producers are pulling back and doing a better job managing alcohol, oak and levels.
Daniel Sherer
Windsor, CA, USA —  December 10, 2014 3:43pm ET
Sassicaia 2010. Beautiful nose, perfect balance, pure and revealing. Will live for a good quarter of a century!
John Wilen
Texas —  December 10, 2014 10:31pm ET
2007 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvée Katrina Eileen

2008 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Hillstone Vineyard
Pascal
Paris —  December 11, 2014 5:49am ET
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995: almost 20 years old but still extremely fresh
or Glaetzer Amon Ra 2005: rich but perfectly balanced
Tim Fish
Sonoma County —  December 11, 2014 6:36pm ET
Some nice wines, everyone. Thanks for sharing.
Michael De Polo
West Bloomfield, Mi —  December 12, 2014 10:14pm ET
Easy one:

Sine Qua Non The Thrill of Stamp Collecting Syrah 2009 with my wife, daughters and their guys, in Charleston, S.C.
Kelly Carter
Colorado —  December 13, 2014 12:13pm ET
Red - 2009 Louis Latour Volnay Les Mitans 1er Cru. A fine reminder of why Burgundy cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. And the $40 cost was a steal.

White - 2005 Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Auslese. An incredible example of complex and classy Riesling with two plus decades of development ahead.
Daniel Davis
New Orleans, LA, USA —  December 13, 2014 3:58pm ET
2013 André et Michel Quenard "les Abymes" Vin de Savoie. Amazing texture and laser-like focus with Alpine floral tones in a bottle that is embarrassingly inexpensive. Yum!
Steve Trachsel
poway, CA —  December 13, 2014 8:33pm ET
2003 Montrose...after a 3 hour decant and 1997 Masseto..But still have a few days left in the year so may find a better Wine of the Year!
Raymond Archacki Jr
Wethersfield, CT USA —  December 14, 2014 9:26am ET
A 2001 Mondavi Cab Reserve from magnum with my wife and two adult kids the night before fathers day. I started collecting wine after reading a WS issue about the 2001 Napa vintage and the Mondavi was the last of a couple of dozen wines that I had the pleasure of drinking from that vintage over the years. It taught me the lesson that vintages do matter and this wine was in that perfect spot.
Bruce Robson
Louisville, KY —  December 16, 2014 8:32am ET
1986 BV Georges de Latour Pvt Rsv Cab in magnum. It was that rare moment when you open something at precisely the right time. The wine was spot on, just beautiful. The 50th anniversary bottle of GDL was the highlight of a great 50th b-day dinner for myself and several friends that also included a mag of 94 Phelps Insignia. It too was impressive (and i am glad to have another one left).
Peter Hellman
NYC —  December 16, 2014 9:38am ET
I needed to go no further than the rear of the upper floor of Marriott Marquis during WineSpec Grand Tasting to savor my most memorable wine of 2014: QUINTA DO VALE MEAO 2011.
Matthew Billet
Ashburnham, MA —  December 16, 2014 10:20am ET
Cherry Red barrel sample tasted with Matt Trevisan in the Barrel Room at Linne Calodo at a gathering of the Wine Berserkers! This was a tremendous small barrel of vineyard designate and sentimentally rich zinfandel that I sensed Matt was so attached to he just didn't want to blend it into anything.
Christian Antonelli
West Caldwell, New Jersey, U.S —  December 16, 2014 10:59pm ET
2007 Episode from Terlato Wines, an harmony of aromas and flavor, rich vanilla, red and black fruit, tobacco, cigar box and a never ending velvety tannins, a real beauty.
Ron Needle
Baltimore, MD —  December 17, 2014 2:34pm ET
Only 2 winemakers picked wines under $100, I think they make too much money.

Favorite wine? The one in my glass, of course
Mark Knapton
Thousand Oaks, CA —  December 18, 2014 3:39am ET
2011 Beaucastel Blanc Roussanne VV left me utterly speechless and shocked. The whole table loved it and we loaded up with all that we could find. Tasted is twice more since and it was just as good.
Antonio Bianchini Md
Montreal, Quebec, Canada —  December 21, 2014 12:48am ET
When Wine Spectator came out with their Top 100 of 2002, I was a bit surprised to find Guigal's 1999 Chateauneuf-du-Pape at the top at #1. However, I still decided to purchase 12 bottles on blind faith - after all, I have always found your opinions helpful and accurate. I opened 2 bottles in 2012, but the wine was still a bit rough, the tannins still present. However, this week, opened two more at a party, and the guests were pleasantly surprised by its smoothness and full flavours. Looking forward to the next 8 bottles!!
Milton Karten
Mount Laurel, NJ USA —  December 23, 2014 4:10pm ET
Ornellaia Bolgheri Le Serre Nuove 2010 --- the little brother so to speak of Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, this one blew me away. The Super Tuscans have always been one of my favorites as has the varietal, Sangiovese. For a real treat, sip on this wine with a piece of Lindt Intense Orange chocolate; superb!!!
Dave Oakley
Carlsbad, CA —  December 25, 2014 11:46am ET
2005 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon
Beckstoffer Dr. Crane Vineyard

Life Changing!
Stephen Mcgibbon
Perth Road, ON, Canada —  December 27, 2014 2:34pm ET
On my daughter's 23rd birthday this year we opened a 2005 Stephanie (her name as well) Cab Sauv made by Hestan. Simply put, it was stunning.

On the value side of things, I was at the Turley tasting room in Templeton, CA in May and bought a few bottles of their offering of Red Rocket Zin ($10-$12 as I recall) available only at the tasting room. What a great value.

Ed Wolfarth
Boca Raton Fla —  December 29, 2014 3:47pm ET
Terlano Chardonnay, Kreuth Vineyard. Best Italian chard ever and $25!! Balanced, complex. Just sensational!!!!
James Addison
Marquette, Michigan —  December 31, 2014 2:01pm ET
For recent release Renato Ratti Barolo Marcenasco 2009. A modern wine from an historic vineyard at a not too high price. Has lots of life left. On a more mature note Chateau Margaux 1989. Starting to enter maturity with a fine rim of brick and an ethereal bottle bouquet. I can taste both wines by simply thinking about them.
Austin Beeman
Maumee, Ohio —  January 5, 2015 6:45pm ET
Chateau Figeac 1978 Saint Emilion.

Birth Year Wine!
Jim Mason
St. John's, Canada —  January 12, 2015 5:39pm ET
1993 Chateau Megyer 5 Puttonyos. Amazing wine that can still get better. Thankfully I have one of these left in the cellar.

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