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My Favorite Wines of 2012

These are the bottles that left a lasting impression
Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Dec 12, 2012 11:12am ET

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?

Bedrock 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.

Carlisle Zinfandel Russian River Valley Papera Ranch 2009 (92, $44)
A consistent favorite. That rare wine that captures a unique vineyard.

Carter Hossfeld Coliseum Napa Valley 2009 (95, $75)
A Merlot-based blend that has both depth and finesse.

Chasseur Pinot Noir Sonoma County 2010 (92, $30)
Senior editor James Laube nailed this one: a rich and potent expression of California Pinot.

Domaine de la Terre Rouge Vin Gris D'Amador Sierra Foothills 2011 (92, $16)
The best California rosé I've ever tasted. 'Nuff said.

Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Napa Valley Carneros Hyde Vineyard 2010 (94, $75)
Laube called this rich and expansive. An excellent Pinot from a classic vineyard.

Iron Horse 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.

Pride Claret Reserve Sonoma-Napa Counties 2009 (93, $130)
The mountain-grown fruit shines through in the knockout Merlot-based blend.

Scharffenberger Brut Mendocino County Excellence NV (90, $19)
A lively, balanced California sparkling wine for a great price.

Turley Zinfandel Paso Robles Ueberroth Vineyard 2009 (95, $48)
Combines incredible depth with finesse and a rich texture. Offers a true sense of place.

Brett R Turner
Hawthorn Woods, IL —  December 12, 2012 12:59pm ET
#1 Deerfield Ranch Buchignani Garcia Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel Reserve 2007
#2 Owen Roe Syrah Columbia Valley Ex Umbris 2009
#3 Musella Amarone della Valpolicella 2006
#4 Bodega Numanthia Termes Numanthia 2005
#5 Loring Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands 2009
#6 Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
#7 E. Pira e Figli Via Nuova Barolo 2003
#8 Chateau Myrat Barsac 2007
#9 Argiolas Rosato Serra Lori 2011
#10 Michael Gassier Nostre Pais Costieres de Nimes 2011
Tim Fish
Sonoma County —  December 12, 2012 1:38pm ET
Good list, Brett, thanks for sharing.
Mark Lyon
Sonoma, California —  December 12, 2012 2:48pm ET
I continue to be impressed with Seghesio 2009 Old Vines and Homeranch Zinfandels. I was really impressed with both the 2009 and 2010 Vintage for Beaujolais and now starting to drink them. 1989 Chat. Angelus and surprisingly a bottle of 1998 Chat. de Sales were just ethereal. Finally, Kistler's 2009 Chardonnays are a triumphant return to excellence because I as disapointed with their 2007's.
Bob Barry
New Jersey —  December 12, 2012 3:08pm ET
I had many favorites this year but one that stands out, now for even deeper reasons.
Domaine de Fonsainte Gris De Gris Rose 2011.
I drank this elegant rose ALL summer, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, down the Jersey Shore. I will open the last bottle tonight during the 121212 concert for Sandy relief. There will be many memories as I sip it & I look forward to the 2012 Gris De Gris, next summer, in the same spot "DOWN THE SHORE".
Brennan Lothery
Brooklyn, NY —  December 12, 2012 3:13pm ET
2005 Roar Pisoni Vineyard Pinot
2007 Herb Lamb Vineyards
2001 Abreu Madrona Ranch
2007 Next of Kyn
2005 Tor Kenward To Kalon cabernet
1997 P. Togni cabernet
1989 Cos d'Estournel
2009 Peay Vineyards Scallop Shelf pinot
2003 Chateau Pavie
2005 Shafer Hillside Select
Brian Loring
Lompoc, CA, US —  December 12, 2012 5:03pm ET
2005 Mas Doix Costers de Vinyes Velles
2005 Bodegas El Nido El Nido
2006 Vina Sastre Pesus
2009 Aubert Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay
2008 Peter Michael Point Rouge Chardonnay
2000 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs
2002 Pol Roger Rose
2002 Bollinger La Grande Année
2010 Siduri Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir
2006 Sine Qua Non Grenache In the Crosshairs
Tim Fish
Sonoma County —  December 12, 2012 5:29pm ET
More good stuff. Thanks for sharing. Brian, I need to come to your house.
John Wilen
Texas —  December 12, 2012 6:08pm ET
Not in order....

2007 Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Paloma Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Three Sticks Chardonnay Durell Vineyard
2008 Dancing Hares Vineyard
2008 Merryvale Profile
2007 Buccella Merlot
2009 Krupp Brothers Estates The Doctor
2009 Francis Ford Coppola Eleanor
2006 Cavus Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Staglin Family Cabernet Sauvignon 25th Anniversary Selection
Mission Viejo, CA —  December 12, 2012 11:09pm ET
2005 Conn Valley Reserve Cabernet
2006 Regusci Stags Leap District Cabernet
2005 Orin Swift 'The Prisoner' Zinfandel blend
2006 Spring Valley 'Uriah' Walla Walla Merlot blend
2006 Riboli Rutherford Cabernet
2005 Rubicon 'Edizione Pennino' Zinfandel
2005 Orin Swift 'Papillon' Red blend
2006 Cougar Crest Walla Walla Estate Merlot
2007 Faust Cabernet
2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet (#1 in 2009)
David Peters
Mission Viejo, CA —  December 12, 2012 11:47pm ET
My name was omitted from the Mission Viejo comment !!
Pascal Gilliard
Paris, France —  December 13, 2012 3:47am ET
Guigal Condrieu La Doriane 2005
Chapoutier Saint-Joseph Les Granits (White) 2009
Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex 2005
Charles Heidsieck - Blanc des Millénaires 1995
Bollinger - La Grande Année 2002
Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello Pianrosso 1997
Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico 1999
Barossa Valley Estate E&E Black Pepper Shiraz 1998
Glaetzer Amon-Ra 2005
Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard 2006
Mauricio Martinez
Lima, Peru —  December 13, 2012 9:37am ET
Unfortunetely, here in Peru there is no chance to buy California wines (local market is focused in wines from Spain, Argentina and Chile). Just because I am a huge world wide wine lover, every time I have the chance to travel, I bring in my luggage as many bottles as I can (4-8). So I don't have a "favorite list", i just have "a list" lol conformed by all the California wines I have tried this year. Pelase, consider that as my access is limited, I have to "go safe" choosing well known wines, mostly $50+. I am sorry if you don't find "discoveries" in my list. So, this 2012 I have tried:

Donum Pinot Noir Carneros 2006 (very nice)
Philip Togni cabernet sauvignon 2007 (new discover to me)
Caymus Special Selection 2007 (do I need to say something?)
Dominus Napa Valley 2007 (magnificient)
Thomas George Estate Pinot Noir Baker Ridge Vineyard 2008 (love this one).
Paloma Merlot (surprisingly full bodied. Imposible to drink it alone. Need food pairing).

Most of Tim's elections are new to me so definetely I am going to consider them the next time I have the chance to buy California wines.

Cheers and happy new wine year.
William Matarese
Florida, USA —  December 14, 2012 1:19pm ET
#1 Poggio il Castellare Brunello di Montalcino 2004
#2 Petrolo Toscana Torrione 1997
#3 Ceretto Bricco Rocche Barolo Prapo 1997
#4 Cabreo il Borgo Toscana 2001
#5 Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet 2008
#6 Maison Champy Beaune Premier Cru Aux Cras 2002
#7 Sette Ponti Oreno 2006
#8 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet 2008
#9 Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee
#10 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2007

I guess it's pretty obvious that I am partial to Italian wines. ;)
Lloyd Segal
Montreal, Canada —  December 14, 2012 9:39pm ET
2001 Dominus Napa
2005 Dom. Vougeraie Les Cras
2003 Rudd Oakville Estate
2002 Bouchard Le Corton
2001 Pintia Toro
2006 Valli Pinot Noir Gibbston
1998 Verite La Joie
2001 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato
2000 Feudi di San Gregorio
1997 Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino
Jim Mason
St. John's, Canada —  December 15, 2012 2:12pm ET
Not in order:
2000 Oremus Tokaji 5 Puttonyos
1993 and 2000 Disznoko 5 Puttonyos
2000 and 2003 Don Melchor
2004 Bussola Amarone
1998 Masi Campolongo Amarone
2000 Masi Mazzano Amarone
2004 Tignanello (wow!)
2006 Flaccianello
Steve Balmuth
Dana Point, CA, USA —  December 17, 2012 10:26am ET
Not in order:
2009 Maybach Materium
2009 Torrin "The Banshee"
2008 Jacob Toft Mary Jane's Cuvee
2002 Argyle E.T. Brut Cuvee
1976 Heitz Martha's Vineyard (1.5 L)
2009 Epoch Tempranillo
2009 Denner Dirt Worshipper
2007 Continuum
2008 Altamura Cabernet
2008 Stanton Oakville Cabernet
Mark Goldberger
Boston, MA —  December 17, 2012 5:17pm ET
1824 Bual Madeira
1955 J. Thorin Clos de Vougeot
1966 Franz Albus Rauenthaler Rothenberg Riesling Auslese
1998 Louis Jadot Corton Charlemagne
2001 Dalla Valle Cabernet
2003 Chateau La Tour Blanche Sauternes
2005 Sine Qua Non Mr. K The Nobleman
2007 Lokoya Mt. Veeder Cabernet
2007 Lewis Cellars Reserve Cabernet
2010 Kongsgaard "The Judge" Chardonnay
Stan Gardner
Colorado USA —  December 18, 2012 12:45pm ET
In no particular order
2006 ZENATO Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
2009 A.P. VIN Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Rosella's Vineyard
2006 BARONE RICASOLI Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio
2006 ROBERT MONDAVI Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve
2007 PETROLO Toscana Galatrona
2005 RENATO RATTI Barolo Marcenasco
2008 OWEN ROE Syrah Yakima Valley Red Willow Vineyard Chapel Block
Kelvin Low
canada —  December 18, 2012 6:08pm ET
In no particular order
1988 leoville Barton
1989 la Dominique
2008 schild
2003 E&E black pepper
1991 montelena estate
2007 ridge Chardonnay
2005 condado de hazard cranzia
1985 Graham vintage port
Todd Cook
Dousman, WI —  December 18, 2012 6:27pm ET
1) 2008 Altamura Negroamoro
2) 2010 Alpha Omega Beckstoffer To Kalon North Cabernet
3) 2006 Altamura Nebbiolo
4) 2009 Hourglass Merlot
5) 2008 Anderson's Conn Valley Reserve Cabernet
6) 2000 Inama Oracolo
7) 2009 Reverie Petit Verdot
8) 2006 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Franc
9) 2008 Sullivan Estate Reserve Cabernet
10)2007 Woodward Canyon Cabernet
Gregory Kendall
Laurel, MD, US —  December 19, 2012 10:44am ET
Not in any order:

2002 Bodegas LAN Rioja Edicion Limitada
2009 Failla Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir
1997 Avignonesi Vino Nobile Montepulciano Grandi Annate Riserva
2009 Merry Edwards RRV Sauvignon Blanc
2002 Lewis NV Syrah
2003 Concha Y Toro Puente Alto Don Melchor
2009 Avanthia Godello Valdeorras
2001 Domaine Bois De Boursan Cuvee Des Felix CNDP
1996 Bryant Family Cabernet Sauvignon
2001 Fontodi Flaccianello Colli Della Pieve Toscana
Jonathan Weinrieb
Washington, DC —  December 20, 2012 3:29pm ET
In order of oldest to latest vintage:

1994 Dominus
1998 Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia
2001 Aldo Conterno Barolo Granbussia Riserva
2002 Harlan Proprietary Red
2003 Rotllan Torra Priorat Tirant
2003 Bellevue Mondotte
2005 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape
2007 Domaine d'Eugenie Grands-Échézeaux Grand Cru
2008 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection
2008 Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove
Raymond Archacki Jr
Wethersfield, CT USA —  December 21, 2012 11:36am ET
2003 Leoville Barton (classic)
2007 Clos des Pape (will get better)
2006 Plumpjack Cab (hit the spot)
2005 Trefethan Cab (was surprised how good this was)
2000 Dow Porto (smooth)
1997 Caymus (nice aged cab, great vintage)
2005 Kosta Browne Pinot RRV (longest I have held a KB)
2007 Anderson's Conn Valley Cab (always a fave producer)
2005 Clarendon Liandra Shiraz (great buy at WTSO)
2009 Grand puy Lacoste (yes the 09's drink well young)

Michael Schlueter
St Louis —  December 21, 2012 2:48pm ET
Thanks all for the suggestions!

For those of you drinking Harlans and Bryants.....either we need to be pals....or I hate you. You choose! :)

Happy Holidays all!
Lis Travers
Toronto,Canada —  December 21, 2012 5:27pm ET
Great suggestions, but for some strange reason, the via train on which I am traveling doesn't have even one of them, only a Spanish wine in a juice box that thankfully did not come with a straw! You should be able to bring your own!William in Florida LOVE your number 10 choice which I am bringing to Montreal to enjoy with friends with whom we visited the Casanova winery in Montalcino! Happy holidays from thewomenofwine.com
Amedeus Dascanio
Maple, Ontario ,Canada —  December 22, 2012 4:47pm ET

My favs this year!
Can't wait till next year...many bottles ready!!
Michael Henderson
San Francisco —  December 22, 2012 9:58pm ET
Theses list certainly highlight the many different tastes in wine!! Shows there is no such thing as the "best" top 10. Good drinking to all in 2013.
Austria —  December 25, 2012 4:38am ET
2008 syrah colson canyon tensley ( the price, incredible) my wine of the year!
2009 folly vina montes
2008 broken stones saxom from famous justin smith
2010 the abstract orin swift
2009 focus from justin
2009 fracture from booker (also syrah)
2009 & 2010 cdp clos des papes paul avril (fantastic)
2009 syrah scarpa relic
2010 sumo by keplinger (what a deal, petite sirah)
2009 petite sirah landy valdez family

all together not the expensive stuff but allover nearly my best year in loving californian sidekick grapes. so each visit during my holidays in this country brings out more and more fantastic wines who are not cheap, but each dollar is a good investment. and the tensley is available in europe, fantastic for me.

christian ortner
Gordon Rodrigues
Hong Kong —  December 26, 2012 6:19am ET
Wines that have delighted this year..in no particular order

Domaine Sigalas Santorini 2009
Domaine Clape Cornas 2010
Teso La Monja Victorino 2008
Henri Giraud Champagne Homage a Francois Hemart NV
Clos St. Jean CDP 2007
Kay Brothers Amery Block 6 Shiraz 2004
E Guigal La Doriane 2010
Roger Sabon CDP Cuvee Prestige 2007
Abel Mendoza 5V Rioja 2010
Jean Foillard Cote de Py Morgon 2010
Senorio de San Vicente Tempranillo Rioja 2006
Tenuta delle Tere Nere Etna Rosso 2008
M. Chapoutier Ermitage Vine de Paille 1991 / 2006
Montevertine IGT Toscana 2009
Montevertine Le Pergole Torte 2007
Cerbaiona Rosso di Montalcino 2008
Henk Schouten
Netherlands —  December 27, 2012 5:51am ET
nv Gosset Grand Blanc des Blancs
1947 Cave de l'Abbe Rous - Banyuls Grand Cru
2001 Quintarelli - Valpolicella Classico Superiore
2002 Clos Fantine - Faugeres tradition
2004 Castellare di Castellina - I Sodi di San Nicolo
2006 Franz Hirtzberger - Honivogl Smaragd
2006 Fontodi - Flacianello della Pieve
2007 Domaine des Baumard - Clos de St. Catherine
2008 Maria Pia Castelli - Stella Flora
2009 St. Michael Eppan - Sauvignon Sanct Valentin
2009 Dard & Ribo - Saint Joseph

Scott Siegl
Chicago —  December 29, 2012 10:17pm ET
#10 2005 Frank family Rutherford Cabernet
9 2001 Montelena Estate Cabernet
8 2009 Pedestal Merlot
7 2004 Heitz Martha's Vineyard
6 2004 Chateau LaGrange
5 2003 Bremer Austitntatious
4 2005 Shafer Hillside Select
3 2010 Arista Minoni Pinot Noir
2 2003 Chateau Siran
1 2005 Kathryn Hall Cabernet
No particular order. Just some great wines enjoyed with friends and family!
Happy New Year!!
Don Rauba
Schaumburg, IL —  January 1, 2013 1:15am ET
Since it was an olympic year (as well as a year in which I enjoyed a lot of really nice wines), I've organized my winners into 3 groups:

3-way tie for GOLD MEDAL:
Molitor, Markus 2009 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Riesling Spatlese
Lewis 2007 Napa Valley Syrah
Marquis Philips 2005 9, McLaren Vale Shiraz

5-way tie for SILVER MEDAL:
Woodward Canyon 2004 Old Vines, Dedication Series Cabernet Sauvignon
Chateau Chateau 2007 David and Goliath, McLaren Flat, McLaren Vale Grenache
Bodegas Alto Moncayo 2009 Veraton, Campo de Borja Grenache
Kaesler 2004 WOMS, Barossa Valley Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Crest 2004 Reserve, Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

7-way tie for BRONZE MEDAL:
3 Rings 2005 Reserve, Barossa Valley Shiraz
Re: Serve 2005 Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Larkmead 2004 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Carlisle 2007 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Columbia Crest 2006 Reserve, Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Mazzocco 2007 Maple, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Two Hands 2006 Lily's Garden, McLaren Vale Shiraz
Austin Beeman
Maumee, Ohio —  January 2, 2013 6:02pm ET
Wine of the Year:
J.L. Chave 1994 Hermitage Blanc

Other 9 - not in order:

St. Innocent 2010 Pinot Noir 'Temperance Hill'
A. Margaine NV Champagne 'Demi-sec'
Elk Cove 2011 Pinot Blanc
Heidi Schrock 2010 Rose Biscaya
Chakana 2010 Malbec
Elena Walch 2001 Legrein Riserva
Bonny Doon 2008 Syrah 'Alamo Creek'
Moccagatta 1998 Barbaresco 'Cole'
Kruger-Rumpf 2011 Scheurebe Spatlese

This is all wines that rose above the fray and stuck in my memory this year.
Robert Seaney
Sylvania, OH —  January 6, 2013 10:36am ET
In no particular order

1999 Ridge Lytton Estate Syrah
2006 Ojai Vineyard Roll Ranch
2009 Hall Jack's Masterpiece Cabernet Sauvignon
2009 Casa Nuestra Evangelho Vineyard Carignane
2009 Ridge Jimsomare Chardonnay

2007 Chateau de Vaudieu CdP Rouge
2008 Pierre Andre Reserve Vielles Vignes Burgundy

2003 Marques de Grinon Dominio de Valdepusa Emeritus
2006 Arrocal Angel Ribera del Duero
2005 Lan Rioja Reserva

1997 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva
2004 Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico Riserva

2003 Rosswager Halde Beerenauslese Spatburgunder

It appears I should be exploring more Old World wines, and more whites.

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