John Zimcosky is on a path familiar to many wine lovers, toward a deeper engagement with the people and places that make the wines he loves. As the winner of Wine Spectator's 2018 Top 100 sweepstakes, he can now use the Top 10 Wines of 2017 as roadsigns along the way.
"I love the overall variety of the Top 10," Zimcosky says of his prize. (See the list.) "I've never had a great Gigondas. I am just beginning to explore great Bordeaux; I have a case of Pavie Macquin 2010 but haven't tried it yet. I've only had one wine from Duckhorn, and not the Three Palms Merlot. That's the one I'm most excited about," referring to Wine Spectator's 2017 Wine of the Year.
The Chicago-based options trader, 33, began his exploration of wine when his former boss encouraged him to visit Napa Valley. "It was six or seven years ago," he recalls. "My wife, Laura, and I were dating at the time. Then in 2014 we got married there, at Brix restaurant in Yountville."
The couple have approached wine from multiple angles. They've visited Napa Valley on several occasions, where they joined a number of winery wine clubs, and have made trips to Sonoma, Oregon and Tuscany. John has explored the auction market through Hart Davis Hart. They've accumulated about 300 bottles so far.
"Wine is something that's interesting and fun to learn about," he says. "I'm curious about ageable whites. I think that's an area that's overlooked. My main focus now is Oregon Pinots and Chardonnays. They offer value, and I think it's an exciting time to be involved with the Willamette Valley."
"Mostly, I like to collect wines that come from places where I have a personal connection. I have to give a shoutout to Henri and Claire Vandendriessche at White Rock Vineyards in Napa. Henri is in his 80s but still working. We've gotten to know the family. The winery was damaged in the 2017 fires, but they're recovering. White Rock has a special place in our hearts."
The couple subscribe to Wine Spectator magazine, and the publication led them to Altesino in Tuscany, where they loved the wines. Though two small children may limit their mobility and budget for the time being, Zimcosky has no thought of leaving the wine roads.
"I guess it's evolved into a bit of an obsession," he admits. "I wish we lived in wine country. I think Oregon is a great place. But for now, we'll just keep learning and enjoy the journey."