Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wine Wednesday turns 21: my personal "best of" list

This is my 21st Wine Wednesday post -- which means my wine blogging is now of legal drinking age! (1 week on the internet = 1 year in the real world.) To celebrate, I'm putting together my very own "best of" list.

I do not claim that any of these picks represent the world's very best red wine, white wine, or anything else out there. My experience in wine drinking is nowhere near broad enough for that. These are my favorites, the ones that have special memories for me. Notably, I tasted a lot of these while in Sonoma with Econo Boy. Was I influenced by my joy at being in California with my boyfriend? Probably. But I think it's still darn good wine!

Best Red Wine: Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
A delicious find from my first-ever wine tasting trip in Napa, and the only wine I've ever bought my wine-snob dad that he unreservedly loved.

Honorable Mention: Ledson Legends Blend 2003

Best White Wine: J Vineyards Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2003
That's right, an oaked Chardonnay, the very type of wine I've sworn I hate, makes the top spot! This was the wine that convinced me that oak itself is not a bad thing, it's just been overused (especially in cheap wines). Econo Boy and I brought a bottle of this home from Sonoma and served it with cheese and crackers at Thanksgiving. Tasting notes from our family: "Oh, my God." "This is fabulous." "Mmmmm." Need I say more?

Honorable Mention: Alba Vineyards Dry Riesling 2005

Best bubbly: J Vineyards Brut Cuvee NV
What can I say? J Vineyards is awesome. This sparkling wine was absolutely mouth-watering.

Honorable Mention: Rigol Cava

Best dessert wine: Imagery Petit Syrah Port
Imagery is the quirky sister winery of Sonoma's well-known Benziger winery (an eco-friendly and excellent producer). Their tasting room specializes in wines you don't often see in California, like Sangiovese, Barbera, and Grenache. This fabulous port is rich and sweet, perfect with the little nibble of dark chocolate they gave us. I've tried other ports since, but nothing comes close to this one.

Best tasting: J Vineyards, Russian River Valley
No, I swear, J Vineyards isn't paying me! (But if anyone from J Vineyards is reading this, I would totally accept a mixed case of your awesome wines.) Their tasting gets my top spot because of a simple yet brilliant concept: a food and wine pairing flight. The friendly woman who poured for us suggested we sip the wine, then nibble the food, then sip the wine again and notice the difference. I learned more from this tasting than from any other I've ever done.

The food and wine pairing flight at J Vineyards.

Honorable mention: Imagery, Sonoma

What are your favorite wines, the ones associated with special memories and occasions?

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