Saturday, December 3, 2011

Top 10 North American Wines

Though this is not my Top 10 list for 2011, I wanted to talk about my Top 10 Wines from the United States.  These wines are wines that I buy year in, year out, and with the current economy, I am not buying much at all.  That being said, here are the producers who's wines and mailing lists I will stay on.

I will however note though, that due to the staggering of releases now, there are 2 of these wines that I now buy locally, so I can pick them up when I have the funds, versus buying them off the mailer.  As much as I would rather buy winery direct, sometimes, I just cannot afford to do so with other mailing lists coming at the same time.

Here are my Top 10 Mailing Lists that I will continue to purchase from so long as funds are there:

Curran:  Let me say that Kris and Bruno are absolute gems, and they have some of the best sales ever!  I mainly buy their white wines, and these are usually our wines of summer.  This past year, they ran a great deal with $11 bottles of their Grenache Blanc, Gewurztraminer, and Rose.  This could not be passed up!  I will also note that Bruno's pinot noir is a house favorite as well! 

Rivers-Marie:  Is there really anything else that needs to be said about Thomas Rivers Brown?  Definitely one of my favorite winemakers the last 5 years plus, and I buy all the pinot noir and Cabernet sauvignon that I am offered.  From his $25 Sonoma Coast pinot noir to his $75 Cabernet(s), they are all winners in my book!  This is my number 2 producer by volume in my cellar.

Kosta Browne:  Here is a winery that I have been buying from since the 2004 vintage, and when I am in the mood for a high throttle, new world, fruit forward pinot noir, this is where I turn!  Sure, sometimes I have to be in the mood for this styled wine, but when I am, these hit my sweet spot, and I absolutely love them.  I cannot however deny the fact that I was quite surprised when Wine Spectator named their 2009 Sonoma Coast pinot noir their wine of the year.  Congrats to Dan an Michael for their outstanding accomplishments with this winery.

Stefania Wines:  Hands down the number one producer in my cellar.  If you have had a glass of wine at my house, you have drank something from Stefania.  In my opinion, these wines are a great representation of the Santa Cruz Mountain Region of California.  Their cabs are my favorites in the lineup, but the syrah, pinot noir, and "Haut Tubee" blend are nothing to bat an eye at as these are also delicious.  They have also released 2 vintages of chardonnay now, which have both been outstanding.  If you haven't heard of them, I highly recommend them, and I still think that their cabs are worth twice the price.  Tell them I sent you!

Lillian:  I know, I am always talking about Lillian and Maggie Harrison, but what can I say?  In my opinion, this is still the baby brother to Sine Qua Non, and you can just taste the Manfred influence in these wines.  They are big, they are bold, and they are delicious.  Hands down one of my favorite domestic syrah.

Unfortunately, do to budgeting constraints, I no longer purchase these winery direct, but I do however pick up 3-6 bottles per vintage from Grand Cru Wine Merchants in Lake Forest, IL.  Craig is a great guy, and I like throwing some business his way.  He can usually get me a few bottles of the coveted Blue Label as well.

Congruence:  Now here is a wine you will probably never see in a store, and it is such a shame.  This is actually a Crushpad project, but winemaker Steve Eisenhauer definitely has his hand in these heavy, spending numerous hours working on blends, etc.  For me, his Cabernet is the shining star in the lineup, and Steve and I must have very similar palates, as these are made in a style that I love!  But you can also not forget about his zinfandel!  This is not your typical jammy, over extracted, high alcohol zin.  It is however balanced and smooth, and worth the $30 price tag.  Check out this winery, and I think you will enjoy it!

Bedrock:  Morgan Twain-Peterson is another innovator in my opinion, making great wines.  I absolutely LOVE his rose, which to me is made in a Provence style (though many will disagree).  It's OK though, the rest of us "understand it!"  But let's not forget Morgan's syrah, zinfandel, pinot noir, and sauvignon blanc, as these are also delicious.  And yes, he makes some great white blends, a Cabernet, and Chardonnay from one of my favorite vineyards, Brosseau.  Check out his wines, and you will not be disappointed!

Antica Terra:  I know, Maggie Harrison again!  And no, it is not the fact that Maggie and I grew up in the same hometown, it is the fact that she found a gorgeous property, worthy of growing amazing fruit, in the hands of an amazing winemaker.  Antica Terra is hands down my favorite Oregon pinot noir producer, with a few wineries quite a few strides behind.  Sure, you know how much I love my Thomas pinot noir, but these are a class above in my opinion.  From the rose, to the Botanica, to the regular bottling, there isn't one that we haven't enjoyed.  And for the record, the '06's are really coming into their stride right now!  This is also another wine that I pick up annually now from Craig at Grand Cru Wine Merchants.  I also have a few of these stashed in my parents cellar in Barrington, IL for when I go home to visit.

Fiddlehead Cellars:  One of my favorite producers in the Santa Rita Hill of California, Kathy Joseph is making some great wines.  From her sauvignon blanc to her rose to her pinot noir, these are always appealing to me.  I will admit that I really love her pinot with 5-7 years at least on them, but when they hit that time, they are wonderful, floral, and elegant.  But don't get me wrong, these wines open up nicely even in their youth with an hour plus of air in the glass or decanter.  Her sauvignon blanc is crisp and refreshing, and again, a great summer sipper.

Match Vineyards
:  Last but not least, I have to mention Match Vineyards.  Randy Sloan at Match only makes 2 wines, both single vineyard bottlings from Butterdragon Hill (St. Helena) and Baconbrook (Spring Mountain).  Easily 2 of my favorite AVA's, and these wines are again made in a style that I love.  Nothing over the top about them, nothing in your face about them.  They are not over-oaked, over-extracted, or over done.  These are just classic Cabernet, and a pleasure to drink!  Check these out too!

So that being said, that is my current Top 10 for affordable wines, that I can still consider (for now) daily drinkers, or at least wines that I wouldn't be afraid to open for friends.  Most of these wines are accessible, though some of the mailing lists may not have wait lists.  In the current economy however, more and more mailing lists are opening up, so it could never hurt to sign up.

So now that I have mentioned my Top 10, let's hear yours!  Also, stay tuned for my next installment to include:  Top 10 California Cabernet, Top 10 California Cult Wines, Top 10 Bordeaux, Top 10 Whites, and my Top 10 of 2011, which should be unveiled on New Years Day!  Cheers!


Anonymous said...

Dude? Really? I have only heard of a few of these wines. What about wines like Maybach, Shafer, Schrader, Dalle Valley, Quilceda Creek, Larkmead, Kistler, Sea Smoke, Bond, Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Sine Qua Non, Williams Selyem, Marcassin, Leonetti, Scarecrow etc. Need I go on? This is a simple list of easily accessible wines that you put no thought in to...and none of these wines are mind blowing by any means. Quit drinking points! Lame!

Anonymous said...

This is a canned list of average run of the mill wines at best. Not a single one of these wines are hard to acquire, and all of them are easily accessible here in New Jersey. This list is rather boring.

Anonymous said...

No offense to the 2 previous comments, but please tell me where you can find these so called "run of the mill" wines in New Jersey. Curran is extremely hard to find in stores here, but their grenache blanc is killer, not to mention the fact that Kris is an absolute gem, as is her husband Bruno!

As for Rivers-Marie, if you can tell me one place in NJ to purchase it, I will buy you a bottle. I have never seen this at retail.

Kosta Browne - sure, I've seen it at retail, but not often, and usually at a 300% markup. Great wines IMHO.

Stefania - hear a lot of good things on these wines, but have never had one. Never seen this at retail anywhere.

Lillian - this you have a chance at finding, but it is indeed amazing!

Congruence - never heard of it, but after seeing their website, looks like it is mailing list only, and a Crushpad project. Notes sound delicious on these wines.

Bedrock - Canal's Bottle Stop has these on occasion, and they are great wines for the price, and ready for drinking. Their sub $20 syrah is a bargain!

Antica Terra - rare, but accessible here on the East Coast. Had this first off of a wine list at a restaurant and loved it!

Fiddlehead - again, hard to find here, but I have seen it on occasion. Great Santa Rita Hills terroir!

Match - pretty sure these are mailing list only, and never seen these at retail. Hear they are great, but never had one.

Just my 4 cents on this post. Great list!