My Top Ten Wine Encounters of 2010

10. 2007 Cabernet — J. Lohr — San Jose, CA — $17. A bouyant red-purple color with bright hues. Generous aromas of black cherry, black currant and plum fruit, complemented by vanilla, tar and toasty notes from the twelve to fourteen months in barrel. On the palate, the fruit flavors echo the aroma, complexed with blackberry and a plump, softly texture mouthfeel and finish.

9. 2007 Papillon — Red Table Wine — Orin Swift — Rutherford, CA — $57. This is Orin Swift Cellar’s third release of Papillon. This wine combines Bordeaux varietals from a number of great local vineyards including Lewelling, Taplin, Moorhead, Frediani, Ink Grade, and Morisoli; encompassing Napa Valley appellations Oakville, Rutherford, Saint Helena, and Howell Mountain. The color of the wine is deep garnet with an opaque red tinge. It has aromas of opulent black fruits (cassis, blackberries, black cherries) and a touch of well-integrated, sweet oak. The entry of the wine is soft and lush; it sets up the wide yet well defined mid palate. Dark fruit flavors combined with ripe tannins lead into a long and soft finish.

8. 2006 Marriage — Red Table Wine — Terra Valentine — Napa Valley, CA — $75. Dark cherry, brambly fruits, cinnamon, clove, sweet tobacco and cocoa on the nose.  Satiny tannins and plush fruit envelop the mouth with candied fruit and chocolate covered cherries. The velvety tannins expand in the mouth before slowly ending in a long and smooth finish. If it’s from Spring Mountain—it’s for me.

7. 2007 Prisoner — Red Table Wine — Orin SwiftRutherford, CA— $35. The 2007 blends the lush berry flavors of Zinfandel, the power and concentration of Cabernet Sauvignon, the dark black fruit of Syrah, the intensity and structure of Petite Sirah, the flesh of Charbono, and a hint of Grenache – all combined for a decadent wine with great complexity.

6. 2007 Date Night — Cabernet — Phifer-Pavitt — Napa Valley, CA — $75. An extremely dense, multi-layered, and altogether mesmerizing wine. Opens with aromas of blueberries, quince jelly, framboise, and marzipan. On the palate the wine unleashes a silky wallop of black fruits, caramel, truffled chocolates, fresh plums, Christmas spices, and black tea. The melange of flavors is joined by a deep toasty char as they echo throughout the ridiculously long finish. (Enjoy from 2010 until 2025 and beyond.)

5. 2002 Benedetto — Cabernet — Miner Family Wines — Napa Valley, CA — $125.Once sip started the juices were flowing. Concentrated Red fruit flavors hints of Dark Red cherries, mocha, and a soft but present, round tannic structure. Long on the finish with persistent red current and blackberry flavors. Wine really opened up after sitting in the glass an hour after pouring.

4. 2008 Pinot Noir — Pahlmeyer Sonoma, CA — $70. Medium ruby in color, the profuse nose of the Pahlmeyer Pinot Noir shows raspberry, red plum, light cedar and damp earth.  Vibrant red fruit lends to a lively, layered palate that lingers on and on. Exquisite.

3. 2004 Library Vineyard — Petite Syrah — Turley —  $90. The Petite Syrah reveals a black/purple color as well as notes of graphite, smoke, blackberries, blueberries, creme de cassis, a liqueur of mineral-like intensity, and huge tannin and concentration. A meaty effort, tasting almost like a liqueur of bloody steak is the 2004 Petite Syrah Library Vineyard. This is a prodigious wine that should be purchased only by those with cold cellars and good DNA for longevity as it will all age for 40-50 years.

2. 2006 Yverdon — Cabernet — Terra Valentine — Napa Valley, CA — $70. Inky dark fruits, vanillin, and black walnut mingle with exotic spices and sweet pipe tobacco.  Notice how the brightness of this wine complements the full, plush mid-palate and fine, silt-like tannins that lend to the superb mouth-feel and exceptional balance.  Estimated maturity: 2013-2020. This wine has my number. The tastes are heaven to my palate.

1. 2003 Angels Share — Syrah — Two Hands — McClaren Vale, Australia — $29. Number 51 on Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2004. A deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by aromas of blackberries, balck currants, and cherries, opulent, succulent, medium to full-bodied flavors, sweet, well-integrated tannin, and loads of freshness as well as intensity. Not a huge mouthful, but it unfolds its flavors and builds up intensity as the blackberry, plum, cedar and floral-pepper flavors persist into the long, generous finish. Best from 2007 through 2015. I have tasted this wine each year for the past five years. It has evolved from tasty to transcendent.

Coming January 2011!

My latest E-Book: Create The Wine Cellar You Can Be Proud Of — For Under $500.

What was your favorite wine encounter of 2010?

By randy

Encouraging people to find out who they are so they can live their lives fully.

13 replies on “My Top Ten Wine Encounters of 2010”

i’ve always wondered what a $125 bottle of wine would taste like. i’m afraid my tastes are forced to top out at the $10/bottle mark. i’m fond of anything dry and red.

thank you. an expensive bottle of wine just went on my bucket list. in fact, i think i’ll put to own an actual wine collection on that list. ;)

@carolynmejia, Fortunately, there are plenty of wines that cost under $20. (some under $10.) that are good wines.

I consider any wine over $15. a “Sunday” wine. It is only to be enjoyed on Sundays and special occasions.

But as I say, “Life is too short to drink bad wine.” There are plenty of good wines under $10. — you just have to know how to find them.

You can get the J. Lohr Cabernet I mentioned above for under $10. now at Costco.

I was fortunate not to buy any of the wines I listed above except for the J. Lohr and the Two Hands. All the others were either by the glass or gifts from the winemakers themselves or enjoyed with friends that are wine lovers and collectors.

Thanks, Carolyn.

@Barry Whitlow, Yes, Barry. If I’m not mistaken, any winery that has applied for a Tennessee permit to ship can ship directly to your home. That is what I do. I order the wines directly from the winery’s website. Almost all wineries now have an order or purchase page.

Just wait approx. 2 weeks before you drink after you receive the wine, if it was shipped via plane.

Hope this helps!

Randy, loved your top ten list of influential books and now your top ten WINES! Oh baby… this list is a good one! There are a few on here of which, I am quite fond. Almost opened Papillon the other night and still hold on to a few Library Petites! Also, something fun… I’ve been hording a bottle or two of some of my favorite wines under $10 from this year that are amazing and plan on sending them forward for our gathering in a month! Which include a knockout Australian Shiraz, ala Two Hands and a Prisoner wanna be that you’d be hard pressed to tell apart in a blind taste!

Looking forward to it! Cheers and Happy New Year

Great list! I’ve only enjoyed the J. Lohr ’07 Cab (very nice) but thanks for new targets.

Have you tried one of my favorites, Mt. Veeder 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon? It runs under $40 a bottle. The bouquet demands a pause to explore the underlying dimensions. I love it with a thick filet mignon under fresh bearnaise (heavy on the tarragon).

Thanks again for the list.

Great list. Have tried about half of these…of half tried these. Haven’t assembled my 10-4-10 yet but know what at least five of them might be. (have to call a couple Napa wineries to get them to remind me what they were pour when I was visiting. For sure a couple from Frank Family (WInston Hill!)

HMMM: Great wines + Elrod & Hyatt ( and maybe that Davis guy.) I may need to live in Franklin, TN. After working at Disney for ten years I would feel right at home in that little Main Street theme park environment you’ve got there.

Thanks for the list, Randy. Here’s to moist corks in 2011!!

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