My Favorite Wines in 2010 – MyWinePal Blog Selection

Wines change yearly with each new vintage. That’s one thing that makes tasting wine exciting. What wines did I try this past year, 2010, that made my favorite list?  I went through the list and noted that I recommended approximately 111 different wines this year.  The wines below are the ones I’ve selected from my BLOG.  I also have a wine selection from my main MyWinePal.com website.  I’ll post that separately.

From the 111 different wines my favorites for 2010 are:

White Wine

Domaine Comte-Senard Corton-Charlemagne 2006 (Burgundy). This wine was medium to deep lemon in the glass. Lemon vanilla, wood, and butterscotch on the nose. Medium body, with lemon, woody, earthy, and nutmeg aromas. Quite complex. Medium acidity which nicely balanced the fruit in this wine.

Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Marlborough, NZ) is a very elegant wine. Oak, lemon and herbal on the nose. Big legs from a higher alcohol content, but the wine is balanced by the fruit so not hot on the palate. It does have nice herbal and lemon flavours with good acidity, not too strong.

Church & States Wines Chardonnay 2007 (BC) is medium lemon colour. Nice apricot nose. Vanilla, sweet spice, pineapple and apricot flavours, with a bit of spice. Lots of flavours coming out the glass the more you swirled it around in your mouth.

Van Westen Vineyards Vivacious 2008 (BC) is Pinot Blanc with a hint of Pinot Gris, again has peachy fruit as well as some apricot aromas. Good acidity. Peach and apricot flavours with a touch of greenness.

La Frenz Andrew Vineyard Riesling 2009 (BC), is light lemon in colour. Flowery and apple aromas. Good acidity with a bit of residual sugar. Red apple and citrus flavours. Elegant.

Sperling Vineyards Pinot Gris 2008 (BC). This is a new winery in Kelowna, BC. No tasting room yet, but they are located near the Tantalus winery. Pale lemon in colour. A very nice nose with grapefruit and flowers. Medium body, high acidity, with flavours of lemon rind, flowers and some spice.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Chardonnay 2008 (Washington) was very elegant.  This wine was medium golden in the glass. Vanilla, oak, lemon and apple aromas.  It was medium body with toasty, lemon and light spice on the palate.  Light acidity to complement the roundness of the wine.  Spice and lemon on the finish.

Red Wine

Howling Bluff Estate Pinot Noir 2008 (BC). New world style, with ripe strawberry and cherry aromas with a bit of sweet spice and vanilla. Silky on the palate with vanilla, cherry, and raspberry flavours.

Dominique Laurent Chambolle-Musigny “Les Charmes” 1er Cru (Burgundy). I was told that Dominique Laurent is a bit of a controversial producer in Burgundy in that he buys wine and “elevates” it through the use of oak aging before bottling. His wines have his stamp or “signature” on them. Some enjoy having a wine with a certain style, while others do not. I did enjoy this wine. It was deep garnet in colour. Complex nose with dark cherry, liquor, slight smoke and vanilla aromas. Drying tannins but very fine grained. Medium body. Cherry flavour with slight spice on the finish.

Alter Ego de Palmer, Margaux AOC 2007 (Bordeaux). This wine was a blend of 60% Merlot / 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was deep purple coloured in the glass. Meaty, dark cherry, cassis, and vanilla aromas. Full bodied, with ripe cherries, vanilla, and medium fine tanning. It had a very nice cherry finish and a long length.

Chateau de Gironville, Haut-Medoc AOC 2007 (Bordeaux) is a blend of 45% Merlot / 45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Petit Verdot. Opaque purple in the glass (courtesy of the Petit Verdot). A very aromatic nose. Lots of coffee of black cherry. On the palate you get firm tannins, with black cherry, coffee, and vanilla flavours. Full body with long length.

Vina Maipo Syrah (Chile).  It is 85% Syrah with 15% Carmenere.  Deep purple in colour.  An interesting nose with vanilla, rubber and purple fruit.  Dry tannins.  Blueberries show up mid-palate, and cherries on the finish.  A bit of pepper and vanilla.  It has good tannic structure for the fruit to hang.

Ata Rangi ‘Crimson’ Pinot Noir 2008 (Waiparapa – New Zealand). Light cherry colour. Raspberry aroma. Red cherry and raspberry flavours. Soft tannins. Very elegant.

Panther Creek Freedom Hill Pinot Noir 2006 (Oregon) is light cherry coloured. Smoky, strawberry aromas. Earthy, cherry flavours, with a bit of spiciness and low tannins.

Villa Maria Estate Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Pinot Noir (New Zealand) was medium garnet in the glass. A very pretty raspberry and plum nose. Raspberry, leafy, cherry flavours. Slightly spicy. Silky on the palate.

Le Vieux Pin Syrah / Viognier 2008 (BC). This Syrah / Viognier was deep purple in the glass, with aromas of vanilla, blueberry, plum and honeysuckle. On the palate you get ripe plum, black cherry and vanilla. Quite spicy, round in the mouth and long length.

Man O’ War Merlot / Cabernet / Franc / Malbec 2008 (New Zealand). The blend for this wine is 42% Merlot, 27% Cabernet Franc, 19% Malbec, and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium purple/garnet in colour. Smoky with black cherry and tar aromas. Black cherry, cassis, and vanilla flavours. It was medium plus in body with medium silky tannins and good acidity to balance the fruit. Very nicely done. It had a long length with a dry cherry finish. A quality wine that coated the glass.

Travaglini Giancarolo Gattinara DOCG 2005 (Italy) was a light cherry / tea colour in the glass. Tea leaves, strawberries, cedar and slight oak on the nose. Light body, with medium mouthfeel. Good fruit, with flavours of plum and cherries. The tannins were firm but refined. Dry finish with medium length.

La Frenz Reserve Pinot Noir 2008. (BC). This wine won a Silver in the Northwest Wine Summit this year, and two Gold medals at the Northwest Wine Summit in 2009. It had a nice smoky, strawberry nose with a hint of oak. Light body with strawberry and cherry flavours. Silky with low tannins. Long length with a cherry finish. Buy it before it is all sold out.

Nicol Vineyards Syrah 2008 (BC) is opaque purple in the glass. Vanilla and sweet dark fruit nose. Raspberries, red cherries, blueberries and a bit of minerality on the palate. Soft tannins. I do enjoy a syrah when the blueberry characteristic of the grape is detectable.

Bodega Noemia J Alberto 2008 (Argentina). This is a single vineyard Malbec. The vineyard and winery is certified biodynamic. This wine is deep purple in the glass. A very interesting nose with aromas of cassis, tar and cherries. Full bodied with a smooth round mouthfeel. Cassis, black plum, black cherry and quite spicy on the palate.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Washington).  Ethos is the top tier wine level from Chateau Ste Michelle.  The wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah. The wine is deep garnet in colour.  A nice nose, with aromas of capsicum, cherry, and meat.  Round on the palate with soft tannins.  Meaty, cassis, black cherry, and chocolate flavours.  The wine went through a very light filtering before being bottled, so don’t be surprised to see a bit of sediment in your glass.

Fortified / Dessert Wine

Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling Ice Wine 2006 (Washington). This wine was made in conjunction with Dr. Loosen from Germany. The Riesling grapes were harvested from their Horse Heaven Vineyard on Oct 31, which according to Chateau Ste Michelle is very rare.  This is only the fifth time in their 40 year history that this has occurred.  The wine was a medium golden colour in the glass.  Petrol, flowers, lemon nose.  Very pretty. Medium body, with a wonderful lime flavour, petrol, and good acidity to balance the sugar and fruit.  Medium sweetness.  Lovely lime finish.

Sparkling Wine

Moreson, Blanc de Blancs Brut Method Cap Classic, South Africa. This is 100% Chardonnay. A very fine bubble. Red apple, citrus, light spice and bready flavour. Long finish. Nice.

Enjoy this selection and stay tuned for my next blog article, where I will cover my wine selections from the main MyWinePal.com website.

A Visit to Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates in Washington State

This past weekend I made a short trip across the border to visit a few wineries in Washington State.  One of the days was a visit to Chateau Ste Michelle and Airfield Estates, located in Woodinville, WA.   It was quite a contrast in scale, but the people I spoke to at both wineries were passionate about the wines that they produced.  I like that.  What did I try, and do I have any recommendations for you?  Of course!

Chateau Ste. Michelle

I spent an hour at Chateau Ste. Michelle, being led through a tasting of wines with one of their staff members, Bob.  I appreciate all the time Bob spent with me, considering how busy the tasting room was at that time.  I tried white, red, and dessert wines.

On the white wine side, I thought their Cold Creek Chardonnay 2008 (US$25.99) was very elegant.  The Cold Creek vineyard is the oldest and hottest vineyard owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle in the Columbia Valley.  This wine was medium golden in the glass. Vanilla, oak, lemon and apple aromas.  It was medium body with toasty, lemon and light spice on the palate.  Light acidity to complement the roundness of the wine.  Spice and lemon on the finish.  Would go nicely with some salmon.

An easy drinking white was their Pinot Gris 2008 (US$14.99). Pale lemon in colour.  Lemon, spice and apple aromas.  Crisp acidity, with apple, melon and oak flavour.  Medium body with nice round mouthfeel.

For their red wines, I have a few recommendations.  The Cold Creek Merlot 2007 (US$30) is big and bold.  Deep puple in colour.  Vanilla and cherry on the nose.  Round and smooth on the palate, with tannins kicking in mid palate.  Flavours of ripe black cherries and a hint of chocolate.  Medium length with a very drink finish. Drink now or wait a year.

Canoe Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from the Horse Heaven Hills was also another big wine.  Canoe Ridge is their mid-tier wine level. The grapes for this wine comes from their Horse Heaven Hills vineyard.  Deep purple in colour.  Purple fruit, vanilla, and sweet ripe plum aromas.  Juicy plums and cherry flavours along with vanilla.  Medium body with fine tannins and a dry soft finish.  There was a hint of cedar and some chocolate on the palate as well.  This wine coated my glass.  Very nice.

My last red wine pick is their Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.  Ethos is the top tier wine level from Chateau Ste Michelle.  This wine received 90 points from Wine Spectator and 92 points from The Wine Advocate, and is my top wine pick!  The wine is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 3% Syrah. The wine is deep garnet in colour.  A nice nose, with aromas of capsicum, cherry, and meat.  Round on the palate with soft tannins.  Meaty, cassis, black cherry, and chocolate flavours.  The wine went through a very light filtering before being bottled, so don’t be surprised to see a bit of sediment in your glass.

For dessert wines, I was infatuated with their Eroica Riesling Ice Wine 2006 (US$60 for 375ml bottle). This wine was made in conjunction with Dr. Loosen from Germany. The Riesling grapes were harvested from their Horse Heaven Vineyard on Oct 31, which according to Chateau Ste Michelle is very rare.  This is only the fifth time in their 40 year history that this has occurred.  It scored 93 pts in Wine Spectator. The wine was a medium golden colour in the glass.  Petrol, flowers, lemon nose.  Very pretty. Medium body, with a wonderful lime flavour, petrol, and good acidity to balance the sugar and fruit.  Medium sweetness.  Lovely lime finish.

Airfield Estates Winery

Airfield Estates winery is a family-owned operation.  It has passed through a few generations.  Why “Airfield Estates”?  During WWII the US Military asked the Miller family if they could setup an airbase on their land to train pilots. The airbase continued operations until the mid 1940’s. Shortly after WWII came to an end, the pilots moved off-site and the recently constructed buildings were auctioned off to the highest bidder. The only bidder turned out to be H. Lloyd Miller. These unique buildings became the headquarters of the Miller family’s farming operations up to today. You will notice an aeronautical theme to all their wine labels.  They have a Thunderbolt, Lightning, and Mustang wine, which are three different types of fighter aircraft.

A white wine I particularly liked was their Gewurztraminer 2009 (US$14).  Pale lemon with a green tinge in the glass. Lots of lychee and pear aromas.  Some spiciness with pear and lychee flavour.  Medium length.

Another white I liked was their Lightning 2008 (US$18). This is a Rhone-inspired blend, consisting of 50% Viognier, 25% Rousanne, 20% Chardonnay, and 5% Marsanne.  It scored 90 Points on Wine Advocate. Pineapple and vanilla aromas. Medium acidity but still quite a creamy mouthfeel.  Peach and some oak flavours.  Medium length.

On the red side, I enjoyed their Mustang 2008 (US$25). This is a blend of 53% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 8% Cinsault, 2% Counoise, and 2% Mourvedre.  I had not heard of the Counoise grape before.  From Wikipedia: “Counoise is a dark-skinned wine grape grown primarily in the Rhône valley region of France. Counoise adds a peppery note and good acidity to a blended red wine, but does not have much depth of colour or tannin.”  This wine was medium purple in colour.  Quite a complex nose, with aromas of cassis, vanilla, and cherry. Medium body with soft tannins.  Red cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and butterscotch flavours.  Medium length.

Another red wine of note is their Aviator 2008 (US$30). It is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, and 5% Malbec.  A Bordeaux blend, just missing Carmenere.  Medium garnet in colour.  Capsicum, vanilla, plum and some meatiness on the nose.  Medium plus body.  Round up front, then dry on the finish.  Capsicum, vanilla, and cherry flavours.

If you live in the Vancouver, BC area, it is only a short 2 hour car ride to Woodinville, WA.  There are many wineries in the area for you to explore.  Enjoy!