Wednesday, January 13, 2010

HH's Top Ten Wines of 2009

Looking for a great wine to start the new year and decade? Here is my first-ever “Top Ten Wines of the Year” culled from a year of writing about wine.

I reviewed my blog ( to refresh my memory and offer up the “best of” list from all the wines I sampled in 2009.

I also used a little geography in creating the list. All of these wines were purchased in Indiana wine shops for less than $20. Several of them are widely available!

No. 10 - Domain Lafarge Catalan Cote EST – This is a fabulous French white for a paltry $11. It’s 50 percent Grenache, with Chardonnay and Marsanne to finish it off. It’s a light flavored wine with lemon and green apple flavor. It will remind you of a cross between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

No. 9 - Turtle Run’s Dry Tortuga – I sampled a lot of Indiana wine this year and the best was Jim Pfeiffer’s Dry Tortuga for $15. It is a non-vintage Chardonel and Vignoles blend. The grapes come from Pfieffer’s property just east of Corydon. It’s great with food and has a hint of vanilla and orange. It will remind you of a dry Chardonnay.

No. 8 - Burgan’s 2007 Albarino – I fell in love with this grape over the summer. It’s a great alternative to the usual whites. This wine has strong hints of lemon with a little orange thrown in. It has an unusual – almost creamy – finish! Parker gave it 90 points – a heck of a buy for $12.

No. 7 - Dona Paula 2007 Malbec – I start wine newcomers, those emerging from supermarkets, off with Malbec or Tempranillo. This $13 bottle of Malbec is a beautiful wine with flavors of dark berries and it’s as smooth as a piece of chocolate.

No. 6 - Creta Roble 2006 – This 100 percent Tempranillo red wine rocks! It’s really smooth, easy to drink, with a bit of earthiness and a little spice. It comes from 70-year-old vineyards in Spain. It’s rather high in alcohol at 14.5 percent but very affordable at $13.

No. 5 - Pasanau Ceps Nous 2006 Priorat – This Garnacha, Merlot, Mazuelo, and Syrah blend was the best Spanish red wine I had this year. It’s a big mouthful of lively fruit with enough acidity for great balance. Robert Parker gave it 92 points! The wine retails around $19.

No. 4 - Milbrandt 2006 Traditions Cabernet Sauvignon – This Washington state Cabernet is great $16 wine. It is a blend of 75 percent Cab, 12 percent Merlot and a little Petit Verdot. It’s a big enough, but smooth enough Cabernet for any wine drinker.

No. 3 - Domain Lafarge Grenache Noir – Note this is the winery’s second appearance on the Top Ten! This $12 French Grenache has tons of “wow” for the price. It has big fruit with a rich feel at the mid palate. It’s a bit of a fruit bomb with some spice.

No. 2 - Klinker Brick 2006 Old Vine Zinfandel – This $17 bottle drinks like a $30 wine. It has an intense fruit-forward flavor of dark cherry and a bang of an alcohol finish at 15.8 percent.

No 1 - Patrick Lesec’s Cotes du Rhone Bouquet – This is my (drum roll please) 2009 ‘Wine of the Year.’ This $13 French wine is great alone or with food. It has herbal notes on the palate with a big, rich texture. You can almost taste the terroir (dirt) from the Rhone River Valley. Parker gave it an 89. But for a wine under $15, it makes the top of my list!

Thanks for reading Grape Sense. I’d love to hear from you with questions or comments!
Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, In., is a wine enthusiast. You can write him at:

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