Top Ten Wines of 2012: Numbers 1,2,3,4,5

Three of the Top 5 of 2012,
per Wilfred Wong
Wilfred Wong is one of the few wine experts that I follow on FaceBook. As Cellar Master for the 130-store retail chain Beverages & More (BevMo), he tastes more than 8000 wines a year.  I’ve found he has a great palate, and so I’m sharing details about his choices of the Top 10 Wines of 2012.  This column covers Numbers 5 to 1.    There are many great wines in this list. Be prepared to open your wallet.

Number Five:  The 2011 ZD Chardonnay is an enormously popular wine.  Wilfred had put aside for many years, but when he tasted the 2009, he was astounded.  “All the elements of fruit, earth and (American) oak worked together,” he said. “The 2011 ZD Chardonnay is simply stunning, showing perfection and artistry. Still a bit young, when I tasted it September, the wine showed beautifully ripened ripe apples and delicate, sweet oak. Firm and crisp in the finish, this is one of the very best American examples of this varietal in the marketplace. Exceptional and in a class of its own.”   $28/bottle at Bevco.

Number Four: 2009 Cakebread Cellars CABERNET SAUVIGNON.  “This is a real stunner,” says Wilfred. ”Shows incredible fruit, from start to finish, the wine crystallizes the winery’s place in the Napa Valley as one its finest producers. The wine, a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot is so finely tuned and perfectly poised. Not a powerful blockbuster, but a stylish Cabernet with style and class….sweet tannins and wonderful balance makes it a fine cellaring wine…let rest at least 4-5 years before serving.”  $60/bottle is lowest internet price.

Number Three: 2009 Ridge Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains: “One of the most important wines in the world,”  says Wilfred.  He has tasted and enjoyed over 40 vintages of this wine. Tasting the 2009, he “was absolutely floored by the wine’s concentration and flavors of black fruit and tar. Long and lusty on the palate, with black currants and mineral, the wine’s sweet tannins give a cloak of silkiness…the blend is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot,” he notes. “This may be greatest Monte Bello I have ever tasted!”   $65/bottle is lowest internet price.

Number Two: 2006 Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Le Rêve, Carneros.: “Don’t we all love Champagne?” Wilfred asks. With this 2006, he was impressed  with the wine’s persistence and length on the palate. “Very fine and quite crisp, the wine will just get better in a few years. This vintage is made from 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay,” he noted.,”This wine has fulfilled the promise that California can make the best bubblies in the world!”  Sold out at the winery.  Lowest internet price, $85/bottle.

Number One: 2009 Altocedro Malbec Gran Reserva, La Consulta, Mendoza “A wine that has stolen my heart and soul,” exclaimed Wilfred.  He found himself asking: ““Is this better than the best Latour, Lafite, Margaux, Ridge Monte Bello, Shafer Hillside Select, Harlan Estate that I have ever tried, I silently thought to myself?” How could an Argentine wine do this to me???”  He tasted blueberries, oak, a long finish, sweet tannins. This wine is made from 97% Malbec and 3% Sémillon. Production was a mere 222 cases.  Hard to find, but obviously worthwhile.  $70/bottle at Bevco.

This information first appeared in The Tahoe Weekly newspaper, where I write the Wine Time column, on January 17, 2013.   

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