The Top Wine Moments of 2013

In keeping with tradition, and the great response of last-year’s post, it is time to rattle through my top 10 excellent wine moments of 2013.

As I mentioned last year I don’t focus on the wines themselves for this exercise, it is all about the full experience.  Very rarely have I sat down in a ‘proper’ wine tasting and had my mind blown.  The vast majority of my wine experience is with friends and family at a dinner, BBQ or other random get together.  So, away we go:

8 – The four cases of wine we took to Mexico. Mexigiving 2013 was a vacation for the record books and the wines we brought along with us did not disappoint. The highlights can be found in the original post (there were too many to rattle off and maintain an relatively short word count). Long story short: Great Wines + Great Friends + Great Food = Great Great Great Times.

a82f37f698e111e2902022000a1ddbd3_77 – 2009 Stony Hill Syrah at the Pitzer Patio. This wine was a surprise amongst a great group of wines and friends. First of all Stony Hill isn’t known for making red wines in general. Second of all this Syrah was off the chain. DISCLAIMER: it does follow their usual style, a bit more austere and a little herbal but oh-so-good.

6 – 2012 Sables d’Azure Côtes du Provence Rosé during date night at Tarla. A summer date night with an amazing Rosé is what everyone should do at least once a month, if not more, from May until August. That’s really all I have to say about that. A night out, or in, at least once a month to unwind should be a requirement. This rosé was very fresh, fruity and being from Provence it had a nice backbone that kept us coming back for more. In fact we hunted down a few bottles to have on hand.

5 – 1985 Bodegas Toro Albaná Pedro Ximenez on the back patio after a BBQ. Just another one of those nights where you open up a few bottles, then a few more… and maybe a couple after that. If you haven’t had a wine like this, do yourself a favor and find one. This one in particular is solid for the price and can be a perfect night cap. I have always been a fan of liquid dessert and this filled that role nicely.

4 – Deschutes Black Butte Porter XXV Release – Yes I am cheating. This isn’t a wine but it is one hell of a beer. While in Oregon in June we stumbled (both literally and figuratively) into the Deschutes PDX brew pub for this D, wait for it, lightful porter. It was a major highlight of the trip and that pub definitely felt like home after 3 visits in two days. Along with the release party we had the chance to sample some of the prior releases of this porter, all of which were delicious; a very cool treat for the two of us who had no experience with beer that could actually age. This trip definitely reinforced why I love Portland and the Pac North West in general. We still have two bottles of it tucked away for a rainy day.

2a05df88f75a11e2a5a022000ae9129a_73 – Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year with the Clevengers and Levitts! Yes I am going to keep cheating. In hindsight I should have renamed this list “beverage moments”. Anyway… what better way to kick-off a wedding right? We were on the patio at Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena when this puppy made its way out. I was lucky enough to get the last pour out of the bottle. I like bourbon. I know that Pappy is one of the most, if not the most, sought after bourbon in the world. I like to think I knew enough about good bourbon to appreciate it thoroughly. What I do know for sure is that this 20 year was damn good. I had not had anything like it prior to that night and nothing since. Pair that up with celebrating an awesome union and you have yourself a perfect couple of days.

2 – 2011 Shea Wine Cellars West Hill Pinot Noir in the Cellar at Shea Vineyards. As far as my taste buds are concerned Shea Vineyards is the definition of Oregon Pinot Noir. After tasting an awesome cross-section of their wines at the winery, with their winemaker Blair Trathen and owner Dick Shea, my opinion of their Pinot Noirs was only confirmed. This was an amazing experience at a beautiful place. It was  tied for 1st place with the stops we made over the course of our June trip in the Willamette wine country.

946ca226660e11e3be7a1240bc19271b_81 – 2003 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes. Going with another tradition amongst our group of friends we had a “family” dinner before everyone started parting ways for the Christmas holiday. Similar to Mexigiving it was just a plain ol’fashioned good time. This wine matched the awesomeness of the company. It was one of those nights that you look back on and just smile. Hands down the best wine I had all year. The acidity, the sweetness, fruit character… everything about this wine melded together perfectly. Frankly this was one of the best nights of the year amongst friends and with wines like this it would be a travesty if I didn’t put it at #1.

Cheers!
-Manderson

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