Notes’ Top Ten Reds

It’s an interesting challenge to narrow down a list of more than 100 wines into a “top ten,” particularly since recency has a plays an obvious role on one’s memory of a good vintage or varietal.  With that said, here is our current ranking of favorite red wines:

  1. Chateau d’Issan 1982.  This Bordeaux, shared over a killer Morton’s dinner, remains the unquestioned title holder and sparked to an appreciable extent our exploration of Bordeaux.
  2. Chateau Potelle 2005 V.G.S. Cabernet Sauvignon.  This Napa Valley cab is the “very good sh*t” and there’s a reason it’s named as such.
  3. Buena Vista 2012 The Aristocrat. Best wine we’ve tasted so far in 2015, with amazing structure and even better taste. Killed this bottle on a mountainside in western North Carolina while on vacation. A life experience!
  4. Cardinale 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. The top wine I’ve sampled in 2017, a thank you gift from a good friend after we finished a project together. Amazing mix of layers in this Napa gem.
  5. Orin Swift The Cuttings 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. First of the Phinney bottles I sampled after an Orin Swift taste testing, this literally blew my doors off. It was so good I’m almost afraid to go back at it in case the second one doesn’t hold up.
  6. Orin Swift Papillon 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Powerful stuff, and we’re not just talking about the label or the price tag. Quite a drink, the Papillon james in the fruit and has a great peat moss thing happening…
  7. Buena Vista Ramal Vineyard 2008 Pinot Noir.  All the Buena Vista offerings deserve this kind of consideration, but this one remains a favorite because of its amazing notes and the company in which it was enjoyed.
  8. Atlas Peak 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Given all the Pinot Noir that graces our palates, it’s sort of interesting that this Cabernet shouldered its way into this list.
  9. 2007 Provenance Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon TK2 Beckstoffer To-Kalen Vineyard.  Okay, it’s #9, but your bonus for checking out our favorites. Sometimes it’s the combination of great grapes, great friends, and great event that earns a place like this in a ‘best of’ list.
  10. 2013 Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard Proprietary Red, Bevan Cellars. Yeah, Tony, you’re right that no top 10 list can be complete without this entry. Thanks for sharing the amazing grapes and for your recommendations.
  11. 2013 Nickel & Nickel – Branding Iron Vineyard. An Oakville single-vineyard Cab Sauv made a helluva impression on this fella on a damn cold (and powerless!) NJ evening.
  12. 2013 Villa Maffei Amarone della Valpolicella. I feel lucky to have experienced several Amarone in the last year and this one was the best of the bunch, so it has to at least crack the Top 10 for Notes overall.

Yeah, 12 wines for a top 10 list…I couldn’t help myself. Honorable mentions to the 2012 Arpad’s Selection Zinfandel from Buena Vista (my second favorite in 2014), also their 2012 Count’s Selection Syrah – Old Winery Road, and the Blue Rock Baby Blue 2010 Red Blend.  A lot of stiff competition as chronicled here in Notes, but these both draw pretty vigorous nods too for their success.  Might be worthwhile to separate “top fives” by wines in the future so stay tuned to see how that idea–or the above rankings–take hold.

Last updated 04/07/2019.

3 thoughts on “Notes’ Top Ten Reds

  1. […] Cab, and Bordeaux are obvious favorites if you look strictly to the math, tasting notes, or our top-rated reds.  As over 19 million cases of California Merlot were sold in the U.S. alone in 2009, however, we […]

  2. Kate says:

    The Pinot Noir I was talking about is La Creama.
    A friend can tell you about Cabs

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