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I’m sharing Tom Simoneau’s “Best Wines of 2010”, which I think you’ll find interesting.  Tom is “The Wine Guy” on KSRO radio where I have my show, “The Good Food Hour”, broadcast every Saturday morning at 11 AM Pacific.  You can hear it live on the net or check out archived shows at  If you are in Sonoma County you can hear the show at 1350 AM.

Be sure to share your thoughts on these wines after you’ve tried them.  I’d love to hear what you think!

Tom Simoneau’s Wines of the Year 2010

Best Whites:
•    Sparkling Wine : J Vineyards and Winery, 2001 Vintage Brut, $50. Always among the top California Sparklers. Owner Judy Jordan and wine maker George Bursick make up a dynamic duo in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.  250 million bubbles in each bottle. It has just been discovered that Champagne bubbles contain up to thirty times more flavor than the wine itself. The bubbles act like a flavor escalator.

•    Chardonnay: Saintsbury, 2008 Carneros , $19. From the original cool region appellation, lots of talk about the Russian River, but don’t forget Carneros. Multi-clone, 100%ML, unfiltered, and lees stirred – a classic. And it’s screw capped.

•    Sauvignon Blanc: Lake Sonoma Winery, 2009 Dry Creek Valley, $14. Lean and lightly grassy, delicious. Lake Sonoma Winery – part of Heck Estates which also includes Korbel, Kenwood, and Valley of the Moon.

•    Alternative White:  Hess Collection, Gruner Veltliner 2009 Small Block Series Mount Veeder, $36. This hard to find varietal with Austrian roots is worth a search. Hess is not afraid to stretch the envelope and I applaud them. Melon, granny smith apple, and snap peas.

•    Off Dry White:  Mill Creek Vineyards and Winery, 2009 Gewurztraminer, Dry Creek Valley, $19. How does that song go? “We are family.” Local boy and girl make good owners. Bill and Yvonne Kreck both attended Healdsburg High. Bill’s dad planted their Cab in 1965. Their son Jeremy is the winemaker while his brother Brian runs the web. Can you say locavore?

•    Rosé:  Boeschen Vineyards, 2009 Katie Rosé Merlot, St Helena, $20. I first discovered Boeschen through the Napa Valley Vintners and St. Helena Star Tasting Group. Every time I taste them, Boeschen is in my top three. This year’s discovery – a father, son, and son-in-law team.

•    Best Value White: Chateau St. Jean, 2008 Chardonnay Sonoma County, $14. Solid, best value, available everywhere, often discounted. Food friendly sipper that is a can’t miss, if you like Chardonnay, you’ll like this wine.

•    Dessert Wine: Merry Edwards, 2008 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley, $39 for the 375ml. Miss Russian River Valley known for her stunning Pinot Noirs scores big with this sweet nectar from the wine gods. Fruit drops, cane cut, bird netted, picked on Halloween, cold soaked, then finally barrel fermented producing a wine begging for fois gras, if you are so inclined, or dessert in the form of a white peach gallette.

Best Reds:
•    Cabernet Sauvignon:   Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2007 Reserve Alexander Valley, $45. Rodney Strong was a pioneer of Sonoma County’s modern wine industry. The Klein family purchased the winery in 1989. Every bottle of wine produced under their ownership has Sonoma County on the label. Their commitment to Sonoma is second to none. And this reserve is a great example.

•    Zinfandel: Wilson Winery, 2008 Sawyer Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, $34. In the Dry Creek Valley the name Wilson is synonymous with Zinfandel. Fruit forward and perfectly balanced. An electrifying, yum, yum of a wine.

•    Rhone Style: Bella, 2007 Syrah Lily Hill Estate Dry Creek Valley, $40. Bella Vineyards is a family owned red wine house located deep in the heart of Dry Creek Valley. Bella, Italian for beauty, was named after owners Scott and Lynn Adam’s daughter, Julia Belle.

•    Blended Red: Lancaster Estate, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, $65. A blend of all five of the Bordeaux varietals from their Alexander Valley hillside estate. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec, 9% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. Could be the best yet from Lancaster.

•    Luxury Red: Opus One, 2006 Oakville, Napa Valley, $160. The head of the class. Opus One, the original cult wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon based wine with all 5 Bordeaux Varietals, 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec.

•    Alternative Red: Kent Rasmussen, Esoterica, 2007 Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley, $40. Originally intended for use as a blending component in their Cabernet Sauvignon, their Cab Franc was so good they bottled it separately and with one taste you’ll be glad they did.

•    Best Value Red: Columbia Crest, 2007 Grand Estates Syrah, Columbia Valley, $12. Washington State ranks second only to California in total U.S. wine production. Land cost and grape prices are the reason Washington State equals big wine value. And Columbia Crest is big on value and taste.

•    Most Fun Wine:  Parducci, True Grit 2007 Petite Sirah, Mendocino County, $29. So good they named a movie after the wine… or was the wine named after the movie? The latter is correct and let’s just say this is a John Wayne of a wine. True Grit the movie, the wine, the sequel.

•    Alternative Packaging: Black Box Wines, 2008 Malbec Argentina, $24.99 for 3 liters. The wine business is global and a wise wine consumer can find value if he or she is not afraid of innovation. Wine in cans, in plastic, and in boxes. Big on value and on the environment.

•    Pinot Noir:  Goldeneye, 2007 Anderson Valley, $55. Dan and Margaret Duckhorn of Duckhorn Vineyards established Goldeneye with the goal of creating a Pinot Noir house of equal stature to their Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot. They chose Anderson Valley and the wine defines the flavor of this Mendocino Appellation.

Merlot:  Duckhorn Vineyards, 2007 Napa Valley, $52. Duckhorn Vineyards was one of the first North American wineries to champion the idea of producing exceptional quality Merlot as a stand-alone varietal. Duckhorn played a big part in creating Merlot popularity. This ’07 is outstanding.

Winery of the Year: Duckhorn Vineyards. Since Duckhorn Vineyards was founded in 1976 they have grown slowly and thoughtfully through the years. Today the brands include not only Duckhorn, but Paraduxx, Decoy, and Goldeneye. Are you detecting a theme here? Hint – waterfowl. New Zealand born Bill Nancarrow is the executive winemaker.