During the past year I’ve tasted some incredible wines. If I were to sit down and quietly ponder the bottles I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in the last 12 months, although completely ‘brag worthy’, it’s not my intention to give you a list of wines just for sake of having bragging rights. This year-end review is not about me, it’s about the wines and it’s about you and my hope that you’ve had the pleasure of exploring new vintages, maybe even pushed the boundaries a bit and went places with some new wines that you might not have done otherwise.
Many of the wines I tasted and reviewed in 2014 were older vintages, and before now I’ve not gotten into the thick of them. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the delicate balance of old wines, but rather that there’s just so many new wines to try.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, then you know I’m a bit of a ‘new world’ wine fanatic. In my wine, I desire high alcohol with a fruit forward finish. Some call it heavy heat and fruit bombed wine. Whatever you want to label it, to me it’s yummy! California is my source for these wines and when people ask me “Why?”... I instantly say Those are the wines that sparked my passion and the ones I learned from.
As kid, I worked at Morry’s of Naples, the famous wine store in Long Beach, California that I wrote about in the Far Niente Chardonnay Review and was there into my college years. The owners had so many connections with Napa and Sonoma County, that I would often get to work and find them in the midst of sampling some current offering or enjoying one of their favorites and they’d invite me to join them. The beauty was not only getting to taste some amazing wines, but that the tasting itself wasn’t being hosted by some wine rep. Instead, it was the actual owners of wineries themselves. Winemakers would come in and pour everything from young chardonnays and finely balanced cabernet sauvignons to direct from the barrel, and even a few gems that were chosen from private ‘dark cellar’ estate collections.
To really learn about wine there is only one way to go about it; drink, drink, drink. Get a journal. Take detailed notes. Be completely present when you’re drinking. Pay very close attention to what you taste. Then, the more you do this (aka: practice) you’ll find that more and more quickly you’ll know a good one from a great one, and a great one from a stellar one. You’ll begin to have a sense for it, you’ll build a wine library, your recollection will improve and you’ll begin to recognize particular wines and their specific nuisances.
This month is the “Wine Review” in review, so I’m focusing on the wines that I have written about all year. I’ve picked my three favorites and I’ll share with you why they were the ones to make the cut for this piece. Every year, I drink over 200+ wines looking for the great ones. You should know that finding a great wine takes persistence along with a lot of trial and error.
When I’m at home, I sit down, open a bottle of a selected wine and pour it into a glass, take notes, sometimes written, other times mental and then I finish the bottle. I never waste a bottle. I never take a small pour and review it, like at a wine tasting or country fair. I take a bottle of wine and drink the whole damn thing. I don’t often do this by myself; my wife or a group of friends help me, but if need be I will sit alone on a Sunday afternoon put on Turner Classic Movies, grab a few snacks that pair well with whatever I’m drinking and kill a bottle in bed as the day slowly drifts along. Now that is how you properly review a bottle of wine; from uncorking to recycling!
The 3rd best wine I reviewed this year was from Augusta Winery. The surprise I encountered when I tasted this wine was game changing. Who would have thought that Missouri could produce such robust grapes? Check out my original review on this exceptional wine and learn about the early history of American winemaking. I hope you come away being as pleasantly surprised as I was. Augusta Wine Review
My 2nd choice is One Sixteen from Kosta Browne. This chardonnay was my first white wine of the summer and what a way to begin the hot California months. Kosta Browne is my producer favorite of Pinot Noir and I had high expectations of what they could do with a chardonnay. The result: The best chardonnay I’ve ever tasted. Kosta Browne One Sixteen
My 1st choice for this year’s favorite, without question, is the 1977 Fonseca Port. Quite simply, it blew my mind and my palate. I have to say my fondness for this spectacular wine was only enhanced by the setting I drank it in. I was relaxing with a group of friends on a perfect Sunday afternoon, pairing it with a great food and decadent desserts. Whatever the reason, once this port decanted properly the flavors and finish was amazing. It’s a wine that we will be taking about for years. Fonseca Vintage Porto
John Turi has had an impulsive career as a writer, wine aficionado, and artist. He has two published books of short fiction and poetry. He is a former child actor with the anxiety to prove it. He began college with a major in Mortuary Science and then switched to Creative Writing and then finally finished at a free love hippie art college in Southern California with a degree in graphic design and sculpting. For over eight years he worked in the wine industry and acquired a delicate palate for varietals. For the last 20 years he has become a private rare book and wine collector. He desires California Pinot Noirs, and his true love is Kosta Browne. As a way to pay for his wine collection he works as a senior marketing manager / business development for an adult sex toy company. On his downtime he is busy writing a business plan for a unique wine bar concept somewhere in Southern California, preferably Long Beach (Naples area). Currently he resides in Southern California with his lovely wife and motivational speaker Shawn-Marie.