The Top Ten Tastes for 2013

The bounty of fine wine is never more evident than in our Top Ten list for 2013.

Up and down the price ladder, fine wine became more affordable as the country returned to economic stability and confidence. One proof of that report is COSTCO the largest seller of wine in the U.S. now offering “big bottle” formats, one which sold for $7,800. per bottle,( a 27 liter Fontodi from Tuscany.)

2013 was another banner harvest for west coast wines. Both Temecula and San Diego wine countries ramped up the quality with their reds.

Resorts, restaurants and casinos spent millions on high quality wine bars and dining rooms. Wine Sommelier became an increasingly important position in the restaurant experience. This year, I had memorable experiences in Sonoma and fell in love with the Rhone Valley and the Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation in the south of France. A trip is planned. My ten are all red wines, with two from Napa Valley, two from Sonoma, two from Temecula, and one each from Oregon, Italy, France and Argentina. The 10 are all of equal value and listed in alphabetical order — no ranking allowed. They entered based on an excellence scale from one to five, weighing flavor, body, terroir and price to value. All had a five. Enjoy!

Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy. 2009; $19. From vineyard to bottle, the utmost care with quality receives a “best Italian Sangiovese” grape award. A rich tradition is very much respected with rich, ruby red flavor.

Cougar Winery Estate Montepulciano, Temecula, Calif. 2010; $41. Earthy mineral bouquet at the nose sets up big Italian style flavors and a lingering finish. Captures the Tuscan style.

Domaine Serene Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Ore. 2010; $65. Awarded the top Taste of Wine for November by this column, this wine went on to be the No. 3 wine in the world for 2013 by Wine Spectator. Winemaker drew from seven premium vineyards of Pinot.

E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone, Rhone Valley, France. 2010; $15. The Guigal family is the largest producer in the south of France with 3.5 million cases. This one is the biggest bargain with 50 percent Syrah and 50 percent Grenache and a dash of Mourvedre. Long aging is the secret. 2010 was the best harvest in France in half a decade.

Ferrari-Carano Tresor Bordeaux Blend, Sonoma Calif. 2010; $41. Five classic Bordeaux varietals grace this premium blend, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc, estate grown in the Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley vineyards. All grapes are hand harvested, low-yielding vines from mountain heights. Serve with roasted or braised meats, lamb or duck.

Grgich Hills Estate Merlot, Napa Valley, Calif. 2009; $42. This is a Cab lover’s Merlot with bright strawberry and cherry flavors, from grapes certified Biodynamic with natural and sustainable farming. From the famed Mike Grgich of the 1976 Paris Tasting that changed the world of wine and put NapaValley on the map. Visit

Mele’e Old Vine Grenache, Napa Valley, Calif. 2010; $26. An iron-rich, classic Rhone Valley grape grown in the shale and limestone areas of Mendocino and Paso Robles. Deep purple with a striking garnet look and a hint of tobacco. Tuck Beckstoffer is the winery owner and winemaker from a farming legacy in Napa Valley, began by Andy Beckstoffer in 1975.

Merry Edwards Pinot Noir, Russian River Sonoma, Calif. 2011; $45. Elegant Pinot from a pioneer Pinot producer since 1974. Handcrafted and in limited quantities. Graceful structure. Grapes come from small lots from six different vineyards of converging influences.

Monte De Oro Synergy 65 Estate Blend, Temecula, Calif. 2009; $35. Named after the original 65 families that founded the winery, this blend is really starting to earn the medals around the state, including Best of Class at the San Francisco International competition. Includes four Bordeaux style grapes plus a healthy dose of Zinfandel.

Norton Privada Private Reserve Mondoza, Argentina. 2011; $18. A Bordeaux blend with an Argentina approach, this time Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec. Structured and smoky, with plum and fig notes. Long, lovely finish. Drink now through 2018. Small, carefully chosen 18,000 cases.

Wine Bytes, normally seen in this column, will return next week.

Frank Mangio is a renowned San Diego wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View and link up with his columns at Reach him at



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