The Coast News Group
B Cellars Napa Valley owner Duffy Keys, left, lives in Rancho Santa Fe and appears at wine dinners at Dolce Pane E Vino, welcomed by General Manager Steve Flowers. Photo by Frank Mangio
Taste of Wine

Reviewing 2012 and the Top 10 tastings

In 2012 America solidified its position as the world’s largest wine consuming country in the world (beating the French, again.) 

Sales at COSTCO, the number one seller of wine, reached $1.4 billion as the membership discounter amped-up its square footage with more premium wine offerings.

The West Coast had it finest harvest of wine grapes in over a decade in 2012.

We predict that when the red wines are showing on the shelves starting in 2014, buyers are going to buy them by the case (cheaper by the dozen.)

Another prediction: Francis Ford Coppola, the movie director turned winemaker in Napa Valley, will remake the old, cheapened Inglenook wine name into one of the most favored wine brands in the world.

My Top 10 Tastes include three from Napa Valley, one of the world’s best growing grounds for red wine, at the best prices I could find. Other areas are: Sonoma, Italy, Germany and Spain. The ten are treated equally on an excellence scale from one to five, weighing flavor, body and value.

The list is alphabetical, all were rated excellent and does NOT indicate rank.

Alto Moncayo Garnarcha, Borja Spain. 2009. $52. Bold, ripe and ripping with muscular texture. Bursting with ripe berry flavor.

This old vine Garnacha, a twin to the French Rhone Genache grape, is elegantly laced with a smoky white pepper accent.

Angelini Agricola Sangiovese, Marche Italy. $17. A rich landscape of farming northeast of Tuscany, Angelini captures the essence of the Sangiovese grape, a full-bodied, dry red. Hints of cherry. leather, vanilla, oak and tobacco.

Aged a minimum one year. Perfect pasta wine.

B Cellars Sangiovese Napa Valley 2010. $45. Remarkable minerality normally found only in Tuscany, Italy. Ripe Strawberry with hints of vanilla. Not as acidic as some. Bolder skins of Syrah are integrated for skin color and tannins.

Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett, Mosel Germany 2010. $20. Found at the newly remodeled Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe and The Grand Del Mar, this Riesling has stunning fruit forward, perfectly proportioned sweetness of peach, to balance citrus qualities. Harvested from the steep slate slopes of the Mosel District.

Ferrari-Carano Tresor Blend Sonoma CA. 2009. $52. Mostly Cabernet in a Bordeaux Blend from “dry” farmed, low-yielding vines on higher elevations, Tresor produces a dense, black well of color, with vanilla and cedar tones. Aged in French oak for 19 months.

Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Calif. 2008. $52.

An Estate Cab with start to finish high quality control, matching the best of Bordeaux. Silky and elegant with ripe plum accents.

Keenan Merlot Napa Valley Calif. 2009. $36. Winemaker Michael Keenan’s favorite wine…” goes with everything I eat.” From the Spring Mountain area of Napa Valley, above the fog. Intense black cherry, blackberry and cassis. Coffee bean notes. A BIG Merlot.

Lewis Alec’s Blend Napa Valley Calif.. 2010. $60. All mountain blend of 70 percent Syrah, 25 percent Merlot and 5 percent Cabernet. Big high horsepower wine with chocolaty finish. High octane 15.5 percent alcohol nicely balanced.

Selbach-Oster Kabinett Riesling Mosel Germany. 2010. $18.99. The lead white wine for the upscale restaurant chain Seasons 52 Fresh Grill, and hand selected by their Master Sommelier George Miliotes

Miliotes describes this discovery as fruity to slightly sweet with a perfect baked apple finish. As in most Rieslings, only 9 percent alcohol guarantees to bring out the juicy refreshment as only a German Riesling is capable of doing; like a kiss of a wet stone. Slate soils high on Mosel banks inject this layered-in minerality.

Miliotes added: “I was drawn to the Mosel River district of Germany. This Riesling is my poster child for our old world wines.”

Tomassi Amorone Valpolicella Classico Verona Italy. 2007. $79. The Tomassi family has been making this timeless wine for 112 years. Includes Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinari grapes from the region. Grapes are dried for 4 months prior to pressing, then aged for three years in large Slavonian Oak.

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

Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. His library can be viewed at (Average Google certified 900 visits per day) He is one of the top five wine commentators on the Web. Reach him at [email protected].