I have been a subscriber to the world’s leading wine magazine, Wine Spectator, since I began writing TASTE OF WINE some 10 years ago and have looked forward to its Top 100 wines article ever since.
The publication wields a lot of clout in the wine world and can sway the buying habits of thousands of consumers. I contacted my biggest source of wine buying habits, Mathew Allen, who manages the COSTCO wine department in Carlsbad, and sure enough, customers have come up to him with a copy of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wanting to “buy one of each.”
The three countries earning the most wine picks are: the U.S., Italy and France, accounting for 64 percent of the list.
California Cabernet was back on top due to an extraordinary vintage, the 2012, which blessed all parts of California, Oregon and Washington. Italy gained on the list due to a lovely vintage in 2010, especially in Tuscany’s Montalcino with a large number of Brunello brands doing especially well. (Next week we will feature a leading Brunello in sales awards, Castello Banfi).
The No. 1 wine in Wine Spectator’s 2015 Top 100 is Peter Michael’s Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Au Paradis 2012 ($195).
This vineyard satisfied the highest quality, value, availability and what the magazine calls the “X factor…excitement.” Michael, a British-born tech tycoon, made his wine success in the Knights Valley, just north of Napa Valley. Oakville, the site of his recent 41-acre vineyard, has gained fame with the legendary wines of Robert Mondavi and his equally famous To Kalon Vineyard, next to the Mondavi Winery on Highway 29.
Other famous Oakville wines are from: Heitz, Harlan, Joseph Phelps, Screaming Eagle, Schrader, and now, Au Paradis. Elite company, all, and all share the combination of “soil, climate and precision viticulture that distinguishes the best vineyards,” according to Wine Spectator. For more on the winery visit: petermichaelwinery.com.
Other wines in the Top 10 were: Quilceda Creek Cabernet Columbia Valley, Washington 2012; Evening Land Pinot Noir, Amity Hills, Oregon 2012 and Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino Italy 2010.
Mindy Hewitson, the “Everywhere” Wine Rep
Mindy Hewitson, the vice president, division sales manager for wine company the Estates Group, a Division of Young’s Market, sees all and knows all about wines in the San Diego market.
It’s no wonder popular restaurants like Harry’s Bar and American Grill in La Jolla want her to bring in wines like Starmont and Pahlmeyer, both Napa Valley Cabernets, to empty her heart out about these fine wines to a willing dinner audience.
At a recent Pahlmeyer pairing at Harry’s, owner Garo Minassian was table-hopping and thanking customers for supporting the event, while Hewitson sounded the horn for her wine of the night.
“Jayson Pahlmeyer makes the closest thing to an iconic Bordeaux blend without being in France,” she enthused.
“Raise your glasses for this limited quantity Proprietary Red, with careful blending of 81 percent Cabernet, and rounded with Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. The lots were aged an average 18 months in French Oak Bordeaux barrels. Pahlmeyer has had a way of attracting top quality winemakers on the way. The great ones, Randy Dunn and Helen Turley both were Pahlmeyer winemakers,” she concluded. Visit pahlmeyer.com.
The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe has premiered an outdoor ice rink, benefiting homeless children this holiday season with a toy drive. The rink remains open until Jan. 4. The organizer is Father Joe’s Villages in San Diego. Call (619) 481-2672.
Tuscany in La Costa is planning a Christmas Concert Dec. 23 starting at 7 p.m. A $30 reservation includes: Champagne, wine tasting and appetizers, with some great live music from a five-piece professional group, with your favorite holiday songs. Visit tuscanylacosta.com.
Seasalt Seafood Bistro in Del Mar is the place for fun and food New Year’s Eve at their New Years’ Ball, starting at 7:30pm with a last seating at 10pm. Includes dinner for 2, bottle of wine or Champagne and party favors. A D.J. rocks out the music from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Cost is $190 per couple. Call (858) 755-7100.
Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View his columns at tasteofwinetv.com and reach him at [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook.