Top Ten Tastings 1st half of 2012



By FrankMangio

The first half of 2012 had a sense of positive change for the comeback of premium wines (those over $20).The famous (or infamous, depending on your outlook) “Two Buck Chuck”is finally down in sales after 10 years, partly due to the fact that grape production in the Napa Valley and other premium wine countries in California is down, which left less grapes to sell at steep discounts. Demand is pushing up prices.Red grapes especially saw an average of $12 a ton more in 2011 than the year before, across the varietal board.

The French are still the biggest consumers of wine, followed by Italy; the U.S. is #3 in consumption; China has moved up to #6. Direct sales from Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar (The) – Tustin through the internet is the fastest growing way to sell wine, with Cabernet Sauvignon the most popular followed by Pinot Noir. It was a great first half for TASTE OF WINE. I’ve attended many international wine trade shows as wines from Italy, Spain, and France brought their biggest name wines to the West Coast.I was named a judge at the first commercial wine competition at the County Fair; a big plus for San Diego based vineyards.My 10 choices are at the best prices I could find. Napa Valley boasts 6 choices, with California showing a total of 9 wines.The only overseas selection is Argentina.All ten are equally treated on an excellence scale from 1 to 5, considering flavor, body, and value.The list is alphabeticaland does NOT indicate any ranking.

Ft. Ross Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Ca. 2008.$19. This winning Pinot Noir has roots high on a ridge overlooking the Pacific.Night time fog and plenty of daytime sun makes it

Frank Family Pinot Noir, Napa Valley CA. 2010.$30. Another Pinot for the ages.Catherine Uzeta (see photo), center, the Frank Family Wine representative, with Jim and Bill Tobin of North County Wine Company in San Marcos. Cherry and cinnamon are the dominant flavors.Fine tannins are the ticket to an elegant structure. Frank also makes a dashing Zinfandel ( $30.) and a royal Cabernet Sauvignon ($40.) www.frankfamilyvineyards.

Hall Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley CA.2008.$90. This wine was #2 in all the world in the Wine Spectator Top 100.8% Merlot added to smooth out the tannins. Depth and power.

Hess Collection 19 Block Cuvee, Napa Valley CA.2007. $36. A 5 varietal blend, Cab based.A core of 19 blocks of grapes from Hess’s highest altitude vineyard, Veeder Summit.Aromas of plum and

Lewis Cellars Cabernet Reserve, Napa Valley CA.2009.$130. Opulent spices from a small collection of vineyards in Oak Knoll and Calistoga.Small dose of Petit Verdot for sensitive

Norton Reserve Malbec, Mendoza Argentina.2008.$13. Big stallion style reds, Malbecs are giving Cabs a run for it.Norton is the premium horse in the

Pedroncelli, Sonoma, CA.2010.$11. The Italian tradition of friends and wine are wrapped up in this blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and

Sean Minor Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, CA.2010.$16. A beautiful value Pinot with grapes from the Carneros District.Expect a bowl of strawberries, cherries and raspberries with velvety tannins.Try it with salmon, or

Thornton Winery Mourvedre, Temecula CA. 2010.$15.20. Steve Thornton of Thornton Winery makes a sensational Mourvedre, (see photo). One of the great reds from the Rhone Valley of France.Has an earthy quality of its European origin.A “drink now” red.

VSattui Winery Chardonnay, Napa Valley, CA.2010.$30. Grown in the Carneros District.Barrel fermented and aged in barrel for 10 months, Toasty aromas and flavors from a stirring process.Slight peppery accent.

Frank Mangio is a renowned 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 him at [email protected].

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