Just curious…what is the best wine you ever had (not wine experience), i.e., if you were stuck on a deserted island and could only have one wine. Also, for the sake of argument, let’s limit it to a wine you have had in the last 5 years…I find wine stories are like fish stories…the wine gets better every time you tell the story! Seriously, I am looking for people’s favorite wines that are in their recent memory!
I will start off…if I had one wine that I could drink all by myself and have everyday…so far, it would be a 1996 Harlan Estates…I have had this wine twice, and even the second time, with super high expectations, it still delivered…best wine ever (well at least to date!) that I have tasted!
My sister and her father-in-law used to make wine in a cellar beneath the cellar of her father-in-law’s old farm house.
They would drive to Napa and go to various vineyard and Granpda Joe would pick and choose some small lots of grapes and drive it all back to Reno get it into a couple barrels and let 'er rip.
Mostly, it wasn’t exactly built to last, but, like Dave Kingman, even a lousy hitter can sometimes smack a long home run out of the park.
In 1966, they made their ‘golden bullet’ wine and it became a legend in their social circle. (Grandpa Joe was never held back by things like using only one =grape, etc…he’d cluster tastes and choose.)
I didn’t get to taste it until around 1979 or 1980 and this baby had it all…
Grandpa Joe created something with anise, lavender, deep red fruit, ultra fine tannin, a heady perfume that would fill the dining room when a bottle was popped open…this was the Bob Beamon of wines: one big ass freaking jump, head and shoulders above all the preceded it.
We tasted in about ten more times into the early 2000s and now it’s gone.
Next best was the 1986 Smith and Hook Merlot. I still look for that wine…best commercial wine of all time.
2001 DRC Monty. So sexy and enthralling. Every sip leaves you in awe and anticipation of the next sip. The worst part is when you pour that last half glass and you know the last 2 sips is all you have left. You hang on to them as long as possible and save them to the memory bank for years to come.
2010 DRC RC. Runner up just because I’m a sucker for the Monty. But the gentleness and weightless is unlike any other red wine in the world. It’s ethereal and wondrous.
I’ve had many of the worlds’ great wines, hard to decide which is best. So not exactly the answer to the question, how about “relative to your expectations, what’s outperformed the most”.
In the early '90s I knew little about wine other than it had alcohol in it and alcohol was good. I took a business trip to Bermuda, met some clients, we went to the 4 Ways. Client wanted wine, we said “pick whatever you want”. He picked 1982 Latour and 1982 Margaux. HUH! I didn’t know wine could taste like that, was incredible. Relative to what I thought wine tasted like, this was just a whole other level of delicious.
Then in the mid 90s, a friend said we had to go to a small restaurant on 8th or 9th avenue in NYC (at that time, and maybe now again, was not the greatest place to go). The restaurant had great food, but the attraction was the wine list. My friend said they had this Calif producer that he really liked, they made great chardonnay. Was Marcassin. I knew nothing about Calif chard, nothing about Marcassin. We opened a bottle. Again, just radically different vs my expectations, incredibly delicious. I went back there for a year, finally drank them out of Marcassin.
Sadly, it was my only experience so far. I do have a bottle of the 2014 waiting for our 20th wedding anniversary in a few years. I believe they still pour it in the tasting room as part of an elevated experience.
The old Mondavi Cabernet Reserves were pretty special. I assume they used the same fruit sources, even though the labeling was different. I wonder if the 1986 and 1987 versions are still holding up today. A 1986 was one of my formative wine experiences and the '87 was even better!