Thursday, June 14, 2012

2010 Again

As I sat down to write this I realized that I already did.  A year ago a piece titled, '2010: A Year To Remember To Forget' forewarned of a coming glut of sub-par wine.  Well, those wines are hitting the shelves right now and, guess what?  They are a noticeable step down.

This isn't an 'I told you so' piece, nor a critique on winemaking skill.  The weather, especially late in the year, was miserable in a lot of places.  And it shows.  This is nobody's fault.  If there's any surprise, it's that the vintage doesn't suck even more.  But as I taste through wines that I've had year after year from California to Washington to many corners of Europe, the general impression I'm left with is that these wines aren't as good as they used to be.  Just last night I had the 2010 Pinot from Alchemist Cellars in Willamette Valley.  Meh.  But I've got to tell you, the 09 of this same wine was knock-down, drag-out.

Late rains, in particular, seem to have had the expected watering down effect on the profundity of wines in general.  Intensity, balance, and cohesion is all over the map.  These wines aren't bad, but they are a disappointment.  Like I said last year, stock up on the 2009s out there while others plow through the glut of 2010s.

Some noteworthy exceptions: 
  • Calera's 2010 35th Anniversary Pinot Noir is better than their 2009.  Priced locally at $27, it's worth all that and then some.
  • If you're in to big and bad Chardonnay, pretty much any of Wente's stuff is in the zone for quality and value, especially the Nth Degree and the Riva Ranch bottlings.
  • 2010 Chateauneuf.  These wines had barely been bottled when I tasted them this winter and they're expensive, but, man, I am still swooning over the wines of Olivier Hillaire and Mireille Porte.  This silver lining will be visible on our shores later this summer. 
  • Certain pockets of Central Coast (think Paso Robles to Santa Barbara) produced some rich Syrahs.  Cameron Hughes still hasn't sold through the 6000 cases of Lot 292 Andrew Murray made for them and, at $12, it's a dynamite little wine.
  • Rieslings from the Old Mission Peninsula in Michigan.  Nope, not joking.  Word is it was a do-not-miss vintage, if these wines are any indication, I believe it.

Are there other areas/wineries that produced noteworthy wines in 2010?  I'm sure there are.  Let us know in the comments about your own discoveries.

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