Tag Archives: Napa Valley

Hall Wines: A Sustainable Experience


Hall Wines from St. Helena in the Napa Valley is, without question, an upscale winery.  Most wines retail for well over $100.,the outdoor sculpture collection is exquisite and they offer  a variety of specialized tastings, tailored to individual preferences and pocketbooks.  This place is accessible, friendly and inviting to all guests, but for those who choose to invest in a membership, the entire estate becomes an oasis for serious wine drinkers who also

"Bunny Foo Foo" by Lawrence Argent

“Bunny Foo Foo” by

enjoy art, sculpture, stunning natural landscapes, surrounding vineyards and events that help pair extraordinary wines with culinary delights.  On a beautiful, late summer afternoon, we sought to discover the Hall experience that began with “Bunny Foo Foo,”  a 35-foot high stainless steel rabbit by artist Lawrence Argent, leading us, full stride to the old Bergfeld Winery property .

I first encountered Hall Wines in 2012, shortly after the buzz was created when Wine Spectator magazine awarded the Hall Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Kathryn Hall 2008 a 96-point rating, placing it #2 on their Top Wines of 2011 list.  Each vintage since, including the 2013 which is still in the barrel, has achieved ratings in the high 90s.  An extraordinary wine named for an extraordinary woman.

Vintner Kathryn Walt Hall, who owns Hall Wines with her husband, Craig, was first exposed to viticulture when her parents purchased a vineyard years ago, sourcing grapes to various vintners. Kathryn later managed the family vineyard and the Halls still produce wines under the WALT label

Outside of wine, Kathryn has had an esteemed personal and professional career beginning with an economics

Craig and Kathryn Hall

Craig and Kathryn Hall

degree and MBA from UC Berkeley, a JD from Hastings School of Law, stints in municipal and corporate law and, from 1997 to 2001 service as United States Ambassador to Austria under the Clinton Administration.  While working as an attorney and businesswoman in Dallas, TX, Kathryn carried on her passionate commitment to public office and community service with an extensive list of achievements.

Our first taste of “Kathryn’s Cab” since the noble vintage 2008 came in the barrel room with the 2013 HALL Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Kathryn Hall, a wine that is at least a year from release.

Although it will spend another six months in the barrel, still another six months in the bottle, this wine had the maturity of many wines already on outlet shelves.  The tannins were present but had softened considerably while young, complex flavors foreshadowed possible greatness

Described as a “hopeless entrepreneur,” Craig Hall has been forming businesses since he was a kid mowing lawns.  He

2012 HALL "Ellie's" Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 HALL “Ellie’s” Cabernet Sauvignon

parlayed an early investment in a small apartment complex into a real-estate empire and, eventually the Hall Financial Group.  Aside from their successful careers, the both Kathryn and Craig remain committed to a better community with multiple efforts and contributions recognized on a global scale.

With vision in hand, the Halls purchased the historic Bergfeld Winery (circa 1859) in 2003, intent on honoring

Historic Bergfeld Winery building

Historic Bergfeld Winery building

the land with an environmentally efficient operation, great art and architecture and, foremost, first-class wines. Through sensitivity and innovation, Hall became the first winery in California to attain a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification as a fully sustainable facility.  What is most impressive is that they have achieved it all without sacrificing design or quality in any aspect of the operation.

"Mouton Transhumandt

“Mouton Transhumant” by Francoise

Part of the Hall aesthetic is the art, both indoor and out. Carrying on the animal theme set by “Bunny Foo Foo’s entry way greeting, access to the tasting room/production facility requires passage by sculptors Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s whimsical sheep, “Mouton Transhumant” and John Baldessari’s recent, blue-eyed “Camel (Albino) Contemplating Needle,” both setting the mood to taste some exceptional wine.

Camel (Albino) Contemplating a Needle

Camel (Albino) Contemplating a Needle


Winemakers know that it all starts in the vineyards and at Hall, the best stock of all organic grapes sets the tone and precise viticulture delivers the result.  This was evident in the 2012 HALL “Ellie’s” Cabernet Sauvignon ($80), a Cabernet Sauvignon (79%)/Merlot (21%) blend named for Craig’s mother who was a WWII Navy veteran and navigator on a ship.  Merlot fosters softness to the young wine, with floral and herb influences that coexist with flavors of black currants, earning a 92-point rating from Wine Spectator’s James Laube.


The art and wine theme continues in a very unlikely fashion with the dense 2012 HALL “Jack’s Masterpiece” Cabernet Sauvignon ($125) which originates from several vineyards in the Napa Valley.

HALL Cabernet Sauvignon "Jack's Masterpiece" 2013

HALL Cabernet Sauvignon “Jack’s Masterpiece” 2013

The wine results from current HALL President Mike Reynolds’ annual honing of his winemaking skills.  With plenty of spice on the nose and palate, it delivers a creamy, chewy mouthfeel and rich flavors heavily influenced by 24 months in new French oak.  The label of this luscious, soft Cabernet adorns “Jack’s Masterpiece,” a drawing by Reynolds 18-month old son as a Father’s Day gift; a clear improvement over my plaster “hand print” wall hanging.

Taking a break from these alluring Cabernet Sauvignons, we tasted two pinot noir varietals from the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County, produced under their WALT label.

Offering very forward cherry and boysenberry flavors, the 2013 WALT Pinot Noir “Blue Jay” Anderson Valley ($40) has a rich mouthfeel with hints of baking spices.  Our host, Colin, suggested that this wine surprisingly pairs well with BBQ ribs.

2013 WALT "Blue Jay" Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

2013 WALT “Blue Jay” Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

Recently awarded 92-points by Wine Spectator, extraordinary bouquet and classic flavors reward those who taste the 2013 WALT Pinot Noir “The Corners” Anderson Valley ($75).  From a vineyard near Booneville, the complexity and depth of the aromas and distinctive flavors places

2013 WALT Pinot Noir "The Corners" Anderson Valley

2013 WALT Pinot Noir “The Corners” Anderson Valley

it among the higher echelon of the varietal in California.

Hall wines, mostly Bordeaux varietals, come from over 500 acres under vine among five unique estate vineyards ranging in location from the valley floor, the Pope Valley to the northeast, Sonoma County and the nearby Vaca Mountains.

Bergfeld Vineyard

Bergfeld Vineyard

The St. Helena Valley historic Bergfeld Vineyard that surrounds the winery was first planted in 1859 by sea-captain, William Peterson who later sold it to the Bergfeld family.  The hot valley floor with surrounding mountains as a gorgeous backdrop creates the perfect terroir for Cabernet Sauvignon and a testament to our final wine.

Just days before its release, we were able to experience the premium 2012 HALL “Kathryn Hall” Cabernet Sauvignon ($150), recently rated with 97-points by Wine Advocate’s Robert

2012 HALL "Kathryn Hall" Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 HALL “Kathryn Hall” Cabernet Sauvignon

Parker.  Sourced from the Bergfeld and Sacrashe Vineyard in nearby Rutherford, this Cabernet Sauvignon (75%) and Merlot (25%) blend has complex aromas and very concentrated, rich fruit flavors with depth, texture and the soft lingering finish of a classic.


“Because Nothing Has Changed” by Anya Galleccio

As we concluded our stroll through the sculpture garden among pieces like Anya Galleccio’s surrealistic apple tree entitled “Because Nothing Has Changed” and one of Patrick Dougherty’s interwoven twig houses called “Deck The Halls,” I fully appreciated being there among the spectacular natural beauty of the valley, all driven by the creation of fabulous wines and preserved in a most caring and holistic manner.  Hall Wines are not for everyone but the experience is unparalleled and clearly the result of good old American initiative and hard work.

Patrick Dougherty's "Deck The Halls"

Patrick Dougherty’s “Deck The Halls”

There are several other wineries in the immediate area and the quaint, high-end town of St. Helena, with its restaurants, art galleries and shops, should be a definite stop during your next Napa Valley excursion.

New Whites of Spring


In addition to longer days, spring in most places means enjoying being outside in the early evening, appreciating the sunset with a nice white wine.  Although chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are among my favorites to enjoy with or without food, today is about breaking out of the box and investing some time exploring alternative whites whose only negative feature is that very few people are aware of them.  The fact is that with little effort and some curiosity, one can find captivating white wines that may just “float your boat.”   What follows are some suggested full-flavored varietals that can change the discussion at any gathering or dinner.

Gruner Veltliner

Admittedly, most of the Gruner Veltliner that I have stumbled on appeared on some

Gruner Veltliner vine

Gruner Veltliner vine

restaurant wine list when I’m in exploration mode.  Mostly grown in Austria where it accounts for more than one-third of the country’s production, Gruner (“Green”) Veltliner, while not abundant in the States, is grown in Oregon, Washington State, the Fingerlakes region of New York and in many diverse regions of California including the Santa Ynez Valley, Monterey County and Napa Valley.

While known for citrus and stone fruit flavors, crispness and minerality is what sets it apart from other white wines. Enjoy it with seafood, shellfish, triple crème cheeses like Brillat-Savarin as well those hard aged like Mimolette.

Von Strasser Gruner Veltliner from Napa Valley

Von Strasser Gruner Veltliner from Napa Valley

From Napa Valley’s Von Strasser Winery, the first producer of Gruner Veltliner in California, the 2010 Von Strasser Gruner Veltliner Diamond Mountain District ($35), fermented in stainless steel, remains very popular with a nice, tart minerality and green apple flavors, earning a 90-point rating from Wine Spectator magazine.

While traveling through the northern Oregon’s Willamette Valley, I enjoyed a 2010 Chehalem Ridgecrest Vineyard Gruner Veltliner ($24) from one of their most respected winemakers. The efflorescent savory flavors of herbs and white pepper truly express the vibrancy of the varietal and the current 2013 vintage, available now, has received good reviews.

Noted for the production of many alternative whites like chenin blanc, viognier, verdelho, the Clarksburg AVA in the Central

2010 Dancing Coyote Gruner Veltliner Clasrksburg

2010 Dancing Coyote Gruner Veltliner Clasrksburg

Valley near the Sacramento Delta also produces gruner veltliner such as the affordable 2009 Dancing Coyote Clarksburg Gruner Veltliner ($12), reviewed as a very drinkable wine for the price.


Most people have heard of the great Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot-based red blends from the Bordeaux region of France, but  what about the white varietals?  Bordeaux white blends consist of two grapes, sauvignon blanc and semillon, known for its exposure to botyrtis cinerea, the “noble rot,” to create the world-famous Sauternes dessert wines. Single varietal semillon is widely produced in Australia where exposure to warmer temperatures push the floral and fruit flavors forward.  While semillon production is rare in California, my favorites, once again, emanate from diverse regions.

2012 Foresight Semillon Anderson Valley

2012 Foresight Semillon Anderson Valley

Last year, I had an opportunity to taste the 2012 Foresight Charles Vineyard Semillon ($28) from the Anderson Valley region and purchased two bottles.  Very rare in the Valley, this wine expresses toasty, creamy qualities, enhancing the floral and mineral facets that please the palate.

It seems repetitive to continually applaud wines from Bonny Doon Cellars, but they keep sending me excellent releases.  Half way through the writing of this prose, I received two bottles of something winemaker Randall Grahm calls the 2014 Bonny Doon “Thanks, Semillon” ($24), a single-varietal from a Yountville vineyard in the Napa Valley.  Opening the Gary Taxali labeled wine for research, we found melon, fig and lime on the nose with nice floral,

2014 Bonny Doon "Thanks Semillon"

2014 Bonny Doon “Thanks Semillon”

citrus flavors and lingering minerality throughout the finish.  Another gem that renews my passion to remain a D.E.W.N. member forever.

California’s best example of a white Bordeaux blend, half semillon and sauvignon blanc, is the 2012 St. Supery “Virtu” from their Dollarhide Estate Vineyard in the Napa Valley. Sur lie maturation leads to a toasted creaminess and vibrant flavors of lime, fig and pear. St. Supery Winery offers fine wines on a beautiful property outside of St. Helena and should be included in your next visit to the area.

Semillon pairs well with gruyere or camembert cheeses.  Of course, if you

St. Supery "Virtu" Napa Valley

St. Supery “Virtu” Napa Valley

want to go “heavenly,” treat yourself to a French Sauternes paired with a southern Oregon Rogue River Blue with honey.


The simplest description of riesling is a combination of fruit and mineral and, maybe, some petrol added in.  My exposure to the elements of a fine German riesling came several years ago when I tasted a 1996 Bollig Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spatlese ($17) and experienced the successful marriage of full fruit flavors with a soft minerality, often described as “petrol.”

The riesling grape is “terroir expressive,” adapting and

Bollig-Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spatlese

Bollig-Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spatlese

demonstrating different personalities in Germany, Alsace, South Australia, California, New York and Washington State.  In its origin Germany, styles generally differ from the Kabinett lighter style to the fully ripened Spatlese. 

High quality riesling from Germany and South Australia can be easily found at outlets or online.  Very nice riesling from the Fingerlakes region of New York are also recommended, taking a bit more research. However, there is readily available riesling from California and Washington State that can meet the standards of those most serious about wine.

Named for Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the “Eroica”

Chateau St. Michelle Ethos Late Harvest Riesling from Washington State

Chateau St. Michelle Ethos Late Harvest Riesling from Washington State

series of riesling wines from Chateau St. Michelle in Washington offers the best value to price ratio of any releases in the US. Many outlets stock various vintages of the Chateau St. Michelle “Eroica” Riesling ($22) that expresses many characteristics previously described.  Although this wine can satisfy most palates, those seeking something special can explore the Chateau St. Michelle “Eroica” Gold Riesling ($30) or, for those above my pay grade, the Chateau St. Michelle “Eroica” Single Berry Select Riesling ($200), boasting a 97-point rating from Wine Advocate magazine.  If your curiosity is still not quenched, full self-indulgence can be found in the 2013 Chateau St. Michelle Ethos Reserve Late Harvest Riesling ($40), dessert in a bottle.

Defined as the “absolute embodiment of springtime,” the 2013 Bonny Doon “The Heart Has No Riesling” ($16) is always a personal favorite as well

Bonny Doon "The Heart Has No Riesling"

Bonny Doon “The Heart Has No Riesling”

as the 2011 Thomas Fogarty Riesling “Skyline,” ($15.5) both from Central Coast vineyards. For a luscious cheese pairing, California “Humboldt Fog” or French “Morbier” are both available at fine grocery outlets.

Rhone Wines

Red and white blends from the southern Rhone Valley are renown throughout the world.  Chateaunef-du-Pape, Gigondas and other

Thomas Fogarty Winery above the Silicon Valley

Thomas Fogarty Winery above the Silicon Valley

appellations in the region produce arguably some of the world’s finest wines. Their reputation allows first-rate restaurants, such as The Girl and the Fig in Sonoma to offer an extensive wine list of exclusively Rhone varietals. Southern Rhone Valley winegrowers prohibit any single-varietal wines and regulate which grapes can be grown including marsanne, roussanne, grenache blanc and viognier,  known as part of a blend, not their individuality.

Avoiding costs and limited availability of those from the Rhone Valley, we Californians are blessed that the greatest blends and wines outside of the Rhone Valley are never more than a day’s drive.  The Paso Robles region, centrally located, with their New Rhone Rangers, can produced more exceptional Rhone-style wines than most of us can experience in a lifetime.  Here are a few recommended wines that are easily available in the region.

Many agree that the Barrel 27 “High On The Hog” White Wine ($16), an equal

2010 Barrel 27 "High On The Hog" Rhone blend

2010 Barrel 27 “High On The Hog” Rhone blend

blend of roussanne, viognier and grenache blanc, is one of the best values among Paso Rhone blends.  Nice expressions of stone fruits, spice and floral notes are encased in a rich texture.

Tablas Creek Winery, a patriarch of Rhone wines in the region, offers a diversity of single varietal Rhones, including grenache blanc, viognier and roussanne.  Nevertheless, the Tablas Creek Cotes du Tablas Blanc ($27) and Espirit de Tablas Blanc

Tablas Creek Winery Espirit de Tablas Blanc

Tablas Creek Winery Espirit de Tablas Blanc

($45) are always, according to the experts, among the best blends in the region.

From yet another westside vineyard, the Adelaida “Version” White Anna’s Vineyard ($35), vintage to vintage, is a noteworthy Rhone blend with aromas and full flavors of honeydew melon and pear.

After finding your favorite chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, you will feel

Adelaida "Version" White Rhone Blend

Adelaida “Version” White Rhone Blend

that’s your the wine forever.  Unless you have explored others varietals, you will never really know. Just think, you may discover that you are a gruner veltliner person.

Wine Spectator’s Top Wines of 2013

Wine Spectator magazine releases their annual Top 100 Wines list gradually, two per day for the first week and the remaining 90 wines a week later.  Early results revealed prolongation of the epic Napa Valley vs. France battle, more presence from the Pacific Northwest and some sightings of Italy and Spain.  Actually, the Rioja region of Spain made a significant statement through a wine and winery that I nearly visited last Spring.

#1 Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004

#1 Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004


In May, we spent a few days visiting Haro in northern Spain’s famed Rioja wine region.  The Haro Wine Loop allows one to access 5-6 different wineries by foot. We walked by the CUNE Winery on my way to an interview at R. Lopez de Heredia, later choosing Bodegas Mugas as our last stop. Had we opted for Cune, we would have, most certainly, tasted the Cune Rioja Imperial Gran Reserva 2004(95pt/$63), Wine Spectator’s #1 most exciting wine of 2013.

Cune is an acronym for “La Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana”, translated “The Northern Spanish Wine Company”, founded in 1879 at it’s current Haro location, by two brothers whose descendents still operate the business.  The “Imperial Reserva”, a

CUNE Winery in Haro, Spain

CUNE Winery in Haro, Spain

tempranillo-dominant blend, began in the 1920’s as a special bottling for an English market and has become a thriving red wine ever since.

The designation of this Cune blend is recognition of the world-class wines that have emerged from the Rioja region into U.S. markets for decades. We find seven Rioja wines on the 2013 list, a few that I have actually tasted.  Rioja wines are usually very aromatic, full-flavored and deliver long finishes.  However, the most noteworthy attribute of Spanish winemakers is their commitment to aging.

Aside from the 2004 “Imperial Blend”, other Rioja wines on the 2013 list include the #22 La Rioja Alta Rioja Vina Ardanza Reserva 2004(94pt/$35) and the incredible # 29 R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Rioja White Gravonia

La Rioja Alta Rioja Vina Ardanza Reserva

#22 La Rioja Alta Rioja Vina Ardanza Reserva

Crianza 2003 (93 pt/$36), vintages much older than the norm for other 2013 releases.

While many Rioja wines boast aging of at least two years each in the barrel and bottle, the fact remains that many wineries delay release for nearly a decade after harvest.  In May, we tasted the 1998 vintage “Vina Tondonia” white wine, an unheard of release age compared to other regions of the world.  By comparison, California whites are typically consumed within 18 months from release.  Many Rioja white wines are not released for ten years and proclaimed drinkable for another decade.

Some Rioja wines have an earthiness; others are very fruit forward, but aging, undoubtedly, contribute to the complex, fully balanced flavors. Balancing Old World tradition with modern technology, Rioja sits among the world’s finest regions and continues to deliver fine, aged wines to the U.S. market at competitive prices.


The Napa Valley contributed 14 wines, the most of any region.  While half of the wines were their classic and pricy cabernet sauvignon releases, the remaining half, surprisingly, included five different varietals.  In past years, most of the top California pinot noir releases originated from nearby Sonoma Co. In 2013, half of the, California pinot’s come from the Carneros region in the Valley’s southwest section, nearest and most influenced by the San Pablo Bay inlet of the San Francisco Bay.

During the past Century, the Carneros has suffered vine-killing disease and has overcome a reputation for bad soil and atypical weather to become synonymous with good wine, primarily because its terrior is understood. Coastal influences certainly

#31 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Carneros Hyde Vineyard

#31 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Carneros Hyde Vineyard

contributed to the success of the single-vineyard #31 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Carneros Hyde Vineyard 2010 95 pt/$65 or the #59 Donum Pinot Noir Carneros 2010 95pt/$72, a wine that has become a leader in the Carneros pinot revival.

Even with the new diversity, the cabernet sauvignon grape is still king in the Napa Valley.  There are seven Napa Valley Cabs on the 2013 list, led by the #4 Hewitt Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford 95 pt/$92 and the #9 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve 2010 96 pt/$135, both in the top ten.  Originally planted in 1880, Hewitt re-planted the 60-acre

Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford

#9 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford

vineyard with cabernet sauvignon grapes and now produces one of the valley’s best, especially compared to others under $100.

Notwithstanding that the #72 Shafer Relentless Napa Valley 2010 95 pt/$72 returning to the list after the previous vintage was named 2012 Wine of the Year, varietals like syrah, zinfandel and chardonnay have, in recent years, thrived in other California regions.  However, the diversity of Napa Valley is on full display in 2013.

From a small vineyard above the valley floor, a former UC Davis professor is the source of the #30 Lagier Meredith Syrah Mount Veeder 2010 and a famous “Zin” vineyard near St. Helena

churned out only 200 cases of the #90 Carlisle Zinfandel Napa Valley Hayne Vineyards 2011 93pt/$48. Based on

Kongsgaard Napa Valley Chardonnay 2010

#5 Kongsgaard Napa Valley Chardonnay 2010

their reputation for creating balanced, elegant chardonnay, it’s nice to see the #5 Kongsgaard Chardonnay Napa Valley 2010 95pt/$75 listed among the best wines of this year.


Ten percent of the wines on the 2013 list stem from Oregon (4) and Washington State (6).  The #3 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Evenstad Reserve 2010, a leader among the state’s consistent high-quality pinot and a list veteran, the #10 Quilceda Creek Cabernet

#3 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad 2010

#3 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad 2010

Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2010 95pt/$135, both made the top ten.

The emerging Walla Walla region is showcased by the #11 Reynvaan Syrah Walla Walla Stonessence 2010 98pt/$70, the highest rated wine and the #27 Spring Valley Uriah Walla Walla 2010, a merlot-based blend.

#10 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

#10 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

The #17 Alexana Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Revana Vineyard 2010 94pt/$42 proves dominance throughout Oregon, but the price of the #55 A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir Oregon 90pt/$18, a hybrid of 60 vineyards yielding over 130,000 cases, intrigued me enough to purchase a few bottles.



The wines from France and Italy, vintage to vintage, have a major presence on the list due,in part, to the broad range of their regions.

While Bordeaux led France’s typical high quality releases, the southern Rhone Valley premier appellation, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, arguably the world’s finest, placed the Grenache-based #7 Domaine du Pegalu Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reservee

#8 Château du Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010

#8 Château du Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010

2010 97pt/$120 and the classic #8 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010

Domaine du Pegalu Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserva 2010

#7 Domaine du Pegalu Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserva 2010

96pt/$120, that used varying amounts of all nine grapes permitted in the region.  Of note, the neighboring Gigondas appellation produced the Grenache-based #15 Olivier Ravoire Gigondas 2010 94pt/$33 that appears to be a good value if you can find it.

Among the mighty, Provence has emerged as an important French region producing fine rose’ and, having attended their showcase tastings in Los Angeles, I anticipated their eventual inclusion on the list.  The cinsault, syrah, Grenache blend #84 Jolie-Pitt & Perrin Cotes de Provence Rose’ Miraval 2012 90pt/$28 comes from the Provence estate of Angelina and Brad in partnership with the Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel fame. This designation makes it the world’s finest rose’ for 2013.

The big, earthy, sangiovese-based Tuscan wines have an ongoing love affair with American consumers.  However, the Piedmont region, producing nebbiolo-based Barolo blends positioned itself convincingly with five wines including the #6 Guiseppe

#6 Guiseppe Mascarello & Figlio Barolo Monprivato

#6 Guiseppe Mascarello & Figlio Barolo Monprivato

Mascarello & Figlio Barolo Monprivato 2008 95pt/$110 and the #16 G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2008 94pt/$42, Italy’s top rated wines.  The moderate price of the #18 Poggerino Chianti Classico 2010 93pt/$25, an authentic Tuscan sangiovese, enticed itself on to my wish list.

Four Portuguese releases, two ports and two red blends were incorporated into the list. For those seeking value without compromising quality, the #37 Quinta do Passadouro Douro 2010 91pt/$28 is a blend of three native grapes from the Douro region and a wine to make note of.

Aside from these trends, we now anticipate seeing wines from Germany, South Africa and South America appear annually.  One particular wine, the widely available, moderately priced #36 Bodega Norton Malbec Mendoza Reserva 2011 92pt/$20 is a full-flavored wine that has made numerous appearances.

This snapshot of 2013 has me wanting to explore more wines from Walla Walla, Piedmont and, of course, Rioja. Fourteen countries and four U.S. states have contributed to this 2013 who’s who of wine, evidence of its global impact.