Best Wines of 2010

(Jarred Gild, Wine and Beer Manager at Western Market)

(Dec. 28, 2010)

This has been a fun and interesting year for wine. We’ve been able to hone our selection even further, sussing out good deals where there were thought to be none, fighting to get products desired but not previously available in Michigan brought in, and most importantly of all, helping the customers at Western Market  find real wine that they can connect with.

To us, real wine is made by real people; they’re often farmers, given that wine is an agricultural product, but more than that they’re people that think their land and vines have something to say. Their wine becomes a window into their soil, weather, traditions, and lives, and we at Western Market feel lucky to be a part of that. Below are twelve bottles that we’ve really enjoyed this year and have had a lasting impact on how we think about wine. Come see us and we’ll share even more with you.

Cheers and Best wishes in the new year,
Jarred Gild, Wine and Beer Manager, Western Market

1 Les Hérétiques 2008 (Languedoc, France) $12

“It’s no coincidence that our best-selling wine of the year is also our go-to wine for most any occasion. It’s bright, fresh, and juicy, not too complicated yet never boring. Buy it by the case and you’ll always have the right thing on hand.”

2 Jean-Paul Morgon 2009 (Beaujolais, France) $24

“Beaujolais, as a region, is still trying to get it’s reputation back after decades of being synonymous with their cheap, fakey-fruit-punch “nouveau” offerings. Folks that haven’t had our single-village (“Cru” in wine-nerd parlance), naturally-made Beaujolais like Jean-Paul Brun’s Morgon are missing some of the best deals in the whole world of wine. Pinot Noir drinkers especially will be shocked how much better these are for the money.”

3 Bio-Weingut Hofer Gruner Veltliner 2009 (Austria) $14 (On sale for $12 for a limited time)

“I first read a glowing review of this wine three years ago and bought up everything available in the state. Last year Slow’s Bar-B-Q scooped it all up before we had a chance to get any. This year we got smart and each ordered 50 cases. Organically grown and naturally made, this crisp, clean white knocks the socks off any Pinot Grigio.”

4 Carpano Antico (Piedmont, Italy) $30

“Vermouth is an often overlooked category, and with most stores stocking only the very cheapest options, we don’t really blame people for never buying it. Those that willing to step out and try something new are handsomely rewarded with this incredibly complex fortified wine. Originating in Turin over a century ago, this is the very first Red Vermouth, and it’s still the best. Drink it on the rocks with a twist of lemon, or make cocktails the likes of which you’ve never tasted.”

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5 Bricco dei Tati Barbera 2009 (Piedmont, Italy) $10

“Many folks think there’s just ordinary table wine and great wine (read: expensive), and they totally miss out on how good a simple, inexpensive when can be when made on a farm by people that love wine, rather than chemists, engineers, and marketers looking for the next gimmick or trend to get you to buy their bland, insipid, swill. This wine is emblematic of the “real wine” that we strive so hard to find, and solid proof that it need not be expensive.

6 Richter “Graf Zeppelin” Riesling 2008 (Mosel, Germany) $15

“While two weeks wasn’t enough time to taste all the wine in Germany, I did his best this fall. After seeing how different wines from various regions can be (and enjoying all of them), I really appreciate why the Mosel area is so famous in America. The vivacious, nervy character from this wine’s acidity and minerality are stunning. I hope more people come to understand how a wine like this can have sugar but still be dry… suppose the best way is to drink some!”

7 Wild Hog Zinfandel 2006 (Sonoma Coast, California) $24

“Zinfandel is regarded as California’s unique specialty in the wine world, and this bottle is a same compared to the region’s other Zins. Despite a whopping 16% alcohol it’s exceptionally well balanced, something hard to achieve when the grapes get that ripe. It’s not even one of those big, jammy, fruit-bomb wines either; rather it’s translucent with an abundance of spice and herb notes. A wine worth seeking out for sure.”

8 Castello di Verduno “Basadone” 2008 (Piedmont, Italy) $24

“This wine almost defies description. If it where made from the Nebbiolo grape it’d be considered Barolo, one of the highest esteemed wines out of Italy. Instead, it’s made of the ancient and near-extinct Pelaverga Piccolo variety, and in many ways quite the opposite of it’s tanninic neighbor. It’s kinda light and breezy, a bit reminiscent of a Cru Beaujolais, but distinctly Italian. Essential drinking for the curious.”

9 Theodorus “Auf ‘M Berg” Three-Star Riesling 2008 (Austria) $24 (Sale, $18)

“This was my favorite estate I visited in Germany. The young proprietor/grape-grower/winemaker Thomas only producers this wine in years where he can exclusively use natural winemaking techiques- meaning no added yeast nor acid adjustments, no filtering or fining, and the use of sulfites only at bottling. What you get in the bottle is a perfect snapshot of the Pfalz, with a rounder body and more stone fruit than apple in the flavor. A brilliant contrast to the more popular Mosel wines.”

10 Marques di Riscal Rioja Reserva 2005 (Rioja, Spain) $24 (Sale, $18)

“We just started carrying this wine, but it’s already done a service in reminding me that the Spanish make some serious wine. Academically I always know they do, but it’s rare to find a wine of this depth and structure for a reasonable amount of money. We’ve gone a step further and put the wine at an absurdly low sale price to encourage folks to step up a few dollars and see what great Spanish wine is.”

11 Dubost “Tracot” Beaujolais-Village 2009 (Beaujolais, France) $12

“What can I say, it’s tasty Beaujolais! It’s not “great” in the same sense as it’s Cru brethren, but it has become a staple in my house and at a number of customers’. No cosmetic additives needed here, or even stemware – just pour in in the closest liquid-bearing vessel and enjoy the fact that you’re drinking something so darn delicious for so cheap.”

12 Bera Moscato d’Asti 2009 (Piedmont, Italy) $19

“When folks start to drink wine in earnest they often try and distance themselves from the world of sweet wines they may have previously enjoyed, now thinking they’re all just boozy Kool-Aid and preferring serious dry wines. Some of them reach a point where they realize that there’s good wines produced in nearly every style, including a delightful little Moscato d’Asti from Louis/Dressner Selections, the importer of a few of the wines on this list. Their mark on the back should assure you that they only use natural techniques in both the vineyard and winery.”

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