“Of all the wines you drank in 2012, which one was your favorite?” That’s not unlike being asked about your favorite wine, a somewhat disturbing question because I try not to have “favorite” wines. That question does, however, give me a chance to discuss how almost any wine can be a favorite at any given time because of the circumstances surrounding its consumption.
But the question that launched this column was very specific. Which one? No wiggle room.
At first I formed answers off the top of my head. Was it that velvety Cabernet served in carafes at a little bistro near Yountville? Was it that Adelsheim Pinot Noir a long-time friend shared with me while we caught up with one another? Was it the gold medal winning rose at the Indiana Wine Fair at Story? How about that twenty-old bottle of Sangiovese found in the cellar of an Italian restaurant in a rural Vermont village?
Favorite, of course, does not necessarily mean the best, though often the two are inseparable. There is an old wine saying that the best wine is always the one you have at the moment. So I gave some thought to the best. A week in Napa and Paso Robles offered me a number of candidates. Samples from Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri, and Indiana didn’t quite add up. Neither did the New York State red with lunch at the hotel near the Albany Airport.
I had to go to my notebook. After a review of single page notes describing some thirty bottles, I dismissed any thoughts of favorites and focused on attributes. When I came to a page that read very much like a page read several minutes earlier, I paused for a review. The notes didn’t lie. They were almost identical, though the bottles had been consumed and the notes jotted almost two months apart and with different people and with a different meal. I had my answer: A 2006 Meyer Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the Hestan Vineyards Winery in Napa Valley.
Hear that Mark Herold? Mark considers this the second wine of the Hestan Estate, but obviously my palate reacted to its opulence and length, not once but twice. Alas, I had bought only two bottles of it. But I have my notes. Both pages.