The end of one year and the start of another is time to reflect back on the last 12 months in the world of wine. Since my world is confined mostly to Boise and what's available here in the valley, this is, by definition, a very personal and subjective list, but here are my top three in a remembrance of the year past:
A Rose for All Seasons
Pink is in. More and more people are discovering the undeniable pleasure of dry rose wines, and while most drink them to welcome the spring or to refresh during the summer, I have found myself turning to pink wine throughout the year. They go great with so many foods, and any number are big enough to satisfy even when the mercury drops below freezing. For everyday consumption it's hard to beat Spanish versions like the 2006 El Meson, $7.99, or the 2006 Chateau d'Oupia, $10.99 from France. On the plus side of $15, two of my favorite fuller-bodied roses are a bit of a splurge, but a worthwhile one: from Italy, the Nicodemi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, and from the Rhone Valley, the 2006 Clos du Caillou.
2005 Reds from the South of France
The 2005 is a very fine vintage, and despite the fact that the euro is beating up mercilessly on the dollar, the grenache/syrah blends from the south of France (more specifically the Costieres de Nimes) have been my go-to red wines this past year. It's amazing what $10 will get you. Some of my current favorites include the Chateau d'Oupia, Chateau Grande Cassagne, Chateau Valcombe Tradition and Chateau Montroche. They are all fruit-forward beauties with excellent structure and lovely persistence.
Idaho Wine Comes of Age?
I tasted more good Idaho wines in the last year than in the five years previous. OK, we are not on a par with Oregon, Washington or California yet, but we are starting to move in the right direction. Koenig Vineyards continues to impress as well as the wines they craft for Williamson Vineyards. Snake River Winery has been doing some very nice things with Arena Valley Vineyard fruit including a lovely 2005 blend of syrah, grenache and mouvedre. Both Pend d'Oreille and Indian Creek released top quality Idaho malbecs from Wood River Vineyard. And newcomer Fraser Vineyard (Boise's only winery) had hits with both their first releases—an outstanding viognier (sold-out) and a well-structured, cellar worthy 2005 cabernet sauvignon (just released). It definitely has become a lot easier to recommend the wines of Idaho.