Luis Gutierrez’s Guide to the Best of 2013
Best of 2013: Current Release Wines
Rafael Palacios 2011 Sorte O Soro Valdeorras ($131) (White) Rating: 95
A pure Godello white from Valdeorras sourced from a single vineyard that is a breakthrough wine for Spain’s table whites.
Casa Castillo 2006 Pie Franco Jumilla ($50) (Red) Rating: 97
Pure Monastrell from Jumilla, from ungrafted vines planted in 1942, that combines power and elegance but at the same time remains truly Mediterranean-style.
González-Byass NV Fino Cuatro Palmas Jerez ($137) (Fortified) Rating: 97
The name is a little misleading here as this is so old that it is really an aged Amontillado. The whole Palmas line-up (and the Tío Pepe en Rama) from González-Byass is outstanding, but the Cuatro Palmas is otherworldly!
Best of 2013: Greatest Value Wines of the Year
Descendientes De José Palacios 2011 Pétalos del Bierzo Bierzo ($16-$23) (Red) Rating: 92
My favorite vintage ever for Pétalos, one of the most outstanding value wines from any vintage, and especially in 2011.
Valdespino NV Fino Inocente Jerez ($30) (Fortified) Rating: 94
This is a world-class solera Fino Sherry wine with an average age of 10 years when bottled. I think it might retail for something slightly above the $25 limit (for this category) but it’s such a bargain that I couldn’t resist including it here. And the half bottle retails for $15.
Suertes Del Marqués 2011 7 Fuentes Valle de la Orotava ($16-$24) (Red) Rating: 92
A red from Tenerife in the Canary Islands that represents a completely new style of wines for the Canaries, combining personality, elegance and drinkability at a great price.
Best of 2013: Greatest Wine Drinking Experiences
I’ve been very lucky to drink an incredible amount of great wines throughout the years thanks to the generosity of many friends. 2013 was no exception and it’s been really hard to draw up this short list, but here we go. In no particular order:
La Tâche 2002: drunk on New Year’s Day with great friends.
Marqués de Riscal 1883 Rioja: a pre-phyloxera Rioja that felt a 100 years younger than it is!
Barbeito 1900 Madeira Malvazia: bottled electricity!
Best of 2013: Dinner of the Year
It has to be the one at d’Berto, which I reported in the Hedonist’s Gazette, with outstanding seafood, fish, wines and friends in Galicia during the summer. Check it out here.
Best of 2013: Vertical / Retrospective Tasting of the Year
A CVNE’s Viña Real vertical in Madrid: 10 vintages going back to 1949 and ending with a unique semi sweet white Coronas 1939, a wine produced at the end of Spain’s civil war. As close as it gets to time travelling! Rioja could be the longest-lived unfortified wine on earth, you know...
Best of 2013: Top 3 Get-a-Life Outside of Wine Things of the Year
I loved a French film called The Intouchables (Untouchable in the UK) that is based on the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, once director of Champagne Pommery. Yes, it was released in 2012 in Spain, but I watched it a little bit later… Great soundtrack too!
The live version of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven performed by Heart and a bunch of other musicians including Jason Bonham, the late John Bonham’s son, playing drums at the Kennedy Center Honors. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones were among those honored and President Obama revealed himself as a rocker at heart (pun intended!) Again this was at the (very) end of 2012, but things that happen in December never make it to the top of the year lists because they are compiled before, and I almost cried when I first watched it (you should see the video, not just listen to the song) in 2013 so I had to include it here as one of the highlights of the year. You can watch it here
I love travelling; I visited Baltimore at the end of April 2013. I met some great people and, yes, we shared some world-class wines at a number of dinners together in a trip that changed my life. Do you wonder why?
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These are not necessarily my highest-scoring wines, but some are! I’ve also included an element of discovery, excitement and novelty in my selection here, with wines from Chile, Argentina, Spain and the Jura.