Most memorable wine tastings of 2010

Since we are in the home stretch of 2010, it is time to write about my most memorable wines of the year. Can I do this off the top of my head without looking at pages and pages of notes? Any wine that leaves an indelible mark should be easy to recall, so I’m going to give it a try.

Oszvald Cellar Somlói Juhfark, 2006 (Somló, Hungary):
On a nasty, rainy June day in Budapest, I sat around a table with several colleagues and tasted through a selection of some of Hungary’s top wines. Our presenters were Carolyn and Gabor Banfalvi, who run wine and food tours throughout the country. We tried numerous wines that were nearly impossible to pronounce, but this is the one that garnered the most discussion.

The grape, juhfark, is an indigenous white varietal to the Somló Hill and is not grown anywhere else. Juhfark means “sheep’s tail,” and is named for the cylindrical formation of its clusters. Vibrant and fresh with a combination of mineral, grass, lemon meringue, green apples and raw almonds, I am hopeful that this trove is an indication of what we can expect from Hungarian wines in the future.

Heitz Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 (Napa Valley): I stopped off at the Heitz Cellars tasting room in September with a small crew, including a French friend and three Texans. I expected the cabernets to be good (see last week’s column), but the wine that took me by surprise — and blew away my guests — was the sauvignon blanc. This newest addition to the Heitz portfolio is not well-known — and for selfish reasons, I have reservations sharing this find. However, given the dearth of really good sauvignon blanc made in California, it is my obligation to put my readers first.

Bursting with zest, grapefruit, lemon, white peach, pineapple and kiwi flavors, subtle mineral notes and a long, tart finish, this is a must-try for those who like French and New Zealand renditions of the grape. Suggested retail: $19.99

Casa Ferreirinha Reserva, 1989 (Douro, Portugal):
Like the Douro as a region, Ferreira is widely known for its port. However, its offshoot, Casa Ferreirinha, makes the most-prestigious red wines in Portugal. Barca Velha, which has been called the Vega Sicilia of Portugal, is at the top of the pyramid, fetching $275 a bottle. For less than half, you can buy the reserve, which is not far behind in quality. Older vintages are also available.

I drank the 1989 along with the 1996 and the 2000 Barca Velha, and while all were excellent (the Barca Velha needs a lot more time), the 1989 was it. At 21 years of age, it achieved a perfect harmony of flavors without anything blaring calling attention to its presence. If you are going to spend this amount of money on a bottle of wine, this Portuguese gem is one of the few that is absolutely worth it. Suggested retail: $133

Pamela S. Busch is the owner of Skrewcap.com, founder of CAV Wine Bar and a Bay Area wine consultant.

entertainmentFeaturesFood & DrinkFood and WineSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

City officials closed San Francisco County Jail No. 4 on the top floor of the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. in September, reducing the number of beds in the jail system by about 400. 
Kevin N. Hume/
S.F. Examiner
SF jail closure prompts doctor to call for release of more inmates

Reduced space increases risk of COVID-19 spreading among those in custody

Cyclists have flocked to Market Street since private vehicles were largely banned from a long stretch of it in January. (Amanda Peterson/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Plans for sidewalk-level bikeway on Market Street dropped due to costs, increased cyclist volume

Advocates say revisions to Better Market Street fail to meet safety goals of project

Prop. 21 would allow San Francisco city officials to expand rent control to cover thousands more units. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tenant advocates take another try at expanding rent control with Prop. 21

Measure would allow city to impose new protections on properties 15 years or older

Tenderloin residents are finding benefits to having roads closed in the neighborhood. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Should there be fewer cars in the Tenderloin’s future?

The pandemic has opened San Franciscans’ eyes to new uses of urban streets

Singer-songwriter Cam is finding musicmaking to be healing during 2020’s world health crisis. 
Courtesy 
Dennis Leupold
Cam challenges country music tropes

Bay Area-bred songwriter releases ‘The Otherside’

Most Read