Ray Isle’s 5 Favorite Wines of the Year
2007 Terrien Chardonnay ($33)
Winemaker Michael Terrien fashioned this new Chardonnay (this is the inaugural release) with fruit sourced from Hanzell Vineyards, one of California’s greatest Chardonnay producers. He makes the wine using no malolactic fermentation and very little new oak, then ages it several years before release, allowing its innate crisp intensity to develop layers of flavor and distinctive floral aromas.
2002 Mt Eden Cabernet Estate ($55 for current vintage)
I had this wine at Gilt Restaurant in New York with a group of friends, and when I tasted it I thought, Wow. Then, wow, again. And several more wows after that. Tobacco and tea leaf notes, silky texture, fresh black currant flavors with a bit of sweet dried fruit—a stellar example of how well top-notch California Cabernet can age, and a steal at the price. And the current release, 2007, will be just as good, if not better.
2002 Dom Ruinart Champagne ($140)
The 2002 vintage is a great one for Champagne, and there are some extraordinary wines out there. But for whatever reason, I find my taste-memory returning to this one. Dom Ruinart isn’t the most expensive nor the most famous tête de cuvée out there, but there’s something about the way that it plays its blanc de blancs citrus-green apple delicacy (it’s 100 percent Chardonnay) against its substantial caramel-brioche richness that is just weirdly impossible to get out of your head.