Final Thoughts on the Year That Was 2012


Revitalized and Renovated Downtown Napa

The last time we were in downtown Napa was quite a few years ago and it was a mess. Over the last several years, the city has put a great deal of effort in making it a destination all by itself. New places to eat, stay, and shop are springing up like daisies. Add in the very nice river walk and you have a great place to visit. We predict that within a year or two it will rival Yountville and Saint Helena for a true destination.

More Wines We Found in 2012

As you could tell in Part 1, our favorite wines were all premium Cabernet. While our panel here at DdV are Cab. nuts, we do love our other varietals, just not quite as much. Here we will list some of our other favorites for your consideration.

More than any other single year, 2012 was a bountiful year of discovery for us. From new to us varietals such as Mondeuse to our discovery of wine growing regions such as the Atlas Peak AVA and Sonoma Coast AVA, there was much to celebrate in 2012.

White Wines

Sauvignon Blanc

One varietal we lost touch with but found in abundance in 2012 was Sauv. Blanc. All listed here are new favorites from tasty supermarket finds including the Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home, Joel Gott, Simi, Dry Creek, and Honig offerings to truly fantastic mid and premium Sauv. Blanc wines by Rudd, Joseph Phelps, Ladera, Fontanella, and Vinoce. All are worth seeking out.


I love Chardonnay especially in the summer but have, until this year, pretty much stuck by my old favorites. These generally included value segment wines from Chateau St. Jean and Hess to Rodney Strong’s Russian River Estate on the mid price point and Robert Craig’s Durrel Vineyard and Beringer Reserve Chards on the high end. This year, however, I vowed to try some new wines and was generously rewarded.

The Oak Knoll AVA which had mostly escaped my attention previously produced two favorites from Trefethen and Lobo Wines. These are nuanced and delicate wines with nice complexity and balance. Mount Veeder, one of our favorite AVAs for Cabernet also produced some very exciting Chardonnay. Spotted Owl Vineyards, Mayacamas, Marketta, and Fontanella all produced mountain Chards we loved. By far the best new finds were from the Sonoma Coast AVA. Radio-Coteau’s County Line and Joseph Phelps Fog Dog Chards were terrific mid priced everyday drinkers. The stars though were from the Radio-Coteau Savoy and Joseph Phelps Freestone vineyards. These are world class wines that have now taken the top spot for me. Very highly recommended.

Other White Wines

In addition to Chardonnay and Sauv. Blanc, we tripped upon numerous other varietals that peaked our interest. One was Viognier. This is a wonderful wine for pairing with light summer suppers and starters. The Cline was our favorite in the value category with the Joseph Phelps the overwhelming favorite in the premium category. Hess Collections limited release Mount Veeder Albarino was another wonderful surprise. Dry Reislings such as Trefethen and Pacific Rim were standouts for pairing with spicy grill, polish dogs, and asian cuisine.

Red Wines

Zindfandel and Syrah

This was a solid come back year for Zin and Syrah in my cellar. To be honest, prior to this year, I had given up on both. I have had way too many pedestrian fruit bombs in my experience and was simply tired of getting burned. However, due to finding the wines listed below, both have become welcome favorites around the dinner table. For Zins, the Robert Craig, Outpost, and Black Sears Vineyards from Howell Mountain were the best of the best. Radio-Coteau also made a wonderful old vine Zin, a 2006 Von Weidlich from the Sonoma Coast. Other standouts included offerings from Seghesio and Artezin in the value category.

Syrah and Syrah based blends were huge surprises for us. Again, the Sonoma Coast AVA came through with 3 Radio-Coteau Syrahs that knocked our socks off. The Cherry Camp, Dusty Lane, and Timbervine were all amazing. Joseph Phelps has two Syrah offerings from Los Carneros that are also exceptional. The Hyde (blended from various Hyde vineyars) and the Single Vineyard Hyde & Sons are very much at the top of our list. The Atlas Peak AVA in general and the Stagecoach Vineyard in particular very much caught our attention. Wines sourced from here are the Plumpjack, Krutz, and Krupp Brothers offerings that are world class. The Lagier Merideth and Lamprydae Syrahs from Mount Veeder as well as the Lagier Merideth 2009 Mondeuse were amazing as well.

We also found two Syrah based blends from Shafer (Relentless) and Leviathan that were true standouts.

Other Reds and Blends

The Luna Vineyards Sangiovese and Sangiovese / Cab. blend Canto were at the top here as well as source blended value cabs from Kunde and Dry Creek in Sonoma to Robert Craig Mt. George, Turnbull Old Bull and Mount Veeder Winery (Napa Valley Cab.) in Napa. Rodney Strong’s Malbec as well as Mount Brave’s Mount Veeder sourced Malbec were both great.

Great Rosé

We discovered some amazing Rosé in 2012 detailed in our aptly entitled article, California Rosé Doesn’t Suck Anymore. Rosé wines by these producers are worth finding: Lagier Meredith, Robert Craig, Notre Vin, Radio-Coteau, Anaba, Bedrock, Tablas Creek, Quivira

2013 Bucket List

What do we have for 2013? Look for us to delve deeper into Sonoma County including a more in-depth look at the Sonoma Coast. We will be further exploring the mountain AVAs such as Howell, Spring, Veeder, Atlas Peak and Diamond as well as taking a first look at the newly formed Coombsville AVA. Much to look forward to this year!