TJ probably tasted over 1500 wines and spirits this year. In the months leading up to opening The Urban Grape, he had to try almost everything so that he could give it the right weight placement on the wall. I call him the Wine Rain Man because he can recall almost every wine he’s tried – the taste, the weight, the story behind it. Some people remember sports stats, TJ remembers wine’s starting line up instead.
Here are his picks for his favorite bottles (wine and otherwise) of 2010:
Grand Mayan Tequila
TJ is really more of a brown spirits kind of a guy, but this exclusive aged tequila hits on all cylinders for him. We’ve sold an incredible amount of this tequila since it was profiled in Stuff. In TJ’s mind it’s definitely worth the hype.
george “hansen” pinot noir
Of all of the george wine, the “hansen” is TJ’s favorite. After our visit from george this fall, we have many signed bottles of this in our cellar. This also wins for TJ’s favorite Pinot Noir of the year.
360 Eco-Friendly “Double Chocolate” Vodka
We haven’t had flavored vodka in years. Years like since we had kids and stopped hitting the bar scene. TJ in particular never liked how synthetic the flavored vodkas tasted. This 360 vodka is different. First, it’s all eco-friendly with recycled packaging, a reusable bottle program and energy efficient practices. The philosophy carries over into the taste as well. This chocolate vodka actually tastes like chocolate and makes the most delicious martinis. But TJ prefers to just sip it cold.
2006 Bruno Rocca “Rabaja” Barbaresco
This is actually TJ’s all-time favorite wine and we were lucky enough to find a stash of it through one of our suppliers. Because it’s sold out everywhere else, it’s selling fast…but not before TJ brought a six-pack home for himself!
2008 Travessia Vidal Blanc
TJ’s not the type of guy to bring in a wine because of a trend or out of a sense of obligation. So even though the local wine scene is gaining in popularity, he wanted to wait until he found the best of the best. One sip of Travessia’s wines at the Wine Riot and he knew he had found it. All of Travessia’s wines are amazing, but the Vidal Blanc is his favorite. And our customers’ favorite too. We can’t keep this bottle in stock!
2008 Von Buhl “Pechstein” GG Riesling
This is Germany’s 1er Cru Riesling. It’s the best Riesling TJ’s ever tried and I’m sensing a growing obsession here. It’s not in our cellar yet, but I’m sure it will be soon.
Goose Island “Bourbon County” Brand Stout
The makers of Obama’s favorite beer are also the maker’s of TJ’s favorite beer. Take a stout and age it in bourbon barrels? Sold, sold, sold.
2007 Cade “Estate” Cabernet Sauvignon
I’m surprised that TJ didn’t pick the Dunn Cab as his favorite too. When I asked him why the Cade was his favorite Cab of the year he just looked starry eyed. Sometimes there are no words for a wine. It simply strikes you just right. So of all the Cabs he’s tasted this year, this is the winner. I haven’t had it yet, but you know it must be good!
2009 La Spinetta Vermentino
I knew he would pick a La Spinetta for his list; after all, it is one of his favorite producers. But I was surprised it was a white. TJ knew he loved all of La Spinetta’s reds, but the Vermentino was a revelation to him. It’s big, rich and “fleshy” without any oak, which makes it a crowd pleaser. Chardonnay lovers love it, while Chardonnay haters love it too. A perfect white.
2009 Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco
TJ loves a good story. This biodynamic wine maker plays Mozart to his fermenting grapes so that they can relax and turn into excellent tasting wine. TJ’s hooked on the story, and hooked on the taste.
Here you have it! Our favorite bottles of 2010. The best thing about owning a wine store is that we get to do it all over again in 2011. Happy New Year everyone!