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My ten highest scoring wines of 2011


No 100 point wines this year, but who cares? What a list this is. Diverse both type-wise and regionally. Four wines from Napa Valley, four from Sonoma County, one from Santa Barbara, and that North Coast bubbly from Schramsberg. A bunch of Cabernets, a Pinot Noir, a couple sparklers, even a dessert wine. I round the list out with the Qupe Syrah, at 97 points, because although I had 9 other 97 pointers, the Qupe was First Among Equals. All of these wines are fantastic, world class; they would easily hold their own against peers from any wine region on earth. All are ageable, I’d lay odds on the Von Strasser and Williams Selyem being still fine in 15 years. Maybe they’ll all be fine in 15 years. If I’m around in 15 years, maybe someone will be nice enough to treat me to a tasting of these magnificent nectars of the gods.

Venge 2008 Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville. $125, 275 cases, 14.9%. Score: 99 points.

Stonestreet 2007 Rockfall Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley. $75, 212 cases, 14.5%. Score: 99 points.

Williams Selyem 2009 Precious Mountain Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. $94, case production unknown, 14%. Score: 99 points.

Araujo 2007 Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. $275, case production unknown, 14.8%. Score: 98 points.

Verité 2006 La Joie, Sonoma County. $300, 1,201 cases, 14.7%. Score: 98 points.

Von Strasser 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Diamond Mountain. $125, 278 cases, 14.2%. Score: 98 points.

Dolce 2006 Semillon-Sauvignon, Napa Valley. $85/375 ml., 3,300 cases, 13.8%. Score: 98 points.

Schramsberg 2004 J. Schram Rosé, North Coast. $130, 1,000 cases, 12.7%. Score: 98 points.

Iron Horse 1997 Joy! Blanc de Blancs, Green Valley. $179/1.5L, 50 cases, 13%. Score: 97 points.

Qupe 2006 Bien Nacido Vineyard 25th Anniversary X Block, “The Good Nacido,” Santa Maria Valley. $100, 190 cases, 14.5% Score: 97 points.

  1. Nice to see Stonesteet in there. One hasn’t heard much of this brand lately that was so much more prominent in the 1990s and early 00s.

  2. Good for Qupe, and the others! Looking forward to your notes on your recent SB trip as well. I also miss your weekly top 10 wines, that was fun.

  3. Thank you Steve for the nice compliments on our 2008 Reserve. It much appreciated by the team here at von Strasser. Happy Holidays to you. Cheers!

  4. Guess this goes to show you are a dyed-in-the-wool 99 percenter…

  5. props to von strasser. great tasting room to visit as well. love that region of the valley with diamond creek, v29 and von strasser.

  6. Marlene Rossman says:

    Steve, for the “little people” as Leona Helmsley famously stated, why no inexpensive wines? I am not talking about $2BC or Yellowtail, but it would have been nice to see SOMETHING under $75.

  7. Marlene, what can I say? In wine, as with most things, you get what you pay for, usually. But keep in mind, those were just my 10 highest scoring wines. Of the approx. 4500 others I tasted, there were plenty of values, bargains, best buys.

  8. Great list Mr Steve and yes we all know you are a 99 percenter… Cheers!

  9. Steve: Good on you for scoring bubbly so highly. It seems like it often gets short shrift in the higher end of wine ratings because it’s not as dense and intense as red wine, but drinking great bubbly is as great as a wine experience gets.

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