Wine isn’t like a book, or a movie, or an album. Actually it’s like all these things, but not in this sense: It’s nearly incoherent to proclaim a wine of the year. The reasons, I hope, are obvious—the vagaries of vintage release, the logistics of distribution, the need for cellaring. However, we are in the awards season, and so it seems appropriate (if a bit belated) to discuss the best wine I drank in 2013.
A word about what this means: I am not including any “special” wines in this calculation that were either especially expensive (~$64) or especially old (~2005). The point is to anoint a wine that became readily available in 2013, or not too much prior, and that might be finding its way into drinkers’ hands now.
That wine is Montague’s 2009 Red Wine, a Rhone blend from Red Mountain, one of Washington’s elite American Viticultural Areas (AVAs). The understated name is consonant with a label designed for soporificity as well as the wine itself—witness the choice of a Syrah blend when it was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain that received Robert Parker’s only non-California American 100-point score. Not loud, it nevertheless speaks for itself in a clear and present tone.
Although it includes Counoise, a grape rarely found outside of France, this is a New World wine through and through. Fruit forward but not obnoxious, the nose also reveals the alcohol, high but not obnoxious at 14.5%. It is less earthy than most Rhones, but perhaps even more peppery. The tannins, also, are New World, light with crushed velvet. The balance is close enough to perfection. I am finishing the last of my six bottles now, having drunk it with Mad Men parties, steak au poivre, and lazy summer afternoons. It complimented and improved them all.
Interestingly (to me), my enthusiasm for this wine is not the consensus; its average score on Cellar Tracker is only 88.5. I can’t help but wonder if this is a reflexive response to price, for I have saved the best for last: $13. According to Jon Rimmerman, the source for my stash, the long game is a move into the $30-$35 range. And it will still be worth it.