Frank Mangio's Ten Best Wine Tastes of 2007

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Summary: Frank Mangio's Top Ten Tastings for 2007 This year has been a huge one for wine sales, an increase in wine events and the many individuals in the industry that I have met who have a passion for wine. As the Italians would say…”finche c’e vini c’e sperenza” (as long as there is wine, there is hope.) I have attended roughly 200 wine events this year, always seeking wines that I can call my own. If your palate is like mine, it is constantly changing. What might have been lovely last year is so last year’s news. This year I found 3 Cabs from Napa to merit my 10….last year there was none. Italy is again represented with 2 entries. Nearby Temecula keeps getting better and this year a cab whose grapes come from above and beyond the appellation scored in the ten. There was a repeat from last year, a delicious old vine Zinfandel from Sonoma. Chile also repeated with a consistently wonderful Syrah. And rounding out the ten, an oh-so-smooth Shiraz from Australia. The wines are listed alphabetically and not by rank. All are excellent for the varietal they represent. Prices listed may vary and are mostly taken from actual purchases or the winery websites. ÿ Antinori Toscana Tignanello, Italy, 2004. $75. The trophy wine of the Piero Antinori family. The ’04 harvest bloomed beautifully all over Italy for this “Super Tuscan,” a blend of Cab, Cab Franc and Sangiovese. Concentrated and velvety, this vintage is close to the heavenly ’97 harvest. ÿ B Cellars Blend 24, Napa Valley Ca, 2004. $36. 75% Cab, 15% Merlot and 10% Syrah, this ’04 does well to typify the exciting yield of the ’04 Napa harvest. Sweet red fruit fills the palate with fresh raspberry and currants. Fine balance on the finish. ÿ Bogle Reserve Petite Syrah, Clarksburg Ca, 2004. $20. The top “PS” varietal at the big San Diego Wine and Food Festival. Has a heady scent of ripe fruit with spicy oak evidence from14 months in French and 1 year in American Oak. Nice backbone…could age 10 years. ÿ Chateau St Jean Cabernet, Napa Valley CA, 2004. $19. Highly acclaimed veteran winery that doesn’t disappoint, it’s a lavish wine with smooth tannins and smoky flavor; a pleasing price. ÿ Gaja Sperss Nebbiolo, Piedmont Italy, 2001. $50. In keeping with the powerful character of the Nebbiolo brand, this is a wine for the ages, from the legendary hand of Angelo Gaja. ( Accompanying photo shows daughter Gaia with this writer.) 94% Nebbiolo, 6% Barbera; 12 months in small oak, 12 months in large casks. Classic hints of the land: tar, licorice and a touch of truffles. ÿ Montes Syrah, Chile, 2005. $25. A repeat from last year’s ‘04, this hot appellation should be in anyone’s collection. The ’05 has some Viognier in the mix. From the Colchagua Valley. Sweet texture. ÿ Pedroncelli Dry Creek Zinfandel, Sonoma CA, 2005. $14. This “mother clone” old vine Zin shows style and class with a deep garnet hue. Demands respect as any matriarch would. ÿ Robert Mondavi Cabernet, Napa Valley, CA, 2004. $20. The final touch of the Mondavi family before they got bought out. Every bit as great as the “reserve” that cost over 4 times a much as this gem. ÿ South Coast Wild Horse Cabernet, Temecula, CA, 2003. $28. Best of class medaled at the CA State Fair, these cab grapes come from high ground Palomar Mt. area. Ripe and big…from the hand of award-winning winemaker John McPherson. ÿ Schild Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia, 2005. $17. 400 acres of estate vineyards, about 1/3 devoted to luscious Shiraz. 25 year old vines. More news at