The Wandering Wino Blog

The Chardonnay Symposium

Top wines of 2012 - There are wines to save up and splurge,wines to stand upright in your cellar when company visits to show off that '45 Bordeaux. Then there are the wines for the people in the villages… me. 

This is the Wandering Wino second edition of wines that blow up your skirt. As I stated in last years post, I am not a cross dresser, but this is a simply American phrase used to say these are wines I really like and stood out to me. These are wines that are mostly available without the need for a blood hound. 

Paso Robles Savor Central Coast

(Above - all of these Paso Robles winemakers consistently produce wines that could be on any top list)  

Throughout 2012, I have had the honor of attending many wine events,and tasting rooms in the US and have also tasted many wine samples. At each event I have had the pleasure of meeting many great people and tasting some very good wines. I have limited these selections to wines in the US.

Nearly all of the wines on this list range from $20-$40, with a handful priced slightly higher, and a couple of select special occation wines. These are not broken down into the "aromas of dusted coco or lead pencil," but just wines that hit you when you first taste them and make you say."Hey what is that and where can I buy it?" 

Here is a simple list of wines I would suggest for your glass, your table, and your friends and family.

2009 Adelaida Cellars Paso Robles, CA Mourvedre

2009 Alta Colina Paso Robles, CA Syrah AKA "Toasted Slope"

Alexana Dundee Hills

2010 Alexana Dundee Hills, OR Pinot Noir

2010 Archery Summit Willamette Valley, OR Premier Cuvee Pinot Noir

2010 Andrew Murray Vineyards Santa Ynez Valley (Watch Hill Vineyard), CA Syrah

2008 Ampelos Sta Rita Hills, CA Syrah

2010 AUTEUR Manchester Ridge Vineyard, CA Pinot Noir

2010 Casa Du Metz Santa Ynez Valley (Ballard Canyon), CA Grenache

2004 Caparone Paso Robles, CA Zinfandel (Do not mind the vintage, currently Poured In Tasting Room)

Chamisal Chardonnay

2010 Chamisal San Louis Opispo, CA Stainless Chardonnay

2008 Cimarone Happy Canyon, CA Meritage AKA "Le Clos Secret" 

2010 Cimarone Happy Canyon, CA Meritage AKA "Bank"

2006 Clos Pepe Sta Rita Hills, CA Pinot Noir

2010 Cowhorn Applegate Valley, OR Grenache

Cowhorn Wine

2011 Cowhorn Applegate Valley, OR Viognier

2009 Curtis Santa Barbara County, CA Heritage Cuvee GSM&c

Curtis Wine

2009 Curtis Santa Barbara County, CA Mourvedre

Curtis Barrel Sample

2010 Curtis Santa Barbara County, CA Mourvedre (Barrel sample too good not to include) Available now in the tasting room.

2011 Curtis Santa Barbara, CA Heritage Rose

David Girard Syrah

2010 David Girard El Dorado, CA Syrah

2008 Denner Vineyards Paso Robles, CA GSM&c AKA "The Ditch Digger"

2009 Dobbs Family Willamette Valley, OR Cuvee Exceptionelle 

2011 Dragonette Santa Ynez Valley, CA Rose

Domaine Serene Pinot Noir

2008 Domaine Serene Willamette Valley, OR Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir

Du Nah Pinot Noir

2008 DuNah Russian River Valley, CA Pinot Noir

Eberle Cabernet

2007 Eberle Paso Robles, CA Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Ecluse Paso Robles, CA Syrah (I tasted in barrel and just heard Double Gold from SF Chronicle) 

2011 Foxen Santa Maria Valley (Bien Nacido Vineyards), CA Chardonnay

Gogi Pinot Noir

2009 Gogi Sta Rita Hills, CA Pinot Noir

2009 Gogi Sta Rita Hills, CA Chardonnay

Gypsy Canyon

2009 Gypsy Canyon Sta Rita Hills, CA Pinot Noir

2007 Halter Ranch Paso Robles, CA Ancestor Meritage

Huston Chicken Dinner White Wine

2011 Huston Snake River Valley, ID White Wine AKA "Chicken Dinner"

2010 J. Chistopher Willamette Valley, OR Pinot Noir

2009 Jaffurs Santa Ynez, (Ballard Canyon) CA Grenache

Jefferson Cab Franc Virginia

2010 Jefferson Vineyards Monticello, VA Cabernet Franc

2002 Jordan Vineyards Sonoma, CA Meritage

Jordan Vertical Cab

2003 Jordan Vineyards Sonoma, CA Meritage (Still available from winery)

2010 Kandarian Southern, OR Sauvignon Blanc

Kenneth Volk

2009 Kenneth Volk Lime kiln Valley, CA Mourvedre

Ken Wright Cellars

2009 Ken Wright Cellars Mcminnville, OR Pinot Noir

La Fenentre Chardonnay

2009 La Fenentre Bien Nacido Vineyards Santa Maria Valley, CA Chardonnay (Block 11) Second year, but still available

2010 La Folette Sonoma Coast, CA Sangiacomo Vineyards Pinot Noir 

La Sirena Napa Valley

2005 La Sirena Napa Valley, CA Syrah

Lineage Livermore Valley

2009 Lineage Livermore Valley, CA Meritage (Most expensive but great value to be had around $140)

Liquid Farm Chardonnay

2009 Liquid Farm Sta Rita Hills, CA Golden Slope Chardonnay

2009 Longoria Santa Ynez Valley, CA Tempranillo

2009 McPrice Meyers Paso Robles, CA Beautiful Earth (GSM)

2009 McPrice Meyers Santa Ynez (Ballard Canyon), CA Syrah

2009 PIOCHO Happy Canyon, CA Meritage

2011 Presqu'ile Santa Maria Valley, CA Chardonnay

Rangeland Cabernet

2009 Rangeland Paso Robles, CA Cabernet Sauvignon

2009 Robledo Napa Valley, CA Cabernet Sauvignon AKA "La Familia Eighth Edition"

2010 Seven of Hearts (Fruit source Columbia Valley, WA) Carlton, OR GSM AKA Chatte d' Avignon 

2007 Shimmin Canyon (AKA Brokern Earth) Paso Robles, CA Cabernet Sauvignon 

2011 Storm Santa Ynez Valley, CA Sauvignon Blanc


Tablas Creek Vineyards

2010 Tablas Creek Vineyards Paso Robles, CA Patelin de Tablas (Rhone Blend)

2010 Tablas Creek Vineyards Paso Robles, CA Esprit (White Rhone Blend)

2008 Tercero Santa Ynez Valley, CA GSM AKA "Cuvee Christie"

Tercero Wine

2008 Tercero Santa Ynez Valley/Ballard Canyon, CA Syrah/Petite Sirah"The Climb"

2009 Tercero Santa Ynez Valley, CA Grenache Blanc

2009 Tercero Santa Ynez Valley (Ballard Canyon),CA Grenache/Syrah AKA "Cuvee Loco"

2010 Thomas George Russian River Valley, CA Pinot Noir

Tolo Paso Robles

2007 Tolo Paso Robles, CA Mourvedre

2007 Tolo Paso Robles, CA Cabernet Franc

2008 TR Elliot Russian River Valley, CA Pinot Noir

2011 Two Shepherds Russian River Valley, CA Pastoral Blanc

2010 Two Shepherds Livermore County and Sonoma Valley, CA Syrah/Mourvedre

Two Shepherds Wine

2011 Two Shepherds Santa Ynez El Camino Real Vineyard, CA Grenache Blanc Saarloos & Sons Vineyard

2011 Two Shepherds Russian RIver Valley, CA Viognier Saralees's Vineyard

2010 Winderlea Vineyards Dundee Hills, OR Pinot Noir

2009 Zaca Mesa Santa Ynez, CA Black Bear Block Syrah

Many of these wines were smaller produced and handcrafted with soul. These are all worth a google search to locate for your next dinner party. Most of these wines will impress without a sting to your wallet. 


  • Xochitl Maiman
    Posted Saturday 19 January 2013 18:51
    Great selection! Some I know and have enjoyed and there are many I would like to try. I better get started - cheers!

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