Earlier this week I saw an email thread asking recipients to pick their top wine of the year. I can't think of a more impossible task! If you've been reading the Pour Favor blog for awhile, I'm sure you know exactly why I feel this way: wine is an experience! Without context - friends, family, laughter, tears, food, bistro, bar, fireplace, porch, picnic blanket, a night "in"....- wine is just juice in a fancy bottle, with a special closure. Well, maybe not quite but you get my drift.... Since this will be my last post before the New Year, I've decided to offer a nod to the year past. I'm going to throw out a few wines I've found this year, which are particularly worthy of a good excuse to open, which I've not yet shared.  We'll start with white, then red, then bubbly, and then - just for good measure - a dessert wine. Fasten your seat belt! These are a few of my 2008 YUM wines:

WHITE:     2007 Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon Milly Lamartine

I've rediscovered my passion for White Burgundy this year, first during the spring and then again and again this fall as it has gotten colder and I still crave a wonderful white. Dominique Lafon has long been revered for producing wonderful, concentrated wines in Meursault. His innovative edge and desire for a challenge brought him to the Maconnais - a region he recognized as under-appreciated, simply needing a bit of TLC. This wine is clear evidence exceptional insight, wine making and viticultural practices yield amazing results. The Les Heritiers has an intensely aromatic bouquet of pear, honeysuckle, citrus and jasmine. Its intoxicating minerality is complemented by rich pear and orange peel flavors. Such vibrancy and complexity is delivered in a memorably mouth-filling package. Delicious!

RED:     2005 O'Shaughnessy Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

It is rare for me not to write my own wine notes, but in the case of this wine I'm always left speechless (an amazing feat, I know!). Fortunately, the winemaker's notes capture the absolute explosion of well-integrated layers that ravish my taste buds and wrap me in a lovely cocoon of happiness! Ripe cherry, blackberry, smoke, tobacco leaf, coco bean and dark chocolate aromas are framed by sweet vanilla oak. Elegant but concentrated flavors of espresso bean, graphite, raspberry and strawberry preserves are followed by a long complex finish with silky tannins and good acidity. An extracted wine that is rewarding. A worthwhile splurge for Christmas dinner, for sure!

SPARKLING:    2001 Westport Rivers Imperial

This winery proves Massachusetts is capable of producing tremendous wines - and bubbly at that! Just imagine yourself on the Cape, beach book in hand, foaming waves rolling onto the shore and fresh, juicy peaches, pears and apples in the cooler nearby. Add a spritz of sea air and you have the Imperial in your glass. It has a full, frothy mouse of tiny, tiny bubbles that deliver a tremendous, floral nose. Just a touch of citrus is evident on the palate - a welcome crispness to offset its wonderfully lush character. Just a touch of sweet, ripe fruit lingers on the finish. Salud!

DESSERT:    2007 Bouchaine Bouch D'Or Late Harvest

For me, this wine was love at first sip! It is an opulent, seductive dessert wine made of 94% Chardonnay and 5% Riesling - not a late harvest often found. It has an enticingly floral nose, followed by apple fruits layered with honey flavors. A gentle touch of minerality is well-integrated. Not for the lighthearted, this wine is deliciously decadent!

I hope you and yours have a safe, happy and healthy New Year! Be sure to pick up a bottle of something fun this holiday season. And please, share what you've selected!