10º – Château de St.-Cosme Gigondas Valbelle 2009

94 points / $58 1.175 cases made – Southern Rhône, France - In 2009, proprietor Louis Barruol cofermented Grenache with 10 percent Syrah in cement vats before aging this wine in a range of used barrels. The fruit is sourced from 80-year-old vines in five vineyards. The 2009 vintage began with a devastating spring hailstorm that reduced buds and, ultimately, yields, by 50 percent. Hot, dry weather followed, and the remaining grapes ripened fully with additional concentration and tannins. As a result, the wine delivers noticeable power and structure, ideal for cellaring.

9º – Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage La Guiraude 2009

94 points / $55 650 cases made – Northern Rhône, France - A selection of Graillot’s best lots and bottled in exceptional vintages only, La Guiraude is 100 percent Syrah from vines planted on alluvial soils in the heart of the Crozes plateau. The warm, dry 2009 growing season produced an early harvest of ripe grapes balanced with fresh acidity. Second-generation winemaker Maxime Graillot fermented with stems and aged the wine 80 percent in used oak and 20 percent in vat for one year, to add complexity and structure without masking the fruit.


8º – Domenico Clerico Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra 2006

96 points / $90 1,500 cases made – Piedmont, Italy – This Barolo comes from 13.5 acres in the Ginestra cru of Monforte d’Alba, the southernmost commune of the Barolo zone. Owner Domenico Clerico took over the business from his father, who sold his grapes directly to the local cooperative, in 1976. Clerico purchased the Ginestra parcels in 1981; the first vintage of this wine was 1982. Since its debut, Ciabot Mentin Ginestra has consistently been one of the Barolo appellation’s finer bottlings.



7º – Quinta do Vallado Touriga Nacional Douro 2008

95 points / $55 2,188 cases made – Douro Valley, Portugal – The Ferreira family, once best-known for Port, branched out to table wine in 1995 at this estate overlooking the river Corgo. (They later sold the Port house.) Vallado’s team includes cousins João Ribeiro, Francisco Ferreira and consulting winemaker Francisco Olazabal, who also works at his family’s Quinta do Vale Meão. Rather than a blend of grapes, this wine is a rare single-variety Touriga Nacional, a tricky grape to fully ripen. But the 2008 is dark and concentrated, with finesse.

6º – Baer Ursa Columbia Valley 2008

95 points / $35 1,095 cases made – Washington – Winemaker Lance Baer founded Baer Winery in 2000, producing his wines in Woodinville, Wash., using grapes from Columbia Valley vineyards. After his death in 2007, his sister Lisa and his father, Les, took the reins and hired consulting winemaker Erica Orr. Baer’s signature wine, Ursa, Latin for “bear,” has always been impressive for its suppleness and pure flavors. The 2008, a blend that focuses on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, is the winery’s best wine yet.