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Haydn's Top 10 Wines of 2009


With the end of the year drawing ever so closer with every tick of the second hand, I felt it was appropriate to list my personal list of the top 10 wines of the year. These wines did not always score the highest, and I am sure Robert Parker’s list would look considerably different than mine. However, they each wine has a reason for being on the list.

Happy New Year, and enjoy,
Haydn Adams


Wine #10: m2 Zinfandel
$35 |

It has been rated as one of the top 12 Lodi wines of 2009, and I have to agree. Lodi is a strong player in the Zinfandel world, and while Lodi zins cannot can’t compare to those of the Zin capital of the world, Dry Creek, m2 Zinfandel is a very close runner-up and one of the best to come out of Lodi.


Wine #9: Meeker 2007 Carignane (Alexander Valley)
$26 |

A beautiful, and often overlooked varietal.


Wine #8: Montemaggiore Syrah (Paolo’s Vineyard, Dry Creek)
$35 |

A gorgeous (non-Zinfandel) wine to come out of Dry Creek. Biodynamically farmed, this Syrah has a little hint of pepper and plum, and an overall balanced finish.


Wine #7: J Cuvée 20
$20 |

Can sparkling wine really age well? If you would have asked me that last December, I would have scoffed off the answer, period. But the J Cuvée has changed my thinking. This base sparkling of J’s has grown up over the past year and has become a formidable contender in the sparkling wine arena. A great price for a great sparkling.


Wine #6: Quivira Grenache (Dry Creek Valley)
$26 |

Ahh the Grenache. It’s one of my favorite varietals. Quivira makes a beautiful 100% Grenache, which is no easy feat since this grape is one of the subtlest around.


Wine #5: Rippon Vineyards Pinot Noir (New Zealand)
Price N/A |

The southern region of New Zealand is the new hot spot for Pinots and Rippon Vineyards is leading the charge. This Pinot is a textbook example of the excellent Pinots currently being produced in the Central Otago region. Unfortunately, I have recently been having a hard time tracking down where I can get this one, which is why it didn’t rank higher on the list.


Wine #4: Tandem Pinot Noir (Sangiacomo Vineyards)
Price N/A |

This is one of my favorite Russian River Pinot Noirs. It is a bit spicy (standard for a Russian River Pinot), but in a near-perfect amount. Beautiful.


Wine #3: 2008 Cakebread Chardonnay (Napa Valley, Rutherford)
$37 |

Another fantastic showing from Cakebread. The secret to this wine? Nearly 70% of the wine is aged in neutral oak so the butterball effect is gone leaving behind beautiful notes of pear, and a bit of cantaloupe / honeydew.


Wine #2: William Harrison Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley, Rutherford)
$45 |

William Harrison, an excellent winery located near Rutherford in the Napa Valley, has delivered a near spotless Cabernet Franc.  This wine is simply gorgeous and well worth a try.


Wine #1: Archipel (by Vérité) (Alexander Valley)
$45 |

Archipel has been and remains my favorite wine. I find the “California Bordeaux” to be a near perfect pair with my particular preferences for this style of Bordeaux.

Haydn Adams is the author of the book, Wineries Beyond Napa Valley: Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, an insider’s tasting guide to the hidden gems region. He also contributes to the Beyond Napa Valley Wine Blog, writes for, and can be found roaming the hills of Sonoma County looking for the next hidden gems. You can contact him at