The Top 5 Wines of 2013

drum-roll-pleaseWithout further adieu, my TOP 5 Wines of 2013!

Wait…one thing. These are not the top individual wines of 2013. Rather, they are my top 5 TYPES of wines from 2013. The five types of wines that most excited me in the past 12 months. Not the individual bottles that most excited me. I don’t recommend individual wines on FERMENTATION. I never have. I likely never will. However, I do feel obliged to point my readers in the right direction.


5. Diamond
It’s a very obscure Vitis Labrusca and Vitis Vinifera hybrid to which I was introduced at the Long Beach International Wine Competition. Judging hybrids from the East Coast this grape was rendered into two different wines I was asked to judged. Both off dry, the Diamonds I tasted were magnificent. Slightly “foxy” in character with noticeable hints of concord and Niagra characteristics, these Diamond wines wonderfully put together with the perfect balance of acidity, and sugar. I have since sought them out and bought them and feel like I found a close friend.

4. Far West Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
This region located, well, on the farthest western reaches of Sonoma County, continues to produce the most exciting Pinot Noir being made in the U.S. today. Part of it has to do with the climate, part of it to the experimenting winemakers that have taken to the region.

3. 10+ year-old Mountain Grown Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Those growers on Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain and Atlas Peak who embrace the natural tannins of these mountain locations produce wines that need to sit around for at least a decade. But once time mellows these monsters, they transform into spectacular specimens. I’ve had a number this year that have blown my sox off with complexities, rich fruit flavors and, most of all, balance.

2. Sauvignon Blanc
It remains the best value among the common varietals. And when made in a straight forward, un-oaked, fresh style it not only please for the drink it is, but performs as well as any other varietal as a partner to food. Just as important, when balanced it can age magnificently and can peak a decade down the road. Perhaps the most underrated varietal wine available.

1. Riesling
For me, no grape has been so well cared for and produced such an array of exciting wines from a myriad of locations than Riesling. New York Riesling, German Riesling, Alsace Riesling, Australia Riesling, Washington Riesling, Spring Mountain Riesling….Well Aged Riesling, Baby Riesling, Off Dry Riesling, Sweet Riesling. I have been constantly surprised and consistently pleased with a slew of Rieslings in 2013 and can’t wait to taste more. It is the most exciting grape on the planet and the source of the most exciting wines.

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7 Responses

  1. Bill Ward - December 17, 2013

    Great choices one and all, Tom. Hope we can sample some more Diamonds at upcoming competitions.

  2. 1WineDude - December 17, 2013

    Riesling… FTW, baby!!!

  3. Thomas Pellechia - December 17, 2013


    I am glad that you recognized Diamond’s allure. It shows that there’s hope even for a California-centric palate 😉

    Seriously, the two most interesting of the labrusca-vinifera hybrids are Diamond and Delaware. Of course, like all other wines, they have to be in the right hands, but when they are, Diamond and Delaware are quite refreshing and fun wines.

    As for Riesling, welcome to the club, a club I joined in 1974 while living in Iran, where a fine Riesling was produced (pre-revolution period). That wine made me seek more Riesling when I got back home, and then I wound up in the Finger Lakes many years later, where it is THE wine and a touch of heaven.

  4. steve - December 17, 2013

    Not only do I love Australian Riesling, but I’m also getting into German Riesling. There is a plethora of styles to choose from. Terms such as spatlese, kabinett, auslese, trocken, halbtrocken, represent the different styles of German Riesling. I particularly like trocken – a dry style. There’s a nice one from G.H von Mumm called 50th Latitude, which is a good place to start. All regions that grow Riesling can do different styles, but with Germany you get a consistent taxonomy to the names. You’ve got to hand it to the Germans, they like a bit of order.

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  6. Wine Curmudgeon - December 18, 2013

    Diamond.. cheap and yummy wine in the right hands.

  7. Carl - December 22, 2013

    Thanks for naming Riesling #1 and New York as the first region mentioned. We probably drink more Finger Lakes Riesling than any other wine.

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