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Wine Spectator 2009 Top 10 – Part 1

November 18th, 2009

Wine Spectator Top 10 – Wines 10 to 6

Number 10
Brancaia – Toscana Tre 2007
93 points / $20
25,000 cases made
Italy
Brancaia consists of two properties in Tuscany—the Widmer family’s original two vineyards in the heart of Chianti Classico, and their younger estate on the coast, Brancaia in Maremma. Barbara Kronenberg-Widmer, daughter of the Swiss founders, oversees production with assistance from top Tuscan enologist Carlo Ferrini. Tre, the label’s third wine, is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from all three Brancaia vineyards. The 2007 represents the wine’s highest score to date.

Number 9
Merry Edwards
Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley 2007
96 points / $29
3,880 cases made
California
Merry Edwards, whose eponymous label also produces Pinot Noir in Sonoma, shows her magic here with Sauvignon Blanc: This wine earns the highest rating to date for the varietal in the Golden State. Edwards, who prefers the aromatic Sauvignon Blanc Musqué clone, barrel-ferments the wine and performs bâtonnage (stirring on the lees) while it ages in barrel, which she says adds body and showcases riper flavors.

Number 8
Fontodi
Colli della Toscana
Centrale Flaccianello 2006
99 points / $110
5,000 cases made
Italy
The 2006 Flaccianello earned the honor of being the highest-rated wine in this year’s tasting report on Tuscany. It’s a pure Sangiovese produced from vines more than 30 years old, grown in the hillside vineyard of Flaccianello, near the town of Panzano in the Chianti Classico region. The Manetti family has owned this historic estate since 1968. The 2006 was aged in Allier oak barrels for 18 months, then spent an additional year in bottle before release.

Number 7
Renato Ratti
Barolo Marcenasco 2005
96 points / $44
5,000 cases made
Italy
This Piedmont red comes from the Ratti family’s hillside vineyards known as Marcenasco, below the village of La Morra. The 25-year-old vines are planted on steep slopes facing west, providing the Nebbiolo maximum exposure for optimum ripening. The Rattis recently completed construction of an ultramodern winery, which has enabled them to fine-tune the winemaking. After fermentation, the wine is aged in a mix of Slovenian oak casks and smaller, neutral oak barrels.

Number 6
Chappellet
Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Signature 2006
94 points / $42
7,650 cases made
California
Pritchard Hill, in the foothills east of St. Helena, has become a hot spot for Cabernet in the past decade, but Donn and Molly Chappellet recognized its potential as early as 1967. Signature is their flagship wine, culled from estate vineyards planted on shallow volcanic soils 1,000 feet or more above the Napa Valley floor. The 2006 is 76 percent Cabernet Sauvignon; winemaker Phillip Corallo-Titus added 18 percent Merlot plus dashes of Malbec and Petit Verdot.

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