I had so much fun looking back on the wines I tried in 2014 – it was an incredible reminder that wine has brought me so much more than something interesting to drink. My photos held wonderful memories of discovering new things about wine, learning from winemakers, spending time with friends and family, travel adventures and so much more. When I discovered wine, I also fell into a culture of like-minded people who are as fascinated as I am by why one sip is so different than the next – I am so grateful for the wine community and the friendships it has brought.

As always, this isn’t a ‘best of’ list. I don’t think I qualify to tell you what the ‘best’ wines of the year were – nor did I sample enough of the recent releases to be able to fairly compare. For those sorts of reviews, I suggest you check out the smart and savvy experts at winealign.com.

This is a collection of some of the most memorable things I drank in 2014. Some of them were made memorable by the experiences I had while enjoying them. Others were just extraordinary examples of winemaking. There were so many I wish I could include, but you’d still be reading this in 2016 if I did that!

The California Dreaming Category:

Our visit to California this year allowed me to try some very special wines. Some were part of the Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC14) experience and others were via visits to the awe-inspiring California wineries on our route. I was not a huge California wine fan when we left, but that definitely changed along the way – a few of my favourites:

Daou Vineyards 2011 Estate Mayote  – You can read all about my visit to Daou Vineyards in my recent post, but my wine of the year is without question this one.

Brander Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (photo above) – A highlight of my WBC14 adventure was discovering and tasting through a selection of this Sauvignon Blanc – it was the wine I gravitated to most during a very special evening visiting Buttonwood Winery and discovering the wines of the Santa Ynez Valley. I hope to find some in Canada very soon.

Chateau Montelena 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – Of course we went to Chateau Montelena when we were in Napa – how can you not visit the winner of the Judgement of Paris? Getting to try their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon was a huge highlight of our trip. This is also an absolutely stunning property and worth a visit just to explore the grounds.

Hope Family Wines Troublemaker – Not every California wine costs a fortune and I definitely fell hard for this red blend. This wine was just as good hanging out in our motel in Monterey as it was in the winery – easy-drinking and delicious. You can read more about my trip to Hope Family Vineyards in a future post and order this wine via Trialto in Ontario.

The Incomparable Canucks Category:

I had the privilege of drinking so many fantastic Canadian wines this year – this was the hardest category to narrow down. I wanted to include long-standing favourites like Vineland Estates’ Elevation Riesling or Lighthall Vineyards’ Progression sparkling, but I decided instead to include a few you may not have heard me rave about already.

The Old Third 2012 Pinot Noir Blanc – I tried this at Whitbywino’s birthday celebration at Jamie Kennedy’s Gilead and had to bring home a bottle from the winery. The winery is one of the most beautiful spaces in Prince Edward Country and this is just one of the truly special wines The Old Third is making right now.

Cave Springs Cellars Chenin Blanc – It breaks my heart that there will be no more Cave Springs Chenin Blanc – they ripped out their Chenin vines shortly before I discovered this truly delicious Niagara wine. Luckily, I have two more bottles in my cellar to enjoy. The Adam Steps Riesling is another great option from this winery and is still available.

Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Chardonnay and 2006 Cabernet Franc Icewine – Two of my favourite sips this year came from Southbrook. I was lucky enough to try their 2006 Cabernet Franc Icewine at last year’s Icewine Festival in Niagara and it was my pick of the weekend. I tried the Chardonnay at an i4c preview event and was blown away – of the many cool-climate Chardonnays on offer, this is the one that stood out for me and had me rushing to the LCBO for a bottle.

The ‘I Can’t Believe I Got to Drink That’ Category: 

I am a very lucky lady to have such amazing wine loving friends – they have ensured that I got to try so many truly, truly extraordinary bottles. Many of these aren’t available anymore, but I just had to share the experience as part of this wrap-up.

Solaia and E. Guigal – When Tyler Philp opens up his incomparable cellar and says you can pick any two bottles you like, you’re expecting something special. The actual selections were far and away some of the most incredible wines I got to taste in 2014 – a 2004 Solaia and a 2003 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie. Many thanks to Tyler for his incredible generosity in supporting this wine newbie on her adventures in wine – I owe you a slew of special bottles in 10 years’ time!

Rocland Estate 2008 Single Vineyard – I have tried so many amazing bottles at #TOWineDinners over the years and 2014 was no exception. One that stands out especially was brought by the incomparable Christine Cooper – a Rocland Estate Single Vineyard Shiraz from the Barossa Valley.
This was the only wine sample I finished all night and I can’t wait to try more from this vineyard.

Honourable Mentions:

Weingut Brundlmayer 2012 Gruner Veltliner – When I asked on Twitter for an Austrian wine suggestion, I wasn’t expecting Bruce Wallner, one of Canada’s three Master Sommeliers, to offer up a pick. But that’s the magic of Twitter. This isn’t a pricy bottle, but this powerful Gruner is a great wine to pair food with and well worth picking up. Although you really can’t go wrong when one of the best sommeliers in the world helps you out with a wine suggestion.

Hubbs Creek 2011 Unfiltered Pinot Noir – There is something special happening with the Pinot in Prince Edward County. The Lighthall barrel sample I had was incredible (I’m waiting to open a bottle) and this Hubbs Creek was one of the best I tried all year. You must visit Battista on your next trip to PEC and sample his wines.

Bolla Winery
2006 Valpolicella – When one of our best friends (and the owner of one
very impressive wine cellar) cracked this open at a recent dinner he was
worried it was part its prime. Turned out that wasn’t a problem at all –
still fruit-forward and nuanced, this was an impressive bottle. Even
better? That we shared it with such wonderful friends.

What were your best bottles of 2014? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!