This is the season for lists of Best of This and Best of That, and I’m not immune to the disease. Here, then, is my roster of the Great Wines of 2008, taken from wines reviewed on this blog. So as not to be hierarchical (or not too, I mean a list of “The Best” already creates a hierarchy), anyway, the order is chronological, from when the wines appeared on BTYH. I indicate the rating — Excellent or Exceptional — but in no other way make distinctions; these were just the best damned wines I tasted and wrote about last year.
O.K., I take that back. I will make one distinction by naming a Debut Wine of 2008. It’s the Phifer Pavitt “Date Night” 2005, Napa Valley. Here’s part of my review of this first-release cabernet sauvignon (with a touch of petit verdot) from October 3: “Almost the most notable aspect of this wine is its complete sense of confidence and presence, its liveliness and vitality, its supple expressiveness, its dark and statuesque charisma; there’s something of the ultimate reaches of the cabernet sauvignon grape about it, it’s that pure and intense.” Phifer Pavitt “Date Night” 05 the best debut wine I’ve tasted from Napa in the 21st Century. 300 cases were made. I rated it Exceptional. About $75.

Here are my “50 Great Wines of 2008.” In a few days I’ll deliver “25 Unbeatable Bargains of 2008.”

>Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Brut. Exceptional. About $110. (Laurent-Perrier US, Sausalito, Ca.) ermita.jpg

>Casa de la Ermita Crianza 2004, Jumilla. Monastrell (40 percent), tempranillo (25), cabernet sauvignon (20), petit verdot (15). Excellent. About $19. (Opici Imports, Glen Rock, N.J.)

>Vidussi Podere di Spessa Ronchi di Ravez Collio Bianco 2002. 45 percent ribolla gialla, 30 percent malvasia Istriana, 20 percent friulana. Excellent. About $23. (Opici Imports, Glen Rock, N.J.)

>Morey-Blanc Meursault Boucheres Premier Cru 2005. Exceptional. About $110. (Wilson-Daniels, Napa, Ca.) cigare.gif

>Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc 2006, Central Coast. 75.3 percent grenache blanc, 24.7 percent roussanne. Exceptional. About $23.

>Landmark Damaris Reserve Chardonnay 2005, Carneros. Exceptional. About $35.

>Adegas d’Altamira 2006, Rias Baixas. 100 percent albarino. Excellent. About $25. (Quintessential, Napa, Ca.)

>Heller Estate Chenin Blanc 2007, Carmel Valley. Includes 11 percent riesling. Excellent. About $25.

>Henry’s Drive Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Padthaway. Excellent. About $37. (Quintessential, Napa Ca.)

>Figuero 15 Months in Barrel Reserva 2004, Ribera de Duero. 100 percent tempranillo. Excellent. About $55. (Quintessential, Napa, Ca.)

>Taconius Crianza 2002, Vinos de Madrid. 45 percent tempranillo, 40 percent cabernet sauviignon, 15 percent syrah. Excellent. About $35. (Well-Oiled Wine Co., Leesburg, Va.) fournier.jpg

>Fournier Pere et fils Les Belle Vignes Sancerre 2005. Excellent. About $26.

>Truchard Chardonnay 2006, Carneros-Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $30.

>Truchard Pinot Noir 2005, Carneros. Excellent. About $35.

>Cavallotto Riserva Barolo San Giuseppe Bricco Boschis 2001. Excellent. About $100. (Marc de Grazia Selection for Vin DiVino, Chicago.)

>Serramarrocco Grillo del Barone 2006, Sicily. Grillo is an up-and-coming white grape in Sicily. Excellent. About $26. (Marc de Grazia Selection for Vin DiVino, Chicago.)

>Loring Clos Pepe Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006, Santa Rita Hills. Exceptional. About $50.

>Hendrey Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2004, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $26.

>Nickel & Nickel Medina Vineyard Chardonnay 2006, Russian River Valley. Exceptional. About $45.

>Renaissance Carte d’Or 2007, North Yuba, Sierra Foothills. 60 percent semillon, 40 percent sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $20. beau4.gif

>Domaine Latour Beaune Vignes Franches Premier Cru 2005. Exceptional. About $55.

>Louis Latour Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvée Héritiers 2005. Exceptional. About $220.

>Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Ice Wine 2006, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario. Excellent. About $95 for a half-bottle. (Icon Estates, Napa, Ca.)

>Sausal Vineyard & Winery Zin XXXV 2006, Alexander Valley. Excellent. About $35.

>Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc 2006, Paso Robles. A Rhone-style white blend of roussanne (65 percent), grenache blanc (30) and picpoul blanc (5). Excellent. About $45.

>Vérité Le Désir 2001, Sonoma County. A blend of 48 percent merlot, 42 percent cabernet franc and 10 percent cabernet sauvignon. Exceptional. About $200. ljj023.jpg

>Louis Jadot Domaine de la Chapelle aux Loups Saint-Véran 2006. Excellent. About $18.

>Girard Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Napa Valley. About $17.

>Clos du Val Chardonnay 2006, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $24.

>Sanford Pinot Noir 2006, Santa Rita Hills. Excellent. About $34. mercurey.JPG

>Domaine Faiveley Mercurey “Clos Rochette” 2006. A white wine from this primarily red wine village. Excellent. About $34. (Wilson-Daniels, St. Helena, Ca.)

>The Yard Pedestal Vineyard Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2005, Willyabrup, Western Australia. 83 percent semillon, 17 percent sauvignon blanc. Exceptional. About $25. (Tom Eddy Wines, Calistoga, Ca.)

>Bunnell Family Cellar Boushey-McPherson Syrah 2004, Wahluke Slope, Yakima Valley. Exceptional. About $44.04bousheysyrahf_1214957583_1215194329.jpg

>Nickel & Nickel Darien Vineyard Syrah 2005, Russian River Valley. Exceptional. About $48.

>The Lane “Beginnings” Chardonnay 2005, Adelaide Hills. Exceptional. About $45. (Tom Eddy Wines, Calistoga, Ca.)

>Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005. Exceptional. About $100. (Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, Ala.) beaucastel.JPG

>Tom Eddy Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $90.

>Oakville Ranch “Robert’s Blend 2004, Napa Valley. The blend is 83 percent cabernet franc, 17 percent cabernet sauvignon. Excellent. About $90.

>Mazzocco Maple Reserve Zinfandel 2005, Dry Creek Valley. Excellent. About $60.

>Cornerstone Cellars Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $85.

>Foursight Wines Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006, Anderson Valley. Excellent. About $46.

>Henriot Brut Millésimé 1998. Excellent. About $95. Henriot USA, New York) grgich.jpg

>Grgich Hills Estates Merlot 2005, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $42.

>Gérard Raphet Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Cuvée Unique 2005. Exceptional. About $125. (North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, Ca.)

>La Pousse d’Or Volnay “Clos de la Bousse” Premier Cru 2006. Excellent. About $125. (North Berkeley Imports, Berkeley, Ca.)

>Amicus Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $55.

>Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $39. graefenberg_etikett1.jpg

>Robert Weil Kiedrich Grafenberg Riesling 2005, Rheingau. Excellent. About $60.

>Robert Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $45.

>Frank Family Vineyards Blanc de Noirs, Napa Valley. 100 percent pinot noir sparkling wine. Exceptional. About $35.