To show our appreciation for those of you who take time out to peruse The Thirsty Kitten, we thought we’d let the contents of this last post of 2015 be decided by you, our dear readers. We’ve assembled a hit parade from our Instagram feed of the wines and images that received the most likes and comments from all of you. As it turns out, this of collection crowd favorites actually offers a pretty darn accurate summary of how we spent our year. So hats off to you, our fellow fans of wine and story, and cheers to a wonderful year.
By far, photos which include one of our pets in the background get the top number of likes. While our cat named Cat was the namesake for our blog, our younger cat named Scout seems to be the fan favorite (shhhhh, we’re trying to keep this from Cat to protect her sensitive feelings). Shown here, posing with a bottle of Hartford Family Wines Highwire Vineyard Zinfandel and the caption “the heart wants what the heart wants,” this was our most popular Instagram post of the year. Hartford, located in Sonoma, is part of the California wine empire Jess Jackson built. One of our early favorite wineries, we still have great admiration for the quality of juice they produce. A gift from a friend (thanks JT), this 2012 vintage showed black raspberry and big fruit but was balanced with spice and beautiful dry tannins on finish. If you’re into numbers, Robert Parker gave it 95 points.
Speaking of pets, our dog Holton was also liberally featured this year. In this case, he helps us show off a beautiful 2012 Syrah by Arnot-Roberts, a wine of delicious intensity with black fruits and a touch of smoke. Hailing from Sonoma and made by acclaimed winemaking pals Duncan Arnot and Nathan Roberts, both Stephen Tanzer and Antonio Galloni gave it 91 points.
When not featuring real kittens, we sometimes feature fake ones which, interestingly, is also quite popular with readers. Shown here, we have our tiny kitten collection romping with a Williams Selyem 2010 Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir. Another Sonoma wine (yes, you already know we are partial to Sonoma), this winery started out as a garage project between two friends and later grew to cult status with its small production, vineyard designated bottlings. The Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir includes grapes from some the most sought after vineyards in California and is always one we look forward to opening. Packing a big dose of berry flavors without being over the top, it sports a lovely hint of spice and a teensy bit of floral notes.
As long as we’re on the subject of Pinot Noir (which, along with Syrah, is one of our favorite varietals), our snapshot from Pinot Noir Camp was one of your top picks of this year. If only summer camp had been anything like this, we would have been far happier campers as kids. Hosted by our neighborhood wine shop, The Wine Shop (perfectly named, right?), we were delighted to try Banshee Wines for the first time. Founded by three friends and located in S_n_ ma (Have you been paying attention? Fill in the blanks for extra credit.), Banshee focuses primarily on Pinot Noir and produces wines that strike a balance between bold fruit and subtle elegance, all at a price that is quite reasonable amongst good Pinot Noirs.
Dining out is a favorite activity of ours and obviously something our readers also appreciate. This year, we visited Aldo Sohm Wine Bar in midtown Manhattan for the first time and fell in love with its delicious small plates and endlessly exciting wine list (plus Aldo is super cute). We tried Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis and were mesmerized by everything from the food to the wine to the impeccable service. And we returned a number of times to Victor’s restaurant, which is stone’s throw from our house and has become a mainstay for us for its creative, locally sourced cuisine and carefully chosen wine list.
Lest you think we focused solely on California wines, we did dabble in Washington and Oregon, as well. We found a new favorite white in Alexandria Nicole’s Shepherds Mark, a beautiful blend of Rhone grapes Rousanne, Marsanne, and Viognier that was a huge crowd pleaser at our Thanksgiving dinner. And we visited a number of tasting rooms in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Trisaetum among them. We were blown away by Trisaetum’s dry Riesling and were charmed by the elegance of their Pinot Noir.
Finally, we close our hit parade the same way we started it, with our favorite little wine stalker Scout peering into our glass of rosé. While this glass happens to hold a delicate rosé from France’s Loire Valley, it is a place holder for the many delicious rosés we sampled this year. Rising in popularity in recent years, wine fans have realized that rosé in its finest form is a dry and elegant experience. From Kunin‘s Phoebe to iOTA‘s Phyllis to Bink‘s Lumineaux to Petrichor‘s Estate to Brad and Angelina’s Miraval, our Instagram feed was practically littered with rosé.
So on the eve of a new year, we toast to the year past with gratitude and pause to raise a glass to all that is good in our lives, chief amongst which is the company of treasured family and friends. Without all of you to share the journey, no amount of wine, no matter how acclaimed, could possibly make our days any brighter. Cheers to one and all!
Lest auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, we’ll take a cup of kindness yet and toast to auld lang syne.*
*with apologies to Robert Burns for the slight modification