Okay, well forget top ten, let’s make it a baker’s dozen while we’re at it.  No particular order, I will just list them youngest to oldest according to vintage.  There are some reds, some young, some old, a white, a rosé, and even a non vintage number.  Just wines that kept me thinking throughout the year.

1.  Sean Thackrey “Pleiades” XIX

California maverick wine maker Sean Thackrey's non vintage Pleiades really made me think. And it made me happy. This is always singular stuff; a variety of grapes from a variety of vintages, blended by Sean to create new magic each year. I have tried a number of Pleiades of different numbers, all have been winners. Who needs vintages anyhow!

2. COS 2009 Pithos

2011 was the year I discovered Sicily. I can trace my family roots to the old country. Many people, especially Italians, say this is the real Italy. Aged in amphora, the COS Pithos is a magical wine; refreshing and alive and citrus. I live for citrus flavors in red wine.

3. Bodegas Marañones 2009 Albillo “Picarana”

Best new producer discovery of 2011? This white Albillo from Bodegas Marañones rocked my summer. Rich, seductive, and different. Chris Barnes at Chambers Street - this one is all thanks to you.

4. Domaine Isabel Ferrando “Colombis” 2009 Chateauneuf de Pape

Not sure if we were more charmed by the 2009 Colombis or by Isabel Ferrando. But the Colombis gave me faith in a region I had perhaps written off. Not the most refined of the Ferrando wines, but my simple favorite, and Isabel's too!

5. Anthill Farms 2009 “Tina Marie”

I would probably be the last person that would have believed that I would be including a California Pinot Noir in my top ten list, but alas, it is so. Anthill is awesome, hands off wine making. Tina Marie is only one of their bottlings; picking a favorite among them is splitting hairs. They all are singular, but the Tina Marie seems to keep jumping to my mind the most.

6. Natalino del Prete 2009 Salice Salentino Rosso “Torre Nova”

The bargain of the year at $12. Cheap and cheerful as they say. Throw in rustic, characterful, and Italian and you have a winner. What a great discovery.

7. La Clarine Farms 2009 Home Vineyard

What COS is to Sicily, Hank Beckmeyer and La Clarine Farm is to California. Who new such honest wine was being made in California? Everything I have tasted from La Clarine Farm has been an expression of purity.

8. Produttori Carema 2006

One of my favorite favorites. I love Nebbiolo and this one is not only beautiful, it's a bargain at $22! I could drink this wine on a daily basis and be content. Bests most others Langhe Nebbiolo's and even some Barolo's and Barbaresco's. Magic Nebbiolo of the hills.

9. Calabretta 1999 Etna Rosato

Who would have thought that one of the finest rosé wines in the world would come from Sicily. And that the current release would be 1999? Aged rosé is one of the coolest things in the world, and one of the rarest. I bought as much of this stuff as I could get my hands on.

10. López de Heredia 1991 Bosconia Gran Reserva

I never wrote about the 1991 Bosconia Gran Reserva, but I had this bottle with some good friends at Hearth restaurant in NYC. If money were no object, I might choose to drink this wine very often. Want to know what all the fuss is about with López de Heredia Gran Reservas, well it's all in here.

11. Robert Chevillon 1990 Nuits Saint Georges “Les Vaucrains”

I tried a lot of great bottles of Burgundy this year, from a lot of great producers. This was the best. What you dream great aged Burgundy is like.

12.  CVNE Viña Real 1987 Gran Reserva

I also tried a lot of great traditional Rioja this year. The CVNE Viña Real 1987 Gran Reserva was one of the best. The 1987 is the one exiting stage left, but you get the picture.

13. López de Heredia 1976 Tondonia Gran Reserva

There were two occasions on which I was able to try the 1976 Tondonia Gran Reserva this past year. The wine is almost rosé like in color yet has great depth and a striking salinity. I remember riding home after one tasting with the empty bottle in hand as a souvenir and just smelling the fading magic of the 1976 Tondonia.