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In writing wine and spirit reviews, which include comprehensive tasting notes on appearance, aroma, flavor and sometimes a score, it would be remiss for me not to explain that even when I’m not working on an article I will still employ some of these same methods when drinking wine for pleasure with friends or at a large commercial tasting event. Those wines, sans actual notes, are the ones I want to share today.

Why? Because sometimes we make our buying choices dependent on numerical scores from critics. While that is fine, especially if you have found a critic that has a similar palate as yours (you agree with his scores) it also reduces the time spent trying wines on your own, and finding them not to be enjoyable, which can be costly.

Some pals have also reached out to me, believing they will like what I like, and have asked me to share my favorites. So this article is for them as well. (Please keep in mind these are wines and cocktails I enjoyed in 2016 alone.)

And now, without further adieu:

Remarkable vintage years I did note – so it will be easier if you want to duplicate the experience – I found via my Facebook photographs: 1863 Reserva Velha Barbeito Bual Madeira, 2003 Tramin Cerveny (Czech dessert wine), 2000 Don Melchor Puente Alto Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003 Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Brut Champagne, 2004 Robert Mondavi Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Chateau de la Gardine Chateauneuf du Pape, 2014 Turley from Howell Mountain, Pesenti Vineyard and Dogtown Vineyard, 2003 Joseph Phelps Insignia and a 2006 Backus, 2015 Trombetta Chardonnay, 2015 J. Lohr White Riesling, 2005 Robert Mondavi Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Beckmen Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and their 2013 Cuvee Le Bec, 2007 Kosta Browne 4-Barrel Pinot Noir, 2013 Beekeeper Zinfandel Rockpile Appellation, 2005 Chateau Canon, 2013 Hearst Pergola Petite Sirah, 2014 Poet’s Leap Riesling, 2012 Concrete Old Vine Zinfandel, 2012 Kynsi Pinot Noir, 2012 Colome Estate Malbec, 2012 Dilecta Unorthodox, 2013 Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel, 2013 Summers Andriana’s Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 and 2013 Cabernet Franc all from Crocker and Starr.

In general, wines that I enjoyed but didn’t note the various vintage years were from Backus, Insignia, Le Mistral, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon (all from Joseph Phelps club membership), Hall Cabernet Sauvignon, every vintage of Phifer Pavitt DateNight Cabernet Sauvignon, various Del Dotto wines, all wines from Stolpman Vineyards, Silver Oak, Carlisle Mourvedre, Pure Cru wines by Mitch Cosentino, non vintage Champagne Jacquart, Pulchella Zinfandel, Stillman Petite Sirah, Regusci Patriarch, Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Cakebread Cellars Pinot Noir, Larner Vineyard, Ferrari Trento, Derby Wine Estates, Oso Libre, Frick, Mystic Hills, Calcareous, Workman Ayer Defacto Red Rhone blend, Jaffurs, Epoch Estate, Whalebone, Casa Dumetz, Zaca Mesa, Tercero, Four Brix, Central Coast Group Project (CCGP), Dry Creek Vineyard Zinfandel, Cellardoor Winery Blueberry wine, wines that my local winemakers serve up every year at Sunset in the Vineyard…

Cocktails: Everything I could get my hands on at Cocktails on the Roof, which included these three award winners: Bourbon Bramble from Newhall Refinery, Trader Vics inspired Mai Tai at Salt Creek Grille Valencia and the Manhattan from Olive Terrace Bar and Grill. I also enjoyed: the Manhattan made by 12 Bottle Bar authors Lesley and David Solmonson, Frozen Margaritas, single barrel tequila and Horchata at solita, Bloody Mary at Egg Plantation, Perfect Rob Roy from The Social, Cucumber Soju Cocktail served up by Xevichez Sushi Bar, Black Manhattan at Bacari PDR, a Moscow Mule I made with Cherry Ginger Beer and a Negroni with St George Gin, Bowen’s Whiskey, Black Momma Vodka, whatever I get to taste with the L.A. Scotch Club and a 10 year old Rip Van Winkle Bourbon I nabbed from a pal.

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, a "certification in first globally-recognized course" as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com