Alors. When busy, I tend to run around taking care of all that I can, yet not paying attention to some things. Yesterday, I looked at the calendar. Yesterday, I looked at the current date and then I looked as to how close we were to the end of 2010. I was shocked. Yep, this is my last “Sunday Email” of 2010. It’s usually around this time when I start to think of the year as a whole, and all of the joys and sorrows that were felt. In the camp of the former, much of the joy occurred with friends and loved ones … and as is usually the case, there was wine involved. No doubt I was blessed by the generosity of my friends and family as some special wines were opened for me in 2010.

Special occasion wines are exactly that. They are for special moments and special company. Believe it or not, I can say with a great degree of conviction, that my favorite wine of 2010 is NOT a special occasion wine. But it is so good, that it makes me feel like it’s a special occasion when I have a glass in front of me. So the story goes something like this.

It may have been revealed before that I am a huge fan of Bruce Hill’s Restaurant Picco in Larkspur. Let’s just say that I’m there often enough to know their wine buyer. Back in summer, I remember sitting down and looking at the wines by the glass list, noticing a new Albarino being poured. The 2009 Paco & Lola. I asked for a taste, and WOW! The aromatics were of fleshy, peachy orchard fruit infused with stony minerals. More of that on the palate with the mineral ever-present binding with the zippy acidity. The finish is cool and refreshing as the balanced flavors fade together. So, in spite of how busy the restaurant was that evening, the wine buyer walked over to me and said, “I see you like my Albarino.” I was astonished that she even noticed, but we then talked about how likable this wine was. I have had a glass of this wine with my Picco dinners ever since. Every time. It’s that good. And it’s a great partner for the variety of lighter fare dishes I tend to order there. I am so grateful that I got to taste this great wine this year.

Fast forward a few months; it’s lunchtime on a Tuesday, I run over to Whole Foods to pick up some soup, and as I’m walking past their wine section, I notice that familiar polka-dotted bottle of Albarino on their shelves. A couple of steps further, and I run into a Wine House customer whom we help often with recommendations. I brought him over to the Paco & Lola Albarino and sold him a bottle … in Whole Foods!

I had been raving about this wine for over three months to my colleagues before this happened, but I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm about selling wine in someone else’s shop. The customer came in a week later and agreed that the wine was sensational. He then said we should carry it here. What a novel idea, eh? Unbeknownst to me, one recent visit by a wine rep had a sample poured for Anya. I overheard her commenting on the name, as her daughter went through a “Lola” phase, but I didn’t connect the dots (pun intended). An hour or so later, as we were discussing the wines she tasted that day, I figured out it was THAT ALBARINO! Anya asked me (rhetorically) if we should buy some and stock it here at TWH. Hehe. We sold through our first allocation quite quickly, the next batch gets here Tuesday. Reserve yours today!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with your favorite wine discoveries of 2010: