Although not strictly speaking the 'very best' wine I had in 2008, by far the most memorable wine I've ever had, and likely to remain so for a long while: Chateau Coutet, Haut-Barsac 1928. Although the wine itself gets a 'mere' rating of Extraordinary (93 - 95) from me, the experience of drinking it I rate Perfection (99 - 100). All other wines I've tasted are merely ordinary beside it. And a wine I am confident will see its 100th year with pleasures to spare. It gets my top billing for the year.
The other wines that would make my list for the year (listed in ascending order by tasting date within each rating category):
Outstanding (95 - 97):
Ramos Pinto, Quinta de Ervamoira Port, Oporto 2004
--It should be noted that this wine was Incredible (97 - 99) on my first tasting, from a bottle that had more breathing time (24 hours), and that this second bottle (which breathed for only 12 hours) certainly had similar potential.
Extraordinary / Outstanding (94 - 96):
Canonica a Cerreto, Sandiavola, Toscana 2003
Extraordinary (93 - 95):
Portal, Vintage Port, Oporto 2003
Molly Dooker, Goosebumps, Sparkling Shiraz, South Australia 2006
Silver Oak, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley 2003
Ramos Pinto, Lagrima, Oporto NV
Paul Hobbs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2005
Beringer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Napa Valley 1997
Exceptional (90 - 93), with the potential to be Extraordinary in time:
Chateau Coutet, Barsac 1997
Chateau La Louviere, Pessac-Leognan 2005
So, the round up: 3 Ports, 3 California Cabernets, 2 Sauternes, 1 red Bordeaux, 1 Super-Tuscan, and one [Sparkling] Australian Shiraz. What should you make of that? Simply the wines that I was fortunate to have come my way this past year. Worth noting that 3 of the 11 came from this past Friday (the 26th). And if I had made this list in November (which surely nobody would be foolish enough to presume to do . . . . oh, wait), 4 out of the 11 would not be there. The year ain't over 'till it's over!
"The sun, with all those planets revolving about it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do"
(avatar: me next to the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory)