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Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines


Howie
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For what it's worth, here's Wine Spectator's Top 10 wines of the year; keep in mind that the editors try to take into consideration wines that are widely available and reasonable pricing.

I never quite understood the composition of the WS Top 100 list, but this year really baffles me. The 99 Guigal CNDP wasn't even the best Guigal wine released this year at the price range (I'd give my vote to the 99 Guigal Brune et Blonde Cote Rotie). Oh well.

#1: 99 Guigal Chateauneuf de Pape

#2: 99 St. Jean Cinq Cepages

#3: 97 Banfi Brunello

#4: 99 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon SLD

#5: 99 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon

#6: 99 Duckhorn

#7: 97 Antinori Brunello Pian delle Vigne

#8: 97 Frescobaldi Brunello Castelgiocondo

#9: 00 Ch. La Nerthe Chateauneuf de Pape

#10: 99 Leoville Las Cases

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The WS top wine of the year is usually a baffler but when a negociant wine from the southern Rhone, bottled by a northern Rhone producer, wins, they have stooped to a new low. It's just ridiculous. In fact the entire list is ridiculous and if one can draw any conclusion, it's that they have changed their focus to attract readers who supports a lower price point. Usually a good part of the list has top quality wines on it but not this year. The quality has clearly been debased and it can't be a coincidence.

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...and if one can draw any conclusion, it's that they have changed their focus to attract readers who support a lower price point. Usually a good part of the list has top quality wines on it but not this year. The quality has clearly been debased and it can't be a coincidence.

yup.

WS has been tweaking its print edition to make this distinction. In the more recent issues, recommendations seem to be: 1) under $15 group; 2) $15-$40 or so, and 3) any price goes, usually described as cellar or long term holdings.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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its nice to see the wine snobs of egullet are out in full arrogance! & i wouldn't be surprised if most of these "experts" could tell a bourgogne from a bordeaux. there have been so many supercilious comments re: wine in these pages, it makes reading any review quite comical. the fact that marvin & gang have been attempting to educate the public & attempt to move their readers to possibly not look down on midpriced wines is to be commended, not made fun of by uneducated boors. the fact of the matter, for those that care, is that the incredibly hi priced wines supported by the unknowing, are just not as good as their price would & should suggest. it would be interesting to be a "fly on the wall" within the caves of beaune or margaux, to see how hard the estate owners are laughing & @ how amazed they are at how our "experts" evaluate & purchase their grape juice regardless of quality, & pay such ridiculous prices. of course, when they emerge from their caves, they once again become the serious, self-important producers that they want the world to see, keeping the "joke" to themselves. too bad, there are enough winesnobs ("winsobs") out in the world who help them perpetuate the joke!

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Baruch - I don't see the snobbery or arrogance in saying that the idea that the 99 Guigal Chateauneuf (of which I have a couple of bottles given to me as a present recently, for which I was very grateful) is the 'best' wine of the year, even assuming a mid-price target, is a bit odd. In the UK this wine runs £15/bottle or possibly a bit more. Most Chateauneufs are around the same kind of price, for example - I'd be very, very surprised if the Guigal is the best wine even of that appellation at its price. A very quick run through winesearcher.com reveals the 99s Ch Fortia, Les Cailloux, Chante Cigale, Mont Olivet, Font de Michelle and Vieux Telegraphe available from UK merchants at around the same kind of price. I haven't tasted most of those, but buying blind I would probably risk money on several before I'd try the Guigal.

If WS want to focus on wines readers can afford to drink more regularly that's great, but it's a bit rich to suggest these are objectively 'better' wines than some of the mega-priced bottles. Which Chateauneuf would you rather have in your cellar if someone offered to give you a case, the Guigal or the Rayas?

cheers

Adam

Edited by AdamLawrence (log)
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its nice to see the wine snobs of egullet are out in full arrogance! & i wouldn't be surprised if most of these "experts" could tell a bourgogne from a bordeaux. there have been so many supercilious comments re: wine in these pages, it makes reading any review quite comical. the fact that marvin & gang have been attempting to educate the public & attempt to move their readers to possibly not look down on midpriced wines is to be commended, not made fun of by uneducated boors.

This can only be the statement of someone who is not particularly experienced with wine. Because if you read my post (or any of the others) to say that the list is inferior because of the price point, you don't understand what we has been said and that can be the only reason. As someone who has been to Chateauneuf-du-Pape to taste twice in the last three years, there are at least three dozen wines that are of better quality, and at the same price point or lower, then the Guigal CNDP. In fact saying that Guigal CNDP is the wine of the year is sort of like saying that Kraft American Cheese "Individual Slices" is the cheese of the year. And this doesn't even get into the whole issue of comparing it to the top wines from the appelation which sell for more money.

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try to take into consideration wines that are widely available

This might have a lot to do with it. There's not much point in a magazine listing wines of the year or some such if no-one can get hold of any. I remember a British newspaper wine critic writing that he wasn't allowed to recommend a wine unless there were so many hundreds of cases available to the supermarket and High St. wine shops in the UK.

Having said that 3 Brunellos in a list of 10 seems a bit odd.

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Baruch - We all get the point but we disagree with your main premise. Marvin & Co are not at all interested in recommending good quality, well priced wines to their readers. They are interested in recommending commercial junk to their readers where in many instances it appears to be advertising driven. If you want a good list of well priced wines that are of the highest quality, do yourself a favor and send MartyL or Charles Smith a PM and ask them. I assure you their lists will be 100 times better then the garbage that the WS prints.

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seeing the top 10 has led me to one conclusion. $$$. I do from time to time flip throught the pages of the speculator and it does not surprise me that most of these wines or houses are very prelevant in this magazine when it comes to advertising. I am not saying that you can buy your way into the top 10 wines of the year but it may be a good start!! Guigal is certinally a dissapointment. :angry:

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i wouldn't be surprised if most of these "experts" could tell a bourgogne from a bordeaux. 

the fact that marvin & gang have been attempting to educate the public & attempt to move their readers to possibly not look down on midpriced wines is to be commended, not made fun of by uneducated boors. the fact of the matter, for those that care, is that the incredibly hi priced wines supported by the unknowing, are just not as good as their price would & should suggest. it would be interesting to be a "fly on the wall" within the caves of beaune or margaux, to see how hard the estate owners are laughing & @ how amazed they are at how our "experts" evaluate & purchase their grape juice regardless of quality, & pay such ridiculous prices. of course, when they emerge from their caves, they once again become the serious, self-important producers that they want the world to see, keeping the "joke" to themselves. too bad, there are enough winesnobs ("winsobs") out in the world who help them perpetuate the joke!

um, you mean by looking at the label :blink: ?

excuse me, but my comment had absolutely nothing to do with price points. it's one thing if the argument surrounds the financial and physical availability of the wines that have been appearing in the WS top 10 list over time. that's fine--but i just had paid $48 in a restaurant for a bottle of '00 mont olivet when i couldn't bring my own, and it was a FAR more distinctive wine than the guigal (that i had tasted less than a month before). my argument is that it seems like WS is interested in supporting the homogenization of the wine industry by supporting producers like guigal et al. and that's where my yawn came from.

by you insinuating that we are "uneducated boors" because we expect a little more from such a major publication, you obviously don't understand what we're getting at. nor do you care anything about what some producers & negociants have shown to be a disregard for "live" wine by completely overproducing and intervening in the vinification process every step of the way, resulting in everything tasting like the same sludge. fine, you obviously don't care for a more artisinal style of winemaking, but cut the resentful & insinuating name-calling.

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I think that Nesita had the most appropriate reaction to this list.  I mean why is anyone surprised by their choices?  Its the Wine Spectator after all, hardly a serious wine magazine.

suprised, i think most of us are not here. but being put on the spot, i say why should we have such low expectations? especially since WS is most people's introduction into buying wine. it's scary.

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Indeed, we should expect more from the leading wine magazine, but if we did it would only lead to our disappointment. Per Henrik Manson, who covers the Rhones for WS, shows an amazing lack of knowledge of the region's best producers. He fawns over Chapoutier and Guigal, while dismissing or entirely ignoring individuals like Graillot, JL Chave, and the Ogiers.

It is a shame, but something that I have come to expect. Sad really.

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Thanks for the bit of flattery above, Steve.

For me there are two points to keep in mind when looking at WS's list, both of which have already been made by many of the posters in this thread:

1. When WS's top-hundred list is consistently loaded with wines by the likes of Banfi and Guigal and mass-produced California Cabs and Merlots of middling quality and prices that are high relative to the quality offered, one has to question whether the list was developed with some attention to potential advertising revenue for the magazine.

2. While I understand that "widespread availability" is a factor that WS has decided to take into account in constructing its list, my own view is that the best "value" wines (i.e. those in the $10-$20 price range, and often in the $20-$40 range as well) are usually made by smaller producers using low-tech non-interventionist (dare I say artisinal?) methods. If WS is going to focus on mass-produced industrial wines, then there is likely to be little on their list of interest to people who are looking for quality or bang for the buck.

I should add that the "widespread availability" issue is the reason why I find so much U.S. wine journalism to be useless. The editors are only interested in pieces that will draw advertisers with big budgets. The feature articles therefore usually have to focus on the big industrial producers whose wines are available in every market.

The sad thing is, Guigal CDP, which isn't really very good IMHO, is going to fly off the shelves if it hasn't already, and you can still find the terrific 98 Fortia around for $25. I almost didn't mention the 99 Gilles Robin Crozes Hermitage Cuvee Alberich Bouvee ($16) for fear of turning too many people on to a ridiculously fantastic wine that I want to buy many cases more of, but hey, why not? While I'm at it, consider the following:

Brun Beaujolais (blanc or rouge) and Pepiere Muscadet ($9)

Loire Cab Francs from Olga Raffault and Catherine & Pierre Breton ($12-$20)

Huet's 98 demi-Sec (about $18)

A whole host of German Rieslings (especially the recently released 2001s), from Selbach-Oster, Strub and Leitz ($10-$20) to the pricey(!) Christoffel and Donnhoff ($20-$35).

You probably won't find these wines at your local Winn-Dixie, but on the other hand, they are readily available at numerous wine shops that have internet sites and ship nationwide.

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My thanks as well, Steve-

Frankly, I'm thrilled that Guigal won- After a string of very good to great vintages in the north and the south it was time for a Rhone to win (A 2000 Bordeaux will win next year- Lynch Bages? Gruaud Larose?) and they picked one in which I'll never buy anyway.

Cheers,

Charles

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DISCLAIMER: The following post is merely an observation, and does not accuse the WS of any impropriety.

I am not a regular reader of WS, but it seems to me that the top 10 list seems to be dominated by both (1) very large and rich producers who (2) also advertise heavily in the WS.

For one, I am glad Brunello is getting the recognition it deserves -- 97 was a monster year there. But Banfi????? Please. Perhaps Altesino, Argiano, Biondi-Santi, Caparzo, Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona, Fattoria dei Barbi, Pertimali, Piccolomini, La Pieve di Santa Restituta, Poggio Antico, Poggio San Polo, Il Poggione, San Felice, Angelo Sassetti, and Val di Suga should revisit their advertising budgets?

When was the last time that a real artisian wine from Europe topped the WS list? Ever? :angry:

The mag has its purpose. It brings Mr. Merlot and Ms. Chardonnay to real wine. But beyond a very superficial use, the magazine is, in my opinion, completely worthless.

Nestia was right, yawn.

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Mogsob

I had the Argiano Brunello 1997 on Saturday night. It was wicked good stuff. It was consumed at dinner with several high-end cal cabs from 1994 vintage and it shone above them all. Perfectly balanced, great acidity, a wine that will only improve with bottle age.

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I ask this not to quibble but solely out of curiosity: how do people know things will improve with bottle age? Is this optimism? Experience? Hype? I'm just amazed how often expensive wines drunk young are said to be going to improve with age. Now that I think of it, I can't remember a writer ever saying, ya better drink this now cuz it's going to hell in a year or two. :unsure:

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Hollywood,

It is my experience that most wines will not improve with bottle age. Most wines are meant to be consumed within a year or so of purchase or release. However, some wines have the ability to improve with bottle age because they develop secondary flavors or characteristics, and the tannins resolve (actually fall out of the wine in the form of sediment), making an almost entirely different wine from the one bottled. These wines usually go through a shut down or "closed" phase when they are past theri fruitful youth but not yet to their improved with age stage.

Most of the wines I drink improve very little with age (Languedoc-Roussillons, Non-AOC southern rhones, Cote du Rhones, Finger Lakes rieslings, Loire Cab Francs, simple IGT tuscans, vernaccia di San Gigmigano, Orvieto, for example). However, some of the wines I drink (Cote Roties, Cornas, Hermitage, St. Joseph, Crozes Hermitage, Chateuneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Bandol, Super-Tuscans, Brunellos, Barolos, Barberescos, Bordeaux) do indeed improve with bottle age.

However, because of price, I own and consume a lot more of the former than the latter.

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:cool: this is priceless. "particularly experienced with wine" - compared to who - you :laugh:

are u implying that a chat-du-pape tastes better in so. rhone as opposed to a tasting @ a Chevaliers du Tastevin??

still too bad the main premise of my comments have been missed by all. and jeez, here's a news flash "Lindbergh Landed!" how does a mag stay n biz, particularly a WINE mag? another news flash, not by the self-appointed connoisseurs here - duh!!!

Q? ummm, what makes ms nesita enough of a wine critic to compare her mont olivet to a guigal OTHER THAN FOR HERSELF?? nevertheless, she almost got the point, but, alas, it gracefully eludes her @the end. by having such a thin skin, it unfortunately clouds her vision.

does it not make more sense to match fact to advertisement vs. being a "winsob" & all that that implies??

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still too bad the main premise of my comments have been missed by all.

I thought I got the point, and I thought others did as well.

But if you think we didn't, this last post would not be considered clarifying. You might want to restate it.

beachfan

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