It is that time of the year again when Wine Spectator announces and lists its top 100 wines of the year! Movies have their Emmys, sports have their Espys, music has its Grammys, and so on. Such is the “case” for wine (pun intended). Remember that this is not an industry announcement, but an evaluation of a magazine with seasoned and experienced tasters making their judgments – so there is some credence to their assessments. This is what Wine Spectator states about their list:
ABOUT THE TOP 100
“Each year since 1988, Wine Spectator has released its Top 100 list, where our editors select the most exciting wines from the thousands we reviewed during the course of the year.
Vintage showed its trump card in this year’s wine releases, influencing key shifts in the makeup of the 2014 Top 100 list, which includes wines from 14 foreign countries and three U.S. states. California, France and Italy play major roles as in years past, but with an atypical mix of grape varieties and regions. Meanwhile, some countries saw big upticks in their numbers on the list, due to magnificent vintages and continued improvements in the vineyards and wineries.
Our editors found dozens of thought-provoking wines among the 18,000 we tasted in 2014. Whether from emerging labels and regions or historic estates upholding tradition, these wines turned our heads for a singularity and authenticity we call the X-factor.
Our selection also prioritizes quality (based on score), value (based on price) and availability (based on the volume of cases either made or imported). These criteria were applied to determine the Top 100 from among the more than 5,400 wines that rated outstanding (90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale) this year.”
At this time of the year, the magazine allows everyone access to their website to view the list. Otherwise, you need a subscription to the magazine, which can also afford you access to the on-line edition. Here is where to go to peruse the list: Top 100 Wines of 2014. If you click on the plus signs next to the wine on the list, you will get a descriptor of the wine.
Obtaining these wines may pose a challenge, yet it’s worth the try. For Chardonnay fans, you will see that Rombauer 2012 made the list. Also a notable wine was the Amavi Cabernet, which is quite a value. Turley made the list again, this time with their Zinfandel called Juvenile, a wine that is $20 from the winery. Herman Story won a spot with their Grenache, On the Road 2011. Notable is the presence of Mollydooker with two offerings – Carnival of Love and Bella’s Garden – both rich Shirazes.
One of the opportunities that the Top 100 list offers us all is the opportunity to explore. With this recommendation in hand, we can feel comfortable trying wines from other countries and see what gems there are to taste. This listing contains wines from Italy, France, Argentina, Australia, Spain, Germany, and Austria – the world is yours to choose from and experiment. The list can serve as an entrée to explore other wine varietals.
What you will notice is the small number of California wines that gained recognition on this list this year. 2011was a challenging growing season in California, and I believe you can see the impact by the absence of many California wines in the Top 100. Nonetheless, it is always fun to see the “reveal” each year and to see wines that I may have tasted or purchased get some accolades. Remember though, what is most important in the end is what pleases your palate.