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Highlights from the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

mainroom.jpgAs regular readers know, I pride myself on my coverage of major wine tasting events. I go, I taste a lot of wines, I'm very diligent about it, and I report on the tasting very quickly, sometimes the same day. Well perhaps I'm slipping a bit, but it's been over two weeks since the Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 Wineries and Wines of The Year tasting here in San Francisco and I'm just now getting around to writing it up.

My delay has nothing to do with my lack of enthusiasm for the event. It was a very good tasting. The quality of the wines on offer were very high, and the food was plentiful and quite good. The folks running it could have done a pouring.jpgslightly better job arranging the tables and giving people a sense of where to go (the wineries were mysteriously grouped -- one room clearly was dedicated to "big reds" but another held both the aromatic whites and the pinot noir, while another held Spanish wines and zinfandels, and so on) but in general it was a nicely assembled event.
I tasted most of the wines on offer, though I ended up skipping a few in the effort to finish up during the narrow press preview before the public arrived and it became difficult to taste.

It seems as if quite a few of the wineries that were accorded the honor of being in the Top 100 were there (though there were notable absences, especially among the French wineries. Petrus didn't bother to show, and neither did a few others). It was interesting to note, however, how many of the wineries actually poured the specific wines that had been highly rated by the magazine. Chateau de Beaucastel, Bruno Giacosa, and M. Chapoutier brought out their top wines (including the 206 case production, $200 per bottle Chapoutier L'ermite Blanc), yet some wineries clearly brought their lesser wines for the tasting, which seemed rather silly and sort of cheap to me. food.jpg

The food offered was quite good for one of these public tastings, including shucked-to-order oysters, excellent cheeses, and canapés by some excellent restaurants in the Bay Area including Cesar and A16 among others. I especially liked a little mouthful by Cesar which seemed to be Jamon Serrano over a slightly sweet jam spread on a nice baguette round. It went perfectly with some of the bigger wines on offer.

For the same reason it's taken me a while to do this (being busy as hell), I'm not going to do my usual thing and review every wine at the tasting (or at least every wine that I tasted). I'll list my highlights, which I figure is what most people pay attention to anyway, right? While it might be amusing for you to know which wines sucked, the much more relevant list are the ones that were fantastic, no ?


2000 Bruno Giacosa Barolo DOCG, Piemonte, Italy. Score:9.5/10. Cost: $127 .
2002 Cesca Vicent "Abat Domenech" Priorat, Spain. Score:9.5/10. Cost: $68.

1994 Bodegas Montecillo Gran Riserva "130" Rioja, Spain. Score:9.5. Cost: $50.
1996 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France. Score:9.5. Cost: $75.
2002 Costers del Siurana "Clos de L'obac" Cabernet Merlot Bland, Priorat, Spain. Score:9.5. Cost: $68.
2003 Egon Muller Sharzhofberger "QMP" Riesling Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany. Score:9.5. Cost: $49.
2002 Flowers Vineyard "Camp Meeting Ridge" Pinot Noir, Sonoma, CA. Score:9.5. Cost: $65.
2002 Henschke "Mt. Edelstone" Shiraz, Barossa, Australia. Score:9.5. Cost: $100.
2002 M. Chapoutier "L'ermite Blanc" White Blend, Northern Rhone, France. Score:9.5. Cost: $200.
1999 Pecchenino "La Castella," Langhe, Italy. Score:9.5. Cost: $30.
2001 Pieropan Recioto de Soave "Le Colombare" Late Harvest, Italy. Score:9.5. Cost: $47.
1999 Pieve Santa Restituta Estate "Renina" Brunello, Montalcino, Italy. Score:9.5. Cost: $ 110.
1998 Prunotto "Bric Turot" Barbaresco, Piemonte, Italy. Score:9.5. Cost: $ 76
2002 Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot, Sonoma, CA. Score:9.5. Cost: $52.
2002 Shafer "Relentless" Syrah, Napa. Score:9.5. Cost: $62.

2004 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, Australia. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $18.
2002 Dr. H. Thanisch "Bernkasteler Badstube" Reisling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $17.
2001 Babcock Vineyards "Grand Cuvee" Pinot Noir, Santa Ynez Valley, CA. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $33.
1981 Bodegas Montecillo Gran Riserva "Seleccion Especial" Rioja. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $75.
2003 Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $20.
2003 Francois Chidaine "La Tuffeaux" Vouvray Demi-sec, Loire, France. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $20.
2002 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir, Russian River Vally, Sonoma, CA. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $50.
2002 Gary Farrell Chardonnay, Russian River Vally, Sonoma, CA. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $38.
2003 La Pietra del Focolare "Villa Linda" Vermentino, Liguria, Italy. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $38.
2002 M. Chapoutier "La Sizeranne" Hermitage, Northern Rhone, France. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $75.
2002 Maison Louis Jadot "Clos de la Commeraine" Pommard, Burgundy, France. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $??.
2002 Merry Edwards "Meredith Estate" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, CA. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $48.
2003 Merry Edwards "Olivet Lane" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, CA. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $62.
2001 Parusso Barolo, Piemonte, Italy. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $60.
2000 Pecchenino Bricco Botti Dolcetto di Doglani, Italy. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $30.
1999 Pieve Santa Restituta Estate "Sugarille" Brunello, Montalcino, Italy. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $ 140.
2003 Pride Mountain Vineyards Cabernet, Sonoma, CA. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $ 64
2000 Prunotto "Bussia" Barolo, Piemonte, Italy. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $76.
2000 Quinta de Ventozelo Tinto, Duoro, Portugal. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $15.
2002 Ridge Vineyards Montebello Cabernet Blend, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $60.
2002 Cesca Vicent "Lo Piot" Priorat, Spain. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $45 .
2002 Costers del Siurana "Miserere" Priorat, Spain. Score:9/9.5. Cost: $45.

2004 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis DOC, Piemonte, Italy. Score:9. Cost: $ 26.
2002 de Ladoucette Pouilly-Fume, Burgundy, France. Score:9. Cost: $39.
2002 Comte Lafond Sancerre, Loire, France. Score:9. Cost: $48.
2003 Francois Chidaine "Les Argiles" Vouvray, Loire, France. Score:9. Cost: $17.
2002 Georg Bruer "Terra Motosa" Riesling, Rhinegau, Germany. Score:9. Cost: $22.
2002 Henschke Keynton Estate "Euphonium" Shiraz/Cab/Merlot Blend, Barossa, Australia. Score:9. Cost:$45.
2003 Iron Horse Vineyards Estate Syrah, Sonoma, CA. Score:9. Cost: $38.
2003 La Pietra del Focolare "Augusto," Vermentino, Liguria, Italy. Score:9. Cost: $25.
2001 Martin Ray Merlot, Diamond Mountain District, Sonoma, CA. Score:9. Cost: $35.
1998 Parusso "Mariondino" Barolo, Piemonte, Italy. Score:9. Cost: $70.
2002 Robert Karl Cellars Cabernet, Colombia Valley, WA. Score:9. Cost: $26.
2003 Rosenblum Cellars "Lyons" Reserve Zinfandel, Sonoma, CA. Score:9. Cost: $40.
2002 Shafer Vineyards Cabernet, Napa. Score:9. Cost: $60.
2003 Tamarack Cellars "Firehouse Red," Colombia Valley, Washington. Score:9. Cost: $18.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud