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Tasting The Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wines

top100_06.jpgI don't believe in Top 100 lists, or any other list that purports to catalog the "Best Of" when it comes to wine. The criteria for even the best of such lists tend to be so muddled that there's no way for any list to offer any sort of authoritative judgment on the world of wine. Having said that, no matter what the publication, these sorts of lists inevitably have some good wines on them, so anyone prepared to ignore the rankings and just explore some of the offering can usually find some good stuff.

It is with exactly this in mind that I attended the recent showcase tasting of the Top 100 wines from Wine & Spirits Magazine here in San Francisco. Each year, in conjunction with its publication of an issue with the same title, the magazine holds a tasting where all or nearly all of the wines on their list plus a few more are poured for the public in a swanky event with tasty bites of finger food and a festive atmosphere. In previous years I have discovered one or two excellent new wines, so I always look forward to the high quality of this tasting.

The 2006 tasting did not disappoint me, but I probably disappointed it. Regular readers know that it's quite unusual for me to end up at one of these tastings and leave only having tasted sixty or seventy wines. But this year the timing of the tasting was very bad for my schedule, and I only barely made it there. So instead of being able to taste through all 100 of the top wines, plus a lot more of the ones that each top winery brought with them, I was only able to dash in and taste the wines you see below.

I skipped most of the California wineries that I knew well, and several others in an attempt to try things I hadn't had before or that I had not tasted in some time. Despite this, however, I did manage to taste some absolutely fantastic wines and I offer my scores below.


1988 R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Todonia Reserva White, Rioja, Spain. $38. Where to Buy?

2001 Bruno Giacosa Barolo, Piemonte, Italy. $100. Where to Buy?


NV Iron Horse Vineyards "Joy!" Sparkling Wine in Magnum, Green Valley, Sonoma. $147.
2004 Peay Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, CA. $45.Where to Buy?
2004 C. von Schubert Abtsberg Spätlese, Mosel, Germany. $30.
2002 Domaine Marcel Deiss "Engelgarten" White Blend, Alsace. $50.Where to Buy?

2003 Dominio de Tares Bembibre Red Wine, El Bierzo, Spain. $45. Where to Buy?


2002 August Kesseler Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Spätburgunder Qualitätswein trocken, Rheingau, Germany. $130. Where to Buy?
2005 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis, Piemonte, Italy. $25. Where to Buy?
2005 J. Rochioli Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $43. Where to Buy?
2004 Nigl Riesling Privat. $56. Where to Buy?
2004 Peay Vineyards Estate Viognier. $32.
2002 Pierre Soulez Cuvee d'Avant Chateau de Chamboureau, Roche Aux Moines, Loire, France. $29.

2004 Buil & Gine "Gine Gine" Priorat, Spain. $21. Where to Buy?
2003 Catherine & Pierre Breton "Les Perriers" Chinon, Loire, France. $28.
2003 Catherine & Pierre Breton "Les Picasses" Chinon, Loire, France. $28.
2003 Flowers Winery "Frances Thompson Vyd" Pinot Noir, Sonoma. $50. Where to Buy?
2003 Gary Farrell "Rochioli Vyd" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $60.
2003 Lucien Le Moine Bourgogne Rouge Chambolle Musigny, Burgundy, France. $70.
2003 Maison Louis Jadot "Malconsorts" Vosne-Romanee, Burgundy, France. $112. Where to Buy?
2004 Niepoort Redoma Reserva Red Wine, Duoro, Portugal. $47.
2004 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast . $39. Where to Buy?


2004 August Kesseler Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spätlese, Rheingau, Germany. $39
2001 Domaine Marcel Deiss "Bergheim" Gewurztraminer, Alsace. $50
2002 Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin "Clos des Noelles Semper Excelsior" Muscadet-de-Sevre-et-Maine, Loire. $20
2004 Domaine Weinbach "Cuvee Theo" Riesling, Alsace. $40
2004 Gary Farrell "Cresta Ridge" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $38
2002 Girard Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Napa. $15
2004 J. Rochioli Vineyards Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma. $48
2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling, Washington. $28
2005 Nigl Riesling Kremsleiten. $23
2002 Pierre Soulez Chateau de Chamboureau Savennieres, Loire, France. $21
2005 Qupé Bien Nacido White Cuvee, Santa Maria Valley, CA. $18

2003 Buil & Gine "Pleret" Priorat, Spain. $60
2003 Catherine & Pierre Breton "Les Galichets" Bourgueil, Loire, France. $17
2003 Concha y Toro "Terrunyo" Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile. $29
2003 Diamond Creek Vineyards Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga, Napa. $175
2003 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Jerusalem Hill, Willamette Valley, Oregon. $78
2003 Joseph Drouhin Beaune "Clos des Mouches" Premier Cru, Burgundy, France. $15
2004 Joseph Drouhin Chorey Les Beaume, Burgundy, France. $42
2004 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru, Burgundy, France. $42
2004 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Central Coast. $29
2004 Flowers Winery "Andreen Gale" Pinot Noir, Sonoma. $48


2004 Argyros Estate "Atlantis White," Santorini, Greece. $14
2005 Aveleda Alvarinho "Branco" Vinho Verde, Portugal. $10
2005 Casa Marin "Cyprus" Sauv. Blanc, Chile. $35
2004 Chateau St. Jean "Robert Young Vineyard" Chardonnay, Alexander Valley, Sonoma. $??
2004 Domaine Weinbach "Cuvee Theo" Gewurztraminer, Alsace. $40
2004 Felton Road "Block 6" Chardonnay, Central Otago, New Zealand. $??
2002 Jacob's Creek Steingarten Riesling, Barossa, Australia. $43
2004 Weingut Seebrich Riesling Spatlese Niersteiner Hipping. $16
2004 Weingut Seebrich Riesling Spatlese Niersteiner Auflangen. $14

2002 Diamond Creek Vineyards Volcanic Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga, Napa. $175
2004 Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin "Val d'Or " Muscadet-sur-Lie-de-Sevre-et-Maine, Loire. $20
2004 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Yamhill Cuvee, Willamette Valley, Oregon. $33
2003 Dominio de Tares "Exaltos" Cepas Viejas, El Bierzo, Spain. $25
2004 Felton Road Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand. $??
2004 Felton Road "Block 3" Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand. $60
2003 Lucien Le Moine Bourgogne Rouge, France. $30
2003 Maison Louis Jadot Gevrey Chambertin, Burgundy, France. $42
2005 Masi Masianco, Verduzzo, Italy. $12
2004 Montes Alpha Syrah, Chile. $14
2004 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve, Willamette Valley, Oregon. $50
2003 Rex Hill Vineyards "Maresh Vineyard - Loie's Block" Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR. $50
2003 Rex Hill Vineyards "Seven Springs Vineyard" Pinot Noir, , Willamette Valley, OR. $50


2005 Casa Marin Gewurztraminer, Chile. $35

2004 Jacob's Creek Reserve Riesling, Barossa, Australia. $13
2003 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve, Wilamette Valley, Oregon. $50
2003 Quinta Do Crasto "Vinha da Ponte", Douro, Portugal. $100
2003 Yarra Yering Vineyard Dry Red Wine #1, Australia. $70


NV Aveleda Alvarinho Vinho Verde, Portugal. $6

2003 Yarra Yering Vineyard Pinot Noir. $70

Comments (12)

Jack wrote:
10.22.06 at 11:08 PM

This is a rarity: We both agree on the top red and white wine at a tasting!

Also, the Breton wines were the best I've had from them and I definitely have to track them down.

BrooklynGuy wrote:
10.23.06 at 7:53 AM

I love Breton wines too. I have not tasted the 2003 Perriers or Picasses yet and I'm glad to see that you both liked them. The 2002 Perriers is just excellent.

Lisa Pavageau wrote:
10.23.06 at 8:37 AM

Thank you for taking a civilized approach to the scoring system (10-1). Sorry I missed the event.

enoch choi wrote:
10.23.06 at 10:02 AM

the event was a blast, sorry to have missed you. OMG! Joy is $150? that's crazy. well, maybe less so for a magnum that's that aged.

Looks like you tasted quite a few, the CA offerings were good too.

Chris wrote:
10.23.06 at 3:23 PM

That much a fan of the Buil & Gine Priorat? I bought one from Bevmo for kicks a couple months ago and it was a brett bomb...I must have had a bad bottle. Can you give some notes on that? (I know there were a lot of wines there, so no worries if not).

Thanks for the list! Very interesting.

Alder wrote:
10.23.06 at 3:29 PM


Yes, I liked both their wines quite a bit. At large tastings like this I don't do any tasting notes I would never get to taste many wines if I took the time.

Sorry to disappoint.

carlos Serafim wrote:
11.03.06 at 10:19 AM

Alder, I'm pretty sure the Jacob's Creek riesling is a white. It's quite a good deal at that price.

Alder wrote:
11.03.06 at 1:18 PM

No, it's the first red Riesling in the history of the world!

Duh. Thanks for pointing out that stupid mistake I made.

It's been fixed.

Talyor wrote:
11.04.06 at 12:56 PM

Giacosa has always been solid with us. Nice to see the Arneis came in strong as well. Most intersting for me is that showing of Iron Horse. You almost never see a killer domestic sparkler. We will have to look into it!

Alder wrote:
11.04.06 at 4:14 PM


The Joy was indeed great. But there are two different versions of it, so be aware. The one that I tasted was being offered in magnum only, and according to the folks at Iron Horse, was a lot of wine from 1991 (I believe) that had never been disgorged. It is being offered in very limited quantities. There is another bottling of Joy! That is a current non-vintage wine that is good but that is not what I tasted, I believe.

Joy Sterling wrote:
11.06.06 at 7:57 AM

Dear Alder, I am very excited that Joy! is eliciting some discussion. I'd like to clarify that while there are many joys at Iron Horse, there is only one Sparkling called Joy! - produced exclusively in magnums and aged 15 years on the yeast in the bottle. Joy! is our 7th cuvee. It is the result of a happy mistake - 1200 bottles of varying vintages (each very small lots) that were "buried" and long forgotten in our cellars until now. We are disgorging them vintage by vintage when they reach the appropriate age, which explains why the labels are NV. Let me also take this opportunity to point out that our AVA is Green Valley. We could call ourselves Russian River, but as "appellationists" feel that the smaller, more tightly delineated area is of the utmost importance. Wishing you my very best, Joy

Ray Barnes wrote:
12.12.09 at 8:08 AM

Personally I like this 10 point scoring system as well. It's also ironic, in the case of the WS Top 100 lists, that the top wines can become much more sought after and expensive. I am getting ready to buy some of the 2004 Kesseler Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck Spaetlese and am gratified that Alder also thought highly of it. It continues to be affordable too. Very good blog!

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