I 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.
WINES SCORING A PERFECT 10
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?
WINES SCORING FROM 9.5 to 10
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?
WINES WITH A SCORE OF 9.5
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?
WINES SCORING FROM 9 to 9.5
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
WINES WITH A SCORE OF 9
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
WINES SCORING FROM 8.5 to 9
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
WINES WITH A SCORE OF 8.5
NV Aveleda Alvarinho Vinho Verde, Portugal. $6
2003 Yarra Yering Vineyard Pinot Noir. $70