Every December, Wine Spectator, the internationally acclaimed wine magazine published in the USA selects 100 top wines of the year. A panel of judges taste and rank the wines based on Quality, Price (and hence value), Availability and an X-factor called Excitement. This may not be the Oscar for the 'Wines of the Year' but the results are widely acclaimed as the Best Value Wines of the year. Record 11,616 wines from all over thee world were tasted for this year's selection. The top honors have gone to the French red wine Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1999 from the reputed vintners E.Guigal (US$ 30).
I analyzed this List and came up with some interesting facts and options, especially for the Indian wine lovers. But first, some statistics:
Top 10 wines are all red - 4 are Cabernet Sauvignon based Napa Valley, 3 are Brunello di Montalcino, 1997 from Italy and 3 from France including one Bordeaux.
Top 20: include 7 Cabernet based Californian wines. 11-20 include 20 % whites, and 80% reds, a ratio maintained fairly evenly all the way.
Top 50: Californian Cabernets maintain a consistent 30% share. USA ( 40% ), Italy ( 24% ) and France hold a major share. Top 51-100 positions are well dispersed and are also shared between Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa and Spain. Notably absent is of West Germany, which produces the best Rieslings.
80% of the white wines in the list are Chardonnay based.
Four Sauvignon Blancs make the list, clustered around the middle - all of them from New Zealand.
Average price of a bottle in the Top100 list is US $42.80
Here are some interesting observations and tips to buy wines when you travel abroad or from your existing source of supply:
- Anyway you look at it, the best wines are red wines. Understandably so, because the tannins present in the skins of dark grapes make the wine age better and make it complex. The health benefits of red wine have nothing to do with the selection. Of course, the diktat, 'Drink what you like the best, especially with food' is still valid.
- California has now established itself as the 'best' Cabernet Sauvignon wine