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What to Make of All These Top 100 Wine Lists?

Top 100 2It seems that every major wine publication puts out a list at the end of the year of their top 100 wines.  The tasters for these highly esteemed rating organizations taste through thousands, if not tens of thousands, of wines during the course of the year.  You would think with all of them being experts and all surveying the same industry that there would be some significant overlap between the lists, or at least some reasonable overlap.  However I recently reviewed the top 100 list published by the Wine Spectator, the Wine Enthusiast as well as James Suckling on his website jamessuckling.com.  What I found was interesting.  Case in point – if you look at the top 10 wines in the Wine Spectator list you’ll find none of them show up at all in the Wine Enthusiasts Top 100.  How can this be?  If you look at James’s Suckling’s top wine,  the 2010 Castelgiocondo Brunello from Frescobaldi, you won’t find that on either of the two previously mentioned lists anywhere.  Same for the Wine Enthusiast’s #1, the San Felice 2011 Il Grigio Gran Selezione Red (Chianti Classico); it doesn’t find it’s way into the Spectator’s or James Sucklings Top 100.  The exception is the Spectator’s #1 wine, the 2012 Peter Michael Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Au Paradis, which checks in at #24 in Jame’s Suckling’s list, but alas not at all in the Wine Enthusiast version.

So we have wines that some organizations consider the top wine of the year, while others don’t rate them in their Top 100.   They all talk about criteria like quality, value and availability.  Apparently they are rating them against roughly the same scale.  What’s going on here?

One obvious possibility is that they are just not trying the same wines, so their available pool of selections is radically different.  That’s a little far-fetched however.  These publications are all going to be at the major tastings from all the major regions.  Another possibility is that they’re just focusing on certain regions.   James Suckling pretty much says so when he describes his Top 100,  and he outlines the fact that it is focused on wines like Brunello,  Super Tuscans as well as Spanish and some other areas.  The Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast don’t make the same pronouncements however.  I would suspect that these two had the same upper echelon of wines in their groups for consideration.  So what’s the real reason?

I surmise that it is simply a difference of opinion. It’s the thing that makes wine great.  It’s the fact that everyone, no matter who, has a different opinion and a different taste profile and a different set of taste buds.  This is subjective stuff.  Still, it’s a little strange that someone’s #1 wine isn’t even in the other person’s Top 100 wines.  It just goes to show you that you have to form your own opinion.  It also shows you, at least quantitatively, that there are a lot of good ones out there.  In fact, due to the lack of commonality between these three lists alone, you’ve got almost 300 wines to choose from that somebody thought were good enough to be in a Top 100.

We don’t do a Top 100, primarily because unlike these other large organizations we don’t get to try 10,000 wines in aTop 25 Logo Pic given year. However we do get to try, I would guess, somewhere around 1000 or more, so maybe we should do a top 10 or top 20.  That in fact sounds like a great idea. So look for a Red Wine Please Top 25 Wines from 2015 blog coming soon.  All we can promise is that everyone of them will be a wine we tasted ourselves in 2015.  This is going to take some thought.

Ours will probably be worth what the others are in the end, just another list for you to consider or disregard.  As always all that matters is what you think.  So many choices, so little time.

A votre santé!

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