Football fans wait all year for the Super Bowl. Tennis buffs live for the U.S. Open. But wine lovers, both vintners and drinkers alike, wait on bated breath for Wine Spectator Magazine’s Top 100 wine list.
And with global readership of about 3.5 million, there’s a lot of people waiting.
Well its out! And Wine of the Year for 2012? Shafer Vineyards “Relentless” Napa Valley 2008. (The 2008 is no longer available but the 2009 Relentless scored just as high.) The entire list is available at WineSpectator.com.
So how’d they did they select it?
Wine Spectator's seven senior editors, plus owner Marvin R. Shanken, reviewed more than 17,000 wines in 2012, all in blind tastings. About 5,500 of them earned scores of 90 points or higher, according to Thomas Matthews, executive editor of the magazine and a member of the panel.
“From these, we looked for wines that paired high scores, low prices, availability and also delivered something extra that got us excited,” said Matthews. That’s essentially the “wow” factor.
So the Relentless truly wow-ed them. But the whole list, which they started in 1988, has that “wow” factor. Thirteen different countries are represented on the list and 35 wines are $25 or less; 16 are $18 or less.
Unfortunately, many of these wines are no longer available because it’s on the list of wines “that got us most excited during the previous year,” says Matthews.
“We hope it will stimulate our readers to think about the wines that got them excited.”
So check out the list. And then tell me what wines you drank last year that got you excited.
What is your death row wine?
1953 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Paulliac (from Bordeaux). This is my birth year, from a winery whose owner, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, is one of my mentors in the wine business. I’ve had the wine on several occasions, all of which remain as landmark memories. It would bring my whole life back in a happy flash.
What is the best wine and food pairing you’ve ever had? (or had recently)
In 1978 I was living in Spain and traveled to Morocco for a month. It was a strange and scary place and made a deep impression on me. The day I returned I got on a train and bought a garlic sausage and a bottle of Rioja for my lunch – cost, about $4. It tasted like Spain; it was delicious; I was home, safe and sound after a grand adventure. I’ve never forgotten the tastes, or the feeling.
What are three major wine trends will be see in the in the next 10 years?
Diversity: more wine regions will produce wines from more grapes than ever before. We are spoiled for choice.
Value: while the very top wines are out of reach for most people (2009 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild was released for $1,000), there are an increasing number of fine values. In 2012, we reviewed nearly 5,000 wines that scored 85 points or higher and cost $25 or less; that’s about 1/3 of all our reviews.
Sustainability: More and more wineries will farm their vineyards organically or sustainably, and will build wineries that save energy, reduce carbon footprints and minimize environmental impacts.