Wine Enthusiast Releases Their Top 100 List

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Not to be outdone by Wine Spectator Magazine (who released their Top 100 list a few weeks ago), Wine Enthusiast Magazine released their Top 100 list today. Click here to have a look.

I took note of the following wines in Wine Enthusiast's list (along with Wine Spectator and my WWP ratings alongside if possible):

  • 2006 Alma Rosa Chardonnay Santa Barbara County WE 94/$20 (WS 89)

    I picked up a bottle of the 2007 vintage of this same wine at the Hingham Wine Merchant's Holiday Show. I liked it very much at the tasting -and- when I spent some quality time with it the other night. I gave it 90 points in this Corkd review. I'll definitely keep an eye out for more from this producer- especially their Pinot Noir if I see it.

  • 2006 Kendall-Jackson Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley WE 94/$25 (WS NR, WWP 92)

    I totally agreed with Wine Enthusiast and Boston wine blogger Ken's Wine Guide on this one. This is a phenomenal Chardonnay- I crowned it my favorite white wine of the summer in my very first blog post here on the Wellesley Wine Press.

  • 2005 Boudreaux Cellars Merlot WE 94/$40 (WS NR, WWP 88)

    I really wanted to love this wine, but I just didn't. That said, it was a good effort and one of the few wines I've tried that I could easily see getting better with age. It was just a little wild at this stage. Boudreaux Cellars was prominently featured in Gary Vaynerchuk's first book: 101 Wines. I'm looking forward to trying their Cab, but I'll let it rest a few years.
It's interesting for me to look through other wine magazines after being such a Wine Spectator "homer". For me, Spectator is the Beckett Baseball Card Monthly/Car Audio Magazine/Martha Stewart Living of the wine world. If you read any one source for too long without looking at other ratings it's easy to begin to think that a certain wine *is* 90 points. Wines aren't ratings- they've each got their own characteristics and we've each got our own preferences. That said, I do have my mind calibrated to Wine Spectator's rating scale. As I've said before: "In Laube We Trust." Even though Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and the Wine Advocate all rate on the same 100-point scale there does seem to be differing levels of discretion from each publication in terms of how scarce a 90 or 95 point rating is. I *think* Spectator is the "stingiest" of the 3, but I don't have data to back that up at this point. It's just a hunch.

At any rate, what I like about Spectator is the clarity they provide into their tasting procedure. From any Wine Spectator Magazine:

"Wines are always tasted blind, in flights organized by varietal, appellation or region. Bottles are bagged and coded. Each tasting begins with a wine previously rated, which is tasted non-blind as a reference point. Other already-rated wines are inserted into the blind tasting to ensure consistency."

From Wine Enthusiast:

"Tastings are conducted individually or in a group setting and performed blind or in accordance with accepted industry practices."

It's this last part that concerns me about Wine Enthusiast. Saying that wines are tasted blind or not technically leaves the door open for 100% of the wines being tasted non-blind! It's like when a store has a sign in the window saying "Up to 60% Off!": Technically there could be *nothing* on sale in the store at all.

Maybe I'm believing in Santa Claus to think that Spectator does all of its tasting blind. If they do taste 100% blind I'm extremely impressed with either Spectator's tasting consistency -or- Caymus (for example) for producing so consistently. Caymus Cab has scored between 91 and 93 every year for the past 10. That's amazing to me.

Question of the Day: What is your most trusted source of wine reviews? Why?


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