How could it not be 2010 Rhone?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Just as a reminder Scoop the Spectator 2012 runs through this week and next. I thought I'd take a moment to talk about what goes into a likely candidate for Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year.

Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year is based on four criteria:
  1. Quality (represented by score)
  2. Value (reflected by release price)
  3. Availability (measured by cases made or imported)
  4. And what we call the “X-factor”–the excitement generated by a rising-star producer, a benchmark wine or a significant milestone for a wine region.

    But no equation determines the final selections: These choices reflect our editors’ judgment and passion about the wines we tasted.
As best as Wine Spectator's ratings search allows you to filter on these, if we look at the following criteria we narrow it down to 47 wines:
  • 95+ rating
  • $150 or less release price
  • 1,000 or more cases produced
Here is the list if you have a Wine Spectator online subscription.

Of these 47 wines, 10 are from France's Rhone Valley. If we look at the wines rated 96 or better, and toss out bizarre categories like Sauternes or Cornas, 5 out of 15 are from the Rhone Valley. The others are a mixture Napa, Bordeaux and Barolo. 2009 was a great year for Bordeaux but did Napa in 2009 or Piedmont in 2007/2008 rise to truly great heights? Not really, at least according to Spectator.

So I really think this year belongs to the Rhone Valley. Specifically 2010.

If you look at vintage charts, Spectator rated both the Northern and Southern Rhone Valley 98 points in 2010. Even better than the #CdP07 - Robert Parker's beloved best Chateauneuf du Pape vintage ever! So there's a case to be made here where Spectator tries to separate itself from The Wine Advocate and declare 2010 as their best vintage ever.

And I think they will. But will they pick 2010 St. Cosme Gigondas (full report here) to represent the North? Or something like a Donjon or St. Prefert (if so which bottling?) to represent Chateauneuf?

Or will they surprise us with a non-glamour vintage like they did with the 2007 Saxum James Berry?

We shall see.

If you haven't entered yet there are still a lot of great wines which haven't been guessed. Have a look at the contest page to see if you can find one:


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