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Wednesday’s Meritage #153

December 30, 2020 Leave a comment

Meritage time!

This is the last Meritage issue of 2020, so let’s get to it.

I would like to start with the virtual wine event which I plan to attend next year – Oregon Wine Symposium. The event will take place over four days, February 16-19, 2021, in a browser next to you. The event will offer excellent educational and networking opportunities, and if you register before January 15th, you can save 25% off the registration cost. The event is definitely geared towards wine professionals, but I’m sure some of the sessions would well worth any wine lover’s attention.

Next, I would like to once again get back to the subject of the Top 100 Wines lists. James Suckling just made all of the Top 100 Wines reports available for free on JamesSuckling.com. You can use this link to access a large collection of Top 100 reports – Top 100 Wines of the Year, Top 100 wines of Argentina, Austria, Australia, France, Italy, Chile, Spain, Germany, and the United States. A very impressive collection with some eclectic choices, like Alsace wines in the #1 and #2 positions of the French Top 100, or Rieslings taking the first 4 positions in the list of Top Austrian wines. Have fun analyzing those – I’m sure you will make some interesting discoveries.

Not to be outdone, I published the Top 20 of 2020 list of the top wines of 2020. This year’s list takes a step aside from the traditional “top dozen” format and is heavily skewed towards red wines with only 3 white wines, 1 Rosé, and none of the sparkling wines included. Definitely a reflection of 2020 drinking habits.

Here an interesting article from Wine Spectator, talking about Heitz Cellars’ owner and CEO’s quest to preserve some of the historic Napa Valley vineyards. The duo just acquired Stony Hill Vineyard, one of the first wineries built in Napa Valley after the repeal of Prohibition. You can read the full story here.

And the last one for today, really an unexpected one for me. According to this article in Wine Spectator, “a recent study conducted at Iowa State University has found that consuming more wine and cheese over time could help bolster cognitive health as we age.” – isn’t this statement the best music for the winelover’s ears? None of us, wine lovers, needs to be asked twice to double down on wine and cheese consumption, especially if this can help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Is that the best news to finish the year, or what?

That’s all I have for you today. Until we meet next year, the glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

Wednesday Meritage #151

December 2, 2020 Leave a comment

Meritage time!

Why don’t we start with the Top 100 wines list – James Suckling Top 100 Wines of 2020. Having created my own top dozen wine lists, I have a lot of appreciation for all the hard work deciding on the best 100 wines from tens of thousands of potential candidates. But I have to say that this 2020 Top 100 list is full of surprises. I will let you do your own analysis, but here are my observations. The top wine of the year is a Pinot Noir from Patagonia in Argentina. The first time you find Californian wine on the list is in position #31. France – #56! Lots and lots of German, Italian and Australian wines in the top third of the list. Really unique and different. I plan to do a bit more analysis once Wine Spectator releases its own Top 100 list on December 14th.

If you are an obsessed wine lover living in the USA, I’m sure you are perfectly familiar with Last Bottle Wines, a great online source of amazing wines sold at value prices. What I recently learned, courtesy of the search engine, that Last Bottle also has an excellent wine education section, called Last Bottle Sediments. You can learn about Burgundy, Riesling, or many other popular wines – all in a concise, well-written manner. There is never enough good wine information, so check this out.

I’m sure you heard already about China imposing tariffs on Australian wines, some in excess of 212% – this is definitely terrible news for the Australian wine industry, and for the worldwide wine market. In case you are trying to understand what is going on there, here is a very good article from the Wine-Searcher, offering an in-depth exploration of the conundrum.

Okay, now – who likes corked wines? Yep, I don’t know too many (any?) wine lovers who do. You know how it goes – you fetch the bottle from the cellar for dinner with special friends. You pull the cork, you pour a little taste, and the first whiff of air from the glass makes you cringe – you smell wet basement. Your well-thought entertainment ideas and joy of sharing a special bottle are all trashed – the wine can go only directly into the drain. Or not? According to the research conducted by French scientists, a plastic wrap of specific qualities can actually remove the cork taint from the wine.  Before you sigh with relief, read the article – the experiments were conducted on the wine barrels, using very specific cling wrap – but who knows, maybe your kitchen staple can have a brand new use now…

Last but not least – the grape holiday is coming! This coming Friday, December 4th, we will be celebrating one of the tastiest grapes in the world – Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is one of the main grapes in Bordeaux and California, but Cabernet Franc really has no country borders in its appeal, as there is hardly a wine-producing region, never mind the country, which doesn’t produce a delicious Cabernet Franc wine – Argentina, Australia, Chile, California, Washington, Oregon, New York, Canada, France, Italy, Israel, South Africa – we can go on and on. A few years ago, Lori Budd, who makes delicious renditions of Cabernet Franc in California under the Dracaena Wines labels, founded the Cabernet Franc Day to celebrate the noble grape. Don’t stay aside, join the festivities – get the bottle of your favorite Cabernet Franc, and share your happy moments with everybody.

To finish, a couple of interesting stories from the Wine Spectator. First, here you can read about a special around the world voyage of two barrels of Sherry on board the Spanish ship, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation. This journey should take 12 months and 44,000 miles. Upon return, the Sherry, produced by Gonzales Byass, will be bottled and commercially sold in some quantities, and it is expected to improve due to maritime influences. And here you can read about a special Port release by Taylor Fladgate, to commemorate the release of the 3rd movie in the Kingsman franchise. Special edition Kingsman Port spent about 90 years in the oak barrels, appropriately priced at $3,800, and packaged in a crystal decanter. I’m definitely looking forward to watching the movie when it comes out in February 2021, but as for the Port – Christmas is around the corner, so can I hope for a present from a kind soul?

That’s all I have for you today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

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