One of the special things that happen now are all the “Best of the Year” lists that one sees published. This is also true in the wine business where the “experts” have been rating all the wines released during this year and now take a second look at them to come up with their “best”. As we have said before, a rating is simply some wine “expert’s” idea of how a particular wine scores relative to that person’s opinion of the characteristics of the ideal wine that would receive a perfect score in that wine category, using whateverscale they want to use.

Robert Parker, who publishes the “The Wine Advocate” and who is considered to be one of the most respected wine experts in the world, uses a 100-point scale that is widely used in the wine world and is sometimes called the “ParkerScale”.

The “Wine Spectator” uses this 100-point scale in its ratings. They discuss their scale stating: “Ratings reflect how highly our editors regard each wine relative to other wines in its category and are based on potential quality-how good the wine will be when at its peak. The score summarizes a wine’s overall quality; the tasting note describes the wine’s style and character.” The wine scores reflect the following:

95-100 pointsClassic: a great wine
90-94Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
85-89Very Good: a wine with special qualities
80-84Good: a solid, well-made wine
70-79Average: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
60-69Below average: drinkable but not recommended
50-59Poor, undrinkable: not recommended

The main objective of looking at wine scores is to help us determine value. You want to find wines that are worth the price you pay for them, in your opinion. You would like to be able to find a wine to complement the food you are enjoying, at a reasonable price. You can find “deals” or at least value, if you know your wines.

The “Wine Spectator” just came out with their Top 100 Wines of 2020. Their editors blind-tasted thousands of wines and those that received scores of 90 points or higher became candidates for their Top 100. They used four criteria to determine the final selections: “quality (as represented by score); value (as reflected by release price); availability (measured by case production, or, for international wines, the number of cases imported {into the US}); and an X-factor they call “excitement.” They used no equations but the selections reflected their “judgment and enthusiasm about the wines —.” We might disagree as to what wines should have been listed in the Top 100, but I have always found these wines to be very good and certainly interesting. And, some of them are not all that expensive. Try them!

You can get the complete list on their web site: You can also purchase their December issue of the “Wine Spectator” for tasting notes and a whole lot more information.(Note: The Wine Enthusiast also has a Top 100 List and James Suckling has published his Top 100 list for various countries, US, France, Italy, Germany, etc.)

The 2022 Wine Spectator Top Ten Wines:

1Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Double Diamond201994$80
2Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva201695$130
3HdV Chardonnay Napa Valley Hyde Vineyard201996$78
4Château Talbot St.-Julien201995$65
5Antinori Toscana Tignanello201996$145
6Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville The Estates201994$85
7Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape201996$121
8Fattoria Le Pupille Toscana Saffredi201996$100
9Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley201895$200
10Louis Roederer Brut Champagne Cristal201498$359

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