Over the last few days, Wine Spectator magazine has done its annual slow reveal of the Top 10 wines from the Wine Spectator Top 100 list. And this year, when the No. 1 wine came up today, it wasn’t a Bordeaux, a California Cabernet, a Spanish Rioja or an Italian Barolo. The shocker is that it’s a wine from Portugal — and a port.
Port? I’d be hard-pressed among my wine drinking friends to find many who drink vintage port these days. But port has been making inroads on the cocktail scene, and if you dig deep enough you can find a number of lighthearted port cocktails around town.
Wine Spectator’s No. 1 wine this year is Dow’s Vintage Port 2011. Here’s what the magazine’s judges have to say about it: “In 2011, port surged to remarkable heights of quality, with some vintners declaring it the best vintage in 50 years. The Dow’s Vintage Port 2011 was the highest-scoring wine of the vintage at 99 points, or ‘classic’ on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale. It is a fine value for its category at $82 a bottle, and 5,000 cases were made.”
But get this, two other Portuguese wines from the Douro River Valley cracked the Top 10 this year, a remarkable feat for Portugal. They’re the 2011 Prats & Symington Douro Chryseia with 97 points ($55) at No. 3 and the 2011 Quinta Do Vale Meao Douro also with 97 points ($76) at No. 4.
It’s worth noting that all three Portuguese wines are from that heralded 2011 vintage, and that Nos. 3 and 4 are dry reds made from the same grapes that go into port.
Other wines in the Top 10 include two Australian wines, the 2012 Mollydooker McLaren Vale Shiraz “Carnival of Love” with 95 points ($75) at No. 2. And surprise, not another big fleshy red, but the 2011 Leeuwin Chardonnay Margaret River Art Series with 96 points ($89) at No.5.
France, the world’s top producer, rings in with two wines, the 2012 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape, always a top performer, with 97 points ($135) at No. 7, and a classic Bordeaux from Chateau Léoville Las Cases and the 2011 vintage with 95 points ($165) at No. 10.
Italy has just one wine in the Top 10 and it’s a Chianti Classico: 2010 Castello di Ama Chianti Classico San Lorenzo Gran Selezione with 95 points ($55) at No. 6.
What about California? The sole wine in the Top 10 comes from our own backyard. It’s the 2012 Brewer-Clifton Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills with 94 points — and a price tag of $40! So the No. 8 wine costs half of the vintage port at No. 3, a third of the Chateauneuf at No. 7 and a quarter of the Bordeaux at No. 10.
Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton deserve a shout out. Think of it: Of the thousands of wines tasted by Wine Spectator staff, their Santa Rita Hills Pinot is No. 8 in the world. The recognition is so new they haven’t even managed to put it up on their website yet.
The Top 10 wines are featured at Wine Spectator’s site now. But you’ll have to wait until Monday, Nov. 17, for the full list.
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