The 1% that made it into top wine lists

Wine Spectator magazine claims to pick their top 100 wines from more than 18,000 blind-tasted each year.

Wine Enthusiast tastes approximately 22,000 and produces three lists: 100 Top Cellar Selections that are upper priced, 100 Best Buys and The Enthusiast 100 of 2017.

Four hundred wines out of 40,000, or a 1 per cent chance you may be included in one of these prestigious lists of wines reviewed in 2017.

The lists use a combination of quality, price and availability to evaluate the wines.

The Top Cellar Selections from the Enthusiast leads off with a very affable fellow, Andrea Costanti, who we had the pleasure of dining with last year in Tuscany; we also visited his historic little winery. The number one spot goes to Conti Costanti Brunello di Montalcino 2012. They rated it 98/100 and gave a list price of US $95. It can be yours, from us, for $77.65.

I will mention three on the Enthusiast’s 100 Best Buys, starting with Duck Pond Cellars 2016 Oregon Pinot Gris. It just made it, in 96th place with an 89/100 score and a price of $22.85.

They describe it in this way: “Light tawny in colour, this palate-pleasing effort boasts stone fruit, orange blossom and fresh herb flavours. It’s elegant and food-friendly in style, with the sort of detail that usually comes with a higher price tag.”

Bogle 2014 Essential Red (California) clocks in at number 30 with 90/100. We sell this for $20.85.

The magazine thinks this of the syrah, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, petite sirah blend: “A sleek texture and delicious, focused fruit flavours like cranberry and black cherry make this full-bodied wine mouth-filling and compelling. It offers density and richness too, which helps extend the lightly sweet finish.”

We jump to eighteenth with Dry Creek 2016 Clarksburg Dry Chenin Blanc, that they rated 91/100.

My association with winery founder David Stare goes back to the early Eighties and I know that he originally considered settling in the Loire Valley to make this style of wine.

Here is what to expect: at first swirl, aromatics of white pear, pineapple and banana spring forward from the glass; on the palate, the wine is refreshing with flavours of mandarin, melon and white pear. The mouthfeel is lively and refreshing and has a subtle creaminess. One hundred per cent stainless steel fermentation guarantees the fresh fruit character that fans of this wine have come to appreciate over the years. This classic, Loire Valley-style wine is excellent when paired with fresh oysters, seafood, or just about anything. $18.70.

This time last year a most talented winemaker was our house guest for two nights and so it is most pleasing, but not at all surprising, to find wines from Leonardo Bellaccini on two of the four lists.

In 30th place on the Enthusiast’s 100 of 2017 we see San Felice Il Grigio Gran Selezione 2013. This Tuscan beauty rates 95/100 and merits this description: “Smooth and delicious, this boasts enticing scents of violet, berry, leather, tilled soil and aromatic herb. The radiant, elegant palate offers ripe red cherry, crushed raspberry, white pepper and liquorice, while a note of pipe tobacco closes the finish. Polished tannins and bright acidity provide balance and structure.” Drink 2018—2025. $37 for this wonderful bottle.

On the Wine Spectator Top 100, in twentieth position we have San Felice Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino 2012. Stocks are very low, but a few more cases are expected in a container that is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. The Spectator scored it 96/100 and went on to comment: “In a traditional style, showing beefy tannins and savoury earth notes, with a core of leather and cherry flavours. Shows some sweetness midpalate and picks up energy on the long finish. Hangs together, ending in an uplifting, resonant manner.” $44.15 is such a reasonable price for a wine of this calibre.

Back to the Enthusiast 100 of 2017 and a wine that we have in quite good supply. CVNE (Cune) 2010 Rioja Imperial Gran Reserve takes 44th spot with a score of 95/100 and although they list it at $88, our kind staff will sell you a bottle for only $78. Here is what they have to say: “Certain wines exude a sense of elevated excellence. This one gets to that level via aromas of spice cake, baked plum and tobacco aromas. A stocky saturated palate is structured and built to age, while this tastes of cool blue fruits, herbs, coffee and chocolate. A smoothly textured finish deals cocoa and mocha notes. Drink through 2040.”

We literally have tons (I think about nine) of the wine that made 40th spot on the Wine Spectator list and, with a score of 90/100, you can have all you want for $18.85 a bottle! I refer to our Matua Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 from New Zealand. This is so exciting for a wine that so many of us enjoy.

Maybe we can quickly squeeze in two more? Pratts/Symington 2014 Douro Chryseia slips in at 98th on the Wine Spectator list, with a score of 94/100. This is truly a benchmark wine from Portugal. Due to arrive on Tuesday on our docks. Not sure of price yet, but I am thinking “$80-ish”.

Possibly the best wine that you have ever enjoyed from Uruguay is Bodega Garzón 2015 Tannat Reserva that fills the Spectator’s 41st slot. It rates 90/100 and sells for $19. It originates from our sister company Discovery Wines.

So here you have a fine selection for gifts or to take to a friend’s home.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409) Visit