The Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines are the two most popularl general interest guides to the world of wine published in the U.S. Along with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, their ratings and recommendations carry a lot of weight in establishing a wine’s popularity and price in the marketplace. An “excellent” evaluation from any one of these rating organizations is typically followed by a surge in demand for the highly-rated wine that almost ensures that it will be swept off wine shop shelves. From the producer’s perspective, the high rating is treated as a market validation of the winemaker’s skills and, perhaps more importantly, gives the winery greater flexibility in pricing its wines.
Both the Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines recently published their annual selections for the 100 best wines from around the world released in 2012. Their lists of the top 100 wines are based on wines reviewed by their respective staffs over the course of the year and both included a significant number of Italian wines.
As in previous years, there is no overlay in the Italian wines included in the top 100 listings put forward by the two magazines.
Before looking at which Italian wines were selected, it’s interesting to take a brief look at the overall distribution of wines from around the world selected by each of the magazines.
Wine Spectator’s top 100 picks are selected from the more than 17,000 newly-released wines reviewed by the magazine’s staff over the course of the year. Of these, more than 5,500 were rated outstanding (90 points or more) and constituted the initial candidates for the top 100 list.
Thirteen countries are included in the Wine Spectator’s list of the top 100 wines. Perhaps not surprisingly, the largest number of wines selected is from U.S. producers with 32 U.S. wines included in the top 100. All of the U.S. wines are from the west coast with the majority from California (23) and the rest from Washington (5) and Oregon (4).
France came in second with 23 wines followed by Italy with 16 wines and Spain with 9 wines in the top 100.
The Wine Spectator’s top wine of the year is the 2008 vintage “Relentless”, a Syrah and Petite Sirah blend from the Shafer winery in California’ s Napa Valley.
The 16 Italian wines in the Wine Spectator’s top 100 are down from the 20 Italian wines that appeared in last year’s top 100. Piedmont (5) and Tuscany (7) dominate the Italian selections with only 4 from the rest of Italy. 2007 and 2008 were outstanding vintages in both Piedmont and Tuscany.
The top-rated Italian wine is a 2007 Brunello di Montalcino from the Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona estate, which ranked number nine in Wine Spectator’s top 100.
Presented below are the details for the Italian wines included in the top 100 wines for 2012 as put forward by Wine Spectator Magazine.
Members of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s rating panel evaluated more than 15,500 wines in 2012. The Wine Enthusiast’s list of the top 100 wines of the year includes 30 wines from the U.S. with the majority of these from California but with a strong contingent from Washington and Oregon making an appearance in the top 100 listing. Following the U.S., France has 19 wines while Italy has 17 wines in the top 100. Wines from Spain, South Africa and Portugal are also well represented.
The top-ranked wine in Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 list is a 2009 “Gran Corte”, a Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend from the Las Divas Vineyard in Argentina’s Mendoza Valley.
As usual, Tuscany fared well with 7 of the 17 Italian wines in Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 from Tuscan wineries, primarily Brunello di Montalcino wines from southern Tuscany. As mentioned previously, the 2007 vintage in Tuscany was outstanding and produced wines of structure and elegance. Three wines from the Piedmont region are included in Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 listing as are 3 wines from Sicily.
The top-ranked Italian wine in Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 is a 2007 Brunello di Montalcino from the Casanova di Neri estate which garnered the number 4 position in the top 100.
Italian Wines in Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wines of 2012
|4||97||Casanova di Neri||"Tenuta Nuova" Brunello di Montalcino||2007||$79|
|13||95||La Mannella||Brunello di Montalcino||2007||$47|
|19||94||Barberani||"Calcaia" Orvieto Classico Superiore||2008||$35|
|21||93||Bonacchi||"Casolino" Brunello di Montalcino||2007||$25|
|27||94||Molino di Sant'Antimo||Brunello di Montalcino||2007||$40|
|34||95||PianCornello||Brunello di Montalcino Riserva||2007||$70|
|39||94||Andriano||"Juvelo" Gewurztraminer Alto Adige||2009||$50|
|46||92||Castello Banfi||"Florus" Moscadello di Montalcino||2010||$20|
|53||95||Donnafugata||"Ben Rye" Passito di Pantelleria||2010||$40|
|63||92||Poggio al Tesoro||"Mediterra" Toscana||2009||$25|
|72||93||Giulia Negri||"La Tartufaia" Barolo||2007||$45|
|80||92||Nais Margreid||"Punggi" Pinot Grigio Alto Adige||2011||$30|
|85||93||Girolamo Russo||"San Lorenzo" Etna||2009||$55|
|88||92||Cusumano||"Moscato dello Zucco" Sicilia||2008||$31|
|91||93||Begali||"Monte Ca' Bianca" Amarone della Valpolicella Classico||2007||$58|
|98||92||Pietro Rinaldi||"San Cristoforo" Barbaresco||2009||$36|
|Source: Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 31, 2012|
December 12, 2012
Read other selections from About Italian Wines.