I attend public tasting events for the same reason I tell my readers to attend them. They are simply the best way to educate the palate, discover new wines, and often the only way to get a chance to taste certain wines that you might not otherwise have a chance to afford. Such tastings can be quite exhausting and by the end of the event, I’m usually ready to take a nap.
At the end of the annual Wine & Spirits Top 100 tasting every year, however, I find myself wishing I had another couple of hours to wander around and taste wine. Perhaps this is partly because of the bottomless oyster bar that is usually on offer amidst the various sparkling wines that have been selected for the tasting, but mostly I wish I had time to taste and savor all the wines on offer, which are generally world-class.
Put on by Wine & Spirits Magazine, the tasting is a showcase of (most, but not all) the wineries that have made the magazine’s annual list of Top 100 Wineries around the world. Such annual lists have only marginal value from my perspective, and often contain the same players over and over again, but it’s certainly hard to deny the quality of the wines on offer at this particular tasting, which inevitably, is one of the best public wine tastings held all year in San Francisco.
Not being able to go to this tasting during the pandemic felt like a real loss, not just for the absence of the tasting opportunity, but also because this is where I see many of my favorite colleagues from around the wine industry every year.
Those friendly faces are always a double-edged sword, however, as they represent a temptation to stop and chat instead of putting one more wine in the glass. I always feel just slightly rude when after a hello and a hug and a “how are you?” I quickly excuse myself and go back to the work of tasting a lot of phenomenal wines.
I didn’t stay until the bitter end this year, but I was suprised at how few consumers seemed to show up at the event. At least, it didn’t seem as packed as it has in years prior to the pandemic. Not that I’m complaining about being able to easily get a pour of that Grand Cru Burgundy I wanted to taste. I selfishly just hope that the event gets enough attendance to continue to be held.
As usual, I tasted widely and jotted occasional notes about some of the wines. Taking detailed tasting notes is difficult and time consuming at such walk-around events, so I opt to taste more and write less, offering mostly just scores to point you towards the wines I enjoyed the most.
I’ve placed buying links next to any wines that I was able to find for sale online, with the average retail price for those wines according to Wine Searcher.
Sparkling Wines With a Score Between 9 and 9.5
2014 Champagne Bollinger Brut La Grande Année, Champagne, France. Toasty, nutty, dried lemon, long. $192. click to buy.
2006 Iron Horse Vineyards Joy!, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California. Yeasty, brioche, lemon, fine bubbles. $275 (magnum only). click to buy.
NV Jean Vesselle Champagne Brut Oeil de Perdrix, Champagne, France. Pale pink, juicy, citrus, berry, fresh, saline. $50. click to buy.
Sparkling Wines With a Score Around 9
2009 Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Louis Salmon, Champagne, France. $204. click to buy.
2013 Champagne J. Lassalle Premier Cru Cru Brut Special Club, Champagne, France. $137. click to buy.
NV Jean Vesselle “L’Expression Nature” Brut Nature, Champagne, France. $57. click to buy.
Sparkling Wines With a Score Between 8.5 and 9
NV Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois, Champagne, France
NV Champagne Bollinger Brut Special Cuvée, Champagne, France
2011 Champagne J. Lassalle Cuvée Angeline , Champagne, France
2015 Iron Horse Vineyards Stargazing Cuvée, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
White Wines With a Score Between 9.5 and 10
2020 Azores Wine…
Source : https://www.vinography.com/2023/10/delicious-diversity-tasting-the-wine-spirits-top-100-wines