Wine Spectator 2005 Top 100
Another Top 100 wines of 2005 has hit my mailbox, this time it is from Wine Spectator. Their top wine is the 2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia from Napa. The 2002 Insignia is the wine that also came first in a recent tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon and blends held here in San Diego. Admittedly a much smaller tasting than the Wine Spectator has done over the last year, but it did show the quality of this wine.
But what about the most important wines? Well Australia had eleven wines in the top 100. Three were white wines (2 Chardonnay and 1 Riesling), with the remaining reds consisting of 1 Cabernet, 1 Grenache and 6 Shiraz. The listing is as follows
18 Thorn-Clarke Shiraz, Barossa Valley Shotfire Ridge 2003 $20USD (93 points)
21 Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz, Barossa Valley E&E Black Pepper 2002 $85USD (97 points)
28 Leeuwin Chardonnay, Margaret River Art Series 2002 $65USD (96 points)
32 Rosemount GSM, South Australia 2001 $30USD (93 points)
40 Two Hands Shiraz, Barossa Valley Bella’s Garden 2003 $55USD (94 points)
45 Wilson Riesling, Clare Valley Polish Hill River 2003 $19USD (92 points)
58 Greg Norman Estates Shiraz, Limestone Coast 2002 $16USD (90 points)
63 Forefathers Shiraz, McLaren Vale 2003 $23USD (91 points)
79 Evans & Tate Chardonnay, Margaret River 2004 $16USD (90 points)
87 Marquis Philips Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia 2003 $18USD (90 points)
91 Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz, Victoria Billi Billi 2002 $15USD (90 points)
Notice anything unusual about this list? Except for the Leeuwin and Barossa Valley Estate there is a complete absence of the upper echelon of Australian wines, particularly Shiraz. A rather poor showing when you consider that this is the first year that Syrah/Shiraz or a blend containing the variety has dominated the Wine Spectator Top 100.
It is true that a number of other Australian Shiraz scored as well or better than some of the wines listed here, but they were not included in the Top 100. The selection of the Wine Spectator Top 100 is based on four criteria: 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); and an X-factor called excitement.
These criteria can really make a significant difference in how a wine rates. For example the 2003 Tim Smith Shiraz, Barossa Valley scored the same as the Two Hands Bella’s Garden. Being cheaper you would think that it should easily make the Top 100 but the few cases imported (52) are no match for the 1,200 cases of the Bella’s. Availability may also have played a role in the 2003 Nurihannam Shiraz Barossa Scholar (93 points, $18USD) not making the list while the Thorn-Clarke Shotfire Ridge did.
A really obvious absence from the Top 100 is the Dutschke 2002 St Jakobi Shiraz from the Barossa Valley. This wine received 94 points, costs $40USD and had 900 cases imported. Its better value and should be equally as available as the Two Hands Bella’s.