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5 Things a BC Wine Drinker Can Learn From the Wine Spectator’s Top 100

Though every year, food editor Neal McLennan swears he won't pay attention to Wine Spectator's ultimate hot list, every year he fails. Here's what he learned from this year's crop of winners.

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It happens every year: I swear I won’t pay the Wine Spectator‘s Top 100 list any heed and then it comes up and I comb through it like an undergraduate with a Thomas Pynchon novel. The problem is two-fold: first, we can’t get most of the wines up here and second the wines often skew towards big extracted red wines that aren’t really my style, so what do I care if the (admittedly great) tasters say some $150 Napa Cab is the 13th best wine of the year? But I do care, of course, and if you do as well, here are 5 practical lessons to take from the just released 2014 iteration.

1. As expected, we get jacked on price. Mollydooker’s Carnival of Love (#2) is not $75 up here-it’s $109. The 2011 Leoville las Cases (#10) is not $165, it’s $300! Charles Smith’s 2013 Kung Fu Girl (#43) is not $12, it’s $20. Tohu Sauvignon Blanc (#67) is not $13, it’s $25. The Lapostelle Clos Apalta (#42) isn’t $89, it’s $125. It’s no surprise that prices are lower in the US, I just hate being so graphically reminded of it.

2. But it’s not all terrible. The 2011 Chateau Beaucastel (#28) is five dollars cheaper up here ($92 vs $97) as is the#18 2011 Doisy-Vedrines ($30 vs $35); the 2010 Don Melchor (#9) is $88, not the $125 on the list and the 2011 Ornellaia (#65) is $50 cheaper ($190 vs $240). But before you get too excited know this—often the Spectator prices are the equivalent of MSRP on a car—a quick internet search shows dozens of US retailers selling the Ornellaia for $188.

3. Check your vintages, however. The Don Melchor 2010 isn’t the current vintage in our market—the 2009 or the 2008 is. We’re also not on the 2012 Carnival of Love yet either. We have the 2006 and 2007 Chateau Guiraud, not the 2011 that’s #11 on the list.

4. Peter Lehmann’s Clancy’s Barossa (#59) is like the Lou Gehrig of the list. The company makes it in huge quantities (15,000 cases come to the USA alone), it’s always well priced ($15 on the list, $20 up here) and that wine racks up scores year after years like nobody’s business. If you’re buying wine for someone you’ve never met and only have $20 to spend—this is your bottle.

5. The three best bottles on the list for BC wine lovers? The 2011 Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo (#31) is $22 (only $4 more than on the list) and is just a dynamite expression of the marriage of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon in the hills of Tuscany (the 2012 vintage should be landing soon as well). And the 2012 St Urbans Hof Old Vines Riesling (#60) is $23 ($7 more than on the list) but is both rich and minerally and a under $25 wine that I’d have no problem laying down for 7 years. And the 2012 Trimbach Reisling  (#49)—also dynamite good and only a few bucks more than on the list.

Other than that I hardly paid any attention to the list at all.

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