In 2012, members of our tasting panel reviewed more than 15,500 wines from around the world. Tasting that many wines isn’t easy, but keeping track of them all and remembering what to buy next time you’re at your favorite retail shop is an even more difficult task.
Luckily, Wine Enthusiast has got you covered. Knowing there’s nothing quite like an end-of-year list to sum up the best of the best, we offer three distinct guides for all of your wine needs: the Top 100 Best Buys (wines for $15 or less, published in November), the Top 100 Cellar Selections (age-worthy, highly rated collectibles, published in early December), and now, The Enthusiast 100.
The Enthusiast 100 is our special yearend roundup. While all of the wines featured are highly rated by our critics, in creating this list, we consider many factors, including the wine’s quality-to-price ratio , drinkability, availability and uniqueness. We also strive to provide as diverse a list as possible, reflecting the range of styles, varieties and regions we’ve reviewed over the past 12 months.
The result is a list of wines that should not be missed, and wineries to definitely keep on your radar in the years ahead.
Fondillón represents the pinnacle of red Spanish dessert wines, and the 1999 vintage just might make your jaw drop. Subtle but expansive on the nose, with a blend of baked dark-fruit and cinnamon aromas, it is liquid heaven in the mouth, with excellent balance and flavors of roasted plums, black cherry, nutmeg and chocolate. This is pure, structured and outstanding…— M.S. (10/1/2012)
Wow, this is a glorious bottle of Pinot Noir. It was designed to celebrate the winery’s 10th vintage (hence the name, Dix) and is a barrel selection of Maresh Vineyard grapes. Textural, lush, smooth, supple and utterly delicious, its red and black fruits are dappled with dusty spices, dusted with coffee grounds, and glide into a silky finish. Yummy beyond words.— P.G. (3/1/2012)
Minty new wood aromas on a wine that shows both great tannins and sweet wood. The fruit is still to show, but promises fresh plum flavors that will be delicious and juicy. This is a ripe, concentrated wine.— R.V. (2/1/2012)
Simply astonishing for its price, this toasty, rich wine matches ripe flavors of peach, red apple and light tropical fruit. Thick, juicy, and seductive, it finishes with a lick of butterscotch.— P.G. (9/1/2012)
Amazingly rich, offering deep, complex layers of cherries, black raspberries, cola, anise biscotti, pomegranates, persimmons, black tea, orange zest, mushrooms, you name it, but don’t forget the spices, everything from cloves and black pepper to cinnamon. Utterly delicious, with a silky, briskly clean mouthfeel. But the tannins are pronounced. They’re not so strong…— S.H. (5/1/2012)
Gorgeous, opulent and rich, Tenuta Nuova is an unforgettable wine. It has body, power, persistence and loads of plush personality. It is layered with chocolate, cherry, blackberry, spice, leather and savory notes. There’s a deep mineral layer as well. Compelling and lovely.— M.L. (5/1/2012)
Shows classic, full-throttle notes of tropical and citrus fruits, pears and sweet green apples, combined with strong minerality and complex layers of buttered toast, honey and creamy lees. The description alone hardly does justice to the wine’s beauty. The acidity is perfect, the oak deftly applied, the finish long and completely satisfying. Winemaker Ehren Jordan…— S.H. (7/1/2012)
A bold statement of dark Malbec, it’s very rich and very concentrated. The wine has considerable tannins to go with the weight of its fruit. With excellent potential, this wine, made from old-vine grapes, should age for at least seven years— R.V. (6/1/2012)
This wine takes you on a trip to an outer wine world where deep, cushioned berry aromas come with exotic perfumes, bath oils and crushed flower petals. It’s ultrasaturated and jammy, but not clunky or heavy. This tastes like a storm of blackberry, espresso and Swiss chocolate, while black spices and length bring up the rear. A blend of 50% Malbec, 40% Cabernet…— M.S. (8/1/2012)