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.
What a wine. It tries to intimidate. At first, by its bottle size and alcohol level, but in the glass this 100% Garnacha is like a purring kitten—well a purring 20-pound Maine Coon cat, joyous in its pretty red fruit, and its earthy, meaty, vanilla and cinnamon toast range of goodness. All lush, Twisted Oak’s Torcido is, like a retro soap opera, brave and beautiful.
Clos Apalta, depending on your point of view, is arguably Chile’s best wine. And this vintage is outstanding! Earth, minty spice, ripe berry, minerality and smoky aromas cover the bases. It’s superbly structured, with a fine texture and depth. Tastes lush and complex, with blackberry, crème de cassis, fine herbs and tobacco. Finishes classy. Drink now through 2016.
The Conflict red is a mash-up of 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, and it’s a crowd-pleaser from the instant the cork is pulled. Dense scents of cherry, roasty-toasty barrel and cracker are inviting. The grapes were sourced entirely from the Conner Lee Vineyard. This effort showcases the winery’s signature style, with notes of black fruits…
This is an epic wine, fit to present the little-known Moscadello di Montalcino dessert wine to foreign markets. Its ambassadorial qualities include a lively, golden color and sweet tones of honey, rose and marzipan.
Ripe and creamy, this is full of rich pear and green plum fruit. It has weight and is layered with acidity, with a spice note and a taut, mineral texture. This is complex and age worthy.
Full bodied yet surprisingly light on its feet, the 2008 Hangin’ Snakes represents a terrific value. Peppered meat, fresh berries, coffee and black olive notes add up to a complex, savory wine, framed by soft tannins. Drink now–2017.
With the 2009 vintage, De Loach is at the top of its Pinot Noir game, and this one, from a chilly vineyard south of Sebastopol, is among its best ever. The crisp acidity, like a squirt of lime, that accompanies the raspberry, cherry and persimmon fruit is bracing. Meanwhile, a mushroomy earthiness gives complex layers that don’t stop. It should age through the next…
This sparkling Vouvray has weight and richness, balanced by intense acidity and a crisp green-salad texture. Lemon zest and quince flavors add the fruit element. It will benefit from another two years in bottle.
A powerful expression of rich red fruit, smoothed by wood aging and nearly four years in bottle. It has layers of acidity, spice, soft tannins and flavors of maturing fruit. It is ready to drink now but worth aging as well.