While American culture in general is preoccupied with the here and now, wine devotees are well accustomed to thinking long term. Laying down bottles and monitoring their evolution are passions of true enthusiasts, and this year in particular has proven to be a wine collector’s dream. With so many wonderful releases from around the world—thanks to favorable vintage conditions in many iconic wine regions, as well as more competitively priced and available offerings across the board—the stars were aligned for those looking to build or restock a wine cellar in 2013.
To a large extent, our list of Top 100 Cellar Selections reflects which classic wine regions released the best vintages during the past year. In 2013, that means the list is heavy on 2010 Bordeaux and Burgundy, 2011 vintage Port and 2007 Brunello riservas. In the interest of diversity, we sprinkle in wines from a wide range of countries and grape varieties, but since most of these ageworthy wines come from established regions and top vintages, the emphasis is on quality, not value.
This is a refined list, and many of the wines are expensive—no surprise there. Many of these wines are also limited in production, and just like selections on our other Top 100 lists, some may have sold out or increased in price since our initial reviews were published. But all are collectible investments, requiring time in a properly temperature-and-humidity controlled cellar to deliver maximum pleasure. Our top-ranked Cellar Selection for 2013 is perhaps the most perfect example of such a bottling: A flawless wine from a highly lauded vintage of a style that ages extremely well for decades. Remarkably, we have six other 100-point wines included on this list, emphasizing it as one of the highest-quality lists we’ve ever released.
Usually, the phrase “you’re not getting older, you’re getting better” is wishful thinking. In these wines, it is the truth. Enjoy!
Supple and sturdy, this beautifully structured blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah, which uses fruit sourced from the estate vineyard, utilizes the best assets of both grapes. The Cabernet gives it both firmness and depth, while the Syrah pipes in vivid, juicy, berry flavors. Still young and primary, the best is clearly yet to come.— P.G. (2/1/2013)
A superb, mature wine that is ripe, toasty and full of yellow- and white-fruit flavors. A fine balance brings up spice, an opulent texture, a taut edge of steel and a feeling that this fine wine is ready to drink. It can age, and it will be better over the next few years as its secondary aromas stay in balance with the fruitiness.— R.V. (12/1/2013)
This producer has made an outstanding Barolo 2009—no easy feat in this vintage. This bottling is made from top vineyards in Barolo and La Morra. It has a gorgeous bouquet of rose, leather and a whiff of tar. The palate delivers a hint of carob, spice and succulent black cherry notes. Impeccably balanced, this is elegant and complex. A textbook Barolo.— K.O. (9/1/2013)
This stunning TBA is a powerhouse of superripe peach, mango and orange flavors. The palate feels smooth and rich, with honey and marmalade flavors, but it’s ethereally light, with a dusty minerality and shrieking lemon acidity that reverberates on the finish. Gorgeous now, but should develop an earthy, honeyed intensity over the next decade.— A.I. (9/1/2013)
A high altitude vineyard yields a cool feeling wine that’s very crisp and fragrant. Concentrated and full, it has great acidity, fruitiness and spice all blending together. This is a dense wine with singular intensity that needs time, so give it 3–5 years. Screwcap.— R.V. (9/1/2013)
The vineyards of the Marquis de Laguiche date back to before the French Revolution, and Drouhin is fully responsible for producing the wines since the 1940s. This ripe, opulent selection lives up to its illustrious pedigree. It is full bodied, and it offers vibrant acidity and minerality. It’s a wine for aging over eight years and many more.— R.V. (4/1/2013)
The bottle that changed Italian wine forever, Tignanello is as modern and innovative as its first vintage many decades ago. Soft blackberry and cherry is backed by balanced spice, leather and toasted espresso. Those rich oak tones do a wonderful job of holding up the wine’s natural richness and velvety smoothness. Hold 10 years or more.— M.L. (8/1/2013)
What a roll Phelps has been on these past few cool vintages in this, its far Sonoma Coast vineyard. The wine is bright in mouthwatering acidity, and tantalizing, with a subtle vein of lime, golden mango, orange zest and honeysuckle. Firm minerals are enriched by toasty oak. The alcohol is moderate. As delicious as this wine is, it should develop nicely over the…— S.H. (9/1/2013)
A five-grape Bordeaux-style blend from the estate vineyard, this has lovely aromatics, as well as firm yet supple tannins. The black fruits are dotted with details of licorice, black tea and coffee. It’s smooth and balanced through the lengthy finish, and continues to improve overnight, suggesting it also has serious aging potential.— P.G. (9/1/2013)