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!
Simonsig’s Redhill Pinotage is consistently an excellent example of the variety done right, and the 2009 doesn’t disappoint. It’s brimming with assertive dark-fruit aromas and flavors of boysenberry, mulberry and plum, all jazzed up with spicy notes of vanilla, pepper and bittersweet cocoa powder. The mouthfeel is lush and full but not fat, with a texture like…— L.B. (5/1/2013)
Aromas of lead pencil, cassis, violet petal and smoky chocolate are complex and attractive. The palate of this Cabernet Sauvignon-led blend is tight, pure and rich, and the flavors of toasty black fruits carry accents of licorice and coffee. The finish is spicy, with a licorice note, and the wine’s tannic composition suggests that aging is appropriate. Drink from…— M.S. (3/1/2013)
The wonderfully intense acidity of this Eiswein is balanced by rich honey and fruit flavors. It has a fine line of purity and freshness, with a long, satisfying finish. Drink from 2018.— R.V. (11/1/2013)
A solid and structured wine from this premier cru vineyard which is a Rodet monopoly. Dense and full in the mouth, the wine has delicious juicy fruits as well as powerful tannins and layers of acidity over the red fruit. Keep for 6–8 years.— R.V. (11/1/2013)
The 2007 St. Henri remains broodingly dark in both color and flavor profile. Blackberry and plum notes are accented by roasted meat, leather and mocha in this full-bodied, densely packed wine. The tannins are a bit chewy right now, but the finish is long and reveals promising glimmers of fruit that portend well for aging. Drink 2018–2025 and beyond.— J.C. (2/1/2013)
This is the epitome of a dark, strapping, modern wine from an Old World region. Coffee, mocha and spicy yet smooth black-fruit aromas precede a rich, racy, agile feeling palate, with toasty flavors of berry fruits, licorice, mocha and espresso. Mint and licorice flavors combine with firm tannins and heat on the finish. Hold until 2015, then drink through 2023.— M.S. (10/1/2013)
There’s something enormously satisfying about this Merlot-based blend. It hits the Napa-Bordeaux sweet spot, with concentrated blackberry and cherry fruit, jacketed in sweet, smoky oak. But there’s also a fascinating olive character. The tannins are rich and dense and velvety. Great to experience now, and should be one for the long haul, perhaps through 2022.— S.H. (8/1/2013)
A heady and rich wine right from the start, this opens with seductive notes of brambly blackberry, wild raspberry, sweet spice, licorice and toast. It's full and weighty, with a texture like crushed velvet and a deep palate that continues to provide additional layers of flavor with each sip. Sweet spice, cocoa powder and mocha flavors linger on the evolving finish…— L.B. (11/1/2013)
Capture continues to make progress in interpreting their vineyard located in this new appellation, a high elevation overlooking Alexander Valley. Based on Cabernet Sauvignon, this Bordeaux-style blend is young now, with hard tannins that interfere with the fruit. The fruit is intensely concentrated with cherry compote and cassis flavors, while new oak’s vanilla and…— S.H. (7/1/2013)
Prices for this estate’s wines have skyrocketed, but there is no doubting the quality in the bottle. The 2009 Cuvée Réservée is a huge wine, overflowing with intense black cherry and plum flavors to the point of seeming a bit sweet. Yet it’s all framed by strong yet softly dusty tannins that should see it age well for at least 15 years.— J.C. (2/1/2013)