As the world of wine has continued to become more competitive, more and more regions…
In the wine industry there are two benchmarks that every single winemaker wants to hit. First, having their wines consistently score at 90 points and above from major wine critics like Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast Magazines. Secondly, every winemaker wants at some point to make a wine scored at 100 points, since that is the true test of the very best and brightest in the winemaking establishment. Every year critics consistently rank a handful of wines from Napa Valley and Bordeaux as true 100 point offerings, but there are rarely similar scores achieved from other regions. That lack of diversity made me think, I wonder what other regions are capable of producing 100 point offerings. Here’s a few I think are capable.
The tough thing about getting a wine to be scored at 100 points is that Cabernet Sauvignon is usually the only grape to achieve such a rating. For Sonoma which has long been focused on cool climate Pinot Noir, that’s been an interesting and unique problem. Things have changed though over the past decade as both Napa Valley and Sonoma have realized that the Mayacamas Mountains which separates the two growing regions, is capable of producing really high quality Cabernet. As it turns out mountain fruit also tends to achieve higher ratings from critics because it is so complex and dense. Sonoma is likely to have multiple 100 point offerings in their next great vintage.
Germany’s Mosel Valley has long been the world’s center of great Riesling. It’s also a great story about how the wine gets made there, in one of the coldest growing environments anywhere in the world. Sunlight and heat are so precious that vintners and vineyard employees take the dramatic step of wading into the river to retrieve any large piece of Slate that slides off their incredibly steep hillsides. Slate takes in the suns warmth during the day and helps the vines keep warm in the evenings, so more Slate is better than less, especially when the average vine struggles to achieve any level of ripeness. Additionally most of the picking is done by older, retired workers because of a series of can’t fire laws on the books in Germany. Can you imagine your 80 year old Grandmother picking grapes for hours a few times a week and carrying them on her back? I can’t, but the Germans seem to think it’s a normal thing. All that is to say that the region is both unique and interesting. While many of the wines are more consistently rated above 90 points, there is bound to be a breakthrough to the 100 point level at some point in time.
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30-40 years ago, Italy produced some of the worst wine in the world. You were lucky to find a drinkable Chianti at almost any price point because technology and vineyard advancements had passed by the country entirely. Of course, a dramatic change has take place and Super Tuscans (blends of a local Italian grape like Sangiovese with an international varietal such as Cabernet Sauvignon) are all the rage and have already been scored well into the mid 90 point range. Multiple 100 point Super Tuscans are almost certainly going to start coming in every vintage.