In our first issue of the year we always look back at the past 12 months in review, as in wine reviews.
You can check out the statistics and figures from 17,000 wines reviewed in 2009 starting on page 63 of the Jan-Feb, 2010, issue.
I always compare how we did with California reviews and how our reviews (my own, along with Tim Fish's and MaryAnn Worobiec's) fared in terms of ratings (how many wines earned 95-100 points, 90-94, etc.), along with prices, and also how those ratings stack up against the ratings of our other editors and the regions they cover.
Here's one to consider. Is there grade inflation? In other words, are ratings trending higher (or lower?) as some suspect? If you compare the number of classic ratings (95-100) from 2009 to 2008, you find 337 in '09 and 312 in '08. The comparable numbers for outstanding ratings are similarly close, 4,981 in 2009 compared to 5,350 in 2008.
You can consider those statistics (and I hope you do) several ways. We found that those stats told us that overall wine quality is consistent and that the percentage of 90-point-plus ratings we assign is about the same.
Our chart breaks down the regions we cover, so you can see where the most expensive wines come from as well as the best values, and that's an increasingly important consideration. For example, in California the average price for an outstanding Cabernet is $119, which looks steep until you see the average price for an outstanding Bordeaux ($172) or a bottle of Champagne ($144) or Burgundy ($121).
Overall, the average price for an outstanding wine in 2009 was $77, up from $72 in 2008; the average price per wine reviewed irrespective of rating: $45 to $43 from 2009 to 2008.
The regions with the highest percentage of outstanding ratings were the Rhône (56 percent of the wines earned 90 points or higher), Champagne (61 percent), Burgundy (46 percent) and the king of quality, Germany, with 63 percent. It's worth noting that imported wines tend to fare a little better in some categories, since only the best wines are brought into the U.S.
As for California values, Sauvignon Blanc ($28 average price for an outstanding wine) and Zinfandel ($36) are leaders. The average price for an outstanding California wine, though, was $64. If you're curious about these trends, it's worth looking closely at the figures.
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento, CA — February 3, 2010 3:22pm ET
Mark Sinnott — Issaquah, WA — February 3, 2010 3:25pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — February 3, 2010 4:05pm ET
Staffan Bjorlin — Los Angeles, CA — February 3, 2010 6:59pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — February 3, 2010 7:12pm ET
Craig Mason — X — February 4, 2010 12:23am ET
Thomas Matthews — New York City — February 4, 2010 9:25am ET
Hugh L Sutherland Jr-m — miramar beach, fl — February 4, 2010 3:45pm ET
Jim Holliman — San Diego — February 4, 2010 5:26pm ET
Jim Mason — St. John's — February 4, 2010 7:53pm ET
Russell Quong — Sunnyvale, CA, USA — February 4, 2010 8:52pm ET
Thomas Matthews — New York City — February 5, 2010 8:46am ET
Joe Wittine — U.S. — February 5, 2010 11:31am ET
Jim Holliman — San Diego — February 5, 2010 1:16pm ET
David Blakeley — New Jersey — February 7, 2010 9:37am ET
Steven Mirassou — Livermore Valley, CA — February 9, 2010 12:45pm ET
John Brody — Montreal Canada — February 13, 2010 10:12am ET
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