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Why 2005 Bordeaux Didn't Win

Posted: Nov 17, 2008 5:01pm ET

I have been interested in the comments in my blog and the general buzz in the marketplace about our choice for the Wine of the Year. It seems that some people are upset that the wine was not a 2005 Bordeaux, or the 2005 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Don Melchor. In regard to the latter, I don't think it should have been named Wine of the Year--I'm not a huge fan, due to its slightly sweaty aromas--but obviously, I can better comment on Bordeaux.

The bottom line is that the top Bordeaux in 2005 were too expensive. They started out too expensive, and they're still expensive. For instance, my favorite 2005 Bordeaux I tasted this year was the L'Evangile, which was No. 21 in our list of the Top 100. It's a stunning wine, with wonderful concentration of fruit and tannins and an everlasting finish. But the release price, according to our list, is $260 a bottle, and the average price in the marketplace now appears to be about $400 a bottle. That’s too much to be in the Top 10, especially this year. Sorry.

I have been talking to a number of wine merchants around the world and they say that the top Bordeax in 2005 are basically unsaleable at the moment. No one wants to buy a young first growth at $1,000 a bottle or more. It doesn’t feel right under the terrible economic conditions, even if someone could afford it. Consumer confidence is very low. Besides, I really don't know many people in the world who are going to drop a grand or more on a bottle of wine to drink at the moment – young or old wine.

Granted, it’s not fair to say that all 2005 Bordeaux are too expensive. There are a number of excellent values in the Top 100 this year. The best that comes to mind is 2005 Château Puygueraud Côtes de Francs. The release price was $18 but now it’s about $30. And I gave it a blind score of 92 points. What’s not to like?

And it’s not fair to say the best 2005s are not some of the greatest young wines ever produced. I scored nine wines from the vintage in Bordeaux a perfect 100 points. But that doesn’t mean one of them deserved to be the Wine of the Year.

David Lobe
Toronto, —  November 17, 2008 5:40pm ET
Come on James......Malescot was 97 points and it was 70-80 dollars.....I don't buy it.......
Dr Erik Marksberry
November 17, 2008 5:57pm ET
I liken this to automobiles. There's a reason why the Bugatti Veyron or the Lamborghini Reventon or the Porsche Carrera GT don't win many car of the year awards from Car and Driver or Motor Trend; they are simply out of the price range of 99.99% of the planet. They are remarkable cars, and bravo to anyone who can afford them. But price IS a factor. Such is the case with the '05 Bordeaux. Fantastic year, but what's the point of saturating the Top 10 list with wines that virtually no one will ever spend that kind of money to drink? Or for that matter, what if a wine gets 100 points but only had 10 cases made? Sure it's a great wine, but lets focus our efforts on wines that all of us can reasonably get our hands on, enjoy, and compare our impressions.
Fili Perez
November 17, 2008 6:00pm ET
Was the Malescot St. Exupery tasted blind together with the Rauzan Segla for the top ten wines?Curious to see two similary priced and scored wines placed #18 and #2.If so, what were your impressions this time to separate them so much?
James Suckling
 —  November 17, 2008 6:01pm ET
You should have bought some David. I rated it...
James Suckling
 —  November 17, 2008 6:09pm ET
Both wines were in my 2005 tasting at the Wine Experience. And I thought the Rauzan showed a little more structure, richness and length now. But I loved the Malescot as well.
Steve Kirchner
Huntington —  November 17, 2008 6:48pm ET
i've tasted the 05 clos apalta and i loved it. i don't taste enough wines to consider myself a qualified critic but i think it's a very reasonable choice given the criteria. and i think it's great to recognize chile for delivering terrific wine at a better price than just about anyone in the world and for preserving the 'lost grape of bordeaux'. my only regret is that we might be paying higher prices for these wines now that 'the dictator' has spoken...
Philip Barr
New York City —  November 17, 2008 7:04pm ET
I am actually shocked at the high level of criticism of the top 10 this year. In general the wines that deserve to be on the top 100 list are there, even if they are not part of the top 10. Many regions had a great 2005 vintage, however there are many wines that do not exhibit value right now. James you are absolutely right regarding the 2005 Bordeax situation. While there are many legendary wines for those that can afford them, I cannot justify owning them by the case at these prices. With so many release prices upwards of $200 (and many others that have gotten there through secondary market trades) I am looking for a better value. 2000 and 2003 vintage wines can be had for much more reasonable money. I have no opinion on the Don Melchor, but #12 is not too shabby. I have enjoyed a number of vintages of this top wine, but as good as they are they have had many top 100 appearances and are nothing new for many seasoned readers. I am glad to try something new and let the wines do the talking.
Italy —  November 17, 2008 7:22pm ET
Dear James!I wan¿t to know if the 2005 second wines from the first growth such as Chateau Bahans Haut- Brion has a great potential as the first wine which has 100 Pts, or other example is the second wine from Leoville Las Cases 100 pts (Clos du Marquis)?
David Lobe
Toronto, —  November 17, 2008 7:26pm ET
James....have no fear..I did buy some of the malescot...I just don't understand how some of the wines in the top 10 make it in....granted wine is a subjective sport but how can a mollydooker be a better buy than a 2005 bordeaux like malescot rated 97 points.....if it is that you guys need to balance out the list so that there is broad representation but having had the mollydooker and its bigger brother the vlevet glove...I just don't understand.On another note......I was at the 2005 union of Grand Crus in Toronto last year and tried the lascombes next to the rauzan and decided to buy the lascombes....what are you thoughts on lascombes in 2005?
Tony Wood
Brighton U.K. —  November 17, 2008 7:49pm ET
Hi James,The 2007 wine list is a little odd, but it's history now. My disapointment is the lack of Italian wines, James do you believe they generally are overpriced? I would like you to comparethe price increases on some of your favorite wines-if you have the time-start with Solaia.
Fred Brown
November 17, 2008 8:01pm ET
I liked the selection.

Great wine, great vintage (3 classic '05 reds from Chile - got to be a first), an emerging region that will get more respect as a result.

Best of all, it gets people trying something new, and talking about it! The "x" factor?
Eric P Perramond
Colorado Springs, CO —  November 17, 2008 8:05pm ET
I'll echo the "other Erik" comments above, and congratulate WS for having the cojones to go against the grain. I will not pay above $200 for any wine, even a 100 pointer. Then again, I don't drive a hummer either. Once consumption of a product based in terroir and everyday living exceeds the daily income of most folks, it's just plain silly. I'll be poaching 05 Bordeaux values under $50, and searching for at least a few bottles of the Clos Apalta. epp
Ann Suchta
Wimington, Delaware —  November 17, 2008 9:30pm ET
I think the web site does a great job in describing how the wines were picked. Don't forget there are other factors such as the excitement level of the selection panel. It is not just price and score. Also, just because James scored two different wines in the same price range the same, it doesn't mean the whole panel will feel the same about the two wines. As far as the lack of italian wines on the list, it may be because the current releases are just average vintages.
Danny Nelson
Oregon —  November 17, 2008 11:43pm ET
My question is this: What does the top 100 not like about Validava Brunello (normalle, not the MdP)? It didn¿t even make the top 100 in either 2006 or 2008 listing. In each year it was the highest rated Brunello. On the 4 criteria it seems to be a winner. Score ¿ 98 and 95 Availability ¿ 2,500 cases and 2,800 cases. Not bulk production but still widely available. Value - It is at the higher end of the price range but not exorbitant for a brunello at that quality. X-Factor ¿ If you¿ve tasted it or read the notes from JS I think you can safely conclude it has plenty.I realize the mix could prevent it from being WOTY or even a top 10 achiever given the extensive selection of quality wines from around the globe, but a double snub at even getting on the list was a surprise to me, though I'm not complaining as it has kept the price more manageable. Now I just need that Euro to keep falling!Only a curiosity from my review, but either way the list has made for enjoyable anticipation and discussion as it was unveiled.
Choi Duen Ho Cory
November 18, 2008 12:16am ET
Hi James,What about Testamatta Bibi Graetz 2006? You rated 98 points , the highest rated wine in 2006 Tuscany and the price US120 looks reasonable.
Jason Thompson
Foster City, CA —  November 18, 2008 1:18am ET
Overall, I liked the list. Very well thought out this year and the WOTY is a good selection, especially given Chile's vintage this year. The Melchor is still the best value in Chile for a top quality Cab.

The biggest snub ever still goes to the 2006 Top 100 List missing the:

2004 Schild Shiraz, 96pts, Highly Recommended.

I have won two Syrah/Shiraz blind wine tastings with this wine. The competition has been pretty hefty as well (high end Napa Syrahs and Cote-Roties). All of you really missed the boat on that wine. I am somewhat thankful as I can still source bottles in the $40-$45/bottle range. James, try that wine if you can find it.
Russell Quong
Sunnyvale, CA —  November 18, 2008 1:40am ET
I was pretty sure a 2005 Bordeaux was going to be WOTY, but became puzzled as there was on already two in the top 10 during the countdown. But their exhorbitant pricing certainly made then unattractive, as I know I'll never try one. And as value seeker (under $20), I was disappointed to find that I had only 6 of the Top 100 wines. Worst still, I had never even heard of many of the wines. But now it's pretty clear the list has succeeded, as Fred and Eric pointed out, as I'm having to learn about a whole new bunch of producers and styles. Annoying yes, but exciting, too. And tying back to the first point, it would have been so anti-climactic at learning some 1st growth had won WOTY.
Sam Chanhao
calgary —  November 18, 2008 4:32am ET
I thought the Don Melchor would be WOTY,but Clos Apalta was a good choice!BRAVO to CHILI.I got many wines on the top 100,I am happy.I agree,James,the Puygeuraud is very good for the money.Two weeks ago I had to rent the Uhaul to pick up my 05 Bordeauxs and it took me over 3 hours to unload those babies to my cellar and they are all worth the sweat!Both the reds and whites are quite amazing vintage.I bought alot of these wines from yours ratings.Many Thanks to you,James.So,to all fellow wine lovers,stop complaining about the price,do yourself a flavor, please go out and get some of these 05.Life is too short not to drink 05 Bordeauxs!!
Zurich, Switzerland —  November 18, 2008 5:06am ET
I like the list, in no small part because for the first time since I follow it I own not as usual one at best but this time 4 Top 10 entries, and Nrs. 1,3,4 and 6, no less. It used to be that my wines placed lower in the list. This year's selection reflects my reality, as it focuses more than usual on value for money and less on icons. I am sure that times will change again, but this year's more humble list tells me that myself and many of my fellow wine lovers who calculate their wine budgets tightly do an ok job. Moreover, in the end the list is the product of a collaborative effort by an experienced team at WS, which means it is well rounded. With a 100 names, however, many issues can be raised all the time (why not this wine, why placed so low/high). But I don't think this is worth the effort. I for one never complained when my choices were not placed highly or at all in previous years.
Tony Wood
Brighton U.K. —  November 18, 2008 5:21am ET
Hi James,Correction, in my earlier blog it was the 2008 list .
Tony Wood
Brighton U.K. —  November 18, 2008 5:21am ET
Hi James,Correction, in my earlier blog it was the 2008 list .
November 18, 2008 7:07am ET
I am sorry James but I think you may a very poor choice for wine of the year. I know Casa Lapostolle VERY WELL and I find them over done and over ripe vintage to vintage. I know they have a "star" consulting on making many of the wines...but for me the wine has little complexity and no finese. You had some amazing French wines to choice from this year (and I think you should have taken one)
Roger Cabot
nantucket —  November 18, 2008 7:18am ET
two points. the 05 malescot at 65 bucks future should have been numero uno and i agree with jason the biggest snub was that the 04 schild did not even make the top 100. wine spectator tried to make it up the next year but the 04 was much superior.
Hoyt Hill Jr
Nashville, TN —  November 18, 2008 7:41am ET
I think this year's list is the most deserving ever. I felt so strongly that the Clos Apalta should be the wine of the year, I ordered 25 cases of it a month ago, and now I am a hero with my clients because I have some for them to buy. Thanks for making me look so smart!
George Kilborn
Providence —  November 18, 2008 8:44am ET
I agree with all those above that an '05 bordeaux should have won WOTY this year. I understand the First Growths being priced-out, but really think the Malescot, with its reasonable release price, production size, availability, and "x" factor as well should have had it. I mention the "x" factor because the Malescot has been considered a "hot" wine all year, with the buzz about the '05 even pulling prices up on other vintages. Sorry all, but Chile isn't quite ready to compete with bordeaux in a great vintage.
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 8:59am ET
Why is it so important that 2005 Malescot win Wine of the Year? Did you go long on it in speculation? I love the wine anyway. And don't forget the WOTY is an agreement among all the editors.
Michael Blakely
Canandaigua, NY —  November 18, 2008 10:15am ET
I thought for sure Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet would be WOTY...especially since Robert passed away this year. I can't believe it!!!!
Blaine Desantis
Greenville, SC —  November 18, 2008 10:26am ET
I have to agree with some of the others, it certainly appears that Italian wines got slighted in this years list. There were some absolutely marvelous '05 releases, and it seems as if the criteria has changed this year, or if there was a desire to feature wines of other countries or regions.
John Osgood
New York, NY —  November 18, 2008 11:07am ET
My question is why where two 2005 CDPs in the top ten? Last year's wine of the year was a 2005 CDP and the wines have been out now for over year. If anything the CDPs in your top 100 should've been 2006 vintages.
Matt Scott
Honolulu HI —  November 18, 2008 11:39am ET
James - You have been very passionate about '05 Bordeaux as a lot of us. With '05 being the best in the past 40 years and no Bordeaux being WOTY since '98, the Bordeaux Zealots are a bit miffed and also passionate. The '05 Clos Apalta is still a great wine.
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 12:06pm ET
It wasn't just my vote. The editors could agree on the Clos Apalta. It's a group decision.
Mark Reinman
NJ —  November 18, 2008 12:20pm ET
I think we're all a little guilty of trying to rationalize our emotional responses here. Rationally speaking, there are probably at least 15 to 20 fantastic wines that fit the criteria for WOTY... but we all have our sentimental favorites that we'd love to have seen as the number one wine. Because, in the end, our favorite wines are all about love, aren't they? I really don't have a problem with Clos Apalta; I think it's a fantastic wine (based on my experience with the 2001) and a great choice. Emotionally speaking, however, I suppose I would have liked to have seen Pontet Canet come away with top honors. I could perhaps rationally justify my choice to others by applauding PC's streak of providing near-first growth quality at relatively "reasonable" prices, but it's only a rationalization for something less tangible. It's about experiencing a moment of transcendence, a sip that moves the soul. And besides, what about the HORSES, James... what about the HORSES?? I mean... come on! You gotta love that.
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 12:27pm ET
I love the Pontet too. And the horses, but he doesn't bring them out when I am at the estate. I guess only for special visitors...
Adam Altman
Chesapeake, VA —  November 18, 2008 12:39pm ET
I am a 23 year old wine drinker who recently graduated college and while there probably spent probably too much of my student loan money on wine. That being said, I am happy about the choice not to pick an unattainable, perfect Bordeaux for the WOTY. While there may have been some other worthy candidates, it is about time Chile got its recognition because it has been producing some world class wine under the $100 price point for years. Also, it was fun to see I have 3 of the top 10 wines; 10, 7, and 5 and was lucky enough to pay $80 each for the 2 Pontets, and $45 each of the 2 Vieux Telegraphes I have. Higher education money well spent.
David Lobe
Toronto, —  November 18, 2008 12:42pm ET
Think about it James.......It's not so important......the WOTY is really not important....except for the fact that it conotates quality in the marketplace.......and....I don't think that Clos Apalta is there with it in terms of quality........or for that matter with Rauzan Segla.....I understand that it is a pannel decision....so maybe you were out voted.........Anyways, the WOTY is really meaningless.....just something for wine geeks like myself to talk about....to be perfectly honest I was surprised that your blog post would bring it up.....kind of like the Nobel committee justifying why they chose to award the prize to a specific group.....I say, leave this stuff to the forums....
Fernando Gerena
November 18, 2008 12:42pm ET
Dear James: I was one of Don Melchor's fans. The only reason I thought it was going to be wine of the year was because, when you compared it to Clos Apalta Casa Lapostolle it has more cases, same rating and is cheaper.I agree with you that Bordeaux 2005 is markedly overprice.When you see the whole list,you see great affordable wines. Buen Trabajo.
Philip Smith
November 18, 2008 12:52pm ET
I thought the list was pretty good but I missed the WOTY also. I was thinking Bordeaux. I have the number 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 plus the 28, 40 and 82. I went really long on 205 and I am very happy. I have opened two so far and after a couple of hours the wines were great. My problem with the WOTY is-will people be looking for this wine in 15 or more years. I am not sure. I just picked up 3 1990 Grange at a very good price at an auction. I have been looking for this wine for a couple of years and just wanted to get it at a decent price. Now that reality is setting into the auction market I was able to find the wine at a price I was willing to pay. I am not sure people will be searching for Apalta in 15 years but I might be wrong.
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 12:54pm ET
Adam. That's a great story. I spent some of my student loan to go to Europe for three months! Sorry you life in Virgin. I would share a bottle or two with you.
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 12:56pm ET
Tony. Yes. The general lack of Italian wines in the list is due to their high prices. Many have gone up a lot this year. It's time for importers to work with lower margins!
John Wilen
Texas —  November 18, 2008 1:01pm ET
To those who feel the 2004 Schild was snubbed, it makes sense if you connect the dots. Harvey rated the wine 96 points and none of his fellow editors supported the wine when it came time for Top 10 voting. It's that simple and I don't know a more PC way to say it.
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 1:05pm ET
Just came across the WOTY in 1993. Chateau Latour. 100 points. $80.
Steven Balavender
Tampa, Fl —  November 18, 2008 1:17pm ET
I have to say I was SHOCKED at the very small amount of 05 Bordeaux that made it into the top 100. I think this ROCKS confidence once again! For the last couple years we have heard little in the wine world other than the staggering quality of 05 Bordeaux and how they are some of the best wines ever made....NOW you are telling us that most all 05 Bordeaux was overpriced....THEN SHAME ON YOU GUYS for exploiting it so much over the last few years....hiding behind it's not currently "politically correct" at the moment is absurd. If you ask me this is makes for a good case to loose confidence the wine world.
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 1:27pm ET
Steven. Don't shoot the messenger! The 2005s rock in quality. I think it might be the best vintage ever. But the top wines sold for too high prices and now the corrections are on the way. And this is certainly not "most" 2005s being overprice. I have written numerous stories on excellent 2005s for under $50 a bottle.
Jonathan Li
Toronto —  November 18, 2008 1:38pm ET
I hope the fact that wines were shunned from the List for being too expensive entices lower prices next year. That would be a win for all of us!
Marc Robillard
Montreal,Canada —  November 18, 2008 1:44pm ET
Relax everyone!Bordeaux 2005 is great and but one does not have to drop 100$+ for a great bottle of wine.Though I have bought a bunch of 2005's including the Malescot, Kirwan and Giscours, I am currently more thrilled and quite frankly laughing while I am buying cases of La massa 2006(93pts = $27.00 cnd) and Condado de Haza 2005 (93pts = $26.00cnd).I recognize that these are not BORDEAUX 2005 but my point is that there are so many great wines in the $25.00-$30.00 rang that we should not be massaging our egos on whether we have or have not the wine of the year in our collections but rather bragging about the great wines we can purchased at a fraction of the price.Maybe if we really seek out or demand better value and buy accordingly, the price of great bordeaux will come down to earth.(The again...maybe not!)Marc
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 1:59pm ET
Marc. They are on their way brother! In a sale last weekend in Hong Kong, the top 2005 Bordeaux and Burgundies went unsold.
David Lobe
Toronto, —  November 18, 2008 2:06pm ET
On that much we can certainly agree James....the markups on these wines by importers is just not fair.....
November 18, 2008 2:56pm ET
Its just a shame...there are 25+ 2005 Bordeaux (at the same price point or less then Clos Aplata)--- better then Clos Apalta (blind). I realize Casa is run by the Marnier family, but I think Diageo runs the biz. Come on now...a wine of the year from Diageo???fishy.
Fili Perez
November 18, 2008 3:32pm ET
Thanks James.I was also at the 05 tasting and agree that the Rauzan (93)was a bit better that the Malescot (92), but for me and appently for you the one that stole the show was the L'Evangile (96) followed closely by Angelus (96). The La Conseillante and Vieux Chateau Certan were in third (94).But for the price, the Rauzan and Malescot were good choices, but I would have voted for any one of them as The Wine of the Year.
Angel Hernandez
Guaynabo,Puerto Rico —  November 18, 2008 4:10pm ET
James,back on Don Melchor it came#4 two times in the past WOTY ,is it really had a chance to win in 2008 WOTY, was now!, more cases,96pts same place.,and better price.So tell us how much THE X FACTOR WEIGHT IN CHOOSING #1 to finished this DE UNA VEZ Y POR TODAS COMPADRE.
Angel Hernandez
Guaynabo,Puerto Rico —  November 18, 2008 4:16pm ET
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 4:20pm ET
Emily. Did you see the black helicopters flying above the office of Wine Spectator on silent as well?
Steven Balavender
Tampa, Fl —  November 18, 2008 4:34pm ET
One thing is sure James....times they are a changed.....I got an e-mail yesterday from a very well know steak house here in Tampa..hint...hint...it rhymes with turns;)....offering me the #1 WOTY yesterday by the case for $62 and change.....also got another e-mail a few days before from another retailer offering me a very reasonable pre-sale price on the #2 wine. That is stark contrast to them selling out usually in a matter of minutes or doubling in price.
James Suckling
 —  November 18, 2008 4:47pm ET
Why am I not surprised?
Bert Pinheiro
Baltimore Maryland —  November 18, 2008 4:53pm ET
James your answer was correct in that many of those 2005 bordeaux are too expensive. Clos Apalta is a fabulous wine and it does not break the bank. I do not feel that any wine who has a $200 and up price tag should ever be wine of the year. A high price should never be a determinig factor in that decision. How many people are going to be able to afford them ? If the 2001 Casanova di Neri would have cost $200 then it should not have been named wine of the year a couple of years ago. Nor should it's reserva even though you gave it 100 points. You all may like certain wineries, just like the rest of us, but the way you rated them this year was just fine with me. Many countries were represented and all of us have our own preferences and isn't that the beauty of our beloved beverage ?
Jordan Harris
Niagara, Ontario —  November 18, 2008 5:39pm ET
James: I feel bad for you. Anyone who comments on you having a plum job in future blogs tell them to look back at this one.Anyway, one of the most exciting this year was not the #1 wine but the #100. Two first's, a hybrid and a wine from Canada. Never thought I would see the day, but congrats to Konzelmann.I thought it was a very well thought out list showing value and quality from around the whole world. Cudo's to the editors for looking all over and finding the x-factor in all corners of the globe.
Johnny Espinoza Esquivel
November 18, 2008 5:54pm ET
Wow!! So much passion!!! Wine really got us!

Now, getting back to business, for me, first and foremost, the top 100 list is a very educative way to know what editors opinions are on some of the 15K wines they taste during the year. With that been said, I am glad with the results and the editor's picked wines. On my humble opinion, 2005 Bordeaux does not need a top 1 designation to be great. It is great, and I will remain as a benchmark for future vintage. I heard Phillippe Castella from Bordeaux telling to someone that a vintage like 2005 is something that happens 3, maybe 4 times in a century. Period. So, There is not reason to argue why WOTY was not a Bordeaux 2005. For those of you lucky enough to have access to such an amazing collection of wines, my sincere congratulations. I beg you, please enjoy and share them with your family/friends! You really are lucky.

Now, someone above pointed out that Chile or Argentina are not in the same league as other more prestigious regions. How come? I mean, how can someone compare wines with different terroir, different viticultural approaches. I mean, with all due respect, that it's Nonsense. It is like comparing art work like paints from those famous artist. Picasso vs Van Gogh! Who deserves to be #1? Nonsense! Let South American Wines be South American wines! I have taste Melchor 2003, 2004. To me, they just tasted wonderful. 2005? Don't really know! Clos Apalta, I just wish I could be able to taste it in the near future. Why not to choose any other respectful Chilean Wine? Not to say and Argentinian one. Why not Montes alpha? Why not Achaval Ferrer or someone from Catena Zapata or Altos Las Hormigas? Because it was a panel democratic decision.

Thanks WS, because thanks to your Top 100 I am now better informed on what wines to pursue. Just that is priceless for me.
Jason Thompson
Foster City, CA —  November 18, 2008 6:05pm ET
John W.

My beef with the editors about the 2004 Schild Shiraz isn't that it didn't receive the WOTY award or that it didn't make the top 10. My beef is that it didn't even make the top 100. I understand if the others voted Harvey's choice out of the top 10 wines of the year. By snubbing it out of the top 100, it made wine drinkers like me who avidly read the Wine Spectator begin to question the entire logic of the top 100 list in general. It was a perfect example of high rating, low price point, very attainable number produced. The only thing that it could have missed on was the X-factor. I could see that dropping it 5-10 spots, but not 100+ spots. You can't honestly tell me that any of the following wines are better (or even at par) than the 2004 Schild:

#90 de Trafford Shiraz Stellenbosch 2003 94 $65

#48 Pirramimma Shiraz McLaren Vale 2003 92 $23

#47 Quinta do Crasto Douro Reserva Old Vines 2004 93 $35

#16 Langmeil Shiraz Barossa Valley Valley Floor 2004 94 $23

#10 Two Hands Shiraz Barossa Valley Bella's Garden 2004 95 $50

I have had most of these (not the Langmeil), and I can say that none of these wines is as good as the 2004 Schild, irrespective of the price point.
Chris Haag
vancouver, bc —  November 18, 2008 6:55pm ET
I really find some of these comments humorous. You have the whiners who think they are smarter than the WS editors and want their wine to be #1. Then there is a conspiracy theorist Emily, who seems to have it out for the magazine but clearly reads it cover to cover, as she is constantly blogging on the site. Remember people, wine is supposed to be fun and this is just one list, there will be other lists and the great thing is there are now thousands of wines that score 90 + made around the world at all price points, so there is lots of good juice to go around!
Jim Nuffield
Toronto —  November 18, 2008 9:31pm ET
James, it really doesn't matter to me personally what the #1 wine is. However, 2005 Bordeaux appears to be a historic release. The best vintage ever from the most storied wines in the world. One day, people will look back at the Top 100 for the year that 2005 Bordeaux was released, and they would reasonably expect a 2005 Bordeaux to be at the top of the list. I just don't think WS had the long view here, that's all.
Joseph Spellman
Chicago and beyond —  November 18, 2008 9:50pm ET
All: Be amused, move on, get a life. When I'm not drinking Justin Savant ;-), I choose Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Or dozens of other wines. Scores and rankings do not deliver pleasure except to greedy philistines.
Eugene Kim
Houston, TX —  November 18, 2008 9:57pm ET
Seriously - it's amazing to see such emotion out there. I think some people here need to open one of those nice bottles and have a drink.
Danny Nelson
Oregon —  November 18, 2008 11:41pm ET
Jim - I think we need several decades of review before we go calling 05 the best bordeaux vintage ever. Isn't that truly the hallmark of Bordeaux? It will surely be excellenct but its na need more than a great weather report and impressive barrel samples to claim that thrown.
Kevin Smith
Sunshine State —  November 18, 2008 11:44pm ET
I think a TOAST is in order.Of all the WS editors, James stepped up with this blog. It would have been alot easier to just walk away.I would love to see a WS editor wide, open forumn blog to broaden this discussion with the WS team.
Jamie Sherman
Sacramento —  November 19, 2008 12:02am ET
What a great year, I actually had all 100 wines on the list this year! I am so awesome. I even labeled them correctly beforehand guessing each wine's place correctly! Seriously, I think the problem isn't we need a drink but we've been drinking too much. Go outside, read a book, find a lover... This is the silliest blog in a long time. Keep up the good work James.
John Lin
TW —  November 19, 2008 2:51am ET
2005 Bordeaux, specificaly the top chateaux from the Margaux commune (Margaux,Palmer, Malescot, Rauzan) will always be WOTY 2008 in my own heart!
James Suckling
 —  November 19, 2008 3:11am ET
Me too John. As I said, my WOTY, without price consideration, is the 2005 L'Evangile.
Sam Chanhao
calgary —  November 19, 2008 3:48am ET
James,last night I opened the 05 Pontet Canet(sorry, can't wait) and shared with some of my clients.We all surprised how well it showed.I know it is not cheap,depend on what wine to compare to.I remembered drinking the Shafer hill side select 04 not too long ago (plus twice dranked out of magnum of the 02 during the Summer)which more than twice the price of the pontet canet 05.In my opinion, the PC05 is much more superior in any which way. What a super pure organic Cabernet!!
Bart Van Eck
Amsterdam —  November 19, 2008 8:42am ET
James, What happened to Villa Pillo Borgoforte (92 pts at $12 !). Especially given your plea how important QPR is this year. You couldn't convince your colleagues it was better than say, Felsina Chianti? (Yes I know they are different wines, but it's rather remarkable the first is missing in the list and the second is 51st).
Mark Reinman
NJ —  November 19, 2008 8:55am ET
Hey James--Just a quick follow-up re: Morrell's auction. With my invoice I received a sixteen page list of passed lots. Again, this is my first experience whatsoever with a wine auction, but that seems a bit excessive to me. Or is it business as usual?
James Suckling
 —  November 19, 2008 9:14am ET
These lists of passed lots are only in bad times. There was a similar list available in Hong Kong this week following the Acker sale.
James Suckling
 —  November 19, 2008 9:25am ET
Bart. Good point. I guess it's easier to see what's missing once the list is made. Have you tasted the wine?
John Valenti
Detroit, Michian, USA —  November 19, 2008 9:59am ET
I was rather surprised the #1 spot didn't go to Don Melchor, but I understand the choice. Comparing the two, I thought the Clos Apalta would be prefered by primarily "French" fans, as it is a touch more elegant and understated (at least in comparison to Don Melchor). The Don Melchor is raw power, with structure to last for quite some time. Either way, it was great to see Chile grab the prize, as they are doing phenomenal work at great prices right now. This honor is going to do a lot to draw attention to the values in Chile (let's hope it doesn't correspondingly jump the prices).As for the 2005 Bordeaux's, I simply refuse to pay that price for First Growths. I've got 500 bottles in my cellar, and only a couple First Growths, because I just can't bring myself to spend that much on single bottles, when there are so many fabulous wines out there in the $50 - $150 range. I suspect the next couple years might be a wakeup call for Bordeaux, as far as pricing goes.
Whit Thompson
Rochester, NY —  November 19, 2008 11:02am ET
how .... about .... a .... toast .... to .... the .... guy .... who .... keeps .... putting .... elipses .... into .... his .... posts .... made .... with .... four .... dots .... instead .... of .... three?also .... big shout out to the funniest post of the blog from jamie sherman. high comedy.
Mark Reinman
NJ —  November 19, 2008 12:45pm ET
I second Bart's post regarding the Villa Pillo. I tried a bottle last weekend and, while I think it has its best years well ahead of it, at 12 bones it's easily my favorite QPR of 2008 (though I've yet to crack open any of my Puygueraud!). Which got me to wondering, James... Why is the Borgoforte so much more accessible in its youth than, say, a young bordeaux like the 05 Malmaison?
James Suckling
 —  November 19, 2008 12:54pm ET
Mark. The Borgoforte is riper with slightly more alcohol and softer tannins; so it's more attractive at this early stage.
Bart Van Eck
Amsterdam —  November 19, 2008 1:37pm ET
Yes I have; fabulous QPR. You were definately right on that one!By the way: I think you are good sport discussing matters here without being politically correct.
J R Young
November 19, 2008 2:12pm ET
James, I must commend you one your composure regarding these comments. It seems if people have some sort of vested interest or their palates are invalidated because their favorite wasn't the favorite of others. Everyone should be thankful their favorite was not voted #1 or even top 10, this way they can still seek out more. Since the Malescot or other 2005 BDX was not better represented in the Top 100 maybe these individuals should have a fire sale on their wine because it won't be a delicious now as it was a month ago.
Kevin Smith
Sunshine State —  November 19, 2008 5:49pm ET
Whit.... That was a REALLY funny post. I had to go back and find the .... offender.
Alex D Rot
Elkhart, IN —  November 19, 2008 7:48pm ET
Why is everyone SO mad that a wine you loved didn't appear where you wanted it on the Top 100? If you loved it, but James/James/James/Harvey/Bruce/et al didn't, that's fine, trust your palate! It can be your personal WOTY. As James said, the list reflects the opinions of the editors. No one said that you have to agree with WS all the time...
Robert Horvath
November 19, 2008 11:06pm ET
James,What does the price of the Italian wines have to do with anything? We are discussing the Top 100 of the year, not the best values of the year. There are many wines every year from the top 100 that are out of stock and cannot be found, I thought availability is also a criteria. I am sure that it is difficult every year to choose the "100 best wines of the year", but I find it hard to believe that some of your highest scoring wines during the year are no where to be found when November rolls around.I am finding myself chuckling more and more every year when I see the "Top 100", knowing that many wines that deserve to be included are not.Cheers
Richard Robertson
November 20, 2008 9:12am ET
Okay, let's get this thing to 100 posts to match the Top 100 Wines. Since noone can agree on the WOTY maybe we should start listing the WWOTY (Worst Wine of the Year). James, I'm doing my part to get you to 100 posts. Nice job on selecting the Top 100. Keep up the great work and thanks for providing many hours of entertainment.
James Suckling
 —  November 20, 2008 9:22am ET
LOL. 100 posts for Top 100. It's possible.
Scott Rynkowski
Grafton, MA —  November 20, 2008 12:04pm ET
OK, one more upto 84 - whaaaa whaaaa whaaaa. I too do wish the 05 Don Melchor had won, simply because I bought a case from BJs for $50 each. :))
Apj Powers
Dallas, TX —  November 20, 2008 12:31pm ET
I applaud you! I actually guessed Haut Brion would win w/ one of their two 100 pointers. But, in retrospect, it makes perfect sense. Especially in light of the current economic situation. It would have been obscene. We can look back years from now and talk about the 08 wines and put them in historical context. And to have the Bordeaux expert speak to that adds weight.
James Suckling
 —  November 20, 2008 12:43pm ET
Haut Brion was just too expensive -- both white and red. I am not sure 2009 selection will be focusing on ultra-expensive wines either in view of the meltdown of the global economy. But we all need great bottles of wine to get through this. I am going to be looking for $20 to $50 bottles that taste like $60 to $150 a bottles!
Mark Nightingale
Cincinnati, OH —  November 20, 2008 2:26pm ET
James,Thanks for provoking such an entertaining debate!!I was actually quite surprised to see as many Bordeaux in the top 100 as there are, given the going market rates (not release prices), but as a fan, this gives me lots of reasons to save my money in order to taste as many as I possibly can.
Gil Lempert-schwarz
Vegas Baby —  November 20, 2008 3:10pm ET
Although the list from HK following the Acker sale was very short and very much focused on the lots that passed (10-11% of the total) and as you said mostly 2005 Bdx and Burgs, but not all...Cos sold well as did Vogue...
Rafi Kauffmann
S.F., CA —  November 20, 2008 3:22pm ET
What interests me about the top 100 is not what was chosen #1 or 10 or 20, but how it seems that ceratin wines go in and out of favor to the WS editors. While I don't suggest that Don Melchor, Almaviva, or Leoville Barton should be on the list, I find that after receiving the stellar scores they did this year, they are not on the list. It seems that there are certain brands that make it year to year, then don't make it at all. The three mentioned wines were high on the list for the last few years, got good scores thisyear, but are not on the list. Pontet Canet made it, but if there is a 3-5 year cycle, it could be off next year. That is of course, unless there are other influences in the decision making...
Michael Schulman
Westlake Village, CA —  November 20, 2008 3:43pm ET
James,As another poster recently asked, I too am curious as to why the 98 point, reasonably priced '06 Testamatta wasn't anywhere on the list. What happened? Is it because it's release date isn't until next month? If so, does that make it a potential contender for the list in 2009?Mike
Glenn S Lucash
November 20, 2008 4:47pm ET
I'd like to see a top 10 list by each editor of their choice of best wine of the year, price not a factor. Availablity should be considered since who needs to know of a great wine that only 10 cases were produced in some cave in Burgundy.
Mark Reinman
NJ —  November 20, 2008 4:51pm ET
Hey James--In a transparent attempt to get this blog to 100 so that it can retire with a sense of august dignity, I have yet another question for you...Obviously there are a good number of us readers who have very strong opinions on our favorite wines, but what about you and your colleagues? Can you tell us if there has ever been a wine that so heatedly split the editors (with half favoring one and half favoring the other)that a "dark horse" compromise wine actually ended up in the top spot? Over the years, which wine has prompted the most spirited debate or disagreement?And, while you're spilling, were there ever prolonged episodes of derisive name-calling or physical violence? And, if there were, was it Laube that started them??
Kirk R Grant
Bangor, Maine —  November 21, 2008 6:19am ET
Ok...so I guess the real question for me is why do you care what the wine of the year is if you are buying wine to drink? Is it fun to follow...sure. Is it going to drive the price up on a few wines? Sure...but if you buy wines because you intend to drink them...then how about we just (gasp!) let the list be the list. I guess it could be open for votes from subscribers as an addition to the X-factor in placement...but to be honest, I'm ok with not owning the wine of the year. I just don't get the hype. The wine I was the most excited about this year got in the low 80's when it was initially reviewed by Wine Spectator...but it was phenominal when I had it...and that's all that really matters if you intend on drinking wine.
John Fanaris
Venice, CA —  November 21, 2008 12:23pm ET
I'm glad the 05 Bordeaux didn't make it to WOTY. It seems to be a license to double your price. I thought the $500-$600 price tags on 1st growths was ridiculous and now am seeing them at upwards of $1500 per bottle here in LA. 99% of us will never be able to drink them at those prices. they definitely need a reality check.we all have our own favorites and I was a bit bummed that a 05 Cali cab didn't make it into the top 10. three of my all time favorites did get into the top 50 though.. Schrader, Peter Michael and Pride. I hope they don't raise their prices because of it though. to me, the great thing about drinking wine is there is no wrong answer. everyone has their own palate and what they prefer. the excitement and controversy sure make a fun post to read ... keep up the great work James!
Don Mooney
Langley, B.C. —  November 26, 2008 2:20am ET
Wow, I haven't read the blogs here for a while, and now I am sorry that I missed all of this thought provoking stuff! I'm excited that everyone has thier own opinion on the subject of of WOTY, but at the end of the day, it's as another blogger mentioned...your own palate should dictate it for you, not somebody elses. Of course you can certainly agree or disagree with the WS choices, but ultimately you are going to drink your favourite wines regardless.I myself have some Don Melchor and Malescot in my cellar and am quite happy that they recieved thier accolades and recognition on the list, but at the same time, I also have some Bogle Petite Sirah, and d'Arenberg Laughing Magpie and I will enjoy drinking them almost as much. The good news is that they cost a lot less than the aforementioned, but will give just as much pleasure. And isn't it the pleasure of drinking the wine that has us doing this in the first place? By the way James, I like your stuff. Thanks for all the info over the years. I may not always agree with you, but I respect your opinions. Cheers....Don
Chris Tenggren
Elburn, IL —  December 5, 2008 4:06pm ET
Having been on the road and unable to catch up on the WS Euro blog scene for a while... I am glad I am commenting late in the game. Clearly one of the most passionate WS blogs in my recent memory! It is awesome that we have this forum to share our thoughts! I must admit, had I made a comment myself early in this blog string, I know I would have been more defensive that a '05 Bordeaux didn't get 2008 WOTY. However, it really does make sense that at the futures release prices we saw, the further inflation upon retail release, and now that the world auction marketplace is starting to reject many of these high end '05 Bordeaux auction lots, that WS did think clearly and with long term vision. We know, as we do in most great Bordeaux vintages, that the ¿05¿s will be longed lived. But to begin to compare and price them next to those truly great vintages of 20 years ago (and more) is hard to justify. We have only ourselves to blame for paying such high prices for such trophies for so many years. We have trained the producers to expect us to pay stratospheric sticker prices. Just like a barrel of oil, it¿s been the simple supply and demand theory. As a side note, I wish we had more respectable panels out there doing retrospective tastings on wines as they age to better understand how well the experts evaluated those wines upon release. Anyway, kudos to the WS tasting panel for thinking diversely and for giving us (the readers/subscribers) so much to contemplate as we spend our student loans, our lunch money, our weekly allowances, our children's inheritance and our extra penny's on wine (and life) appreciation. I for one can recall the issues the readers had when the 2001 Paloma Merlot was WOTY a few years back. The lack of availability in the marketplace can be a real issue for retailers, consumers and the producers of small boutique wines the likes of Paloma! In the end, it seems it may be an example of not being able to please everyone all of the time! We are, after all, different in our tastes, our likes and our pocketbooks. Cheers!

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