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Top 100 Wines of 2003: 71-100

Posted: January 20, 2004

Top 100 Wines of 2003: 1 | 2 - 10 | 11 - 40 | 41 - 70 | 71 - 100 | Full List in PDF Format

Wine Score Price
71. VIÑA MONTES Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Alpha Apalta Vineyard 2001 90 $20
Co-owner and winemaker Aurelio Montes vinifies this Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown on the lower portions of his Apalta vineyard, a prime spot located in the Colchagua Valley. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and then aged for 12 months in new, 1- and 2-year-old French oak barrels before bottling. 20,150 cases made. From Chile. Tasting Note
72. FRANCISCAN OAKVILLE ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2000 90 $27
Franciscan's wines are made almost exclusively from its 240 acres of vineyard holdings in Napa Valley. Winemaker Larry Levin blended 90 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 percent Cabernet Franc and 5 percent Merlot from these vineyards and aged it in American and French oak for 17 months before release. 88,858 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
73. FINCA ALLENDE Rioja 1999 90 $20
The modern side of Rioja. Winemaker Miguel çngel de Gregorio and his sister Mercedes produce this Rioja from 100 percent Tempranillo grown on the estate's 60 acres of terraced vineyards along the Ebro River. The wine is aged for 13 months in a combination of French and American oak prior to bottling. 3,000 cases imported. From Spain. Tasting Note
74. BERGSTRÄM Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2001 91 $18
This winery was founded in 1997 and released its first wine from the 1999 vintage. Winemaker Josh Bergsträm produced this Pinot Noir from a blend of young vines (less than 10 years old) planted in the Arcus, Mahonia, Corral Creek and Bergsträm vineyards. The wine was fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged for a year in French oak barrels, half of which were new. 1,100 cases made. From Oregon. Tasting Note
75. CASTELLO DI QUERCETO Chianti Classico Riserva 1999 90 $23
The François family has owned and managed the Castello di Querceto estate since 1897, which was also the first vintage of their Chianti Classico Riserva. The 1999 blends 95 percent Sangiovese with 5 percent Canaiolo; the majority of these estate-grown grapes are from vineyards 20 to 30 years old. Winemaker Alessandro François finishes the wine with 10 to 12 months' maturation in barriques, of which 20 percent is new oak. 12,000 cases made. From Tuscany. Tasting Note
76. ALTOS DE MEDRANO Malbec Mendoza Viña Hormigas Reserva 2001 91 $24
This winery was founded in 1995 by four Italians-wine broker Marc de Grazia and partners Antonio Terni, Attilio Pagli and Alberto Antonini (the latter two being the winemakers). Two different 100 percent Malbecs are produced here, with the Viña Hormigas Reserva representing a selection of the best grapes from the estate's 80-plus acres of vineyards. 5,000 cases made. From Argentina. Tasting Note
77. BYRON Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley 2001 90 $25
Santa Maria Valley experienced an outstanding harvest in 2001, with a long, cool growing season and no troubling rains during harvest. Winemaker Ken Brown took grapes from Byron's Nielson and Sierra Madre vineyards, using both punch-downs and pump-overs during fermentation to circulate skins and juice for a more complex wine. 9,213 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
78. TALLEY Chardonnay Arroyo Grande Valley 2001 90 $24
The 2001 Estate Chardonnay blends grapes from two of the Talley family's vineyards in Arroyo Grande-Rincon and Rosemary's. Winemaker Steve Rasmussen employed traditional Burgundian techniques, such as whole-cluster pressing, barrel fermentation, malolactic fermentation and sur lie aging. 6,340 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
79. LANDMARK Chardonnay Sonoma-Monterey Counties Overlook 2001 90 $25
Overlook offers one of the most consistent values in California Chardonnay. Winemaker Eric Stern follows up the careful selection of 35 separate parcels of grapes with a Burgundian approach to winemaking: barrel fermentation in French oak, full malolactic fermentation and aging sur lie. 18,000 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
80. SEA SMOKE Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills Botella 2001 91 $25
This Pinot Noir gets its name from the rich, well-drained clay loam soil that covers the Sea Smoke Estate vineyard. Winemaker Kris Curran favors a long, slow fermentation, gentle pressing, and 18 months of aging in 70 percent new French oak barrels before bottling without filtration. This is the debut release. 536 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
81. RUST EN VREDE Stellenbosch 2000 92 $33
The flagship red from Rust en Vrede combines 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 30 percent Shiraz and 10 percent Merlot, reflecting the plantings on this 158-acre estate. Winemaker Louis Strydom and owner Jean Engelbrecht have been a team here since 1998. Fermentation is done in small open-top fermentors. The malolactic fermentation is done in new French and American oak barrels, and the wine is then aged for 20 months before bottling. 1,600 cases imported. From South Africa. Tasting Note
82. PENFOLDS Cabernet-Shiraz South Australia Bin 389 2000 90 $26
The 2000 vintage Bin 389 sources its grapes from six separate growing areas in Australia. The 52 percent Cabernet and 48 percent Shiraz blend is aged in a mix of new and 2-year-old American oak. Penfolds consistently achieves both large production and high quality with this red. 17,000 cases imported. From Australia. Tasting Note
83. CIMS DE PORRERA Priorat Solanes 2001 90 $25
The word cims means "summits," and the vineyards that supply the grapes for this wine are located on the steep slopes around the town of Porrera. A blend of 55 percent Carignane along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah and Merlot, the wine is aged for nearly a year and a half in new French oak. Winemaker Sara Pérez of the Priorat winery Clos Martinet works with the Porrera cooperative to fashion the wine. 4,700 cases made. From Spain. Tasting Note
84. BERINGER Alluvium Red Knights Valley 1999 90 $30
Laurie Hook and head winemaker Ed Sbragia are the team behind Beringer's Alluvium. The wine blends 76 percent Merlot with 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and small parts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, each vinified separately. The final assemblage is aged in small oak barrels, of which 45 percent are new and the majority French. 9,000 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
85. J. & F. LURTON Toro El Albar Excelencia 1999 91 $25
Globe-trotting brothers Jacques and François Lurton are producing 500,000 bottles a year of Spanish wine. A new 74-acre property straddling the Toro and Rueda appellations will allow them to produce wines from these two areas under one roof. This red comes from vineyards planted on the high plateau of the Toro appellation. It receives 18 months of barrel aging and 12 months in bottle before being released. 1,500 cases made. From Spain. Tasting Note
86. NIGL Grüner Veltliner Qualitätswein Trocken Kremstal Kremser Freiheit 2002 90 $18
Despite damage from major flooding, lower Austria experienced a fine vintage in 2002. Owner and winemaker Martin Nigl draws on several small vineyards from the slopes behind the city of Krems for this fresh white. The vines, grown in loess soil, range from 30 to 40 years old. 1,000 cases made. From Austria. Tasting Note
87. L'ECOLE NO. 41 Syrah Walla Walla Valley Seven Hills Vineyard 2001 92 $35
L'Ecole is perhaps best known for their Merlot, but last year it was a Cabernet Sauvignon that appeared in our Top 100, and this year its Syrah earned the honor. This is L'Ecole's third vintage of Syrah, a blend of three different blocks (plus 1 percent Carmenère) from the Seven Hills Vineyard. 960 cases made. From Washington. Tasting Note
88. HDV Chardonnay Carneros 2000 93 $45
The Hyde vineyard in Carneros has been the source of some great Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. Aubert de Villaine is co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. This Chardonnay is the debut release for the joint venture and demonstrates how the cool Carneros climate made the Hyde vineyard famous. Winemaker Stéphane Vivier works with both de Villaine and Larry Hyde, and produces the wines at the HdV winery near downtown Napa. 1,500 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
89. ROBERT MONDAVI Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 1999 92 $40
This red hails from three vineyards in the Stags Leap District of Napa, an appellation 1 mile wide and almost 3 miles long located between the towns of Yountville and Napa. This wine aged for 17 months in mostly new French oak before the final bend was made with 6 percent Merlot and 2 percent Malbec. 3,300 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
90. CASTELLO DI VOLPAIA Chianti Classico Riserva 2000 91 $29
Grapes from six vineyards surrounding the medieval town of Volpaia were used for the winery's 2000 Riserva. Hand- harvesting and light crushing helped to maintain the pure fruit notes evident in this wine. Ninety percent of the blend is Sangioveto, a clonal variation of Sangiovese. Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah were added to round out the wine. 3,300 cases made. From Tuscany. Tasting Note
91. BODEGAS EMILIO MORO Ribera del Duero 2000 91 $28
The history of this family-owned bodega dates back over a century, yet the wines made today are distinctly modern in style. Produced from 100 percent Tinto del Pais (a clone of Tempranillo) grown on the estate's 173 acres of vineyards, this wine is a selection of the property's young vines. Aging takes place in equal parts French and American oak for 12 months. 1,000 cases imported. From Spain. Tasting Note
92. PRIDE Merlot Napa-Sonoma Counties 2001 93 $48
Merlot is normally an early-ripening variety. But grown at an altitude of 2,100 feet in Pride Mountain's estate vineyardsâ with well-drained soils, it gets more hang time. The result is darker, more concentrated wine. Winemaker Bob Foley harvested 20 different lots of grapes, fermenting each one separately; he then chose new and used barrels to match each individual lot's fruit character for the aging process. 5,320 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
93. ZIND-HUMBRECHT Gewürztraminer Alsace Turckheim Herrenweg 2001 91 $34
Olivier Humbrecht makes the wines at his 100-acre, family-owned estate. He describes the 2001s as aromatic and delicate. Although all the varietals were successful in '01, the Gewürztraminer showed more finesse than usual. Thirty-five-year-old vines are the youngest in this bottling, from the Herrenweg vineyard surrounding the winery. 1,600 cases made. From Alsace. Tasting Note
94. BENI DI BATASIOLO Barbaresco 2000 90 $35
The grapes for Beni di Batasiolo's basic Barbaresco come from selected hillside vineyards circling several of the area's ancient towns. All are managed by Fiorenzo Dogliani and his four brothers. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks. It ages for two years prior to release; one year in oak and one in bottle. 5,400 cases made. From Piedmont. Tasting Note
95. JOSMEYER Riesling Alsace Les Pierrets 2001 93 $47
Josmeyer proprietor and winemaker Jean Meyer made a fine range of wines in 2001. It was also the year this 64-acre estate converted completely to biodynamic viticulture. Les Pierrets, made in a dry style, comes from two old-vine parcels of Riesling: one on alluvial soils and one on limestone. 1,000 cases made. From Alsace. Tasting Note
96. OJAI Syrah California Roll Ranch Vineyard 2000 93 $45
Syrah, a naturally vigorous grape, meets its match in the nutritionally poor soils at Roll Ranch in Ventura County. As a result, more energy is spent on fruit maturation than on leaf production. Winemaker Adam Tolmach keeps the yields low to promote concentration of flavors. He ferments and ages the wine in French barrels, a third of them new. Tolmach also adds 1 percent Viognier for an aromatic lift in this ripe, opulent wine. 600 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
97. CANTINA VIGNAIOLI Barbaresco Vigneto Marcarini 2000 93 $48
A cooperative, Cantina Vignaioli was formed in the early 1970s when a group of 13 growers and friends combined their vineyards and resources to produce wine. The southwest exposure of the Marcarini vineyard contributes to the ripeness of the Nebbiolo grapes, while aging in Slavonian and French oak helps to soften the wine's tannins. 1,500 cases made. From Piedmont. Tasting Note
98. CIACCI PICCOLOMINI D'ARAGONA Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso 1998 93 $50
Giuseppe Bianchini, Ciacci's owner, works with enologist Paolo Vagaggini to create this estate's wines. The southern-facing Pianrosso vineyard receives exposure that allows its 20-year-old vines to ripen fully, even in marginal seasons. In a very hot and dry summer such as 1998, careful selection and well-timed harvesting were necessary to bring in the high quality fruit needed for the Vigna di Pianrosso. 3,900 cases made. From Tuscany. Tasting Note
99. LAGIER MEREDITH Syrah Mount Veeder 2001 93 $50
Husband-and-wife team Carole Meredith and Steve Lagier make this Syrah using grapes from their 4-acre Mount Veeder vineyard. The 2001 is the fourth release, with all four rating outstanding. The grapes are fermented to dryness before pressing, then the wine is aged in older French oak barrels. 430 cases made. From California. Tasting Note
100. VINCENT GIRARDIN Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot Vieilles Vignes 2001 91 $49
This domaine produces 10,000 cases a year from the 37 acres of vineyards it owns in the Côte de Beaune along with another 20 acres it leases. This wine comes from five different vineyard parcels in Chassagne with vines averaging 50 years of age. Hand harvested, it received 30 percent new oak and was aged for 12 months on its lees. 700 cases made. From Burgundy. Tasting Note
Top 100 Wines of 2003: 1 | 2 - 10 | 11 - 40 | 41 - 70 | 71 - 100 | Full List in PDF Format

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