Each year, Wine Spectator names the 100 most exciting wines we tasted over the previous 12 months. This is a short list of top wines, great values and high points in the year of wine. The most noteworthy of them all merit a spot in the highest tier, the Top 10.
The 2003 list, published in the Dec. 31, 2003 - Jan. 15, 2004 issue of Wine Spectator, reflects the proliferation of high quality wines from around the world. While France claims three spots in the Top 10 (two of them thanks to Bordeaux's classic 2000 vintage), you'll also find wines from Australia, California, Chile, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. A total of 12 countries are represented in the Top 100.
As in recent years, the Top 10 is dominated by reds, with the exception of one white, from Germany's exceptional 2001 vintage.
In 2003, Wine Spectator editors tasted more than 12,500 wines, more than ever before. Of these, more than 2,500 rated outstanding, scoring 90 points or higher on our 100-point scale. These were the initial candidates for our Top 100 list. Our final selections were determined on four criteria: quality (as represented by score); value (as reflected by release price); availability (measured by case production or the number of cases imported); and an X-factor we call excitement.
This year, mindful of consumer resistance to high prices, we gave increased weight to value. The average price of the wines in this year's Top 100 decreased for the third year in a row, to $36.40 a bottle (down by nearly $7 since 2001).
TOP 10 WINES OF 2003
1. Paloma Merlot Spring Mountain District 2001
95 points, $45, 2,510 cases
2. Château Cos-d 'Estournel St.-Estèphe 2000
96 points, $95, 20,830 cases made
3. Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta Rapel Valley 2000
94 points, $55, 1,360 cases imported
4. Clos Mogador Priorat 2001
95 points, $60, 1,800 cases made
5. Château Léoville Las Cases St.-Julien 2000
100 points, $170, 15,000 cases made
6. Penfolds Shiraz Barossa Valley RWT 2000
95 points, $69, 800 cases imported
7. Paul Coulon &Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Domaine de Beaurenard 2001
94 points, $27, 1,250 cases imported
8. Joh. Jos. Prüm Riesling Spätlese Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Wehlener Sonnenuhr 2001
96 points, $30, 1,500 cases made
9. Graham Vintage Port 2000
98 points, $80, 3,300 cases imported
10. Sette Ponti Toscana Oreno 2001
95 points, $80, 1,165 cases imported
The complete Top 100 package appears in the Dec. 31, 2003 - Jan. 15, 2004 issue, on newsstands now.