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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I was looking back at Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2017 and was amazed that Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay California Vintner’s Reserve 2015 was ranked No. 28. How did it earn that spot?

—Alan, Metairie, La.

Dear Alan,

I also get a kick out of looking through our Top 100 archives. It’s like looking through old yearbooks, except nobody has embarrassing haircuts.

Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of the Year always features a diverse group. We start with the approximately 17,000 wines we review annually in blind tastings—that means we score wines without knowing the producer or price tag. From there, we look at the wines that rated outstanding (90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale) and apply the criteria of value, availability and excitement, or what we call the “X-factor.”

There was plenty of excitement about the Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reserve 2015, starting with the fact that it earned 91 points and was priced at just $17. It was also widely available, with 100,000 cases made. Moreover, the Vintner’s Reserve has been a best seller in California Chardonnay for 30 years, and for good reason. It’s a very drinkable wine, made from grapes blended from Santa Barbara, Mendocino and Sonoma counties, then aged in used oak barrels to keep the fruit flavors fresh and spice notes subtle. We thought all of these factors were worth heralding, and made it one of the most memorable wines of 2017.

Of course, there were 99 other wines on the list if you’re looking for something different. We do our best to balance styles, regions, price tags and X-factors, so there should be something for everyone.

—Dr. Vinny

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