Riesling from South Australia's Clare Valley is one of the great evocations of this noble grape. This year, for the first time, we tasted more than a smattering, recommending eight from Clare, Eden, Barossa and beyond. The 2002 vintage produced what some winemakers believe to be their best rieslings ever (well, this is the New World). And you'll find some greats on page 68. Why not compare a bottle with one of the more traditional styles from Germany, of which we tasted 88 for our report on page 88.
Carmenère is another Old World vine turned classic in new ground, this time in Chile. It features in many of the top-scoring wines Chilean wines on page 86, as does malbec in the results from Argentina (page 84), another transplant from Bordeaux that's found its own black-velvet soul in South America.
Syrah arrived in Australia about the same time as riesling; perhaps it was just the higher alcohol that made winemakers slur the word into shiraz. Or was that just our panels, after forty of these monsters at a time? If you're looking for big reds, these are about as delicious as they come. You'll find them blended, or straight up, in the Australia tasting on page 67.
Later, we took a break from the Aussie action to spend a day with Piedmont reds, powerful in their own right, with a bit of Old World restraint. You'll find some great '99 and '96 Barbarescos to cellar (or, if you're impatient, decant) on page 91.
And closer to home, Patrick Comiskey and I worked our way through 75 pinot noirs - some as big as syrah, some more delicate. You'll find his commentary and our notes on the best starting on page 60, right after our selection of values and our 13 picks for the Year's Best Pinot Noirs.
All the stats for our tastings are now located in our table of contents (page 6). And for an overview of how we conduct our tastings, always blind, in our offices, with outside panelists to recommend the wines and inside critics to give the ratings and reviews, please turn to page 61.