Tasted: 98 I Reviewed: 24
Tasted: 137 I Reviewed: 51
Australian Shiraz
Tasted: 136 I Reviewed: 56
Tasted: 130 I Reviewed: 56
Tasted: 184 I Reviewed: 94
Tasted: 217 I Reviewed: 88
Tawny Porto
Tasted: 43 I Reviewed: 24
American New Releases
Tasted: 509 I Reviewed: 148
Imported New Releases
Tasted: 400 I Reviewed: 117
Tasted: 1,854 I Reviewed: 658

We didn't set out to create the largest tasting section in Wine & Spirits' twenty-two year history, but here it is, a reflection of the profusion in the wine market this fall: 658 wines recommended from 1854 tasted blind by our panels over the last two months.

You might start with Burgundy. We found a range of extraordinary '01 reds from the Cte de Nuits (p. 74), and some excellent whites from '02, especially in Mcon (p. 73). There's nothing diminutive about these wines, and their complexity is hard to rival, but their decibel level may seem discreet when compared to almost anything else you'll find in this tasting section.

There are a few cooler climate syrahs from Western Australia with the light-bodied grace of pinot noir (p. 67), but most of the Aussie shiraz are blasters, Barossa in extremis, and no less delicious for it. From the Pacific coast, most of our syrah leaders grow in the desert of eastern Washington, or on sands surrounding Santa Barbara, along with a few standouts from California's north coast as well. We've collected ten of them as the Best of the Year (p. 56), with many more featured at greater length in this issue's syrah tasting (p. 60). For a taste of Old World syrah, check out the range of wines in Tara Q. Thomas's Rhne reviews (p. 68).

Dilek Caner helped us organize a comprehensive tasting of the great '99 Brunello vintage (p. 78), an extraordinary week-long event in our New York offices attended by a host of restaurant wine directors - among them Ratha Chau of Fleur de Sel, Greg Harrington, M.S., of B.R. Guest Restaurants and Jeremy Noye of Esca. You'll find a wide range of styles among our top selections, most all of them cellar-worthy. For more immediate, if no less robust pleasure, check out the '02 zinfandels from Dry Creek Valley (p. 57); or look to the Douro reds (p. 101), many of which provide an immediate rush of dark fruit flavor, plus the structural components that will hold them for years.

Then end with Porto. We gathered a collection of the age-designated tawnies for this issue (p. 84). These rare wines have the added benefit of lasting for weeks after they've been opened, especially if kept cool in the cellar or the fridge - and so we've had the added benefit of sipping a few of these here at the end of a long deadline, as we put this tasting section to bed.