EDITOR'S NOTE - 21st Annual Buying Guide

This year Wine & Spirits celebrates its 25th anniversary. One of the proud achievements of those years is our Annual Buying Guide, now in its 21st edition. We have built this guide from the ground up, through decades of research in wine regions and blind tastings in our offices.
     This past year our blind tastings included more than 9,100 wines. For this year's Buying Guide, we feature the most beautiful and compelling ones from regions around the world in our 100 Best Wines. Then we bring value into the equation and decide on the 100 Best Buys-wines priced at or below the median price for their category, with scores at or near the top. And we look at consistency: Our Top 100 Wineries of the Year delivered the best performances in our tastings across a range of wines. In this issue, our critics describe what sets these wines apart and how the growers and winemakers achieve those distinctions.
     We also honor a farmer who's given several wineries a boost onto our Top 100 list. This year, our contingent from Washington State tapped Dick Boushey. Winemakers at a number of our featured Washington wineries had such strong positive sentiments about Boushey and the work he has accomplished at Boushey Vineyards in the Yakima Valley that we asked Patrick Comiskey to profile him for the issue.

Wine tasting is a subjective business and you'll find the taste of our critics runs to certain styles more than others. In Napa Valley, we continue to champion the tiny northwestern corner on Diamond Mountain, where Diamond Creek, Reverie and von Strassser grow exceptional cabernet sauvignon. In Sonoma, we tend toward the coastal zones of the Russian River Valley, Green Valley and west, consistently recommending the wines of Flowers, Williams Selyem, Iron Horse and Peay.
     Our tastes in Europe often run toward growers who tend ancient vines, such as Ernst Loosen in the Mosel, or who have taken radical steps toward preserving the authenticity of their wines through careful organic or biodynamic vineyard practices. As we ask our panelists and critics to recommend wines based on where they are grown, and provide them with limited information on the region and variety of the wine, our goal is not to test the tasters, but to promote wines that clearly express their regional identity.
     In this context the larger producers that perform best are those structured as giant estates-consider the talented winemaking teams and thousands of acres of estate vineyards that provide for Kendall-Jackson's Highland Estates program, or the high-end wines of Concha y Toro and Penfolds. In general our top wineries are moving closer to their own source material, with Robert Mondavi Winery now exclusively focused on the Napa Valley, or Grgich Hills and Storybook Mountain now exclusively focused on estate-grown fruit.
     Our other strong prejudice is for wines that accompany food over those that set out to make a statement. If you come to our Top 100 Tasting in San Francisco on October 17, you'll get to taste these wines for yourself, along with great food from local Bay Area chefs. We look forward to seeing you there.