EDITOR'S NOTE — 25th Anniversary Buying Guide

      Our first Buying Guide was a simple supplement, highlighting the wineries that had performed best in our tastings for the year, bound into to the December 1988 issue. At the time, the recommendations came from our blind tasting panels, some of which I ran myself, some handled by a close network of freelance writers. Ten years later, we began to assemble a team of critics to rate the panel recommendations. That team has grown out of our most talented tasting directors—Tara Q. Thomas, Patricio Tapia and Peter Liem have all run our tasting department in New York; Patrick J. Comiskey ran our US tastings in the San Francisco office.
      Our critics do not necessarily share the same tastes. What we share is a fascination with wine as an expression of the place where it grows. We work to build our taste memories by traveling to vineyards in the regions we cover and tasting wines on site. When we rate wines in our offices, we know the region, the vintage and the variety, but not the producer name. Our response to the wine is both hedonistic and intellectual—measuring what’s in the glass against the information we have in our head, our memories of wines from that region, what we know of the vintage, what we expect of the variety.
      During the past 25 years, we have more than doubled the number of wines we taste, and the numbers continue to increase as the US wine market has become the largest in the world. This year the number rose above 10,800. We present our top one percent, the 100 Best Wines of the Year, with detailed notes that describe our reaction and, when possible, what we know about the background of the wine that might have contributed to that response. Our selection of the 100 Best Buys is based on the relationship of three numbers: score, price and the median price of the category.
      And as in the first Buying Guide, we continue to highlight the wineries that performed best overall in our tastings for the year. You’ll find some consistency in our picks for the Top 100 Wineries of the Year—after 25 years, it’s nice to know there’s some consistency to our tasting process and our goals. You’ll also find some newcomers who we’ve been excited to discover. Nine years ago, we took our Buying Guide live, bringing the Top 100 event to San Francisco so, as readers, you could taste for yourselves. We’ll be presenting this year’s Top 100 along with a selection of our New & Notable Restaurants from the Bay Area on October 12. We hope to taste with you there!