EDITOR’S NOTE—12,000 wines & counting

The Absolute 100–Point Scale has come to define wine criticism around a mythical concept: Absolute Quality. This particular grail is regularly filled to the brim with substantial wines, made from carefully selected grapes, aimed toward polish and perfection. Our Annual Buying Guide is based on a different 100–point scale.

We assume quality is a given in a great wine; what we're looking to recognize are the wines that share a sense of place as well. How well can we connect a wine to its region or, perhaps, to amore specific place, through its flavors and structure?

It's not a parlor game or a test of deductive reasoning. It's a form of pattern recognition, one that anyone interested in taste can learn to perceive. That pattern recognition is what fascinates us about wine—and how we value it.


Over the past 12 months, we've considered the patterns of taste in 12,000 wines.

Over the past 12 months, we've considered the patterns of taste in 12,000 wines. Our 100 Best Wines of the Year are the bottles that made the strongest connections with our critics, each presented with a note that attempts to describe those connections and what might have brought them about.

Our 100 Best Buys are the bottles that made a deep connection with the critic and came in under the median price of all the wines we've tasted in its category—the super performers in their price range.

We focus the greatest energy on our 100 Wineries of the Year, a list of estates that put out not just a single great wine, but a range of wines that spoke to us this last year. A delicious flavor triggers our memories in ways that may be subliminal—triggers that have created whole industries around flavor, texture and aromas in food and wine. Learning how to parse those taste memories helps us separate the fact from the technological fiction. It helps us identify what we value in the flavor of a wine: Authenticity. We're seeking out the people who create delicious and memorable flavors with the grapes they grow, without resorting to technical wizardry or winemaking additives. Our tasting process helps us focus in on such talent.

In the pages that follow, we're pleased to present the most compelling wines and wineries from a year's worth of tasting: great drinking for the year to come.