Wine writing

Where do the best wines come from?

It’s been almost a year since the first sensational publication of the Wine Talks ratings.
We are glad to present you the Top-12 wine producing countries and the Top-12 wine regions (in brackets there is a change in relation to the previous year).

Top-12 countries of wine producers by Wine Talks
Top-12 countries of wine producers by Wine Talks
Top-12 wine regions by Wine Talks
Top-12 wine regions by Wine Talks

The order in the country rating has remained, but the leader’s separation has increased significantly due to the strengthening of its positions, and by weakening position of the USA . Only 4 of the Top12 countries scored even more points compared to the previous rating — France, New Zealand, South Africa and Chile. All other countries lost points. The most notable drop occurred in Germany, allowing Spain to come as close as possible to the Top5.

In the ranking of the wine regions, there are more noticeable changes. Bordeaux demonstrated the most impressive growth and while the weakening of the position of the Rhone Valley, the region took an honorable third place in our rating. Sonoma and Piedmont, Tuscany and Alsace also swapped places. It is also worth highlighting the steady growth of the Priorat wine region, if the trend continues, then the balance of power between the regions in Spain may change.
Let’s have a closer look at 3 leading wine producing countries.

France

Among the top 25 wines in France, there are noticeably more representatives of Bordeaux (8 vs. 4 last year), which drove out the Rhone Valley wines. The France rating markedly “blushed” — only 3 white (1 of which is dessert wine) out of 25. The main grape variety in France appears to be Pinot Noir — 12 positions out of 25.

Burgundy

15 of the region’s top 25 wines are wines by 3 winemakers: Leroy, DRC (Domaine Romanee-Conti) and Domaine Armand Rousseau. Among the top 25 wines of Burgundy there are only 6 whites. The best white wine of Burgundy, and obviously in the world — Leroy Domaine d’Auvenay Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru. The best red is Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru. Both wines are the creations of the Burgundy legend — Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy.

The best red wine in the world and the best white wine in the world
The best red wine in the world and the best white wine in the world

Analyzing the best vineyards of red Burgundy, we can say with confidence that the leaders are Chambertin and Musigny. Wines from these vineyards consistently receive the highest ratings. In this same top category we should also include monopoly vineyards Romanee-Conti and La Tache, owned by DRC.

The runner-up elite echelon:
  • Romanee-Saint-Vivant
  • Mazis-Chambertin
  • Richebourg
  • Bonnes-Mares

and the following:
  • Latricieres-Chambertin
  • Clos-de-Beze
  • Romanee
  • Clos de la Roche

The only wine coming not from the Grand Cru climat in the list of the 25 best red wines of Burgundy is Domaine Leroy Les Beaux Monts, Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru.

White Burgundy is primarily a duel between the vineyards of Grand Cru Chevalier-Montrachet and Montrachet. The quality level of these wines and the winemakers is so high that they occupy 15 of the 25 lines in the best wines of white Burgundy rating.

It is noteworthy that at the same level of the best Grand Crus are the wines of 1er Cru from Meursault:
  • Leroy Domaine d’Auvenay Les Gouttes d’Or
  • Coche-Dury Les Perrieres
  • Domaine des Comtes Lafon Perrieres

among the other top white Grand Crus are Corton-Charlemagne and Batard-Montrachet.
We would also like to mention the climat of Le Clos in Chablis, which is the subregion of Burgundy, especially the creactions of 2 unrivaled winemakers: Rene et Vincent Dauvissat-Camus and Domaine Francois Raveneau.

Perhaps the most peculiar fact is the appearance of the village level wine in the top rating, however that is the one from the well-known winemaker — Leroy Domaine d’Auvenay — Meursault Les Narvaux.

Bordeaux

This famous wine region in France is primarily known for its red wines, but white wines (4 of which are dessert) occupy the top 6 lines of the ratings. Yes, and the leader of the Bordeaux wines rating is the all-time king of dessert wines Chateau d’Yquem, Sauternes.

In the dispute between the left and the right bank, the first wins again with a 10-to-8 margin, however there are no representatives of the left bank in the top three. Silver and bronze medals go to Petrus, Pomerol and Chateau Ausone, Saint-Emilion respectively.

Classification of the Bordeaux wines of 1855 retained its relevance in the highest league.

However, 1st growth wines today could be arranged in the following order:
  • Chateau Haut-Brion
  • Chateau Latour
  • Chateau Mouton Rothschild
  • Chateau Margaux
  • Chateau Lafite Rothschild

And the first 2 wines significantly outperform the others. If only this group could be expanded, then it would be worthwhile to include Chateau Leoville-Las Cases and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, which quality became comparable to the 1st Growth. By the way, the price of these wines is incomparably more affordable with the same high quality. So we recommend paying special attention to them!

Bordeaux Left Bank Super Seconds from our point of view should be the following wines: (order is important):
  • Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou
  • Chateau Palmer
  • Chateau Pontet-Canet
  • Chateau Montrose
  • Chateau Cos d’Estournel
  • Chateau Pichon-Longueville au Baron de Pichon-Longueville
  • Chateau Calon-Segur
  • Chateau Leoville Poyferre
  • Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
  • Chateau Leoville Barton
  • Chateau Rauzan-Segla

In the Right Bank, smaller neighbor Pomerol takes over the superior in terms of area Saint-Emilion by 6 to 2. If we could propose a classification of Pomerol wines, its top league would be (the order matters):
  • Petrus
  • Chateau Lafleur
  • Vieux Chateau Certan
  • Le Pin
  • Chateau L’Eglise-Clinet
  • Chateau Trotanoy
  • Chateau L’Evangile

In conclusion of the Bordeaux wines analysis we offer the dessert — top rank of the dessert wines. The existing classification of 1855 is significantly out of date, and if you are looking for the actual alignment of the quality, than the unreachable Chateau d’Yquem should be followed by a rare Denis Dubourdieu Chateau Doisy-Daene L’Extravagant de Doisy-Daene and
Chateau Climens, Barsac
Chateau Suduiraut, Sauternes

Rhone Valley

In this region among the top 25 wines magically there are also 6 whites.

The top producers of the region:
  • E. Guigal
  • M. Chapoutier
  • Domaine Jean-Louis Chave
  • Chateau de Beaucastel

We would also like to highlight the Cote Rotie wines from Michel & Stephane Ogier.

Critics prefer monocepage (monovarietal) wines, not blends. The main red variety of the region is of course Syrah. White is Marsan.

Champagne

In this region, the main intrigue is the battle between small growers (recoltants) and Big Champagne Maisons (Grand Marques). Now it is obviously the growers times. They win with a score of 14:11.

The absolute winner of the region is the master Jacques Selosse — 7 of his wines hit the top lines of the ratings.

The main variety is Chardonnay. Blanc de Blancs based on this grape is dominant in the ratings. The best Pinot Noir is expectedly Egly-Ouriet, and the King of Pinot Meunier is Jerome Prevost.

Apart from the above, today the major names in the region are:
  • Louis Roederer
  • Krug
  • Pierre Peters
  • Agrapart & Fils

The title of the best champagne is unchanged — Louis Roederer Cristal

Alsace

Although the main variety of the region is Riesling, but the first three lines of a rating take dessert wines with noble rot Botrytis Pinot Gris Sélection de Grains Nobles. By the way, 10 of the 25 best Alsace wines are also wines of this category Sélection de Grains Nobles.

The undoubted leader among the winemakers is Domaine Zind-Humbrecht (12 of the top 25 wines). Especially their wines from a few small monopoly plots or Clos.

The second place among the best winemakers is Domaine Weinbach.

Next are:
  • Domaine Marcel Deiss
  • Albert Boxler
  • Hugel & Fils Riesling

and

Trimbach with their legendary Riesling Clos Sainte Hune.

USA

Firmly entrenched in the 2nd place and stepping on the heels of France, the US can not yet boast a wide variety of regions and styles, as its main competitor. Variety, of course is in place, but so far the main tone is set first of all by the Napa Valley followed by Sonoma. These are predominantly red monovarietal wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and so-called Bordeaux blends.

Top 3 white wines are made from Chardonnay and all come from the above regions:
  • Marcassin Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
  • Peter Michael ‘Point Rouge’ Chardonnay, Sonoma County
  • Kongsgaard The Judge Chardonnay, Napa Valleymono-sour

There are also 2 wines made from Syrah which made it to the top US wines:
  • Charles Smith ‘Royal City’ Syrah
  • Washington Sine Qua Non Cumulus Vineyard

Unbelievable but true fact — 13 out of 25 of the best wines in the world made in Bordeaux style are produced in the United States. The homeland of the Bordeaux style has lost on all fronts. The first two lines are occupied by Abreu Vineyard ‘Thorevilos’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley and Harlan Estate, Napa Valley, leaving the 1st Growths of the Left Bank Bordeaux far behind!

This is the top league for Bordeaux manufacturers:
  • Colgin Cellars
  • Kapcsandy Family Winery
  • Verite
  • Dalla Valle Vineyards
  • Sloan Estate

Among the world’s best wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, the United States did not left even the slightest chance to anyone and completely monopolized rating.

Number 1 Cabernet Sauvignon wine in the world is Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.
The best wine in the USA. The best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world
The best wine in the USA. The best Cabernet Sauvignon in the world

Best producers: Abreu Vineyard and Schrader Cellars.

Sonoma

In addition to the already mentioned producers of Chardonnay in Sonoma, it is definitely worth highlighting Aubert Wines.

Also Pinot Noir is showing excellent results in Sonoma.

The best wines made from Pinot Noir:
  • Marcassin ‘Marcassin Vineyard’ Pinot Noir
  • Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • Occidental-Kistler Vineyards ‘Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvee Elizabeth’
  • Occidental-Kistler Vineyards ‘Occidental Station Vineyard Cuvee Catherine’
  • Aubert Wines UV-SL Vineyard Pinot Noir

Italy

The intrigue of Italy is the competition between two main wine making regions: Piedmont and Tuscany. So far, Piedmont wins with the score 12:11. The duel in the ranking of the 25 best wines of Italy is diluted by the only white wine Cantina Terlano-Kellerei Terlan ‘Terlaner I Grande Cuvee’, Trentino-Alto Adige and Amarone Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, Italy

Top 3 wines of Italy today:
  • Giacomo Conterno Monfortino, Barolo Riserva DOCG
  • Masseto Toscana IGT, Tuscany
  • Gaja Sori San Lorenzo Langhe-Barbaresco, Piedmont

The leading grape variety is Nebbiolo and followed by another local grape variety Sangiovese.
International varieties are also well represented in the Top, mainly due to the efforts of SuperToscans.

The best wines of Barolo

  • Poderi Aldo Conterno Romerasco Bussia
  • Gaja Sperss Langhe — Barolo
  • Giacomo Conterno Francia
  • Luciano Sandrone Alesse-Cannubi Boschis
  • Falletto di Bruno Giacosa ‘Falletto Vigna Le Rocche’
  • Giuseppe Mascarello e Figlio Monprivato
  • Elio Altare Cerretta Vigna Bricco
  • Giuseppe Rinaldi ‘Brunate-Le Coste’
  • Poderi Aldo Conterno Colonnello
  • Roberto Voerzio Barolo Sarmassa
  • Roberto Voerzio Brunate
  • Giacomo Conterno ‘Cerretta’
  • Roberto Voerzio Rocche dell’Annunziata Torriglione

The best wines of Brunello

  • Casanova di Neri Cerretalto
  • Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Riserva
  • Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona ‘Vigna di Pianrosso Santa Caterina d’Oro’
  • Fattoria Poggio di Sotto Riserva
  • Fuligni Riserva
  • Siro Pacenti PS Vecchie Vigne
  • Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova
  • Canalicchio di Sopra
  • Conti Costanti
  • Il Marroneto Madonna delle Grazie
  • Pian dell’Orino ‘Vigneti del Versante’
  • Salvioni Cerbaiola
  • Fattoria Poggio di Sotto
  • Altesino Montosoli
  • Valdicava Madonna del Piano Riserva
  • Ciacci Piccolomini d ‘Aragona Pianrosso
  • Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Annata
  • Podere Giodo
  • Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta ‘Sugarille’

The best wines of Tuscany

  • Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia
  • Marchesi Antinori Solaia
  • Castello dei Rampolla ‘Vigna d’Alceo’
  • Tua Rita Redigaffi
  • Ornellaia
  • Le Macchiole ‘Paleo’
  • Le Macchiole Messorio
  • Castello dei Rampolla Sammarco
  • Duemani ‘Duemani’ Cabernet Franc Costa
  • Fontodi Flaccianello della Pieve Colli
  • Bibi Graetz Testamatta Colore
  • Petrolo Galatrona Valdarno di Sopra
  • Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno
  • Marchesi Antinori Tenuta Guado al Tasso
  • Le Macchiole ‘Scrio’
  • Tenuta di Trinoro

In conclusion of this analysis, we want to draw your attention that in despite of the uniqueness of the terroir (a combination of soil-climatic factors and specific characteristics of a particular locality) it is often the producer (winemaker) which is of decisive importance for the quality of the wine.

Terroir is essential, but not at all sufficient!

We will continue updating our ratings. There are new wines, the climate changes and the weather conditions which affect the quality of the vintages. Winemakers improve their practices. All together that has a significant effect on the final result. The painted picture is not static and varies with time. Let’s keep up!

Analysis of other wine regions will continue in our next releases. Stay tuned!

Let us explain the methodology for calculating our ratings.

They are based on the analysis of the data courtesy of Wine Searcher. WS has the most impressive and up-to-date wine database, the ratings of leading critics are aggregated by using the scientific method (Bayesian conclusion). The rule of large numbers in action, and the statistical error is negligible.

The fundamental unit of ratings is the best wines. If in a particular country, or rather in a particular region, the universally recognized outstanding wines are created, then this region receives higher scores. The more such wines are made in the region, the higher its rating.

Countries and regions which make many mediocre wines, in our opinion, are inferior to those where great wines are created. The criteria for a great wine are very blurred, but we are convinced that if a particular wine has consistently received high ratings from a large number of different wine critics for many years, this wine can be called Great with great certainty. Without general recognition, wine can not be great, alas.

In the qualifying round we select the 25 best wines of a particular region. These are the wines with the highest aggregate ratings. The wines included in this top rating are estimated by many different critics from different countries, which minimizes any statistical bias or bias of individual critics. The rule of large numbers.

Having selected the 25 best, we summarize their aggregated ratings to get the final score. The higher the ratings of each individual wine, the greater the total score.

For simplicity, let us give an analogy to sports. In our championship we choose teams of 25 participants (individual wines). Participants are selected according to a strict quantitative criterion — the best personal time / rating / number of goals scored or any other main indicator of the sport that is familiar to you. Choose the best of the best and make up a Dream team (regions). Then we compare the Dream teams among themselves according to the general criteria to determine which team (region) is better than the other. So the overall team rating is formed (rating of regions).

To determine the winners in the final country classification, choose the 25 best of the best athletes (wine) among all teams (regions) of this country. The country, which top 25 athletes have the highest scores, wins. As in the Olympics the gold medals scoring. The country wins the Olympics which has more gold medals.
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