Thursday, December 28, 2023

Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2023 - which 11 bottles are available in British Columbia?

What Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines can you buy in British Columbia?  There are at least 11 and the Wine Barbarian knows - and tells you! 

Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines available in BC

The Wine Spectator magazine is perhaps the best-known and largest circulation wine publication in the world - so when it announces its annual Top 100 Wines, the world - and especially wine drinkers - take immediate notice!  

And here's the good news: at least 11 of the Top 100 - including at least 6 of the Top 10 - are available in BC!  

Above are 7 bottles I've purchased at multiple locations - public and private stores - so far from the Top 100 - and below are 2 more. 

The Astrolabe 2022 Sauvignon Blanc and Raen
2021 Sonoma Coast Royal St Robert Pinot Noir

A few words of explanation about the Top 100: Wine Spectator isn't just taking the 100 highest scoring wines released and reviewed in 2023 and making that their Top 100 - not at all.

The Top 100 has multiple attributes - and here's the Wine Spectator's own words to say it best:

"Each year since 1988, Wine Spectator has released its Top 100 list, where our editors select the most exciting wines from the thousands we reviewed during the course of the year. These wines are a diverse group—ranging from emerging labels and regions to traditional estates exploring new directions—and all generate the excitement we call the “X-factor.”

In addition, our selection also prioritizes quality (based on score), value (based on price) and availability (based on the number of cases either made or imported into the United States). These criteria are applied to the wines that rated outstanding (90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale) each year to determine our Top 100.

As many wines are made in limited quantities and not available in every market, our Top 100 is not a “shopping list,” but rather a guide to wineries to watch in the future—a reflection of the producers and wines our editors become particularly passionate about in each new year."  

For me, the Top 100 list has become a "holy grail" search for any bottles on it that I can find - and afford, as some are pricey - before they disappear from local shelves!

I'm happy to report that I have already found 9 great bottles of wine in BC at least - and tried a few of them! 

The Number 1 wine is Argiano 2018 Brunello de Montalcino from Italy is rated 95 points and I purchased it in the Victoria BC Liquor Store in Foul Bay.  It is listed at other stores and hopefully more stock will come in soon! It may also be at private stores.  Some also delicious Argiano 2017 may still be found. 

The Number 3 wine is Chateau Lynch-Bages 2020 from France's  Paulliac region of Bordeaux is rated at 96 points - and also available at BC Liquor Stores - pricey at $300 but a classic worth cellaring for a very long time - if you can resist! 

The Number 4 wine is Raen Sonoma Coast Royal St. Robert 2021 Pinot Noir from California - rated 95 points and only available in private stores like Everything Wine - retailing for about $121. 

The Number 7 wine is Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2020 - from Italy and rated at 95 points and available at BC Liquor Stores for $65 - another wine that needs a few cellar years but tempting to crack today!

The Number 8 wine is Chateau Baron Pichon 2020 - also from Paulliac - and rated 97 points.  It clocks in at BC Liquor Stores for a painful $375 a bottle - but a legendary wine! 

And the Number 10 wine which is also available in BC is Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc 2022 from New Zealand - rated 95 points but only $38 and widely available at BC Liquor Stores - it's simply delicious!

There are several other great Top 100 wines for sale in BC Liquor Stores and private stores, including these I've found so far:

Number 15 - Astrolabe 2022 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand rated at 94 points and even cheaper than the Greywacke at $27 in BC Liquor Stores and Vancouver's Broadway Wines, Everything Wine and others.  I have to say it's equally impressive - some may even prefer it and its $11 cheaper! 

Number 29 also hails from New Zealand and is also a Sauvignon Blanc 2022 - this one is the Invivo X SJP from actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Invivo - and is rated 93 points.  It's available at Everything Wine and possibly other private stores for $32 - but limited quantities.

Number 52 is from Uruguay - yes Uruguay! - and is a delightful Bodega Garzon Albarino Reserva 2022 rated 90 points and retailing for just $32 at Broadway Wines and Everything Wine at least - quantities limited so hurry!  While Spain is the home of albarino wine, Uruguay is doing a fantastic job.

Number 68 is Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2021 - rated 93 points and available at BC Liquor Stores for $80 in limited quantities, possibly in private stores as well. 

Number 74 is from Spain - Clos Berenguer 2020 Clos de Tafall from the Priorat region - rated 92 points and available at Legacy Liquor Store at least recently - possibly others - for $38 - a bargain for a great bottle!

That's what I have found so far - always happy to hear from readers with tips on additional Top 100 Wine Spectator wines that are available in BC - do let me know and I'll pass it on! 

And don't forget to get your tickets to the Vancouver International Wine Festival - on sale now and coming soon - February 24 to March 3, 2024.  

As the Festival website notes: 

  • Advance tickets (International Festival Tastings and Super Pass), and Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction are now on sale
  • Trade Days Passes are also on sale for qualified industry members
  • Winery dinners go on sale Wednesday, January 3 at 9:30 a.m.
  • All remaining public events go on sale Wednesday, January 10 at 9:30 a.m.
  • All Trade Days events go on sale Wednesday, January 17 at 9:30 a.m.

See you there!!