While this year’s list marks a return to blue-chip wines from classic regions around the globe, it is also augmented by an exciting group of up-and-coming stars. More than half of the wines are appearing in the Top 100 for the first time, chosen from the thousands of bottles tasted blind by Wine Spectator’s editors in 2018.
Among their reviews of more than 15,000 new releases in 2018, our editors rated nearly 5,500 wines 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale. From that starting point, we selected wines that stood out for their combination of four criteria: quality (based on score), value (price), availability (number of cases either made or imported into the U.S.) and, most important, a compelling story behind the wine, what we call the “X-factor.”
The result is a microcosm of the wine world today, reflecting its ever-growing diversity, with innovative wine styles claiming more spots than in previous years. Though the wines’ scores and prices vary, the overall average is 93 points and $50.
Two vintages, 2015 and 2016, make up two-thirds of this year’s Top 100. These were superb vintages in Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône Valley, Tuscany and other Italian regions, and Europe in general. Although California struggled with drought in 2015, the state still managed to field some terrific wines. As a result of the high quality of these recent vintages, the United States, France and Italy make up around 70 percent of the list.
We hope you will enjoy our Top 100 as a synopsis of the past year in wine and as a guide to producers, regions and styles to watch in the future.