Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: Awesomeness from Around the World

Cervaro della Sala

2011 Cervaro della Sala from Marchesi Antinori

Last month, we had the extreme pleasure of attending the 2014 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting, honoring wineries from around the world that delivered the best overall performance in Wine & Spirits tastings. Based on the approximately 4,300 wines that were recommended by the magazine to their readers throughout the past year (out of over 14,000 tasted), this event showcased the Top 100 Wineries as they poured wines for an appreciative crowd in San Francsico.

When there is a wine and food event based on the top 100 wineries in the world and almost every winery brings at least two wines to pour, you just know you’re going to have a great time. An indoor/outdoor tasting venue, passed hors d’ouevres and small plates from Bay Area chefs and local artisan purveyors, and lovely weather just added to the enjoyment.

2013 EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc

2013 EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc from Matetic Vineyards

One of the interesting developments this year (at least for us) was a noticeable increase in white wines being poured, including from wineries usually better known for their red wines. Because of this, we had the good fortune of being able to taste von Strasser’s Grüner Veltliner, Matetic’s Sauvignon Blanc, Stags’ Leap Winery’s Viognier, and Marchesi Antinori’s Chardonnay-based Cervaro della Sala. We also learned of the legend behind Spiegelberg’s “Wedding Night” wine, which allegedly guarantees the evening’s activities will produce a boy.

The Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting showcased the world beautifully, as our favorite wines of the evening came from Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, California, Oregon and New York. While the bar was set pretty high, we’ve listed below the wines and small bites we felt were tasting particularly well that night. If you get the chance, please seek these vendors out so you can enjoy the fruits of their labor as much as we did.

Favorite Champagnes and Sparkling Wines at Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

  • Bisol Desiderio & Figli (Veneto, Italy) – 2012 Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Dry, nv Prosecco Brut Desiderio Jeio

    Bisol Desiderio & Figli

    Bisol Desiderio & Figli

  • Krug (Champagne, France) – 2000 Champagne Brut, nv Champagne Brut Grand Cuvée
  • Louis Roederer (Champagne, France) – 2007 Champagne Brut
  • Pascal Doquet (Burgundy, France) – 2004 Champagne Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger, nv Champagne Horizon Blanc de Blancs

Favorite White Wines at Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

  • Baron Knyphausen (Rheingau, Germany) – 2012 Rheingau Wisselbrunnen Edition ARN Riesling
  • Bergström (Newberg, Oregon) – 2012 Sigrid Chardonnay
  • Bethel Heights (Salem, Oregon) – 2012 Estate Chardonnay
  • Cave de Ribeauvillé (Alsace, France) – 2010 Alsace Grand Cru BIO Rosacker Riesling

    Domaine Drouhin

    Domaine Drouhin

  • Domaine Drouhin (Dundee, Oregon) – 2012 Edition Limitée Chardonnay
  • Domaine Marc Morey (Burgundy, France) – 2011 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles
  • Domaine Pierre Luneau-Papin (Loire, France) – 2005 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie “L” d’Or
  • Dönnhoff (Nahe, Germany) – 2012 Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Spätlese, 2013 Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl Riesling Kabinett
  • Dr. Loosen (Mosel, Germany) – 2011 Mosel Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Gold Capsule, 2012 Mosel Erdener Treppchen Grosses Gewächs Alte Reben Riesling
  • E. Guigal (Rhône, France) – 2011 Condrieu (Viognier)
  • Famille Perrin (Rhône, France) – 2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Château de Beaucastel Blanc
  • Gai’a Wines (Santorini & Nemea, Greece) – 2013 Thalassitis Oak Fermented
  • Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard (Dundee, New York) – 2012 Magdalena Vineyard Dry Riesling, 2013 Reserve Dry Riesling
  • King Estate (Eugene, Oregon) – 2012 Domaine Pinot Gris
  • Kumeu River (Kumeu, New Zealand) – 2010 Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay, 2008 Estate Chardonnay
  • Leeuwin Estate (Margaret River, Australia) – 2011 Art Series Chardonnay

    LIOCO Wines

    LIOCO Wines

  • LIOCO (Santa Rosa, California) – 2012 Hanzell Vineyard Chardonnay
  • Marchesi Antinori (Tuscany, Italy) – 2011 Umbria Cervaro della Sala Castello della Sala (Chardonnay, Grechetto)
  • Matetic Vineyards (San Antonio, Chile) – 2013 Casablanca EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc
  • Paul Jaboulet Aîné (Rhône, France) – 2011 Hermitage Le Chevalier de Stérimberg (Marsanne, Roussanne)
  • Peay Vineyards (Cloverdale, California) – 2012 Estate Chardonnay
  • Royal Tokaji (Tokaj, Hungary) – 2013 Tokaji The Oddity Furmint
  • Spiegelberg (Somió, Hungary) – 2011 Wedding Night Wine Szent Ilona White (Juhfark, Hárslevelű, Furmint)
  • Stags’ Leap Winery (Napa, California) – 2013 Viognier
  • von Strasser (Calistoga, California) – 2013 Grüner Veltliner
  • Zarate (Galicia, Spain) – 2010 Tras da Viña Albariño

Favorite Red Wines at Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

  • Alloro Vineyard (Sherwood, Oregon) – 2011 Pinot Noir, 2010 Riservata Pinot Noir
  • Bergström (Newberg, Oregon) – 2012 Temperance Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir

    Bergstrom Wines

    Bergstrom Wines

  • Catena Zapata (Mendoza, Argentina) – 2010 Catena Alta Malbec
  • Diamond Creek (Calistoga, California) – 2010 Red Rock Terrace Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Domaine Drouhin (Dundee, Oregon) –  2011 Laurène Pinot Noir
  • Dutton-Goldfield (Sebastopol, California) – 2012 Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • Errázuriz (Aconcagua Valley, Chile) – 2011 Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve (Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Petit Verdot, Malbec)
  • Famille Perrin (Rhône, France) – 2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Château de Beaucastel
  • Hirsch Vineyards (Cazadero, California) – 2011 San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir
  • LIOCO (Santa Rosa, California) – 2012 Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • Marchesi Antinori (Tuscany, Italy) – 2011 Bolgheri Guado al Tasso Superiore (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot)
  • Peay Vineyards (Cloverdale, California) – 2011 Les Titans Syrah
  • Ridge Vineyards (Healdsburg, California) – 2012 Lytton Springs Zinfandel, 2010 Monte Bello (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc) 

    von Strasser

    von Strasser

  • Stags’ Leap Winery (Napa, California) – 2010 Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah
  • Tenuta San Guido (Tuscany, Italy) – 2011 Guidalberto (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot)
  • Vivanco (Rioja, Spain) – 2010 Colección Vivanco 4 Varietales (Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha, Mazuelo)
  • von Strasser (Calistoga, California) – 2011 Post Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Favorite Dessert and Fortified Wines at Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

  • Royal Tokaji (Tokaj, Hungary) – 2010 Tokaji Mád Cuvee Late Harvest
  • Taylor Fladgate (Douro, Portugal) – 2011 Porto Vintage, Porto 20-Year-Old Tawny

Favorite Small Bites at Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

Luckily, we found plenty of delicious food to pair up with the wines at the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting.

Toma cheese and Quince Syrup

Toma cheese and Quince Syrup from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company

Sour Flour was slicing up their Sourdough Bagels (made with organic flour), the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant had samples of Prima Donna and Abbaye de Belloc cheeses, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company paired their Toma with a Housemade Quince Syrup, and Hog Island Oyster Company had two separate stations offering freshly schucked oysters.  Olive This Olive That, a boutique retailer and tasting bar in SF’s Noe Valley, was tossing a Kale Salad with an Extra Virgin Olive Oil Vinaigrette, Cranberries, Chile Flakes, Parmesan, and Bread Crumbs.   In addition to those delicious offerings, please find below information on the restaurants that served our favorites of the heartier dishes that evening.

Hamachi Tartare

Hamachi Tartare from 1760

1760 – This New American restaurant in San Francisco offers approachable, modern, ingredient-driven cuisine in a casual atmosphere.  At the Top 100 Tasting event they had tasty spoon-sized portions of Hamachi Tartare with Avacado, Yuzu-Kosho, Radish, and Nori1760 Polk Street, San Francisco  (415) 359-1212

Dirty Habit – On the fifth floor of Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar in downtown San Francisco, this hideaway features shared plates and snacks alongside creative cocktails.   At the Top 100 Tasting event they combined a lot of Cremini and a little Shitake in their flaky and savory Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart.   12 Fourth Street, San Francisco  (415) 348-1555 

Loló – In San Francisco’s Mission District, this family-owned restaurant has a menu of traditional Mexican flavors, re-imagined with locally sourced and market-fresh ingredients.  At the Top 100 Tasting event they offered up Chicken Confit Tinga” Tostadas with Chipotle Sauce, and we (and others) made several return trips to their table for more.   974 Valencia Street, San Francisco  (415) 643-5656

Apple-Muscat Crumble

Apple-Muscat Crumble from Scala’s Bistro

Scala’s Bistro – A city classic since it opened in 1995, Scala’s Bistro offers its patrons rustic Italian fare with views of cable cars ascending to Nob Hill past the landmark Sir Francis Drake Hotel (where Scala’s is located).  At the Top 100 Tasting, our favorite dessert was their Apple-Muscat Crumble with Crème Fraîche and Saba432 Powell Street, San Francisco  (415) 395-8555

Stones Throw – A California/American restaurant and bar situated in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood, the package here is great food, undying hospitality, and a fun, carefree environment where everyone is welcome.  At the Top 100 Tasting, they had a creatively reimagined (and outstanding) Shrimp Cocktail with Horseradish, Panna Cotta, and Tomato Water Gelée1896 Hyde Street, San Francisco  (415) 796-2901 

TORC – Located in downtown Napa and headed by Chef Sean O’Toole, TORC is a contemporary, high-energy American restaurant with global influences.  At the Top 100 Tasting, they had an awesome Bodega Bay Halibut Tartare with Thai Chili, Avocado, and Crisp Rice.  1140 Main Street, Napa  (707) 252-3293 


SommScavenge Winners at Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

Sommelier Scavenger Hunt LogoThe Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting had a new attraction this year,  the Somm Scavenger Hunt.  Five teams chose a region and wine varietal and were sent on a Scavenger Hunt to collect six wines that best represent their selection.   Each team’s travel, discoveries, and findings will be captured in the Wine & Spirits December 2014 issue (on sale 11/18) but the winning team was announced during the Top 100 Tasting Event and it was Team Napa Valley, consisting of Michael Madrigale, Josiah Baldivino and Michelle Biscieglia.

The six Cabernet Sauvignon wines they felt best reflected the terroir of the Napa Valley were:

Wine & Spirits Annual Buying Guide, Winter 2014

Wine & Spirits 28th Annual Buying Guide

Wine & Spirits 28th Annual Buying Guide

FYI, all of the Top 100 Wineries are profiled in the Wine & Spirits 28th Annual Buying Guide (now available for purchase). This helpful reference offers basic facts about each winery (such as owner, winemaker, location, acreage, and annual production), describes the winery’s background, and lists their top-scoring wines in 2014 which helped propel them onto the Top 100 list.   The Buying Guide also has a list of the 100 Best Wines of the Year, which also includes wines from wineries that didn’t make it into the Top 100 Wineries this year (such as the 2012 Cristom Vineyards Estate Viognier, 2011 Terre Rouge Mourvèdre, 2010 Cobb Wines Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2008 Henschke Eden Valley Hill of Grace Syrah and Bodegas Tradición’s 30 Years Tradición Oloroso).

Roth Estate Tasting Room

Roth Estate Tasting Room

The Buying Guide also includes a list of great-value wines in 100 Best Buys of the Year, their most highly rated wines that came in below the median price for their region.   That list includes:


All in all, the 2014 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting Event in San Francisco was a spectacular evening offering tastes of some of the best wines in the world.  We can’t wait for next year’s production (their 12th), and strongly encourage you to attend.  Even if you don’t live in the Bay Area, this is definitely an occasion worth planning a future trip around.


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