The wine world is creeping towards normalcy again, albeit slowly and gradually. One of the most satisfying signs of this return has been the resumption of large-scale public and trade tastings here in San Francisco, including one of my favorite wine tasting events every year, the Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 tasting.

While this tasting, which took place about a month ago, wasn’t quite back to its normal thrumming crush of familiar wine industry faces and celebratory energy, it still managed to offer its usual fantastic assortment of wine producers and their wines for those who attended. The event program was compressed, allowing a mere 2 hours of attendance by the first wave of trade and media attendees, but that was enough for me to wander around and get some great things in my glass.

As usual, I skipped many of the domestic producers whose wines I knew well and to which I have easier access, instead choosing to focus on some of the hard-to-find (and $$$$$$) Burgundies, Barolos, and other international favorites.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a roundup from a large walk-around tasting like this, so let me offer a reminder of what follows below. These kinds of events aren’t particularly conducive to writing carefully considered tasting notes, so I tend to jot a just few descriptors down for my favorite wines, along with scores for each wine that I taste. Those descriptors appear as I wrote them in the moment, edited only for spelling and grammar.

Many wines have only scores. I’m quite confident in those scores, but those who prefer contemplative and deeply analytical wine criticism will obviously want to take these evaluations with the appropriate modicum of salt. I’ve provided links to find and purchase these wines where appropriate, as well as the average prices per bottle based on what I see online.

So, without further ado, here were some of my favorites from this year’s Top 100 tasting.

Tasting Notes

Sparkling Wines With A Score Between 9.5 And 10

2012 Champagne Louis Roederer “Cristal” Brut, Champagne, France
Brioche, seawater, floral, elegant, long, with the faintest hint of aromatic sweetness... $270. click to buy.

Sparkling Wines With A Score Around 9.5

2012 Champagne Bollinger La Grande Année” Brut, Champagne, France
Yeasty, seawater, fine bubbles, mineral, dependable yum. $137. click to buy.

Sparkling Wines With A Score Between 9 And 9.5

NV Champagne Jean Vesselle “Réserve” Brut, Champagne, France. $40. click to buy.
NV Champagne Louis Roederer “Collection 242” Brut, Champagne, France. $45. click to buy.

Sparkling Wines With A Score Around 9

NV Champagne Bollinger “Special Cuvée” Brut, Champagne, France. $45. click to buy.
2005 Iron Horse Vineyards “Joy!” Sparkling Wine, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California. $275 (magnum only). click to buy.

Sparkling Wines With A Score Between 8.5 And 9

NV Champagne Jean Vesselle “Rosé de Saignée” Brut Grand Cru, Champagne, France. $70. click to buy.
2013 Iron Horse Vineyards “Brut LD” Sparkling Wine, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California. $100.

White Wines With A Score Around 9.5

2019 Domaine Philippe Colin Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, Burgundy, France
Mineral, fantastic wet chalkboard, lemon pith, silky texture. $759. click to buy.

White Wines With A Score Between 9 And 9.5

2019 Domaine Philippe Colin “Les Chaumées Clos Saint-Abdon” Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, Burgundy, France
Pale gold, mineral, lemon pith, white flowers. $140. click to buy.
2019 Mullineux “Old Vines Granite” Chenin Blanc, Swartland, South Africa
Gorgeously steely, lemon pith, floral, stony minerality, great acidity. $75. click to buy.
2018 Maison Louis Jadot “Duc de Magenta Clos de la Garenne” Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, Burgundy, France
Resiny, lemon pith, wet chalkboard, juicy, good acid. $86. click to buy.

White Wines With A Score Around 9

2019 Brooks “Lone Star” Riesling, Eola–Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Mineral and juicy. $28. click to buy.
2019 Brooks “Ara” Riesling, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Lean and juicy. $29. click to buy.
2018 E. Guigal “Lieu-Dit Blanc” St-Joseph, Rhône Valley, France. $48. click to buy.
2019 Mullineux “Old Vines White” White Blend, Swartland, South Africa. $32. click to buy.

White Wines With A Score Between 8.5 And 9

2019 Beringer Vineyards Private Reserve Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California. $37. click to buy.
2019 Chanin Wine Co. “Los Alamos Vineyard” Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, California. $42. click to buy.

Pink Wines With A Score Around 9.5

Vignettes – De Maison Selections

2019 Clos Cibonne “Cuvée Spéciale des Vignettes” Tibouren, Côtes de Provence, Provence, France. $45. click to buy.

Pink Wines With A Score Between 9 and 9.5

2019 Clos Cibonne “Cuvée Tradition” Tibouren, Côtes de Provence, Provence, France. $55. click to buy.
2020 Domaines Ott “Clos Mireille” Rosé, Côtes de Provence, Provence, France. $50. click to buy.
2020 Domaines Ott “Château de Selle” Rosé, Côtes de Provence, Provence, France. $50. click to buy.

Pink Wines With A Score Around 9

2019 Clos Cibonne “Cuvée Prestige Caroline” Tibouren, Côtes de Provence, Provence, France. $50. click to buy.

Red Wines With A Score Around 9.5

2018 Big Basin Vineyards “Ferrari Family Vineyard” Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Raspberry and redcurrant, silky, floral, long and juicy. $65. click to buy.
2018 Big Basin Vineyards “Lester Family Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains, California
Sweet raspberry pastilles, floral, herbs, silky. $55. click to buy.
2019 Chanin Wine Co. “Sanford & Benedict Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, California
Light garnet in color, silky, raspberry, redcurrant, faint tannins, floral. Stellar. $69. click to buy.
2018 Delas Frères “Les Bessards” Hermitage, Rhône Valley, France
Floral crushed stones, cassis, blackberry, tight tannins, stony. $180. click to buy.
2016 Elvio Cogno “Ravera Bricco Pernice” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy
Tight tannins, herbs, strawberry, floral note, long. $140. click to buy.
2016 Elvio Cogno “Ravera” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy
Strawberry, earth, leather, floral. Gorgeous. $105. click to buy.
2016 Fratelli Alessandria “Monvigliero” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy
Strawberry, floral, tight tannins, great acid. $95. click to buy.
2018 Hirsch Vineyards “Block 8” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast, California
Floral, redcurrant, raspberry. Gorgeous. $125. click to buy.
2018 Lucien Le Moine “Les Baudes” Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru, Burgundy, France
Velvety, berry, floral, smooth and juicy. $165. click to buy.
2017 Mullineux “Schist Roundstone” Syrah, Swartland, South Africa
Floral as all get-out, juicy berry blackberry, powdery tannins, sour cherry. Long finish. $125. click to buy.

SCHIST Syrah "Roundstone" - Mullineux Wines

Red Wines With A Score Between 9 And 9.5

2018 Brooks “Crannell” Pinot Noir, Eola–Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Cranberry and raspberry, herbs, lean. $55. click to buy.
2019 Chanin Wine Co. “Los Alamos Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, California
Light garnet, gorgeous, silky, raspberry, peeled willow, floral, faint tannins. $69. click to buy.
2018 Delas Frères “Seigneur de Maugiron” Côte-Rôtie, Rhône Valley, France
Iodine, blackberry, fine tannins. $60. click to buy.
2018 Delas Frères “François de Tournon” St.-Joseph, Rhône Valley, France
Meaty, bacony, blackberry, cherry, violets. $45. click to buy.
2019 Domaine Philippe Colin Santenay, Burgundy, France
Bramble, berry, juicy, fine faint tannins, herbs. $50. click to buy.
2017 E. Guigal “Vignes de l’Hospice” St-Joseph, Rhône Valley, France
Violets, cassis. $99. click to buy.
2018 Hirsch Vineyards “Reserve” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast, California
Herbal, floral, some tannic grip, dried herbs. $99. click to buy.
2018 Hirsch Vineyards “San Andreas Fault” Pinot Noir, Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma Coast, California
Herbal, cherry, cranberry, tannic grip. $60. click to buy.
2018 Lucien Le Moine Echezeaux Grand Cru, Burgundy, France
Meaty, tannic grip, earthy, raspberry, herbs. $489. click to buy.
2017 Big Basin Vineyards “Altitude 2292 – Coastview Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Monterey County, Central Coast, California. $85. click to buy.
2016 G.D. Vajra “Bricco delle Viole” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy. $140. click to buy.
2017 G.D. Vajra “Coste di Rose” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy. $75. click to buy.
2016 Paolo Scavino “Bric del Fiasc” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy. $100. click to buy.
2016 Paolo Scavino “Ravera” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy. $90. click to buy.

Red Wines With A Score Around 9

2018 Maison Louis Jadot “Domaine Louis Jadot” Nuits-st-George Premiere Cru, Burgundy, France
Tart raspberry and sour cherry. $116. click to buy.
2016 Beringer Vineyards “Eighth Maker” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California. $400. click to buy.
2017 Domaine d’Aussières “Château d’Aussières” Corbières, Languedoc Roussillon, France. $50. click to buy.
2018 Domaine d’Aussières “Blason d’Aussières” Corbières, Languedoc Roussillon, France. $33. click to buy.
2017 Domaine d’Aussières “A d’Aussières” Corbières, Languedoc Roussillon, France. $20. click to buy.
2016 Fratelli Alessandria “Gramolere” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy. $80. click to buy.
2020 Fratelli Alessandria “Speziale” Pelaverga Verduno, Piedmont, Italy. $29. click to buy.
2017 G.D. Vajra “Kyé” Freisa, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy. $44. click to buy.
2016 Paolo Scavino “Bricco Ambrogio” Barolo, Piedmont, Italy. $65. click to buy.

Red Wines With A Score Between 8.5 And 9

2017 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge, Rhône Valley, France. $59. click to buy.

Red Wines With A Score Around 8.5

2017 Beringer Vineyards “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, Knights Valley, Sonoma, California. $49. click to buy.