Monday, January 27, 2014

What are the world's 100 best types of wines?

UPDATE: We're voting on this now. Go to this post and get your vote in!

(Original post starts here.)

Alder Yarrow of Vinography was sitting at lunch, talking about wine, and he said, "Gemischter Satz is one of the 100 best wines in the world." I said, "No, we can name 100 wines better than that."

So we started naming them, and that's what this list is: a from-the-hip first draft of an interesting idea. What are the world's 100 best types of wine?

We didn't establish any firm ground rules, because regions are as small as Chablis (which we agree is significantly different from other Burgundy whites) and as large as Greece. We didn't reject many of each others' suggestions. This list is about 75% Alder's, because I was furiously taking notes. We came up with this list in about 5 minutes, while drinking wine from a region that's not on here (sorry!), so I'm sure there are significant omissions.

Now it's time to crowd-source some editing. In typing this up, I discovered we named only 91 wines. Great! What wine would you add? Please let me know. I can also use your suggestions for what to cut, in case we get too many additions.

So here it is, the first draft of The World's 100 Best Types of Wine:

Alto Adige white
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Barossa Semillon
Barossa Shiraz
Bordeaux left bank (red)
Bordeaux right bank (red)
Bordeaux white
Brunello di Montalcino
Burgenland Blaufrankisch
Burgundy (red)
Burgundy (white)
Campania red
Campania white
Canterbury Pinot Noir
Central Otago Pinot Noir
Clare Valley Riesling
Collio red
Corsica red
Dalmatian whites
Douro red
Dry Creek Zinfandel
Etna Rosso
Fiano di Avellino
Finger Lakes Riesling
Friuli Malvasia
Greece Xinomavro
Hawkes Bay Bordeaux blends
Hungary Tokaj
Hunter Valley Semillon
Jura red
Kremstal Riesling
Limari Chardonnay
Margaret River Bordeaux blends
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
Maule Carignane
Mendoza Malbec
Mosel Riesling
Napa Cabernet
Pfalz Riesling
Provence rosé
Rheingau Riesling
Rias Baixas
Ribera del Duero
Rioja (red)
Rioja (white)
Rutherglen Muscat
Salta Malbec
Santa Barbara County Syrah
Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Santorini Assyrtiko
Savoie red
Savoie white
Sicily red
Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
St. Joseph
Super Tuscans
Tasmania reds
Tasmania sparkling wine
Uruguay Tannat
Victoria Shiraz
Vinho Verde single variety
Vin Jaune
Wachau Riesling
Walla Walla Bordeaux blends
Walla Walla Syrah
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Yarra Valley Pinot Noir

Please leave your suggestions below.

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Tokyo Sexwale said...

Rather than 'Hungarian Tokaj', I would submit the usual grapes used in most Tokaj wines, both sweet and dry: Harslevelu and Furmint. Both are divine on their own and when blended together.

Waynegrape said...

Not just Friulian Malvasia.. ALL Friulian whites (as you did with Alto Adige) OR add a "Friulian White blends" to the list (Vintage Tunina, Terra Alte, Vespa Bianco, among MANY others!)...

Also ISTRIAN Malvasia isway better than Friulian Malvasia, and I would also throw Austria ROTER Veltliner into the mix just to shake things up a little...

We could go on forever... Etna Bianco? Niagara Ice Wine? Dalmatian Posip?...

Bob Henry said...

Blake and Alder,

Methinks . . .

Sauternes [“Bordeaux white” is not specific enough]

Alsace Gewurztraminer

Austrian Gruner [see Jancis Robinson’s “take” on these wines:]

Loire Valley Vouvray

Sonoma Cabernet [don’t want to piss off Napa’s neighbors]

~~ Bob

Unknown said...

I'd add Nahe Rieslings and Baden Spatbugunders to the list. (can you tell I used to live in Germany?) And Tuscan Sangioveses (Chiantis).

John C said...

Quarts de Chaume

guren said...

Madiran (tannat)
Cahors (malbec)
Sardinian Vermentino
Sagrantino di Montefalco
Verdelho from Madeira
South African Pinotage
Argentinian Malbec

Wine Yoda said...

You left out vintage port and tawny port

Jan Čeřovský said...

If you have left/right bank Bordeaux and red/white Burgundy, than you should have fino & manzanilla and oloroso sherry as separate types :)

Jack Everitt said...

Alto Adige Lagrien
Friuli Orange
Friuli White
Friuli Vitovska
Saumur-Champigny Red (or Cab Franc)
Austrian Gruner Veltliner (!)
Loire Chenin
Jura white (and this comes way before Savoie red/white)
Russian River pinot noir (!)
Corsican whites

and perhaps, Valais.

Australia and NZ seem way over-represented in your list.

JV said...


Unknown said...

Cotes du Roussillon
Russian River/Sonoma Sparkling

Unknown said...

I think that you might rethink the Dry Creek Zinfandel and lean to the California Central Coast (Westside) Zinfandels. Hugely underrated in my humble opinion.I did appreciate your pick on Santa Barbara county Pinot Noir and Syrah's.

McSnobbelier said...

Interesting idea but a bit jumbled... maybe that's what you meant. But as wine consultant for restaurant wine programs I try to get things a bit focused. So what about grouping things a bit so some important wine places don't feel left out. i.e. Bourgueil or St-Nicolas de Bourgueil should get lumped with Chinon for Cab Franc. And Vouvray could get props latched onto Savennieres.

Me also thinks the lack on Long Island, NY will upset some of my friends and associates.

McSnobbelier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon Bjork said...

Lodi Kerner!

Sarah said...

Chianti Classico

Jack Everitt said...

A few more:

Trebbiano d'Abruzzo

And not:

Treevinos said...

Petit Verdot
Viognier (Virginia)

winey brett said...

Where will this list end?
Variety is the spice of life...

Anonymous said...

Port wine
Vinho Verde(not just single varietal)

guren said...


Barbera d'Asti
Dolcetto d'Alba


Yamanashi Koshu (likely not better than Gemischter Satz, but then again I have no idea who or what Gemischter Satz is)

Charlie Olken said...

And now the title of this exercise is The World's 200 best wine types.

You need to add a few dozen local entries just for starters.

Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Westside Road Pinot Noir
Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, or better yet, Rutherford Bench Cabernet Sauvignon--and thus Oakville CS, Stags Leap CS.

Ballard Canyon Syrah

And this could go on and on. At some point, if you and Alder were to try to make it into something more, you would need to set some standards for size, overlap etc. If Gigondas and St. Joseph make the list, then so do all the right and left bank Bordeaux communes.

But, thanks for making us all think.

The Sommeliere said...

This is a ridiculous construct. Everyone has his/her own idea of what the world's best 100 wines/grapes are.
The list could be endless...

Paul said...

Vintage Port
Tawny Port
Dao Red
Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir
Macedon Pinot Noir
Chilean Camenere

Victoria shiraz is a pretty broad category - thats 22 separate regions you've covered there!

guren said...

Blake, I now look forward to a future post where you rank these wines based on whatever criteria you choose.

John C said...

Amarone (2nd a prior nomination)
Chianti Classico (ditto)
Sauternes (ditto)
Quarts de Chaume (ditto)
South Africa Chenin Blanc
Alsace Gewurztraminer (also probably a prior nom)
Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Port: why Madeira and Sherry? perhaps not have any of these three?

Suggest deleting:
Tasmania reds
Madeira and Sherry
Salta Malbec -- is is that different from Mendoza?
Fiano di Avellino
Hunter Valley Semillon
Margaret River Bordeaux blends
Maule Carignane
Alto Adige -- not sure what these are except Santa Marg PG...
Friuli Malvasia(perhaps replace with more general Friuli whites)

do you need Campania reds if you have Taurasi?

W. Blake Gray said...

Thanks for all the great suggestions. I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do with this: finish up a list of my top 100, or try to do a crowdsourced poll. Or both.

Some of these were really serious omissions. Chianti Classico, geez, how could we forget it? But all these great suggestions show me that to take these seriously is going to mean omitting some great wines.

But delete Madeira, John C? Never!

Anonymous said...

luckily in the comment someone added Franciacorta!  What have you tasted to draft the list? The typology is important and sinonimous of reliability. In a DOC there are many different companies that produce qualitatively different wines.

Visual Conversations said...

Definitely Cahors, an extraordinary region.

Bob Henry said...

For Alder:

CChamberlain said...

Naturally, I will have to third the Austrian Gruner comment. My other votes are already on the list, I think... I might also give a vote for Lagrien