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June 10, 2009, 10:22 am

The Top 100 is Out!

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Not THAT ‘Top 100!’ That title, to most wine interested folks, speaks to the Wine Spectator’s annual ‘Top 100 Wines,’ a perennial that people anxiously await and wineries hope and pray to be a part of, as sales of these wines inevitably fly once the reveal is made. But the ‘Top 100′ I am referencing is the industry “power list” that is compiled each you by the respected Decanter magazine. In this list they look at who has the juice in wine today and how/why they do. It is always a fascinating read, and this year’s is no different!

Probably the biggest ‘aha’ in 2009 is that the iconic and formidable Robert Parker’s star has fallen (a little ) this year, as he now ranks #2 having fallen behind Richard Sands, the head honcho at Constellation Brands. The magazine puts forward that there are two reasons for this. First, being UK/European based (Decanter that is), there is falling global interest in the ‘big, ripe, high-alcohol wines’ Parker leans towards, and in the USA he is facing increased competition, and finger pointing over the perceived questionable ethics’ of two of his contributors – as reported in the Wall Street Journal .

The Top 10 contains a number of repeats though some have seen their stars rise in 2009 (including my good friend Annette Alvarez Peters, grande dame of Costco’s wine program). Three ‘newbies’ to the lead ten include three new entries – non-wine drinking French premier Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean-Christophe Deslarzes of screwcap manufacturers Alcan, and Pernod Ricard chief Pierre Pringuet. Perhaps the biggest fall to earth has been that of the omnipresent wine consultant to all, Michel Rolland, who saw his ranking slip a full nine spots down to 17, effectively knocking him from the top 10.

While it is easy to over read these rankings they do speak volumes as to global and especially Euro-centric perception. It would be equally evocative if someone based in the USA did their own version of the same compilation. Though they are not in the same league as the Bordeaux classifications and rankings which are still reliable all these years later, I do think that over time this sort of power ranking will, by industry standards, carry some increasing weight if not only for 12 months at a pop.

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