Our 2013 iteration of this list is intended as a source of education and discussion. The making of this list is never an easy process. Who are the most influential wine people in the United States, and how exactly do you define ‘influential?’ Does influential mean people who move markets, impact consumers, inspire winemakers, form policy, and create debate? Yes. Though some decry the consolidation of the wine industry (and that is an issue worth considering) we are not trying to suggest who is “good” or “bad” within America’s wine industry. We merely define the Top 100 people, from winemakers to law makers, bankers to bloggers, and sommeliers to celebrities who influence wine; how it is made, marketed, perceived, sold, shipped, purchased, shared and consumed. As was true in 2012, we sought help to assemble this list people from a diverse group of people and we are grateful for their input. And we chose to release it today, January 29th, as it was on this day in 1919 when the pathetic policy of Prohibition was ratified; the effects of this lunatic legislation still evident in our country’s inability to ship and sell wine across state lines. We honor winemakers, wine drinkers and wine lovers of every conceivable demographic. Use this list, comment on it, share it with everyone, learn from it, and continue your joy of being IntoWine.
In putting together a list of the top California Cabernets, there is sure to be some disagreement. I tried to include those wines that have a track record, the wineries still making great wines, those that seemed to have the commitment for the future and some personal favorites. I am sure I left some out.
1. Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select – It’s always hard to name the number one wine. But this has a track record that’s very long. Even in less than stellar vintages, it is an outstanding wine. They just don’t seem to make a dud. My only complaint is the price at over $200 a bottle. But, in comparison to other Napa Cabs or elsewhere in the world, this is a fair price.
In my last article, I listed the Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking. In this article I look at the “non-dump bucket” list for wines from California. This proved to be a different task. First, very few wineries have a long track record of making great wine. Secondly, while California is diverse, it does not have the diversity of climates and terroir and grape varietals of France. Still, it does produce some of the best wines in the world and any wine lover should make it a point to try as many of them as they can. Here is my list:
1. Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s hard to pick the first wine. This one is a great wine in every vintage and has been for a long time. Expensive but still possible to afford and made in large enough quantities to be found in grocery stores. Every lover of Cabernet should try this once.
If you are a wine lover, wine connoisseur, wine aficionado or even if you just like to have a couple of glasses on a Friday night, it soon becomes obvious that there are some wines that are held in a higher esteem in the wine world. Sometimes, it is because these wines are very rare. Other times, it’s because the wine has a place in history. Sometimes it’s because the wine is just that good. Here is a list of 75 wines from France that make up that category. A few caveats. I have not tried every wine on this list. Some I have and others I hope to. Many of these wines are rare and hard to find. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on the list. After all, if the opportunity presents itself, go for it.
Napa lays claim to Cabernet Sauvignon like they invented it. Certainly they are dominant region where it’s grown in the U.S., but Paso Robles is positioning itself to give Napa a run for its money and this central California region is producing Cabernet and Bordeaux blends offering incredible value and diversity, something Napa has strayed from.
IntoWine recently caught up with Cerridwen Wines Winemaker, Deborah Bennett to discuss wine and her thoughts on current trends in the wine industry.
Q: You originally came to Napa Valley seeking to become a wine writer. Why the change to winemaking?
A: The whole thing was really kind of wild. Shortly after I moved to Napa I attended a seminar where the question was asked, "What would you do as a career if you could do anything you wanted?" It came as a complete surprise to me when I answered, "Become a winemaker." I had no idea where that had come from. It wasn't something I'd been considering.