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article imageOp-Ed: The finest wines from France and California have lost to Portugal

By Robert G Cope     Nov 20, 2014 in Lifestyle
Portuguese wines dominate the Top 10 ranking in the latest list of the world's 100 most exciting wines as judged from blind-tasting conducted by Wine Spectator magazine.
Since the 1976 Judgement of Paris, when Californian wines were judged by the French as 'better' than their own, France and California have been granite mountains dominating international awards. Italy, the world's largest producer of wines, consistently ranked third in providing the finest wines. Now it is Australia.
The first wine-world tremor since the Judgment of Paris shook standings in 2003. Suddenly five new competing nations placed among the Top Ten: Australia, Chile, Portugal, Spain and Germany took half the annual awards at the top of Wine Spectator's 100 best.
Four years ago, from Australia, where wine appreciation is a passion, I first re-analysed annual blind-tasting-results reported by New York based Wine Spectator magazine. Judging sensory characteristics — intensity, complexity, suppleness, firmness, finish, harmony, and so forth — is hardly an exact science. However, claiming the largest wine circulation on earth and basing its findings on thousands of blind tastings, Wine Spectator magazine capably reports annually on the world's top 100 — claiming them to be the "most exciting wines."
Top Ten results for 2014, released during November, illustrate the increasing presence, even dominance, of new competitors since 2003: Portugal took three awards; Australia took two, followed — one each — by Chile and Italy.
This is a dramatic change. The perennial champions, California and France, took over half of all the awards since at least 2009, this year they only shared the 7th, 8th, and 9th rankings — obviously the low end and less than a third of the total.
While the life-style magazine's results have been reported since 1988, I concentrate on the new century — 2000 and on. This is my fourth review.
I also focus on the Top 10 wines from the thousands submitted by vintners from more than a dozen leading regions worldwide: Napa, Rhone, Burgundy, Barossa, Tuscany, Columbia Valley, and many more.
And, finally — returning to an Australian perspective — it appears that the down-under vintages have, with five-ranked wines since 2009, matched the Italians. Australia took the number 2 and number 5 rank in 2014.
The new-kids-in-the-vineyard, taking first, third and fourth, however, are clearly the Portuguese.
Wine Spectators  portrait of the Top Ten
Wine Spectators' portrait of the Top Ten
Note: The December 31st issue of Wine Spectator will focus on, as the editors say, “The 100 Most Exciting Wines of 2014.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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