Top Wines, Best Buys and Spirits of 2006
Our editors' selection of the year's 250 must-have bottlings.
Here, we present our selection of the best 100 wines we sampled out of the 8,000 total that we reviewed over the course of 2006.
What you will find here are not necessarily the highest-scoring wines. Their numeric scores were just one factor in assembling this list. We also consider price, availability, newsworthiness and the X-factors: excitement, buzz. And we strive for balance—by which we mean, a balance of geography, grape variety, wines (red and white still wines as well as sparklers, fortifieds and dessert wines) and of producers; there is only one bottling from a given brand, though certain powerhouses scored well throughout the year.
If you do decide to print out the pages and use this as a shopping list, we just want to caution you: These wines were reviewed throughout the year; some, of the precise vintage indicated, may no longer be available. Prices, too, may have changed. But as a guide, a starting point, this is the wine equivalent of the Yellow Brick Road. Follow.
What you will find on the following pages is the best of these Best Buys, a veritable bargain bonanza but without the cheesy aspects that term implies. Although media scrutiny of the worldwide wine glut has subsided, the glut itself has not gone away. There is a surplus of good to excellent wine on the market, and prices are doing what are expected of them: staying low.
It is an excellent time to experiment with varieties, regions and producers that are unfamiliar. And the wines on the following pages are a great start. Enjoy.
Public interest in spirits continues to soar. According to David Ozgo, the chief economist of Washington, D.C.-based Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), revenue growth for the distilled spirits category as a whole in 2005 advanced by a whopping 7.5% to $16.3 billion. The largest gains were in the premium and super-premium sectors. Ozgo predicted growth by another 7% ($17.4 billion) in 2006.
American consumers, especially in the young (22-35) and middle aged (35-55) demographics, are driving the spirits upsurge. Similar to the unprecedented gains made in America by wine in the 1980s and then by beer in the 1990s through broad consumer interest in craft brewing, spirits are unquestionably the headlining libations of this decade and the next.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Spirits Boom of the early Third Millennium.