As we reach the end of 2018, we reflect on what we tasted and experienced in the wine world over the past year. While there are incredible wines and deals to be found across the entire price and rating spectrum, there’s something to be said for the rare bottles that manage to achieve what we consider the absolute pinnacle of quality from a member of our review panel. Only four of our editors had the privilege of tasting wines they deemed worthy of 100 points this year, with selections hailing from France, Italy, Austria, Oregon and Portugal.
So without further ado, out of over 24,000 wines tasted in 2018, here are the 15 wines that earned a perfect score.
Our 100 Point Wines of 2018
Château Ausone 2015 Saint-Émilion; $1,000, 100 points. This magnificent wine brings together the great fruit of the vintage with a complex structure. The acidity, ripe tannins and the power of this dense wine are enormous, as is its aging potential. With that acidity and tannic structure, and with the perfumes from the Cabernet Franc, this wine will evolve slowly and with a measured pace. Drink from 2028. Cellar Selection. –Roger Voss
Château Cheval Blanc 2015 Saint-Émilion; $800, 100 points. Made with 45% Cabernet Franc, this great wine offers a beautiful, rich and perfumed character. This is an exceptional vintage for this estate which incorporated into the blend fruit from parcels of the vineyard that would normally go into the second wine. It is packed with black-fruit flavors and broad tannins, with a background of juicy acidity and a firm structure. Drink from 2027. Cellar Selection. –R.V.
Château Lafite Rothschild 2015 Pauillac; $700, 100 points. This is a great vintage from Lafite. The profile is rich in feel, with a seriously firm tannic structure. Solid, complex and with great authority, this Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant wine is impressively dense in dark-fruit tones. It will age for many years. Drink from 2027, although that would almost be too soon. Cellar Selection. –R.V.
Château Margaux 2015 Margaux; $1,600, 100 points. Predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine shows a wonderful black-currant purity on the palate, along with intense, vibrant acidity. The background is all tannin, which speaks to its aging potential. This wine is the last vintage produced by Paul Pontallier, who was general manager from 1990 until his death in 2016. It’s a memorable wine and one for aging. Drink from 2027. Cellar Selection. –R.V.
Château Pétrus 2015 Pomerol; $3,400, 100 points. This is like drinking liquid black currants and blackberries. The wine has great intensity and richness from the superbly generous Merlot. The wood aging is still there as a hint in the background although the fruit and acidity dominate. Drink from 2026. Cellar Selection. –R.V.
Pol Roger 2008 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Brut (Champagne); $293, 100 points. One of the great Champagnes both for its richness and its longevity, this latest incarnation is superb. The wine’s richness is linked to the ripe fruit and the dominance of Pinot Noir in the blend. It also shines in the perfect balance between the texture, the minerality and the integration of the fruit. It can be enjoyed now, but it will be better from 2020 and then for many years to come. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. Cellar Selection. –R.V.
W. & J. Graham’s 2016 The Stone Terraces Vintage (Port); $230, 100 points. A superbly intense wine of great concentration, this has a generous structure and abundant ripe-fruit tones. Its tannins are fully intact, promising an immensely long aging period. It’s rich, but also fresh in acidity and juicy black-fruit flavors. Drink from 2029. Premium Port Wines, Inc. Cellar Selection. –R.V.
Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona 2012 Vigna di Pianrosso Santa Caterina d’Oro Riserva (Brunello di Montalcino); $175, 100 points. This gorgeous wine opens with alluring aromas of sweet pipe tobacco, underbrush, new leather, truffle, plum and eucalyptus. Smooth and full-bodied yet elegant, the savory, juicy palate delivers crushed Marasca cherry, raspberry preserve, licorice and menthol alongside polished, enveloping tannins. Fresh acidity provides impeccable balance while an orange zest note lifts the finish. Drink 2023–2032. Indigenous Selections. Cellar Selection. –Kerin O’Keefe
Conti Costanti 2012 Riserva (Brunello di Montalcino); $245, 100 points. Heady scents of chopped herbs, woodland berry, forest floor, new leather, dark spice and violet are just some of the aromas you’ll find in this fragrant wine. It’s savory and loaded with finesse, delivering juicy Marasca cherry, raspberry compote, licorice, orange zest and pipe tobacco alongside firm yet polished tannins and fresh acidity. A tangy mineral note graces the lingering finish. It’s still young and needs plenty of time to fully unwind and develop. Drink 2027–2042. Empson USA Ltd. Cellar Selection. –K.O.
Le Chiuse 2013 Brunello di Montalcino; $79, 100 points. Dark spice, pipe tobacco, blue flower, crushed herb and wild berry are just some of the aromas you’ll find on this stunningly beautiful, fragrant red. Vibrant and elegant, the radiant palate has great intensity and energy, delivering juicy Marasca cherry, pomegranate, white pepper and star anise set against a backbone of bright acidity and firm, refined tannins. A classic Brunello, with stunning body and superb pedigree, it will age for decades. Drink 2023–2043. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. Cellar Selection. –K.O.
Heidi Schröck 2015 Ruster Ausbruch Auf den Flügeln der Morgenröte Welschriesling (Burgenland); $80, 100 points. On the nose, a hint of dark fir honey shows with a streak of its pleasant bitterness. Fresh notes of apple and lemon zest mix with the earthy notes of botrytis. On the palate, this zestiness unfolds completely, crashing with the full force of its fruit like roaring surf against a rock. That lovely element of noble bitterness still holds sway, creating a sensation of the most intense but also precise sweetness. Drink until 2040, at least. Skurnik Wines, Inc. Cellar Selection. –Anne Krebiehl MW
Kracher 2015 Zwischen den Seen Trockenbeerenauslese Nummer 4 Scheurebe (Burgenland); $100, 100 points. An exquisitely floral honeysuckle aroma surrounds a creamy yet sharp note of passion fruit, while a peppery verve tingles around the edges. The palate has the same playful character: a floral tease here, a full-blown passion-fruit kiss there, a total embrace of sweetness balanced by a sure-footed command of acid that draws everthing together and assembles a newly precise picture with every sip. This is so heady, so delicious, so pure, so moreish that it should be a controlled substance. This should hold well through 2040, at least. Terlato Wines International. Cellar Selection. –A.K.
Kracher 2015 Zwischen den Seen Trockenbeerenauslese Nummer 8 Muscat Ottonel (Burgenland); $130, 100 points. Damask rose, honeysuckle and blood orange peel unite in an almost otherworldly headiness. The palate keeps shimmering with these floral overtones while a solid wave of sweetness assails the taste buds with an insisting urgency, only to follow this with a sharp, welcome smack of pure lemon freshness. These notions alternate and fill the head with the pleasure of their tension. Sublime. Drink until 2040, at least. Terlato Wines International. Cellar Selection. –A.K.
Sattlerhof 2013 Trockenbeerenauslese Sauvignon Blanc (Südsteiermark); $65, 100 points. The allure of caramel and smoke hits first, after which a cloud of the purest apricot essence reaches the senses. The viscous palate tingles with disarmingly sharp acidity, balanced by incredibly luscious sweetness. Layer upon layer of apricot, passion fruit and candied lemon unleashes itself in this clean, precise TBA. It offers marvel concentration and purity. Drink until 2040. Craft + Estate–The Winebow Group. Cellar Selection. –A.K.
Patricia Green Cellars 2016 Estate Vineyard Bonshaw Block Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge); $60, 100 points. This 100% Pommard clone wine from a 1990 planting is immensely deep, dark and textural, with complex aromas that instantly draw one in. Its compact berry, plum jam and baking spice scents come with underlying mineral and earth notes. It hits the palate with a powerfully woven matrix of lush flavors: blueberry, plum, cherry, chocolate, butterscotch and toasted coconut. It’s thick, supple and lingering—an ethereal and extraordinary wine. Editors’ Choice. –Paul Gregutt