No I’m not talking about Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/etc (but it is that time, too).  I’m talking about Top Lists.  The trusty Wine Spectator just released the Top 10 of their Top 100, and locally, the San Francisco Chronicle just released its Top 100 of the year.

This is enjoyable viewing and reading for me, but knowing that there are so many that are unattainable – either because they are particularly scarce, or just completely out of most normal people’s price range – is always a bit disheartening.  This is more the case for The Wine Spectator than the Chronicle’s list, but there’s still a ton of great information that can be gleaned from these lists.

One thing to consider when reviewing or perusing these lists is the current trend.  Several years ago (and post- Sideways), Pinot Noir was all the rage, especially in the US.   There seemed to be a global interest in emerging regions like Australia/New Zealand and in Shiraz-blends and un-oaked Chardonnays.

In California, the recent trend has been a re-evaluation of Rhone varietals (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, etc.) with particular attention lately to Grenache.  The reason for this has a lot to do with the particular climate relative to emerging regions such as the Central Coast (Monterey, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara) which is where some of these varietals thrive.  There was great hope for Syrah to pick up the mantle from Pinot Noir a few years ago, but it never materialized.  Now that blends are coming into vogue, the true beauty of these varietals may be starting to show.

The reason for this little diatribe is that the No. 1 wine of the year according to the Wine Spectator is not a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet Sauvignon, or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, or whatever… it’s a Rhone blend from Paso Robles.  Yes, Paso Robles.  Pretty heady stuff for this region I presume.  So a hearty congrats to Saxum wines and their 2007 James Berry Vineyard Rhone-style red blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre)!

For another post, I’ll provide a review of some wineries I’ve visited down yonder.  In the meantime, here’s a link to the top 10 list from The Wine Spectator:

And a link to the SF Chronicle’s article on their Top 100 wines of 2010:

What do you think?