The top 100 best wines on the planet, as defined by the American magazine Wine Spectator (WS), are back in SAQ Sélection stores and online. Now it’s your chance to savour, but hurry up because they’re going fast!

Here are a few explanations to help you understand the particular rating used and those that already exist on the market.

There are two main grading systems for wine: one American and the other European.

The first, created by wine guru Robert Parker, is based on a 100-point scale. Parker classifies his wines into five categories. Wine Spectator magazine essentially uses the same system, but based on six categories:

95-100 – Classic: a great wine

90-94 – Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style

85-89 – Very good: a wine with special qualities

80-84 – Good: a solid, well-made wine

75-79 – Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws

50-74 – Not recommended

Europeans, on the other hand, prefer a 20-point scale. This is the classification system employed by the celebrated British critic Jancis Robinson and by the prestigious Revue du vin de France.

 

Are the ratings reliable?

Each year, Wine Spectator magazine releases a list of its 100 best wines, among those tasted throughout the previous 12 months. Four criteria influence the final decision: quality, value, availability and the “X factor,” which is to say, the enthusiasm sparked by a rising producer, a noteworthy wine or a product that is characteristic of a certain region. The ranking encompasses more than 20,000 wines tasted, produced the world over (13 countries, and 4 States represented). In real terms these rankings encompass the “100 best quality-price-pleasure ratios” in the world.

 

A quality index for the consumer?

Some people swear by these rankings, while others ignore them, finding them reductive and too commercialized. One thing is for sure: a wine that gains a top ranking (90 points or more, for example), is definitely not a bottle of plonk! On the other hand, everyone has their own taste. Parker, for example, easily admits that he prefers dense wines with a strong tannic structure and little acidity. So it’s important to keep in mind that these points are awarded by people who have their individual preferences when it comes to wine.

 

WS Top 100: the magical 90's

The new SAQ arrival will only include wines that received ratings of 90-97 in 2016 from the Wine Spectator. These exceptional wines will be offered in the Cellier section of most SAQ Sélection stores and will include bottles from several countries, including Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Germany, the United States, France and South Africa. This ranking, which approximates an A+ given to the hardest-working students, is an indicator that the wine is distinguished in its category.

 

Exorbitantly prized wines?

You might imagine that these wines solely destined for a market of collectors, who aren’t afraid to fork out a hundred dollars or more to get their hands on one of these bottles. But that’s actually not the case. Our selection of Wine Spectator Top 100 wines will include wines starting at $14, and the average bottle costs around $40.

 

Rarity and uniqueness

For those who enjoy making notes about their tasting experiences, this unique arrival could prove to be a great way to discover certain emerging producers, and to follow their vintages in the years ahead. Most importantly, if you want to taste our experts’ favourites, don’t procrastinate: quantities are strictly limited.