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#44 - Novy 2003 Syrah Sonoma County
Adam and Dianna Lee oversee a remarkable lineup of wines: 24 different Pinot Noirs from California and Oregon under the Siduri label and a handful of stellar Syrahs from Novy, which they make with their extended family. The blend here includes grapes purchased from Bennett Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley. 1,116 cases made.

In 2005, for the first time, Syrah dominates our annual Top 100: Nearly one of every four wines on our list of the year's most exciting releases is either a varietal Syrah or a blend containing the variety. Whether grown in its traditional home in France's Rhône Valley, expanding its realm in Australia, or colonizing vineyards in Italy, Chile, South Africa and beyond, Syrah is the source of top-quality wines.

This global groundswell of Syrah reflects the steady enlargement of the world of fine wine in general; 11 countries contributed wines to this year's list. However, the old guard still leads the way. California represents about one-quarter of our Top 100, including five of the top 10 rankings. France and Italy are next in line.

This year, Wine Spectator editors tasted more than 12,400 wines. Of these, more than 2,500 rated outstanding (90 points or higher on our 100-point scale). These were the initial candidates for the Top 100. We apply four criteria to determine the final selections: quality (as represented by score); value (as reflected by release price); availability (measured by case production, or for international wines, the number of cases imported); and an X-factor we call excitement.

No equation determines the final selections; the choices reflect our editors' judgment and enthusiasm about the wines tasted by Wine Spectator in 2005.

We are always impressed by wines that deliver value. In 1988, the year the Top 100 debuted, the average price of the wines on the list was $40. This year, despite the cumulative effects of inflation and the weak dollar, the average price is just $43 and change. The rounded average score of the wines of this year's Top 100 is 92 points.

For complete tasting notes on the Top 100 wines, see the Buying Guide in the Dec. 31, 2005-Jan. 15, 2006 issue of Wine Spectator magazine. Tasting coordinators MaryAnn Worobiec Bovio, Jo Cooke and Alison Napjus, assistant tasting coordinator John Siudut and associate editor Mitch Frank contributed to the profiles. We hope you enjoy the exciting values, emerging stars and classic wines that make up Wine Spectator's 2005 Top 100.

-Bruce Sanderson


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