Get red-y for Ray Jordan’s 2023 Top 100 Reds Subheading
Ray Jordan is Western Australia’s most respected wine journo with over 40 years of industry expertise, his pick of the Top 100 Red wines is always highly anticipated.
Ray has been bringing us the Top 100 Reds for over 25 years now and each year continues to be different, with lots of surprises along the way he says; “I taste a lot of wine each year, thousands. But the tasting I really enjoy is the top 100 reds, because each year it throws up interesting wines, some new varieties, some new producers. And I must say, this year the quality was exceptional.”
This year, we sat down with the man himself give us a glimpse of what to expect in this year’s lineup including how he’s seeing good value, low cost wines on the rise… (wine lovers rejoice!)
Q&A with Ray Jordan
Can you explain the Top 100 Reds process, how do you get so many wines into a Top 4 each year?
“The wines are submitted in four separate price categories – under $15, $15 to $20, $20 to $25 and $25 to $40. Once the wines are put into the price categories, they’re divided again into variety and style. The tasting takes a little over two days and the approach is one I have used for some years. After an initial run through each category, variety and style, I cull those which don’t quite cut the mustard and keep this process going until I have a short list of about 130 wines.”
“From these, the final 100 wines are chosen. In some cases, if the wines have been opened a little long, I will use the second bottles to make a further assessment when confirming the scores and then the best in each category and then finally overall. It is a demanding but rewarding experience, because along the way there are always a few surprises.”
“So how are the wines assessed? Just as would be the case in national wine shows, the wines are assessed based on a normal quality criteria, but then the aim is to ensure different varieties and styles are represented in the final list to cater for different tastes in this annual tasting.”
“The top 100 is a big exercise and it’s pretty demanding too as I do it all on my own. I taste the 700 wines and then I make the final selection, so I’m the only one to blame. I am delighted that with the support of Liquor Barons, we’ve been able to bring the Top 100 independently assessed wines to market and hopefully you’re going to enjoy them.”
What was the most surprising thing about this year’s selection?
“I’ve been doing the Top 100 for 25 years now. The thing that continues to amaze me is the quality of the wines at the lower price point. Now this year especially, the wines in the top 30 were exceptional. The wine producers have got access to even better fruit than they once had and they’re putting most of it into these lower price points.”
“The wineries are saying ‘Let’s make some low cost wines that people want to drink’, and when I look at these wines, they’re so well balanced. They’re so well made. In past you might have seen faults in lower priced wines… too oaky, too cosmetic, too artificial. These wines are really good and quite frankly, some of these under 15 wines I’d be happy to bring out at a dinner table or at a restaurant, they’re fantastic.”
Can you give us a speak peak of what the Best of the Best and Best Value Wines are?
“I think you’re going to love the best wine that I’ve chosen from 700. It’s a West Australian cabernet. Can’t tell you what it is, but you’re going to love it. It’s fabulous. It was just picked over another West Australian cabernet. The strength of cabernet from WA was phenomenal this year. Both Best of the Best and Runner Up wines are under $40 and exceptional. Crazy.”
“The Best Value Wine was a really challenging exercise because the quality was so good. I dunno how the wineries can produce quality wine at under $15. The wine I’ve chosen is a fabulous example of this.”
“So the Best Value Wine, it’s a shiraz and it is a cracker. It’s not from Western Australia, but it’s a mighty good wine and I think you’re going to love it. The Runner Up is a West Australian wine. It’s a cabernet from Western Australia that can be produced for under $15. Extraordinary. It was a line ball, but I get eventually I went for the shiraz.”
Can you give us some insight into the West Australian wine industry, any trends or challenges you can see coming our way?
“The West Australian industry is in a really strong position, making some really fabulous wines from all regions of the State. There will be some challenges clearly, I mean, we’ve got an economy which is just struggling along a bit and wine is always going to be a discretionary spend. So, I think what you’re going to see is wines at the lower price point are going to become really competitive.”
“I think the other thing you’re going to see is this increasing move towards sustainability, towards biodynamics and towards organics. It’s all good stuff, and from what I’ve seen so far, the wines will certainly improve.”
Can you give some advice to the average wine shopper?
“There’re two things about red wine that people often get wrong. The first is, big is not always better. What we’re seeing now are wines with a bit more finesse, they’re really well balanced and they express their regions better and their varieties better. They’re doing it in a way that’s slightly more subtle than perhaps we did 10 or 15 years ago.”
“Another misconception about red wine is that you have to spend a lot, well you don’t. The tasting confirms that. In fact, every year it confirms that across the board for under 40 you can get some great value wines. What we saw in this tasting was in the 25 to 40 bracket, there are wines that could probably sell for $60, $70. They are that good. At the lower price point, you’re seeing wines that are delivering great value at a good price.”
“There’s still a lot of mystique about red wine in particular, and people are a little bit unsure about what they should be drinking now. My advice is that you drink what you like, but it’s always a good idea to perhaps explore new directions. I always tell people, go to the person behind the counter. Tell them what you like to drink or what you are thinking about drinking and get some good advice. These guys know exactly what is in their store and they’ll know the type of wine that you’ll like. So don’t be afraid to ask and you’ll get some good advice.”
Ray’s official catalogue the Top 100 Reds will land at Liquor Barons stores starting from 22 July, so you better get in quick as the hotly anticipated wines will sell out fast!