Wine newsletters are a valuable and authoritative source for oenophiles, and their authors can achieve cult status in the wine world. Three of the best are Allen Meadows' Burghound, an exhaustive and scholarly review of Burgundy wines ($110 a year for four issues; www.burghound.com); the PinotReport, Gregory Walter's comprehensive survey of western Pinot country wines and makers ($75 a year; www.pinotreport.com); and Natalie Maclean's Nat Decants, whose lighthearted tone won a James Beard award last year (free monthly; www.nataliemaclean.com). We asked them for their top picks of the year.
ALLEN MEADOWS Domaine Comte de Vogüé Musigny 2001 ($225) is fantastically complex with a nose of blackberries, spice, cedar, soy, and anise—a real stunner that will keep for two decades. A great white Burgundy is Domaine d'Auvenay Meursault "Les Gouttes d'Or" 2001 ($245), full of enormously deep flavors.
GREGORY WALTER 2001 was a great year for Merry Edwards. She consistently produces some of the best pinots in the area, like her Russian River Valley Olivet Lane Methode à L'Ancienne 2001 ($48). And look out for Roar Wines Pinot Noir 2001 ($44) from Gary's Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. This is the new hot spot for great pinot noir.
NATALIE MACLEAN Château Bellefont-Belcier Bordeaux 1998 ($45) is one to hold on to. It's full of spice, oak, leather, and all that old-world goodness. The 2000 Bordeaux had a lot of hype, but the 1998s and '99s are very worthy. For great value, you can't beat Australia's Yellow Tail Shiraz ($10). It's generous, juicy, and easy to drink.