Top Drop offers a highly curated look into what is hot in vino right now and where it's going in the future.
Wine Festivals are like pizza....even when they're bad I still sort of like them. But when they're great, there's no place I'd rather be. Top Drop is great. It's great because the team behind it—full disclosure, led by one of our Wine Awards Judges Kurtis Kolt and assisted by our Drinks Editor DJ Kearney and fellow Wine Awards Judges Rhys Pender and Jason Yamasaki—are the best sort of wine nerds. The kind that will geek out on some obscure natural wine from the Loire but also revel in the mastery that goes into producing a well-made California Cabernet. All of which means that the wineries that get invited—yes, invited—have to have something to offer the wine lover that goes beyond the expected and popular. For me looking at the list evokes some real kid-in-a-candy-store emotions—I truly don't know where to start but here a sample of pours that I'm more than a little exited about. Borgogno Oh Daddy. Unless you own a mid-sized forestry company you don't the opportunity to try this legendary, but pricey, producer much. Bogogno is one of the benchmark producers of traditional Barolo—none of this French Oak BS—and as such their wines are like a time machine back to the post-war years. I'm not choosing one because they all seem amazing but go for the 2004 Barolo if you're looking for bragging rights. Craggy Range Le Sol Sure you probably didn't know that New Zealand grew Syrah but this bottle from Hawke's Bay is often considered one of the finest Southern Hemisphere Syrahs in the world. And yes I'm including Shiraz from NZ's neighbour. I was at this winery a few years back and they hardly even pour it there it's so pricey. Justin Isoceles Maybe the defining wine of Paso Robles. At 16% alcohol it's a beast of a wine and if you want to understand this region this is the wine to try. It also shows that this event has no agenda other than inviting winemakers of all stripes—as long as their wine is special. La Spinetta Barolo Campe Full disclosure: I've never had a bottle from La Spinetta—be it Barolo, Vermentino or Chianti—that I didn't love. But if Borgogno is the old guard, then La Spinetta is the new—this Barolo sees French oak and garners huge wine scores—and to be able to taste the two side by side is a great opportunity to see the different sides of Barolo without taking out a second mortgage. Stag's Hollow Grenache We don't see much grenache in BC but for the past few vintages Stag's Hollow has proudly waved the flag of this Rhone varietal and each vintage has been special. I note this year's alcohol hit's 15%—grenache can get away from you in a hurry if you let it—so I'm anxious to see if they've continued the winning streak with this rare wine. And I'll also try their Dolcetto, which is a dream and the only made in BC one I'm aware of. I'm just going to stop now, but I could go on. The Albarino from Terravista is special, the Syrah from CC Jentsch, the elegant and powerful Portfolio from Laughing Stock, anything from Italy's Maculan. They're all great and they'll all be there...and so should you. Top Drop runs September 7 & 8 and tickets are available here.