Secret Stuff in A Perfect, 100 point Wine

Revealing the Hidden Pleasures Experts Find in 100 Point Wines

My friends at list 32 different wines that earned 100 points, a perfect score from wine experts.

Needing to take a break from various fact checking articles and today’s tweet storms, I decided to study the reviews and try to pinpoint what is in a wine that makes critics declare they have found perfection, Nirvana in a glass.

This seemed like a useful study to share since most normal wine loving people wouldn’t cough up the big bucks needed to buy most of those listed. The prices of these 32 perfect wines ranged from $115 to $1,249.99 a bottle. The cheapest was from Chile. The most expensive was actually on sale.

Most are red wines, so they like most good reds were loaded with blackberry, cherry, and plum fruit, with lots of violets and rose aromas, and had notes of various spices up the wazoo.

And off course the 100 pointers were ultra-ripe, plush, seamless, hedonistic, and smoother than a baby’s bottom. Some jump out of the glass which is a bit frightening. Another was built “like a brick house” which is good, I think.

But what else makes the 100 pointers different from the other red wines are three key ingredients:

  1. Dirt and Dust


Yes, dusty and dried things are frequently cited, so hold your breath.

The following are part of expert descriptions capturing the joys and pleasure to be found in 100 point wines:


…”hints of iron ore and dusty earth.”

…”raspberries and wet rocks.”

…“wet pebbles”

…”scorched earth”

…”dusty earth”

…”singed iron and chalky minerality”

  1. Smoke

No, this component was unrelated to recent wine country fires. But maybe critics should have had those masks handy because many perfect wines have these notes:

..”a.hint of barbecue smoke”

…”cedar and charcoal”

..”.a well-roasted frame of alder and juniper”

…”with wafts of dried roses, unsmoked cigars and tilled soil”

…”smoldering tobacco, charcoal and licorice”


  1. Truly strange stuff

“notes of creosote”

“beef drippings and cloves plus a hint of underbrush”


There you have it!

If you weren’t so frugal, you could be savoring a 100 point wine and enjoying every nuance of its dusty, dried, scorched earth aromas with enticing smoky barbecue and charcoal flavors culminating in creosote and beef drippings.

Then again, think of all the money you are saving.

True confession: I had to google “fenugreek,” and so will you, if curious.


Three Ways to Get Out of the Expensive Wine Rut

When Dealing With California Wine:

The first way is to remind yourself there are other wines besides Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

Second, slap yourself around a little and explore wines from places other than Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara.

Third, follow me and explore special sales, clearance sales, whatever sales as soon as they come up online.

Today,  is pushing sales of 40% below average price. Long list, but, hold on, there are many very good wines at great prices.

Here are our 3 suggestions to get you thinking like a good wine shopper again.

2017 Jacuzzi Primitivo, Lake County, $16.99

2016 David Girard Grenache, El Dorado Sierra Foothills, $23.99

2014 Wrath, No Fault Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains $27.99

What is Primitivo, you might ask?  Well, that’s the name of a grape grown in Southern Italy that likely originated in today’s Croatia. It looks, smells, and tastes like Zinfandel, and sure enough Zinfandel was brought into California from Croatia.

Jacuzzi has worked with Primitivo from Lake County for over a decade. This 2017 is an excellent example.

Santa Cruz Mountains may be small and not often in recent wine news headlines, but its reputation for Cabernet Sauvignon was established years ago by Ridge Vineyards. This is also home to legendary Cabs from Kathryn Kennedy, Mount Eden, and Thomas Fogarty,  A recent vintage of tiny Ceritas Cabernet from Santa Cruz went off the charts.

The folks at Wrath heard about the tiny, family run No Fault vineyard and created this typical powerful Mountain style Cab. Enjoy this wine and make any jokes about the Grapes of Wrath that come to mind.

No stranger to Zinfandel and Syrah, El Dorado also grows some of the best, richest Grenache found anywhere. Some people may have heard of the exceptional Grenache made by Withers. This one from Girard is similar in style and a super value.

for more wines go to

for more buying tips:

Three suggestions: carpe diem