WINE.COM RELEASES TOP 100 LIST

Wine.com, the nation's #1 online wine retailer, has announced its third annual Wine.com Top 100, a list based entirely on customer preferences. The ranking reflects the top 1% of wines sold nationally on Wine.com during 2009 based on unit volume. Excluded from the Wine.com 100 list are wines selected by Wine.com for its monthly wine clubs, gift sets and gift baskets. For the complete list, go to www.wine.com/100.

"We are excited to offer this unique list for the third year in a row," said Rich Bergsund, Wine.com CEO. "Our customers are trendsetters when it comes to wine, and our Top 100 list displays these purchasing trends. In comparison to the Top 100 lists from different publications, it’s always interesting to see a list based solely on what customers are buying and enjoying."

This year’s Top 100 list reflects current economic trends, with over 75 of the wines coming in under $20 and only two wines above $100. "Value is clearly the running theme this year. Our customers are taking advantage of the excellent quality wine available at these value price points," said Michael Osborn, Founder and Vice-President of Merchandising at Wine.com.

Surprisingly, the average selling price of this year's Top 100 was $23.50 per bottle, an increase of 15% over last year, perhaps a reflection of increased consumer confidence amongst Wine.com shoppers. Top 100 unit volumes were also up over 10% and accelerating in more recent months. Wine.com's total unit volume for November 2009 grew more than 30% compared with November 2008.

The top wine of 2009 is the Cambria Julia's Vineyard 2006 Pinot Noir, the first Californian wine to hit the #1 spot. Hailing from the Santa Maria Valley of California, priced under $20, and carrying two 90+ point ratings, this wine embodies many characteristics of the top 100 list. In fact, while Wine.com customers voted for this wine with their wallets, Wine Enthusiast magazine chose this same wine for their number one spot as well. Two other wines in the top 5, Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Delas St. Esprit Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge, represent high growth sectors for Wine.com – Sauvignon Blanc and Cotes-du-Rhone reds.

Ratings still play a key role in consumer choices. 93 of the wines on this year’s list – just one less than last year’s list - are rated 90 points or higher by industry critics, including Wine Spectator, The Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast magazine. Red wine remains the king, with 69 red wines on the list. Cabernet Sauvignon is the front-runner for the third year in a row, with 22 wines. Syrah/Shiraz (12) and Malbec (6) are the other popular red categories, similar to last year. In the white wine category, of the 23 on the list, Chardonnay (10) remains most popular, while Sauvignon Blanc (8) is a close second. Seven sparkling wines make the list this year, including perennial favorites, Cristalino, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perignon.

While national numbers for imported wines hover around 25%, Wine.com has always been strong in the imported wine category. This year, imported wines again outdid domestic, with 61% of the list, just 2% less than last year. Though as a single region, California (34) remained the most popular, wines from value oriented regions, such as South America (20) and Australia (16) show strong placements as well. Spain (8), Italy (8), France (5), Washington State (4), New Zealand (4) and Oregon (1) represent the remaining regions.

Certain wineries had a strong presence in this year’s list. Chile’s Veramonte winery, which had 5 wines in the Top 100 last year, including the #1 wine, has 7 wines on the list, including their flagship Primus, and two vintages of Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Chardonnay Reserva and Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva. Three other wineries had three wines each, including d’Arenberg (Australia), Crios de Susana Balbo (Argentina) and Geyser Peak (California). Iconic wineries with classic brands were also among the Top 100, including Duckhorn, Silver Oak and Caymus.

Wines finished with screw caps were surprisingly well represented with 22 on the list, indicating continuing consumer acceptance even for ultra-premium wines. Consumers also signaled interest in "green" wines, wines that use sustainable, organic and/or biodynamic practices in the vineyard and/or winemaking process, with 4 wines on the list, up from zero last year.

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