What were you doing 20 years ago? If it feels like an eternity has passed… well, it has. I was features editor at a style magazine in London, with a side hustle as a presenter on MTV. Senior editor Justin Fenner’s family had recently moved to South Carolina, where he enrolled in a high-school journalism course.
Marine and aviation editor Michael Verdon began freelancing for Robb Report that year, while staff writers Abigail Montanez and Tori Latham were 10 and 8, respectively (doesn’t that make me feel old?), and were into soccer and the violin.
Elsewhere in 2003, the US and UK invaded Iraq. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California. The sequencing of about 99 percent of the human genome was completed. And then, if you hadn’t already made the connection from this month’s cover, among those moments of considerable consequence, Robb Report launched an automobile competition, invited some friends to help pick the winner and named it Car of the Year.
Fast-forward two decades and the latest event, held in Napa Valley and Boca Raton at the end of 2022, was a classic, full of seduction and surprise—as COTY so often and memorably has been. (I’m still talking about the cars here, OK?) A total of 176 reader-judges tested 10 superlative vehicles and graded them across a list of criteria, including design, performance and luxury. Last year’s champ, Bentley, was attempting a repeat with its GT Continental Speed, while a strong showing was expected from Aston Martin’s ferocious DBX707, hoping to follow in the footsteps of COTY’s only other SUV victor, Lamborghini’s Urus in 2019.
But there’s always an unanticipated challenger, a curious beast that unexpectedly beguiles. This year, would that be the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak (even if just for the name)? Or the remarkable Lucid Air GT Performance, which has more power than any other car in the history of COTY—bar one: the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, which wowed judges but still didn’t win, in 2013. Like I said, seduction and surprise. This year’s coverage is the most expansive yet: Check out our exhilarating lineup, here.
Over the years I’ve observed that, among our readership, connoisseurship in one area—cars, for example—only increases the likelihood of expertise and enthusiasm in others. So I expect many of you will be drawn to our story about English sparkling wine’s emergence as an asset—not necessarily to collectors yet, though there are certainly some good bets out there, but to Champagne houses and other investors. They are busily buying up the chalk-streaked soil on which these vineyards stand—or could stand.
While English bubbles still make up only a fraction of the global total of sparkling wine (for context, English fizz accounts for just 3 percent of the UK market, with five bottles of Champagne sold for every one of English), their quality is such that they should be on your radar, if they’re not already. In this post, regular contributor Ben Oliver explores the celebrated vineyards near his home on England’s South Coast and makes some surprising discoveries of his own.
Plus we get inside NFL quarterback Aaron Rogers’s head, explore midtown Manhattan as an unlikely culinary hot spot, ponder the role of airships in our aviation future (will they have replaced Ubers when COTY hits 30?) and take a ride of the four-legged kind while on a glorious new equestrian adventure in Wyoming.
If this is what 2023 looks like, we’re all for it. Enjoy the issue.