wine enthusiast top 100 best buys of 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Wine Enthusiast, for whom I have been privileged to write for the past 12 years, has published the first of its year-end ‘Best Of’ lists, and once again, Washington wineries have scored bigtime.

I am especially pleased with this year’s showing, for several reasons. First of all, not to sound immodest, the Washington wineries that made the list (and two from Oregon also) were included because of the reviews I submitted throughout the year. It’s one more reason that it simply makes good sense for any winery, if the owners believe they have the quality to compete globally, to submit wines regularly for review in this publication.

Secondly, this list makes a compelling argument for the value of Washington wines. The old myth that Washington wines are too expensive is slowly being strangled by the reality of such accolades, and it’s about time. As I have often written, in newspapers, magazines, on this blog and in my books – Washington wines offer superb value at all price levels across the board. Not every single wine, of course, but a large percentage. That statement is borne out by lists such as this one.

As Tasting Director Joe Czerwinski explains: “If a wine’s score on the Wine Enthusiast 100-point scale is high in relation to its price… (88 points and $10 are approximate yardsticks), it merits a Best Buy designation. Only about 5% of the wines we review annually merit this designation, and what you’re seeing on these next pages is a very elite grouping drawn from that already limited group.” To which I will add that all of these wines sell at retail for under $15, and the full list includes wineries from around the world, not just the U.S.A. That's tough competition.

Let me explain that once I have submitted my review, and awarded, where appropriate, the Best Buy designation, the rest is out of my hands. The final Top 100 list is compiled at the editorial headquarters, and when I first see it (some weeks before publication) I am as eager as anyone else to see how wines from my territories have fared. This year, as in years past, I have been extremely proud and pleased for the wineries listed, and for this region as a whole.

In the next few issues, Wine Enthusiast will publish more Top 100 lists, covering other wine categories. I fully expect to see many more Washington and Oregon wines commended. And as a year end finale, the Seattle Times (and this blog) will publish my own personal Top 100 Washington wines, for the fifth year in a row.

So, here with their scores and rankings are the Washington and Oregon wineries that made the Wine Enthusiast 2010 Top 100 Best Buys:

#2 – Pacific Rim 2009 Riesling (92)
#11 – Kirkland Signature 2008 Merlot (90)
#12 – Arbor Crest 2009 Dionysus Vineyard Riesling (91)
#18 – Hyatt Vineyards 2008 Pinot Gris (90)
#25 – Columbia Crest 2007 Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon (88)
#33 – Whitman Cellars 2008 Riesling (92)
#39 – Acrobat 2009 Oregon Pinot Gris (89)
#41 – Thistle 2008 Dundee Hills Pinot Blanc (91)
#48 – Rulo 2007 Syrca Red Wine (91)
#51 – Caterina 2008 Willard Family Vineyard Viognier (91)
#57 – Chateau Ste. Michelle 2008 Horse Heaven Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (90)
#60 – Boomtown 2008 Chardonnay (90)
#84 – Six Prong 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (90)
#85 – Hogue Cellars 2008 Gewurztraminer (88)
#90 – Snoqualmie 2008 Chardonnay (88)
#98 – Hedges Family Estate 2008 CMS White (89)

Fourteen Washington wines out of 100 featured Best Buys from around the world. So that would be… let me get out my slide rule here… 14 percent! Not a bad showing for a state whose wines are often criticized as “overpriced.”

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