top 10 wines of the month

Monday, February 28, 2011

Here are my top 10 Northwest wines of the past month. Full reviews and scores will appear in an upcoming issue of Wine Enthusiast. However, since some of these wines are very limited, I want to give readers of the blog a heads up. They are ranked in order, and the ranking reflects both the overall quality and value relative to others in its scoring category.

Domaine Serene 2007 Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir; $58
At times in the past, I have found Serene's wines to be anything but serene. But a sea change has happened, and this exceptional reserve shows a winery in top form. The vineyard location is unbeatable, and in this challenging vintage the winery offers an elegant and refined Evenstad Reserve, with grace notes of sandalwood and a lovely cherry core. The fruit is immaculate, the concentration focused and lengthy, and the flavors are so artfully blended that the wine is seamless and perfectly balanced.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 Cold Creek Vineyard Merlot; $28
It's no secret that I believe Cold Creek fruit is truly special – it is one of the vineyards I profile in both of my books. 2007 is proving to be a world-class vintage in Washington, and this full-throttle effort offers big flavor swashes of blackberry, cassis, black pepper, coffee grounds and ripe tannins. Few American Merlots – indeed few in the world – can stand on their own and deliver a wine this complete and powerful.

McCrea 2006 Boushey Grande Côte Vineyard Syrah; $36
Here again is a vineyard/grape/winemaker match that shows the best of all three. Broad, toasty, full-bodied and fully expressive, this wine has a long life ahead. Berries, cherries, chocolate, coffee, mocha, tobacco, fungus, graphite… the flavors never stop coming at you.

Buty 2009 64%Merlot/36% Cabernet Franc; $44
Buty goes from strength to strength; truly a winery that belongs among the best in the world. This Right Bank blend brings together grapes from the Conner Lee (northern Columbia Basin) and Champoux (Horse Heaven Hills) vineyards. Muscular, ripe and round, the sweet blackberry and cassis fruit is framed with a granite-like minerality – a berry/rock/tannin layer cake.

Viento 2009 Celilo Vineyard Gewurztraminer Ice Wine; $45/375
I admire ice wines more than adore them, but this Columbia Gorge bottling challenges the best of Canada. This is a great Gewurztraminer ice wine, with a thrilling mix of flower, fruit, caramel, coffee and honey. Impeccably balanced and outrageously delicious.

Va Piano 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon; $48
I believe this wine is already sold out, but I had to include it because I only tasted it for the first time a few days ago. Washington Cabernet from 2007 is really the bomb. Here are dark, baking chocolate aromas, wrapped into thrilling cassis and black cherry fruit. The chocolate flavors run right through the core of the wine and into the tannins, smooth and supple.

Buty 2008 Champoux Vineyard Red; $55
Another Buty? Yes, another beauty. The blend is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Cabernet Franc. It's perfumed with pine needles and flowers, loaded with racy boysenberry and black cherry fruit, and laced with streaks of chocolate. Substantial and dense, yet delicate enough to be scented with violets, the young and compact wine should be cellared – if you can keep your hands off it.

Lachini Vineyards 2007 Cuvée Giselle Pinot Noir; $65
The talented Laurent Montalieu made this wine, an estate reserve, and another fine success in an Oregon Pinot Noir vintage dismissed by many wine critics (not me). Intense and focused, it opens with pungent aromas of forest and clove, tastes of concentrated cranberry and pomegranate fruit, and powers through into a full-bodied, hefty, assertive finish.

Archery Summit 2008 Archery Summit Estate Pinot Noir; $150
Though I choke at the price, it's not my job to tell wineries what to charge, and if Archery Summit can find customers at this elevation, more power to them. This is their top cuvée, and it's a fine bottle. Brambly berries, threads of incense and chocolate, assertive acids and young tannins are components. To fully appreciate what's in the bottle you will need patience, either in the cellar, or in the decanter (give it hours, not minutes).

McCrea 2009 Boushey Vineyard Sirocco Blanc; $25
McCrea also pops up twice thanks to the affordable price tag on this blend of 41% Marsanne, 42% Grenache Blanc, 10% Picpoul and 7% Roussanne. I can't think of anyone in the Northwest doing a more complex, rich and dense blend of these Rhone varieties. Stone and tropical fruit flavors are wrapped in layers of caramel, nougat, marshmallow and spice. Yummy, with plenty of years of life ahead.


Anonymous said...

I here McCrea has a new tasting room in Seattle but have not found it?

Anonymous said...

The tasting room is called Urban Enoteca and the address is 4130 First Avenue South Seattle, WA 98134. The website gives more detail about the venue

tim mcdonald said...

Although I have only tried half of the top ten, great to hear about them in advance, thanks PG...
Cheers, Tim

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