top 10 wines of the month

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Here are my top 10 Washington 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 this 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. All of these are very high-scoring wines. Quality across the board continues to rocket upwards.

DeLille Cellars 2009 Chaleur Estate Blanc; $36
Consistent year after year, DeLille’s Chaleur Estate Blanc is modeled after first growth white Bordeaux. Deep gold, toasty and scented with olive oil, walnuts and loam. It hits the palate full-on with a rainbow flavor mix of citrus, stone and tropical fruits, accented with the toast, oil and nuts from the barrel aging. Riveting, delicious, and unique.

Maison Bleue 2009 Soleil Roussanne; $25
Another stellar effort. Luscious aromas – stone fruits, candy, wax, peel – honey, cumin, allspice – it just keeps on going. Firm in the mouth, with the same exotic and refined blend of interesting spices and fruits. A tour de force.

Kontos Cellars 2008 Syrah; $30
This tangy, tasty wine has strong elements of citrus and tobacco – both indicative of top tier Washington Syrah. Take one swallow and the flavors keep piling on. Candied citrus and sweet berry and white pepper and clove, a three ring circus of a wine. But it's not overblown, and it's all in proportion. The fruit is the star, as it should be.

Seven Hills 2008 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; $35
A beautiful rendition of pure Cabernet Sauvignon, crafted from the oldest blocks of this iconic vineyard. Bracing, youthful, and compact, it sends up a fascinating mix of dusty spices, black fruits, and elegant barrel flavors of toast and coconut butter. Beautiful balance and length.

Alexandria Nicole 2008 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Destiny Red; $45
Supple, dark, and laced with licorice, cassis, and clove, this well-crafted Bordeaux blend does not scream high alcohol, though it tops 14.6%. What keeps it focused and precise are the vivid acids and sculpted tannins. It’s the work of a young winemaker who is improving dramatically with each new vintage, even as his vineyard puts out better and better fruit.

Seven Hills 2008 Seven Hills Vineyard Merlot; $28
Right out of the chute this has sappy, delicious black cherry fruit, accented with scents of tobacco and graphite. Streaks of ash and more juicy berries fill the middle, as it unfolds into a taut, sculpted finish. A classical style from a vintage that favors it; accessible, yet built for cellaring.

Hard Row To Hoe 2008 Syrah; $28
Syrah does well all over Washington, but the Lake Chelan region has a particular mix of qualities that are most appealing. The scents swirl through a circus of attractions – coffee and toast, berry and cassis, loam and funk, spice and citrus peel. They seem to go on almost infinitely. The flavors continue along the same lines; just as you think you’ve nailed them down, they morph into something new.

Doyenne 2009 Métier Blanc; $33
This is 90% Viognier and 10% Roussanne. It opens with precisely cut layers of lime, lemon, Satsuma orange and grapefruit rind, beautifully rendered and underscored with a racy minerality. A wine in perfect balance, vivid and penetrating, it could accompany a wide range of foods, much as a top of the line unoaked Chardonnay, but with more complexity.

Dunham 2009 Lewis Estate Shirley Mays Chardonnay; $24
Superbly smooth – satiny is really the right word – this luscious Chardonnay pulls together papaya, banana, pineapple and apricot fruit into a seamless, sensuous, full-bodied whole. There is just enough acid to keep it upright, and lightly applied notes of barrel spice, caramel, and toast.

Alexandria Nicole 2008 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Gravity Merlot; $24
A fragrant, rich mix of olive, smoke, earth, black cherry, cassis, and more. It offers fine value, good texture, grip, and a very appealing, silky smooth evolution in the finish.

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