paulg's top 10 nw wines of the month

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


Here are my top 10 Northwest wines from my tastings in April. 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.

With that in mind, here is my list for the Top 10 Northwest Wines tasted this past April, with suggested retail pricing.


Wine of the Month: Leonetti Cellar 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley; $85
Dense, aromatic, layered and rich, it explodes from the glass with scents and flavors of concentrated berries, cassis, black cherry, and more.

#2 – Rasa Vineyards 2008 Creative Impulse DuBrul Vineyard Red
Yakima Valley; $95
Pure and juicy, a riot of blueberry, blackberry and cassis; a wine to study and explore for hours, if not days.

#3 – Mark Ryan 2008 Dead Horse Red
Red Mountain; $45
Amazing depth, running down through a litany of red and black fruits, into veins of earth and tannin and graphite.

#4 – Betz Family 2008 Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley; $60
Seductive and complex, scents of incense, blueberries, cassis, licorice, and threads of herb and graphite. Classic, deep and expressive.

#5 – Sineann 2009 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir
Yamhill-Carlton District; $48
Fresh fruit flavors of strawberry, raspberry, sweet cherry and more roll into a lingering aftermath with nuances of cinnamon, cola, chocolate, nougat, coconut and caramel.

#6 – The Eyrie Vineyards 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir
Dundee Hills; $62
The Eyrie reserve is a single vineyard selection from the oldest vines, planted between 1967 and 1973. This is already delicious, smoky, almost ethereal, with truly Burgundian finesse and depth.

#7 – Doubleback 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
Walla Walla Valley; $87
This celebrity (Drew Bledsoe/Chris Figgins) project has forward, pretty black fruits, juicy acids, and some noticeable astringency. Still too young to drink - cellar it.

#8 – Rulo 2009 Sundance Vineyard Chardonnay
Wahluke Slope; $20
Seabreeze scents and rich minerality surround citrus, apple and fresh herb, and the balance is perfect.

#9 – David Hill 2008 BlackJack Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley; $45
David Hill’s top of the line Pinot Noir is rich, ripe and loaded with plum and black cherry fruit. Thoroughly delicious.

#10 – Sonría 2009 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir
Willamette Valley; $60
A core of focused cherry fruit is surrounded with tart acids, sweet toast, dark chocolate, and a whisp of smoke. Almost ethereal and finely crafted.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Doubleback 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon 87 bucks? They must be quite proud of that wine. Who pays that much for wine any more? Didn't they just open their doors? Bulk wine or did they start their project three years ago? I seem to remember Drew in the market for a winery three years ago. Hmmm....Any way. Nice list. Nice to see some Pinots up there. Thanks Paul!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,
Think of it this way; until Drew starts using his own estate vineyards, you are basically getting a bottle of Leonetti for $87. If you look at it that way it doesn't seem that bad.

Michael Teer said...

Paul,
I agree that quality is going up but these prices are a problem. When price is factored in I am seeing more consumers looking for other options, despite wanting to drink local. Of course I will exclude Rulo from this statement because they are at the top of the quality/price ratio. Just tried their soon to be released 2008 syrah and it rocked.

PaulG said...

I keep meaning to do a second list (Top 10 Value Wines) at least every couple of months, but have not found time for it. The top scoring wines do tend to be the most expensive more often than not. That makes a winery such as Rulo that much more exceptional.

Ky said...

Have always enjoyed what Rulo does. Will pursue this Chard.

For value cab and syrah I look to Rich Funk at Saviah.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any info or comments on Figgins 2008 estate red wine? what do you know about it? Thanks!

PaulG said...

Yes, I tasted the wine back in April. It is 100% Figgins vineyard fruit, A Bordeaux blend – 4 clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, 1 clone of Petit Verdot, 4 clones of Merlot. 60% new French oak. This ’08 and the ’09 were made at Artifex. The ’10 was made at Chris Figgins' new facility near the college. My first impressions - a delicious wine, powerfully fruity, with young vine fruit flavors; silky, spicy, seductive. Lovely balance and nice threading of anise, cocoa, caramel barrel flavors. I look forward to re-tasting and reviewing it when it is released in the fall.

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