wine enthusiast top 100 best buys of 2011

Sunday, October 02, 2011

For roughly a dozen years, I have been the designated reviewer of Northwest wines for Wine Enthusiast magazine. During that time I have tasted, scored and reviewed many thousands of Washington and Oregon wines, along with occasional submissions from Idaho and British Columbia.

It’s not really a job, though plenty of work is involved. It’s more of a calling, in the sense that I believe I can put the wines of this region in a global context, point out their strengths, which are numerous, and from time to time cajole a winemaker or two into correcting a perceived weakness.

Every review published in Wine Enthusiast that bears the initials P.G. is my work, solely and exclusively. The editors of the magazine have never changed a word or a score, for which I am immensely grateful. Better yet, in their annual Best Of lists, they have repeatedly honored the wines of the region.

In the November issue, Wine Enthusiast has published its first Top 100 list of the year – the “Top 100 Best Buys of 2011”.

Not only has the Northwest made a strong showing, but the number one wine, featured on the cover as well as in the article’s introduction, is a lovely 2010 Riesling from Pacific Rim. Even more remarkable is that the 2009 Pacific Rim Riesling ranked number two in 2010.

Tasting Director Joe Czerwinski introduces this year’s list by noting that “over the past 12 months, our tasting panelists reviewed more than 16,000 wines, granting the coveted Best Buy designation to only 1224 (7.6%). From there, we whittled the numbers down to the Top 100 listed here, based on the relationship between score and price and factoring in availability and buzz. We also tried to balance the list in terms of wine style, variety and origin. The result,” Czerwinski concludes, “is one of the finest and most eclectic collections of Best Buys we’ve ever come up with.”

Of the 100 wines, a third (32) come from the United States, and of those 32 there are 8 from Washington and 3 from Oregon. Better yet, Washington places three wines in the top 15 – truly a remarkable achievement. It is such accolades that raise the bar for all wineries, and enhance the prestige and recognition for the unique quality of Washington state wines around the world. I am immensely grateful to the publisher and editors of Wine Enthusiast for their ongoing support and recognition.

As before, 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.

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 sixth year in a row.

So, here with their scores and rankings are the Washington and Oregon wineries that made the 2011 Top 100 Best Buys:

#1 – Pacific Rim 2010 Riesling (90)
#10 – Washington Hills 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (90)
#15 – Hogue Cellars 2009 Gewurztraminer (90)
#27 – StoneCap 2009 Merlot (88)
#34 – J. Bookwalter 2010 Anecdote Riesling (91)
#39 – David Hill 2009 Estate Pinot Gris (91)
#44 – Terrapin Cellars 2010 Pinot Gris (90)
#50 – Domaine Ste. Michelle NV Blanc de Blancs (88)
#85 – Barnard Griffin 2009 Fumé Blanc (91)
#87 – Night & Day 2008 Red (89)
#96 – Arbor Crest 2009 Bacchus Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (91)

Congratulations to all the wineries that made the list, and among the Northwest selections, special praise to Pacific Rim, Hogue Cellars and Arbor Crest, who also made the Top 100 last year.

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