wine enthusiast top 100, schildknecht, and pg in oregon

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The final Top 100 list from Wine Enthusiast has been released, and though it contains fewer Washington entries (and unfortunately, none from Oregon) than the magazine's earlier Top 100 lists (Best Buys, Cellar Selections), the wines selected are all certainly world class. Here are my original reviews and scores for the Washington wines on the list:

#3 – Leonetti Cellar 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon (98 points). Dense, aromatic, layered and rich, this wine explodes from the glass with scents and flavors of concentrated berries, cassis, black cherry, and more. The vines have reached a mature stage that amplifies the fruit and keeps the generous barrel flavors in perfect balance. The barrel notes roll on in a chorus of toasty accents, and the finish is as good in the last minute as the first whiff from the glass.

#16 – Cayuse 2008 Cailloux Vineyard Syrah (97 points). This is the only Cayuse Syrah that is co-fermented (with 8% Viognier), which adds nuances of white flower and floral, though the citrus rind scents override them. In the nose it’s hugely expressive, though still quite tight and compact in the mouth; it must be decanted. It’s a three ring circus of a wine, with things moving and shaking in all directions. Mineral, berry, mountain complexity, nuanced herb and earth and citrus, all in proportion, and all flowing in the mouth.

#35 – DeLille Cellars 2009 Chaleur Estate Blanc (95 points). Consistent year after year, this blend of 67% Sauvignon Blanc and 33% Sémillon is modeled after top-flight white Bordeaux. Deep gold, toasty and scented with olive oil, walnuts and loam, it hits the palate full-on with a rainbow of flavors: citrus, stone and tropical fruits, all accented with toast, oil and nuts from barrel aging. Riveting, delicious and unique.

#42 – Chateau Ste. Michelle/Dr. Loosen 2009 Eroica Riesling (94 points). This wine just gets better with every new vintage. Young and fresh, it hits the palate with lip-puckering acidity, rolling on flavors of lemons, oranges, citrus rind, and then into mango and papaya. Though the residual sugar is listed at 1.6%, it shows only in a pleasing roundness in the lengthy finish. Delicious now, but entirely cellar-worthy for a decade or longer.

Full List

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The ongoing discussion on Dr. Vino’s blog has brought some interesting comments and questions about the changes in assignments for Wine Advocate correspondents. Of course, the perspective of David Schildknecht, who will now review the wines of Oregon and Washington, is of particular interest to me. Apparently (see his long post) he has some experience as a retailer with the wines of Oregon, though it was some decades ago. No hint of his feelings about Washington. Stay tuned.

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Jo Diaz, on her Juicy Tales blog, announces the long-awaited follow-up to last summer’s Oregon Pinot Gris symposium, for which I was the keynote speaker. Diaz, certainly one of the most successful and savvy wine marketers on the west coast, is launching a group whose mission will be “to better define Pinot Gris in Oregon” (see previous posts in my blog for more on the symposium). The timing is expeditious, as Oregon Pinot Gris, which got off to a promising start 20 years ago, seems to have lost its way (with rare exceptions, notably King Estate).

Founding members of the group include Airlie, Christopher Bridge Cellars, David Hill, Oak Knoll, Pudding River, Terrapin Cellars and Yamhill Valley Vineyards. A good start – but shouldn’t some of the bigger wineries also be participating? Still time to jump on board (are you listening King Estate, Erath, Ponzi?).

Diaz writes: “The website is being worked on and will launch on January 1, 2012. We have a great marketing plan, and welcome any other Oregon wineries with a Pinot Gris before the launch on January 1, 2012. Once the group is launched, the group will be closed to new members for the upcoming year…
in order to easily meet the goals for 2012 and not get bogged down in administration. After a year, we’ll evaluate, and if it’s still got great legs, we’ll open enrollment for one more year.”

I’ll keep you posted as the organization moves forward with their marketing efforts. That’s all for now.

Cheers,
PG

3 comments:

michele said...

Hi Paul-

There are actually 2 Oregon wines on the Top 11 Best Buys list: #39 is David Hill 2009 Estate Pinot gris from the Willamette Valley and #87 A to Z Night & Day Red Blend from the Rogue Valley. I agree that the Pacific Northwest was not well-represented this year but wanted to be sure that your readers know that 2 Oregon wines did make it on the list.

Cheers,
Michele

PaulG said...

Michele, this post is about the Top 100 of the Year. The Best Buys list and the Cellar Selections list were previously published and blogged about. There are no Oregon wines in this final end of year list, and for that I am sorry.

Jo Diaz said...

As always, thanks for your interest. This group will be successful, with the support (such as this mention) by media and the wineries ready to get their feet wet giving it their best shot. I'll keep you updated.

And thanks, Paul, for your very kind words. Much appreciated.

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