Paul Gregutt/Seattle Times Top 100 NW Wines for 2012

Monday, November 05, 2012

This weekend the Seattle Times published the seventh annual Wine Adviser Top 100 list. Once again it was focused exclusively on wines from Oregon and Washington, and based upon a year’s worth of my tasting notes. Over the years I have developed and fine-tuned a specific methodology for this particular list. Not necessarily better or more valuable than the three lists to which I contribute as NW Editor for Wine Enthusiast. In fact, without the constant tasting and reviewing that I do for that magazine, I couldn’t tackle a NW-only list of this magnitude.

In order to spread the wealth, I select just one wine each – the highest scoring wine of the past year – from 100 different wineries. It is my goal to be inclusive, which is why every winery gets just a single spot on the list. I trust that this will give readers a better sense of the scope and depth of the industry’s offerings.

The wines listed here were reviewed between November of 2011 and September of 2012. All told, about 2000 Washington and Oregon wines were tasted and scored in that time. I recognize that a simple listing is just that. The full reviews are available, for free, online at www.winemag.com. In doing the ranking, I take into consideration both score and price. So within each numerical rank, the least expensive wines (based on the original suggested retail) are ranked higher, because they offer better value.

It goes without saying that there will be gaps, missing wines, and most of the follow-up comments that I get reflect someone’s annoyance that their favorite wine or winery was left off the list. Apart from the fact that there are 1200 wineries and only 100 spaces, I do not taste every wine from every winery every year. Quite a few wineries choose not to submit wines for review. That being the case, they are self-excluded from consideration for any Top 100 list, not just this one. Sometimes release dates fall in such a way that I miss an important winery in a given year (in this case it was actually an 11-month tasting window).

This is not a “go out and look for these wines” type of list! Many of these wines have already sold through. Others are on mailing lists that are closed. The purpose here is to provide a broad overview of the top five percent of the year’s wines. Nonetheless, there are two unavoidable biases built into the list. First is a bias toward red wines over white. I have nothing against white wines, but for whatever reason, as a group they score lower on average than red wines, and not just from me. The same is true for virtually every major reviewer in the country.

A second bias: the list favors more expensive wines. Almost always, wines cost more when they cost more to produce. Better grapes, better barrels, better corks and bottles, more bottle age, all add to the expense of production. So there is a definite correlation between cost and quality as far as this list is concerned. For those who wonder why their favorite $8 bottle of Columbia Crest didn’t show up; that’s why. This is not a Best Buy list, although Wine Enthusiast has already published one that includes quite a few NW offerings.

You will find vintages 2007 – 2011 represented here. Wineries release vintages according to their own schedule, but each is the most recent vintage for the listed wine that I have tasted. Where two or more wines share the same score and price, a tie is indicated. I have included the scores here also. Have at it!

#1 – Cayuse 2009 En Chamberlin Vineyard Syrah; $75 99
#2 – Figgins 2009 Estate Red Wine ($85) 98
#3 – Quilceda Creek 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($135) 98
#4 – Charles Smith 2009 Royal City Syrah ($140 ) 98
#5 – K Vintners 2009 The Hidden Syrah ($70) 97
#6 – Leonetti Cellar 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($88) 97
#7 (Tie) – Dunham 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon XV; $45 96
#7 (Tie) – Gramercy Cellars 2009 Lagniappe Syrah ($45) 96
#7 (Tie) – Maison Bleue 2010 Gravière Red ($45) 96
#10 – Tamarack Cellars 2008 DuBrul Vineyard Reserve ($50) 96
#11 (Tie) – Corliss Estates 2007 Syrah ($55) 96
#11 (Tie) – J. Bookwalter 2009 Conflict Red ($55) 96
#13 – Seven Hills 2009 Pentad Red ($60) 96
#14 – Betz Family 2009 Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon ($65) 96
#15 – Evening Land Vineyards 2010 Summum Chardonnay ($90) 96
#16 – Rulo 2010 Chardonnay ($20) 95
#17 – Tranche 2008 Chardonnay ($30) 95
#18 – Abeja 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($44) 95
#19 – Nefarious Cellars 2010 Rocky Mother Syrah ($45) 95
#20 – Mark Ryan 2009 Long Haul Red ($48) 95
#21 – Woodward Canyon 2009 Artist Series #18 Cabernet ($49) 95
#22 (Tie) – Pirouette 2009 Red Wine ($50) 95
#22 (Tie) – Lauren Ashton 2009 Cuvée Arlette Red ($50) 95
#24 – Andrew Will 2009 Sorella ($75) 95
#25 – Bergström 2009 Bergström Vineyard Pinot Noir ($81) 95
#26 – Boudreaux Cellars 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($100) 95
#27 – Brian Carter Cellars 2009 Opulento Port ($20) 94
#28 – Trisaetum 2011 Ribbon Ridge Estate Riesling ($24) 94
#29 – Fielding Hills 2009 Tribute Red ($32) 94
#30 (Tie) – àMaurice 2008 Red ($35) 94
#30 (Tie) – Gorman 2011 Big Sissy Chardonnay ($35) 94
#30 (Tie) – Soos Creek 2009 Ciel du Cheval Red ($35) 94
#30 (Tie) – Watermill 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($35) 94
#34 – Kontos Cellars 2008 Caimbry Cabernet Sauvignon ($40) 94
#35 – Archery Summit 2010 AB OVO Pinot Gris ($42) 94
#36 (Tie) – Efesté 2009 Eléni Syrah ($45) 94
#36 (Tie) – Brittan Vineyards 2009 Basalt Block Pinot Noir ($45)94
#38 (Tie) – Tendril 2009 Pinot Noir ($48) 94
#38 (Tie) – Buty 2008 Columbia Rediviva Cabernet-Syrah ($48) 94
#40 – Ken Wright 2010 Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir ($50) 94
#41 (Tie) – Kelley Fox 2010 Maresh Vineyard Pinot Noir ($60) 94
#41 (Tie) – Rasa Vineyards 2009 Doctrina Perpetua Syrah ($60) 94
#43 (Tie) – Ross Andrew 2009 Old Block Boushey Syrah ($65) 94
#43 (Tie) – Domaine Serene 2008 Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir ($65)94
#45 – DeLille Cellars 2009 Chaleur Estate Red Wine ($75) 94
#46 – The Eyrie Vineyards 2010 Estate Pinot Gris ($15) 93
#47 – AntoLin Cellars 2010 Viognier ($19) 93
#48 – Ch. Ste. Michelle/Dr. Loosen 2011 Eroica Riesling ($20) 93
#49 – Tulpen Cellars 2008 Syrah ($24) 93
#50 (Tie) – Southard 2009 Lawrence Vineyard Syrah ($25) 93
#50 (Tie) – Eight Bells 2009 Syrah ($25) 93
#52 (Tie) – Alder Ridge 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($30) 93
#52 (Tie) – Forgeron 2009 Merlot ($30) 93
#52 (Tie) – Syncline 2010 McKinley Springs Syrah ($30) 93
#55 – Ellanelle 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($35) 93
#56 – L’Ecole 2009 Seven Hills Estate Syrah ($37) 93
#57 – Sparkman 2009 Ruckus Syrah ($38) 93
#58 (Tie) – Crossfork Creek 2010 Dark Matter Syrah ($40) 93
#58 (Tie) – Doyenne 2011 Winemaker’s Select Roussanne ($40) 93
#60 (Tie) – Stevens 2008 XY Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($42) 93
#60 (Tie) – Lemelson 2009 Chestnut Hill Pinot Noir ($42) 93
#62 – Baer 2009 Arctos Red ($43) 93
#63 – JM Cellars 2009 Boushey Vineyard Syrah ($45) 93
#64 – Le Cadeau 2010 Équinoxe Pinot Noir ($48) 93
#65 – Cristom 2009 Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noir ($50) 93
#66 – Dusted Valley 2008 Rachis Syrah ($53) 93
#67 (Tie) – Pamplin 2009 Proprietary Red ($55) 93
#67 (Tie) – Pedestal 2009 Merlot ($55) 93
#67 (Tie) – Pepper Bridge 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($55) 93
#67 (Tie) – Adelsheim 2010 Elizabeth’s Reserve Pinot Noir ($55) 93
#71 – Roco 2009 Private Stash #7 Pinot Noir ($70) 93
#72 – Sineann 2010 Block One Cabernet Sauvignon $75 93
#73 – Bridgman 2011 Riesling ($11) 92
#74 (Tie) – Thurston Wolfe 2009 Touriga Nacional Port ($16) 92
#74 (Tie) – Hogue 2010 Genesis Riesling ($16) 92
#76 (Tie) – Ponzi 2011 Pinot Gris ($17) 92
#76 (Tie) – Elevation Cellars 2011 Imperium Riesling ($17) 92
#78 – Gamache 2010 Estate Riesling ($18) 92
#79 – Barrister 2011 Klipsun Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($19) 92
#80 (Tie) – Poet’s Leap 2011 Riesling ($20) 92
#80 (Tie) – RoxyAnn 2009 Viognier ($20) 92
#82 (Tie) – Insania 2010 White ($25) 92
#82 (Tie) – Ch. Ste. Michelle 2009 Cold Creek Chardonnay ($25) 92
#84 (Tie) – Trio 2009 Far Away Vineyard Mourvèdre ($26) 92
#84 (Tie) – Animale 2009 Mourvèdre ($26) 92
#86 (Tie) – Walla Walla Vintners 2009 Cabernet Franc ($28) 92
#86 (Tie) – Steppe Cellars 2008 StoneTree Vineyard Syrah ($28) 92
#86 (Tie) – Upland Estates 2008 Syrah ($28) 92
#86 (Tie) – Dumas Station 2008 Estate Merlot ($28) 92
#90 – Siduri 2010 Pinot Noir ($29) 92
#91 (Tie) – Domaine Drouhin 2010 Arthur Chardonnay ($30) 92
#91 (Tie) – Thistle 2009 Pinot Noir ($30) 92
#91 (Tie) – Woodinville Wine Cellars 2009 Syrah ($30) 92
#94 (Tie) – Coeur de Terre 2009 Estate Pinot Noir ($34) 92
#94 (Tie) – Amavi Cellars 2010 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah ($34)92
#96 (Tie) – Browne Family 2010 Chardonnay ($35) 92
#96 (Tie) – Hyland 2009 Pinot Noir ($35) 92
#98 – Raptor Ridge 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir ($38) 92
#99 (Tie) – Soléna 2009 Guadalupe Vineyard Pinot Noir ($40) 92
#99 (Tie) – Panther Creek 2008 Freedom Hill Pinot Noir ($40) 92


4 comments:

Dr. Christian G.E. Schiller said...

For those, who would like to know abit more about the people who make Poet#s Leap (#80), I have visited the producer - Armin Diel - in Germany http://schiller-wine.blogspot.com/2011/09/visiting-armin-and-caroline-diel-and.html in the Nahe Valley

Chris Wallace said...

The number of 95 and higher scores is a testament to the quality of WA wines. Some will no doubt quibble about score escalation. I for one disagree with that; I have noticed quality escalation from this region over the last decade and am not surprised to see 26 wines rated 95 or higher.

ScottG said...

Would love to know more about your scoring system. A huge number of ties- which seems unique this year. How did you determine which were ties, especially when others of the same score were ranked higher or lower?

PaulG said...

Scott, I think you are right about the large number of ties, but it's purely coincidental. Ties mean that all the wines had exactly the same score and suggested retail price.

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