Each year Wine Enthusiast publishes three Top 100 lists: Best Buys, the Enthusiast 100, and Top Cellar Selections. While having three Top 100 lists may seem excessive, doing so allows the publication to distinguish between wines that provide exceptional Quality to Price Ratios (QPR), wines that are their top wines overall, and wines that are both exceptional and noteworthy for their ageability.
Earlier this month the magazine published the last of these lists, so let’s take a look at them. Continuing what has been an extraordinary year of recognition, Washington was well represented in all three Enthusiast lists. In the Best Buys of 2009, Washington had an astonishing fifteen wines in the Top 100, an exclamation point on the exceptional QPRs Washington is offering. Ten of these wines were white wines; five were red. Wineries represented included both large-scale wineries, such as Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, and other Ste. Michelle Wine Estates holdings, as well as smaller wineries, such as Merry Cellars, Milbrandt Vineyards, and Upland Estates.
The Enthusiast 100 – which the publication describes as their “favorite wines of the year” – listed eleven Washington wines. In a reflection of the 100 point score contributing editor Paul Gregutt gave to Charles Smith’s Royal City Syrah – his first – this wine was number two on the list. Other wines included long-time top producers Betz Family Winery, Andrew Will, Leonetti Cellar, and Woodward Canyon. However, the list also included up and coming wineries such as Fieldling Hills and Stevens. Of note, Rotie Cellars 2007 Southern Blend, one of the inaugural releases from this winery, also made the list (see a Focus Report on Rotie Cellars here).
While the Cellar Selections featured a smaller number of Washington wines than the other two lists, the wines were no less impressive. They included notable “lay me down” wines from Betz and Woodward Canyon. The second vintage of Chateau Rollat’s Edouard de Rollat was also listed. Finally, McCrea Cellars – a winery that consistently puts out top quality wine and manages to fly below the radar – rounded out the list.
The Washington wines from each list along with their ranks and associated scores are shown below. Writer Paul Gregutt who reviews Oregon and Washington for Wine Enthusiast also creates a Top 100 list each year which is devoted to Washington wine. See this list here.
100 Best Buys of 2009 (15 wines)
3. Pacific Rim Pacific Rim Organic Riesling Columbia Valley WA 2008 $14 92 points
11. Washington Hills Summit Reserve Late Harvest Riesling 2007 89 points $8
13. Kirkland Signature Merlot Columbia Valley 2006 $9 89 points
17. McKinley Springs Viognier Horse Heaven Hills 2007 $14 91 points
21. Merry Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Wahluke Slope 2008 $14 91 points
38. Upland Estates Gewurtzraminer Yakima Valley Snipes Mountain 2007 $14 90 points
43. Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling Columbia Valley 2008 $12 89 points
57. Arbor Crest Merlot Columbia Valley 2006 $15 90 points
63. Milbrandt Vineyards Traditions Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2006 $15 90 points
69. Hogue Cellars Cabernet Merlot Columbia Valley 2006 $10 88 points
71. Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley 2007 $10 88 points
73. Snoqualmie Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2007 $10 88 points
76. Covey Run Reserve Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2006 $10 88 points
80. Hedges CMS Red Columbia Valley $13 89 points
89. Columbia Crest Two Vines Gewurztraminer Columbia Valley 2007 $8 87 points
The Enthusiast 100 2009 (11 wines)
2. Charles Smith Royal City Syrah WA State $80 100 points
8. Poet’s Leap Riesling 2007 $20 94 points
16. Betz Pere de Famille 2006 $58 96 points
39. Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon RiverBend Vineyard Wahluke Slope 2007 $38 95 points
62. Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2006 $85 96 points
73. Andrew Will Red Wine Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2006 $55 95 points
74. Buty 70% Semillon/26% Sauvignon/4% Musacadelle Columbia Valley 2007 $25 94 points
82. Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling Columbia Valley 2008 $24 93 points
86. Steven’s Black Tongue Syrah Yakima Valley $32 94 points
95. Rotie Cellars Red Wine Southern Blend 2007 $35 94 points
97. Woodward Canyon Merlot Columbia Valley $39 94 points
Top Cellar Selections of 2009 (4 wines)
4. Betz Family Winery La Serenne Columbia Valley 2006 $55 95 points
12. Woodward Canyon Estate Red Walla Walla Valley 2006 $59 95 points
44. Chateau Rollat Edouard de Rollat Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley 2006 $65 94 points
95. McCrea Cellars Cuvee Orleans Syrah Yakima Valley 2005 $40 92 points