The September issue of Seattle Metropolitan magazine is now in stores and on-line and features this year’s list of the Top 100 Washington wines.
A few words about how I compiled the list. As stated in the article, wineries were allowed to send in a maximum of four wines, one in each of the following categories: one $25 or less; one $25–$50; one $50 or higher; and one white wine of any price. Alternately, if wineries were submitting wines in only one category, they could submit two wines. Wines were then rated using a 100-point scale and were subsequently ranked based on score, price, and overall excitement about the wine. A cutoff of 91 points was used to create the list. As in previous years, due to the high number of submissions – more than 500 – there were a number of excellent wines that did not make this year’s list.
You can read an electronic copy of the Top 100 list here as well as a list of 90-point rated white wines here and a list of 90-point rated reds $25 and under here.
Nice list. Not too many surprises, though it's nice to see some new producers make a showing. Interesting that there aren't many wines 95 pts or higher (exceptional). Is it a function of the year, the wine making, or your taste buds? :-)
"Alternately, if wineries were submitting wines in only one category, they could submit two wines."
I think this is a new wrinkle, and one that may reward some wineries for excellence at the top, but imo, it really discourages entries in the under $50 category, and likely greatly reduces the number of wineries who might enter otherwise. I know your other list of bargains at <$25 compensates for this, but to my palate there are literally hundreds of worthy Washington wines costing less than $50, but now there is even less chance for them to be noticed in this list. More for me I guess, but I'd prefer they sell enough to stay in business, and your Top 100 is really about a Top 60 wineries.
But, hey that's a nitpick and you do a great job with this, so keep on keepin' on.
Roger, I think there's a few different things going on here. First of all, I believe 95 points and up is pretty rare air. There is a small handful of producers that I believe consistently produce wines that are at this level year in and year out – Cayuse and Quilceda Creek would be two examples. There are others who occasionally produce wines that reach these heights/have a wine in their lineup that consistently reaches this level. Additionally, wineries were restricted in terms of the number of wines they could submit and the prices of these wines. If this were not the case, the number of wines in this category would be considerably larger. Also, keep in mind that how I defined the rating categories for the Seattle Metropolitan article is different from how I define them here (see http://www.wawinereport.com/2012/01/rating-system.html).
Chris, this is indeed a change from previous years. I was looking for a way to allow wineries who only produce in one price category to be able to submit more wines. However, I also worried that this might have the effect that you mentioned (as an aside, this is part of the reason that when I create my top list in this space each year, I only list one wine per winery, to not crowd out other wineries).
I agree that there is an abundance of extremely high quality Washington wines under $50. Looking at this year's list, the average price of wines in the Top 100 (104) was $48. If I include all wines rated 90 points and above it's $43. While this does seem a little higher than I might personally like – and I believe there is a large number of excellent bottles at lower prices – it is consistent with what Wine Spectator has seen looking at a much larger number of bottles. In the last three years, Washington wines rated at 90 point and above there have averaged $42, which is incidentally the lowest price average of any wine region in the world! I'll take a look back at the two previous years and see if this did have the type of impact you suggest. Thanks for the thoughts as always!