Each year at this time there are two kinds of lists that people are thinking about, the one cobbled together by Ol' Saint Nick and then the copious top 100 lists put out by all the wine publications. The most awaited list comes from Wine Spectator but additionally, Wine Enthusiast and the San Francisco Chronicle also produce their Top 100 lists. Here at the Anthem we do not. That's okay though because just about everyone else does. Instead we cherry pick those lists and give you the run down on how the Northwest fared.
The Wine Enthusiast
The Wine Enthusiast produces a bevy of lists, Top 100 Best Buys, Top 100 Cellar Selections and just Top 100 "Regular" I suppose. Here we go:
As appears to be tradition The Wine Enthusiast doesn't really seem to appreciate Oregon Pinot Noir but as has often been the case Washington's established producers have made a good showing. The biggest surprise is how well Oregon Chardonnay and Pinot Gris and Washington Riesling fared on this list. Also of note, only one of these Northwest wines is under $20.
97: Archery Summit 2010 AB OVO Pinot Gris $42
92: Evening Land 2010 La Source Chardonnay $60
89: Abeja 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley) $44
68: Corliss 2007 Syrah (Columbia Valley) $55
55: Nefarious 2011 Stone's Throw Vineyard Riesling $18
47: J Bookwalter 2009 Conner Lee Vineyard Conflict (Red) $55
40: Tamarack Cellars 2008 Du Brul Vineyard Red $50
38: Quilceda Creek 2008 Cabernet $125
35: K Vintners The Hidden Syrah $70
26: Figgins 2009 Estate Red Wine $85
12: Dunham 2010 Lewis Vineyard Riesling $20
9: Scott Paul Dix Pinot Noir $40
6: Rulo 2010 Chardonnay $20
The knock on Oregon wines here in the Northwest is that they're too expensive compared to the wines of Washington but this list seems to turn that reputation on it's head, the only red wine selected from Oregon is cheaper than any of the Washington red wines.
The Top 100 Best Buys include a lot of Northwest whites, from standard bearers Chateau Ste Michelle (#2) and Pacific Rim as well as wines from Eyrie (Pinot Gris #7), Foris and a great Oregon riesling from Willamette Valley Vineyards.
The San Francisco Chronicle
Perhaps no one appreciates Oregon Pinot Noir like Jon Bonne and the staff at the SF Chronicle. The Chronicle does not rank their wines, they merely list the 100 best wines they sampled that given year. The list is of American wines and so it's pretty much about the wines made on the West Coast. The list is broken up by "genre" which comes off as a little strange. The Chronicle also lists the alcohol percentage of each wine. It's something they're concerned about in terms of rising alcohol levels in New World wines. The big surprises for me were that in the non-Pinot red wine categories Washington generally had alcohol levels higher than those from California. I was also surprised to see none of the Oregon chardonnay producers make this list considering how incredible it is.
Cabernet & Merlot
2009 Andrew Will Two Blondes Columbia Valley Red 14.5% $55
2009 Betz Family Clos de Betz Columbia Valley Red 14.6% $52
2009 Covey Run Quail Series Cabernet Sauvignon 13.5% $9 NINE DOLLARS!
2010 Leonetti Cellars Merlot 14.3% $70
2009 Scarborough Wines Royale Columbia Valley Red 14.3% $30
2010 Beaux Freres The Beaux Freres Ribbon Ridge AVA 13% $80
2010 Bergstrom Temperance Hill 13.5% $60
2010 Chehalem Stoller Vineyards 13.1% $48
2010 Evesham Wood Le Puits Sec Vineyard 13 $36
2010 JK Carriere Vespidae 13% $42
2010 Stoller JV Estate Dundee Hills 13.2% $25
Rhone Style Reds
2010 Gramercy Cellars Walla Walla Syrah 13.9% $55
2009 Buty Redivia of the Stones Walla Walla Valley Red 13.8% $60
2011 Luminous Hills Aura Pinot Noir Rosé 12.8% $21
2011 Ponzi Rosato Pinot Noir Rosé 13.5% $15
Sauvignon Blanc & Other Whites
2011 Adelsheim Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 13.2% $19
2011 Brooks Oak Ridge Vineyard Gewurztraminer 13.2% $18
2011 Poet's Leap Columbia Valley Riesling 12.3% $20
2011 Teutonic Wine Co. November Harvest, Maresh Vineyard Pinot Gris $23
The Wine Spectator
In terms of the high profile Top 100 list that honor begins and ends with the highest profile magazine, Wine Spectator. I for one do not find life to be a spectator sport but none the less "the Spectator" as it is known is the biggest of big dogs. Interestingly they actually roll their Top 100 out over the course of a week, revealing a few each day and on the last day numero uno gets unveiled. Overall the Northwest did fairly well including 5 wines in the top 25.
79: 2010 Evening Land Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir $45
71: 2009 Waterbrook Reserve Merlot Columbia Valley $24
60: 2009 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon $135
42: 2011 Charles & Charles Rosé $11
22: 2009 Cayuse Cailloux Vineyard Syrah $75
18: 2002 Argyle Extended Tirage Sparkling Wine $70
14: 2009 Maysara McMinnville Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir $32
11: 2009 Pedestal Merlot Columbia Valley $55
7: 2009 Shea Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir $40
And with that we close out another list season, except for the whole Santa Claus thing. Many of these wines, because of where they landed on these lists will be difficult to come by. Many of them already are. If anyone knows where you might find that $9 Covey Run Cabernet, let me know. We leave you with the song Lisztomania from the band Phoenix.