Saturday, November 28, 2009

Local Wineries Top Annual List

Once again Northwest winemakers and fans have a reason to cheer. This week, Wine Spectator, the world’s premier magazine for all things wine, released its annual top 100 list. The list is made available to Wine Spectator’s readership, and is released early via its internet site, which posted the scores and tasting notes just days before copies hit the newsstands.

We here in the Mid-Columbia region have something extra to celebrate about. Topping the list this year out of a total number of 17,000 wines tasted was Columbia Crest Winery, with its 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine, created just across the Columbia River at Columbia Crest winery in Patterson, won a landslide victory based on the characteristics of quality, value, availability, and excitement.

I have had other vintages of this Cabernet Sauvignon, and can attest to Columbia Crest’s dedication to producing absolutely fantastic wines in their reserve line with each bottling. Since there are many Columbia Crest employees who live in here locally, I want to take the extra time to congratulate each of you. Your team effort continues to show the world that our region does produce amazing wines consistently.

Columbia Crest’s sister wineries Ste. Michelle and Spring Valley also made the top 100 list. Ste. Michelle’s 2006 Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon came in at number 38, and Spring Valley’s 2006 Uriah red blend made the list at number 60.

As well as the Ste. Michelle Estates group, a few other local wineries deserve kudos for their work. Argyle made a fantastic score by reaching number 18 this year with their 1999 Extended Tirage. This Dundee, Oregon winery consistently makes the top 100 list with its sparkling wines.

Cayuse, a Walla Walla vintner, known for creating highly sought after wines, reached number 26 with their 2006 Cailloux Vineyard Syrah. Cailloux, which according to the company’s website, is French for “Rocks”, is produced in extremely rocky soil.

Barnard Griffin, a Richland, Washington winery that I’ve written about many times, made the list at number 66 with their 2008 Columbia Valley Riesling. Rob Barnard continues to produce brilliant wines out of his winery. This Riesling, which I’ve tasted at the winery, is an off-dry wine with lots of fresh fruit and floral notes.

Coming in at number 72 was The Magnificent Wine Company with their 2006 Columbia Valley Syrah. Better known for their “House Wine” labels, the Magnificent Wine Company, owned by Northwest wine giant Precept Brands, is located in Walla Walla.

Waterbrook, another Walla Walla winery owned by Precept, took the honor of reaching number 74 with its 2006 Columbia Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Not far behind at number 77 was King Estate winery with their 2008 Signature Collection Pinot Gris.

Now… for the bad news. Most of these wines have already been purchased and consumed months ago. If you can find them on any local shelves it will be out of pure luck. That is always the condemnation of this annual list. By the time the list reaches consumer hands it is usually too late. But, don’t worry. Chances are you will find many of the same characteristics in newer vintages that got these wines on the list.


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