Friday, January 13, 2012

Annual Northwest Best of 2011 Wine Review

Ok. So, this is the one article that tends to bring me more hate mail than any other diddy of the year. I know it’s crazy, but I look forward to this annual event. One of my friends on Facebook has nicknamed me “firestarter” because something in me craves abuse. If anything starts that fire, it would be what I’m about to write.

This is my one article of the year, where I review my wine notes for the previous 12 months and give you my opinion on what my favorites were. These opinions are not the opinions of the Eastern Oregonian or any of it’s staff. It isn’t the opinion of my family. It isn’t the opinion of that hosts my blog. The following opinions are mine alone.

Best Chardonnay: I’ve had some doozies this year. Some made me think I was in heaven. Some made me want to puke. The best one I had was one I found on a trip to Portland with my wife. We stopped in a few different little wineries in Hood River on the way home and found Phelps Creek Winery. Their Reserve Chardonnay (I believe it was the 2009 but I can’t find that in my notes). The crispness on the front of the palate, nice acidity, and wonderful butterscotch overtones was fantastic!
Best Red Blend: Once again, this was all over the board. I would have to say that my favorite red blend this year goes to Davenlore for their Recovery Red. You would think that a bottle with a Grolsch style refillable bottle, and low priced to boot, would be bad. But, I had this wine many times this year and was never disapointed.

Most Unique Red Varietal: I’ve gotten some pretty wild stuff sent to me this year, but I had some local Primitivo that was outstanding this summer. My favorite was Coyote Canyon’s Primitivo. Deep, ruby color and rich with plum, cherry, and spices.

Best Malbec: So, I can’t help it. Malbec is my favorite grape of all. The best Malbec that I had this year came from Hamilton Cellars. Charlie Hoppes, who is the winemaker for Hamilton was forced by Stacy the owner of the winery to make this stuff. Thanks Stacy for beating it out of him. I love it!!

Best Riesling: Rich Funk from Saviah created his Jack Riesling this year for the first time an it hit the market by storm. I finally got my hands on a bottle this fall and fell in love. OMG!

Best Cabernet Sauvignon: This is usually where I tick off the purists. Once again, I’ve had a lot of Cab this year, and this is was a very tough choice. I have to say that my bottle of ‘07 Cooper Walla Walla Cab was the best of the year. If you didn’t get any, I’m sorry, but you won’t be able to prove me wrong.

Best Pinot Noir: At the end of the year I received as a gift a bottle of Swiftwater Cellars 2009 Willamette Pinot Noir. The Watts family has spared no expense in making this hard-to-get wine. Beautiful fruit backed up by layer after layer of spices makes this bottle truly one of the best. My hat is off to winemaker Tony Rynders.

Once again, these are the best that I tasted. I’m sure you have your own opinion. Please let me know at


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