Another naive WAwineman classic, 1st posted on November 28, 2009:
While I normally begin with odd news from around the world, tonight we’ll discuss and dissect Paul Gregutt’s Top (100) Washington Wine Picks for 2009…hmmm, odd news…top 100 list. To begin with, my apologies to Mr. Gregutt as this list will be formally announced on Monday via his website and on Sunday in the local newspaper. I found it (first! by the way, for all you Twitter folks out there…just search ‘Gregutt 100’) and then did an autopsy. PG’s top three are verified by me and they are extraordinary wines. The ‘Royal City’ is now over $100 plus shipping so does it still hold it’s place as number 1? For me, probably not. That’s like saying Michael Jordan is a better ‘value’ than LeBron James, so keep that in perspective.
For a better take on someone’s ‘top 100’ list, it’s better to take a peek at what that person tends to lean on when considering a ‘top 100’ wine. While it’s no secret that Walla Walla is home to one of the oldest AVAs in this great State, one would expect more parity now that Washington State is home to 11 AVAs which are concentrated in central Washington, and not eastern. However, seniority has its benefits. Walla Walla wineries showed up 45 times on the list, while Woodinville wineries (excluding tasting rooms-only wineries) was a far distant second at 12. Oregon wineries (6), using Washington State AVAs grapes, accounted for nearly as many as the little town of Prosser (7). Idaho had the same representation as all of Seattle (1). Moving on to the red varietals, count 18 cabernet sauvignons to 15 syrahs, but what dominated was the so-called “easier to make” (vs. single vineyards) red blends (22). For whites, a no-brainer with riesling appearing 9 times. 2006 was the showcase year with all 47 wines from that vintage being red.
Some odd patterns surfaced: 10 of the 18 cabernets were in the overall top 20 while 9 of the 16 syrahs, despite owning the top slot, occupied the second 50 slots. The red blends dominated placements 31-40 (6) while having the most consistent penetration throughout the top 100. Whites accounted for 30% of the list. In a nutshell, this wine blogger who I (and many, many others) deeply respect as the “professor emeritus” of the Washington State wine scene, is a wine drinker that leans toward a (more-or-less) powerful (and balanced) red blend/cab/syrah made from a Walla Walla winery, and, this year, from a 2006 vintage.
As for me, I would like to congratulate the 12 Woodinville wineries that made the list this year: (3) Betz Family, (23) Novelty Hill, (25) Eroica, (27) JM Cellars, (39) Gorman, (40) DeLille Cellars, (48) Darby, (50) Hestia Cellars, (54) Doyenne, (63) Baer, (65) Efeste, and (84) Woodinville Wine Cellars. Also, kudos to the six wineries that had tasting rooms-only or are featured in a Woodinville tasting room: (41) Bookwalter Winery, (61) Gordon Brothers, (62) Alexandria Nicole Cellars, (76) Alma Terra, (78) Col Solare, and (90) Isenhower Cellars. That’s 18 wines out of the top 100 that can be purchased in Woodinville, only minutes away from a metropolitan core of over 2 million people. Is it any wonder why more eastern Washington wineries are making the investment to erect at least a tasting room in Woodinville?! And, this wave of momentum is making “Washington wine” the first thought for those 2 million folks, as opposed to wines from other places. Washington wineries…please note that you have to dominate the “home field” before thinking of a successful invasion elsewhere.
Nothing like a good value wine to sip on a lazy Saturday evening with a good read! I’ve featured Waterbrook Winery before so I’ll move on to the basics…
Purchased this wine at Costco for $10 when the “market” retail hovers around $14-17. Wine tip: Costco in Washington State is moving aggressively toward featuring in-state wines at low prices (like Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle) and the real winner is the local consumer! I don’t work for Costco but I constantly scan their warehouses for some great deals. Every Costco in the Puget Sound area has a few unique choices and I try to list them for you on my Twitter site. Find me at @WAwineman.
Color: bright straw. Nose: freshly torn orange rind, peach blossom. Mouthfeel: lithe. Tail trail: a light 2 seconds. Flavors: dried apricot, spiced honey, nectarines.
Grapes: 30% gewurztraminer, 26% riesling, 10% chardonnay, 10% sauvignon blanc, 10% viognier, 7% pinot gris, and 7% muscat canelli. (A unique blend with no peer). pH 3.46. TA 0.62%. RS 1.30%. Alcohol: 13.5%. Columbia Valley AVA. Vineyards: Waterbrook, Willard, Oasis, Evergreen, Upland, Holmason, Fox, Miller Hop, Seven Hills. Bentonite fining. Aged 6 months in 10% neutral oak and 80% stainless steel. No secondary fermentation. Premier Cuvee yeast. Bottled April 9-11, 2008. 3935 cases. Agglomerate cork. Rated: 88. Value: $13. Paid: $10. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.
As a post note: Waterbrook placed #64 with their 2007 Reserve syrah.
And, best “value” on the list was Poet’s Leap 2008 riesling ($20, #12) and Fielding Hills 2007 RiverBend Vineyard cabernet sauvignon ($38, #6).