Wow, one of my favorite lists was just published! It’s the 100 Best Washington Wines 2011 By Sean P. Sullivan. Oh my goodness, we just found number 7 at a local wine shop! I bet it’s been sold out in Seattle for a long time! We also have number 1, Cayuse Cailloux in our wine storage locker! I got it for my husband as a special treat on his birthday.
1 Cayuse Vineyards Cailloux Vineyard Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $70
97 Points In the late 1990s, Christophe Baron set about making a series of highly rated syrahs that would transform the Washington wine industry. Today he is still a syrah maker in a class by himself. Case in point: this intensely aromatic wine with floral and savory notes, minerality, light funk, saline, and black olive juice.
2 Reynvaan Family Vineyards The Contender Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $60
96 Points Cofermented with marsanne to provide extra depth and texture, this syrah sings of the region where its fruit was grown, with distinctive meat, earth, and savory notes.
3 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $130
95 Points Exceptionally polished tannins and brooding aromatics of black cherry, dark fruit, floral notes, spice, and chocolate are capped off by a lingering finish.
4 Rasa Vineyards Creative Impulse DuBrul Vineyard Yakima Valley 2008 $95
94 Points Brothers Billo and Pinto Naravane of Rasa Vineyards hold math and engineering degrees from top universities. But it is their artistic talents that are on display in this breathtaking bordeaux-style blend (61 percent cabernet sauvignon, 39 percent merlot) from DuBrul Vineyard. Just a baby now, this wine promises to mature beautifully in the cellar.
5 Figgins Estate Red Wine Walla Walla Valley 2008 $85
94 Points This blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot is aromatically compelling with scorched earth, black currant, red fruit, and dark licorice. The palate is dense and elegant, both structured and light on its feet.
6 Reynvaan Family Vineyards The Unnamed Syrah Walla Walla Valley 2008 $45
94 Points Like those in the Contender (number two on this list), the grapes for this wine come from the Reynvaan family’s In the Rocks vineyard in the southern section of the Walla Walla Valley. It’s aromatically explosive with stargazer lilies, sea breeze, savory notes, and olive juice, and the palate is plush and expansive with iron and umami flavors.
7 Rotie Cellars Northern Blend Red Wine Columbia Valley Washington State 2009 $40
94 Points An endlessly fascinating aroma profile with floral notes, game, mineral, ash, black olive, and savory notes. The palate—meaty, rich, full of savory flavors and earth—is followed up by a seemingly endless finish.
8 DeLille Cellars Grand Ciel Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2007 $135
93 Points This is a beautiful wine with the structure to go the distance. Its palate is dense and perfumed with cherry flavors and firm, ripe tannins.
9 Grand Rêve Vintners Collaboration Series II Red Wine Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2008 $50
93 Points Grand Rêve Vintners is the “great dream” of businessman Paul McBride and Red Mountain superstar vineyard manager Ryan Johnson. Their Collaboration Series wines pair top makers from around the state with fruit from the Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. Here Ross Mickel of Ross Andrews Winery offers a compelling southern Rhone-style blend of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre.
10 Cadence Bel Canto Red Wine Cara Mia Vineyard Red Mountain 2008 $55
93 Points Though it is already alluring with floral notes, earth, mineral, dark fruit, and light chocolate, this blend (67 percent cabernet franc, 25 percent merlot, and 8 percent petit verdot) needs at least two years in the cellar.
We’ve visited Delille and Cadence to tasted their amazing wines before, and we hope to taste at Grand Reve next month! We are also huge fans of:
16 Betz Family Winery Besoleil Red Wine Columbia Valley 2009 $45
93 Points Grenache is making waves in Washington, and winemaker Bob Betz’s 2009 Besoleil red (in which grenache is blended with syrah, mourvedre, and cinsault) makes excellent use of the evermore popular grape. Fresh raspberries, game, pepper, mineral notes, and milk chocolate dominate the nose; the palate is full of fruit and ample tannins.
17 Adams Bench Cabernet Sauvignon Red Willow Vineyard Yakima Valley 2008 $60
93 Points With each vintage, Adams Bench winemakers Tim and Erica Blue take strides forward. This blend of cab and merlot is bold and lush with firm tannins. Allow it to age two years if you want to taste it at its peak.
19 Efeste Big Papa Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2008 $49
93 Points Winemaker Brennon Leighton used vines (from the Kiona, Klipsun, Sagemoor, and Weinbau vineyards) averaging 31 years in age to create this dark, glass-staining cab. It’s locked up tightly at present with aromas of mineral, the darkest of fruits, earth, and violets. Let it age: This is a lay-me-down wine if ever there was one.
We love being wine club member’s at Efeste! They have a wine named Emmy too!
26 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Red Wine 2008 $55
92 Points Age this blend of merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon for two or more years—it is tightly wound up at present with rich fruit flavors and grainy tannins.
27 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope 2008 $42
92 Points Fielding Hills owners Mike and Karen Wade have established themselves among the state’s best since planting their Riverbend vineyard on the Wahluke Slope in 1998. True to the house style, this is a rich, layered cabernet accented with sweet spices.
28 Abeja Chardonnay Washington State 2009 $36
92 Points Winemaker John Abbott of Abeja (Spanish for bee) has spent almost 20 years crafting wine in Washington. Simultaneously alluring and elusive, this 100 percent chard makes the most of the fruit and isn’t overly oaky, and has subtle and textured fruit flavors and a persistent, apple-filled finish.