Thursday, March 1, 2012

Washington State and Oregon's Best Wines - Paul Gregutt’s Top 100 Wines of 2011

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Paul Gregutt at the 1. Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium

As far as Washington State and Oregon wines are concerned, wine writer Paul Gregutt is the absolute authority. He has now published a list of his Top 100 Wines from Washington State and Oregon – 2011.

Paul Gregutt

Paul Gregutt’s book, Washington Wines & Wineries: the Essential Guide, is now in its fourth printing and is the authoritative guide to Washington State wine. Paul is the author of the weekly column entitled "Wine Adviser" in The Seattle Times. Paul also contributes to publications such as Vineyard & Winery Management, Yakima Herald-Republic, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Paul is the Northwest Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and has written the Pacific Northwest material of Tom Stevenson's annual Wine Report, as well as contributions to Decanter and Wine Spectator. Paul is also a musician. He lives outside of Walla Walla in the South East of Washington State.

I met Paul last year at the 1. Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium, where he was the key note speaker. See: Meeting American Wine Writer Paul Gregutt in Oregon, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Paul Gregutt at the 1. Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium

The Wines of Washington State

About half a century ago, there was basically no wine industry in Washington State. And if wine was made, it was not with the noble European vinifera grapes. But the American wine boom that had its origin in California moved to the north, first to Oregon and then it also reached Washington State.

In 1980, four years after Californian wines had out shined the French wines at the famous tasting in Paris, there were about 20 wineries in Washington State that were producing high-quality wines with European vinifera grapes. Today, there are more that 500 wineries.

Picture: Washington State

In the beginning, white wines dominated. As recently as 10 years ago, 70 percent of the grapes planted were white grapes, with Chardonnay the No. 1 grape. But encouraged by the success of Oregon with its Pinot Noirs, the balance between white and red wine has shifted towards red; red wines now account for almost half of the wine production.

Pictures: Impression from Washington State

In general, if California’s wines are rich and powerful, Washington State’s wines are more crisp and delicate, reflecting its location much more up in the North. They remind me a lot of the wines I know from Germany.

Although a relatively young wine industry, Washington State is now the nation's second largest wine producer and is ranked among the world's top wine regions.

The Wines of Oregon

About two-thirds of Oregon’s wineries and vineyards are in the Willamette Valley. Buffered from Pacific storms on the west by the Coast Range, the valley follows the Willamette River north to south for more than a hundred miles from the Columbia River near Portland to just south of Eugene. But Oregon is not only about Willamette Valley. Oregon’s vineyards span the whole State, rising up and falling over the rolling hills and gentle valleys of more than 12,000 acres (4,858 hectares) of wine grapes. Oregon’s major wine regions are the Willamette Valley, Rogue Valley, Umpqua Valley, and the Columbia Gorge. Some regions straddle the border between Oregon and the States of Washington and Idaho.

 Picture: Oregon

Wine was made in Oregon in the 19th century already, when Italian and Swiss immigrants planted wine grapes and started bottling wine. Oregon's wine industry was suppressed during Prohibition. It wasn’t until1961, when Richard Sommer set up shop in southern Oregon and planted Riesling, that the modern Oregon wine industry was borne. Other pioneers include David Adelsheim, Dick Ponzi and Bill Sokol-Blosser. Then the French also came with Domaine Drouhin bringing European sophistication to Oregon. In the past 40 years, Oregon has become one of the country’s top three wine States, with 350 wineries producing an average of 5,000 cases each a year. Most of it is Pinot Noir, but there’s also Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and modest amounts of Riesling and Merlot.

Oregon produces wine on a much smaller scale than its southern neighbor California. Oregon's biggest producer ships only 125,000 cases per year and most produce under 35,000 cases. The State features many small wineries which produce less than 5,000 cases per year. In contrast, E & J Gallo Winery, the US’ largest winery, produces about 70 million cases annually. The majority of wineries in Oregon operate their own vineyards, although some purchase grapes on the market.

Pictures: Impressions from Oregon

When one talks about American wines, one talks about wines from California. Of course California accounts for about 95% of the wine output of the United States. The 3 States that follow are New York State, Washington State and Oregon. I have travelled through Washington State and Oregon last year – from Seattle via Walla Walla and Willamette Valley to California.

Paul Gregutt’s Top 100 Wines from Washington State and Oregon – 2011

Paul Gregutt has published his Top 100 Wines 2011 for Washington State and Oregon. If you are interested in how he compiled the list, go here. If you are interested in the list, here is the list.

1. Cayuse 2008 Bionic Frog Syrah ($80)
2. Quilceda Creek 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($125)
3. Pirouette 2008 Red ($50)
4. Leonetti Cellar 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($85)
5. Charles Smith 2008 Royal City Syrah ($140)
6. Rasa Vineyards 2008 Creative Impulse DuBrul Cabernet-Merlot ($95)
7. Efesté 2009 Lola Chardonnay ($30)
8. Scott Paul 2009 Dix Pinot Noir ($40)
9. Buty 2007 Columbia Rediviva Cabernet-Syrah ($48)
10. Den Hoed 2007 Andreas Cabernet Sauvignon ($80)
11. K Vintners 2007 The Hustler Syrah ($140)
12. Trisaetum 2010 Estates Reserve Riesling ($32)
13. DeLille Cellars 2009 Chaleur Estate Blanc ($36)
14. Maison Bleue 2009 Upland Vineyard Gravière GSM ($40)
15. Nefarious Cellars 2009 Rocky Mother Syrah ($42)
16. Mark Ryan 2008 Dead Horse Red ($45)
17. Domaine Serene 2007 Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir ($58)
18. L'Ecole 2008 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($60)
19. Ponzi 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir ($60)
20. Betz Family 2008 Père de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon ($60)
21. Doyenne 2008 Grand Ciel Syrah ($60)
22. Januik 2008 Reserve Red ($65)
23. Adelsheim 2009 Nicholas Vineyard Syrah ($90)
24. Dunham 2009 Lewis Estate Riesling ($20)
25. Ch. Ste. Michelle 2007 Cold Creek Vineyard Merlot ($28)
26. Tulpen Cellars 2007 Merlot ($28)
27. ArborBrook 2008 Sydney Sémillon ($28)
28. Kontos Cellars 2008 Syrah ($30)
29. Ross Andrew 2008 Boushey Vineyard Syrah ($34)
30. Sineann 2009 Champoux Vineyard Merlot ($35)
31. Seven Hills 2008 Seven Hills Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($35)
32. JM Cellars 2009 Chardonnay ($35)
33. McCrea 2006 Boushey Grand Côte Syrah ($36)
34. Otis Kenyon 2008 Stellar Vineyard Syrah ($38)
35. Barnard Griffin 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($40)
36. Adams Bench 2007 the V Cabernet Sauvignon ($42)
37. Gramercy Cellars 2009 The Third Man Red ($45)
38. Alexandria Nicole 2008 Destiny Red ($45)
39. Erath 2009 Prince Hill Pinot Noir ($45)
40. Viento 2009 Celilo Vineyard Gewürztraminer Ice Wine ($45)
41. Owen Roe 2009 Red Willow Chapel Block Syrah ($55)
42. Eyrie 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir ($62)
43. Doubleback 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($87)
44. Archery Summit 2009 Arcus Estate Pinot Noir ($100)
45. Rulo 2009 Sundance Vineyard Chardonnay ($20)
46. Pacific Rim 2009 Solstice Vineyard Riesling ($22)
47. Angel Vine 2009 The Hellion Red ($22)
48. Salida 2006 Tempranillo ($24)
49. Hard Row to Hoe 2008 Syrah ($28)
50. Syncline 2009 McKinley Springs Vineyard Syrah ($30)
51. Cowhorn 2009 Viognier ($30)
52. Beresan 2007 Viuda Negra Red ($35)
53. Hawks View 2009 Pinot Noir ($35)
54. Chateau Rollat 2007 Rollat Cabernet Sauvignon ($38)
55. Coeur d'Alene Cellars 2007 Alder Ridge Vineyard Syrah ($40)
56. Baer 2008 Arctos Red ($41)
57. J. Bookwalter 2008 Foreshadow Cabernet Sauvignon ($42)
58. David Hill 2008 BlackJack Pinot Noir ($45)
59. Va Piano 2007 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($48)
60. Dusted Valley 2008 Tall Tales Syrah ($53)
61. Andrew Will 2008 Ciel du Cheval Red ($55)
62. Sonria 2009 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir ($60)
63. Rex Hill 2008 Jacob-Hart Vineyard Pinot Noir ($65)
64. Lachini 2007 Cuvée Giselle Pinot Noir ($65)
65. Olsen Estates 2009 Blanc des Coteaux ($12)
66. Lujon 2009 Pinot Gris ($12)
67. O• S 2010 Champoux Vineyard Riesling ($15)
68. Hestia Cellars 2009 Chenin Blanc ($15)
69. Thistle 2010 Pinot Blanc ($16)
70. Gordon Brothers 2007 Syrah ($17)
71. Penner-Ash 2009 Riesling ($18)
72. Yamhill Valley 2009 Riesling ($18)
73. Barrister 2010 Klipsun Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($19)
74. Quady North 2010 Pistoleta White ($19)
75. Waterbrook 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($20)
76. Arbor Crest 2009 Three Vineyards Syrah ($20)
77. Cadaretta 2010 sbs ($23)
78. Chehalem 2009 Corral Creek Riesling ($24)
79. Tranche 2006 Syrah ($25)
80. Watermill 2008 Estate Cabernet Franc ($28)
81. Bunchgrass 2008 Founder's Blend Cab Franc-Merlot ($28)
82. Isenhower 2008 Wild Thyme Cabernet Sauvignon ($29)
83. Soos Creek 2008 Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Sauvignon ($30)
84. Obelisco Estate 2008 Merlot ($30)
85. Sparkman 2008 Ruckus Syrah ($32)
86. Saviah Cellars 2008 Une Vallée Red ($32)
87. Market Vineyards 2008 Benchmark Merlot ($35)
88. Vista Hills 2009 Marylhurst Estate Pinot Noir ($36)
89. Walter Dacon 2008 C'est Syrah Beaux ($38)
90. Mackey Vineyards 2009 Concordia Red ($38)
91. Guardian Cellars 2008 The Alibi Red ($39)
92. Amalie Robert 2008 Dijon Clones Pinot Noir ($40)
93. Lemelson 2008 Stermer Vineyard Pinot Noir ($42)
94. Clawson Creek 2009 The Angela Pinot Noir ($45)
95. Aubichon Cellars 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir ($45)
96. Willamette Valley Vineyards 2008 South Block Pinot Noir ($45)
97. Waters 2008 Loess Vineyard Syrah ($48)
98. Le Cadeau 2009 Côte Est Pinot Noir ($48)
99. Brian Carter Cellars 2008 Stone Tree 1 Cabernet Sauvignon ($48)
100. Northstar 2008 Walla Walla Valley Merlot ($50)

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Wine ratings: Two American/German wines - Eroica and Poet's Leap - on Top 100 Wines from Washington State list for 2009

The Wines of Hightower Cellars in Washington State, US

The Wines of Abeja, Washington State

German American Wines: (1) NV Two Worlds Pinot Noir, (2) Poet's Leap Riesling and (3) Herrmann Wiemer's Finger Lakes Rieslings

Meeting Joel Waite, Winemaker and Owner of CAVU Cellars in Walla Walla, Washington State

Visiting Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, Washington State - Where Armin Diel’s Poet’s Leap Riesling is Made

Visiting Winemaker Steven Sealock at Pacific Rim Winemakers in Washington State, USA

Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium at Oak Knoll Winery in Hillsboro

Pacific Rim Riesling #1 of Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Best Buy List 2011 - Meeting Founder Randall Grahm and Winemakers Nicolas Quille and Steven Sealock

Tasting Washington State Wines at the Tasting Room in Seattle, USA

A Riesling Guru and a Killer Guitarist cum Cult Winemaker: Ernst Loosen and Jay Somers and their J. Christopher Winery in Newberg, Oregon

One of Oregon's Pioneering Winemakers - Myron Redford - with his Amity Vineyard Wines in Washington DC

Wine tasting: Soter Wines from Oregon at Out-of-Sight Wines in Vienna, US

Wine Tasting: The Pinot Noirs of Patricia Green, Oregon, US

The Excellent Wines of Ken Wright Cellars, Oregon

Meeting Bill Holloran from Oregon and Tasting His Holloran and Stafford Hill Wines

The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC

Visit: Oak Knoll Winery in Hillsboro, Oregon

President Obama Serves a “German” Riesling at State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao

Wine ratings: Two American/German wines - Eroica and Poet's Leap - on Top 100 Wines from Washington State list for 2009

The Wines of Abeja, Washington State

Visiting Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, Washington State - Where Armin Diel’s Poet’s Leap Riesling is Made

Visiting Winemaker Steven Sealock at Pacific Rim Winemakers in Washington State, USA

Meeting American Wine Writer Paul Gregutt in Oregon, USA

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