Back in March, I was one of the judges for the Seattle Magazine Washington Wine Awards. So I was greatly interested in the results when the award winners were announced last Friday, July 22nd. I found many of the winning wines to coincide with my picks, or closely so. Here's a rundown of the results along with my preferences.
Winemaker of the Year: Gilles Nicualt, Long Shadows
I voted for Gilles in the Washington Wine Awards poll for this category. I know Gilles personally and have found his wines to be highly impressive. See the September and December, 2015 issues of the Review of Washington Wines for reviews of the Long Shadows 2013 reds. See also the January 2016 issue for the Nine Hats wines, also produced by Long Shadows.
Vineyard of the Year: Celilo Vineyard, Columbia Gorge
This one of the premier vineyards in the state for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Some fine Grüner Veltliner also comes from there.
Winemaker to Watch: Morgan Lee, Two Vintners
Morgan has turned out impressive wines, including the Red Wine of the Year, below.
Best Emerging Winery - Savage Grace Wines
I have known for some time that Michael Savage is an up and coming winemaker. See the July and August issues for reviews of his current releases.
Coolest Wine Label - NumbSkull
The skulls on the label are truly striking, evoking the Grateful Dead. The wines as well are attention-getting. See the April issue for the 2014 BDX and GSM blends.
White Wine of the Year: 2014 Long Shadows Poet's Leap Riesling
I scored this 19/20 points in the wine judging. My notes say "Floral, pear & peach, clover, viscous."
Chardonnay $15-40: 2014 Ashan Barrel Fermented, Columbia Valley
I scored this 19/20 points. My notes: "Gold color, rich, almost smoky."
Chardonnay over $40: Côte Bonneville, DuBrul Vineyard, Yakima Valley
I scored this 19/20 points. "Hint of butterscotch, ripe yet crisp and balanced." My top pick in this category was the 2013 Tranche Cellars, Columbia Gorge, Celilo Vineyard, 20/20 points. "Pear, peach, citrus refined & balanced." This is to be released this fall.
Red Wine of the Year: 2013 Two Vintners "Some Days Are Stones" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Stoney Vine Vineyard
This is an estimable winner. I scored it 19/20 points. "Ruby color, ripe roasted berries, chewy, fleshy, leather." But my top pick in the Syrah category was the 2013 Avennia "Arnaut" Syrah, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard. "Crimson, Intoxicating aromas, lavender violets, superb elegance. 20/20 points. (Also scored 20/20 points in the May issue).
Merlot $20-40: 2013 L'Ecole No. 41 Estate, Walla Walla Valley
I scored this 18/20 points (would have been 18.5 if fractional points were allowed in judging). My top pick was the 2013 Walla Walla Vintners, Walla Walla Valley 19/20 points. "Rich, pleasing nose & flavors, dark back." It scored 18.5/20 points in the November issue.
Merlot over $40: 2013 Pepper Bridge, Walla Walla Valley
I scored this 19/20 points. "Tight, almost austere style." My top pick was the 2013 Fidelitas Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 20/20 points. "Intense nose, perfumed, exotic, fleshy. Long finish."
Red Blend over $40: 2013 L'Ecole No. 41 Ferguson Estate, Walla Walla Valley
I scored this 19/20 points. It scored 19.5/20 points in the June issue of the Review of Washington Wines. My top pick in the judging was the 2012 Cadence Red Mountain, Bel Canto Vineyard. 20/20 points. "Deep ruby, blackberry, cherry, cassis, incense. Full bore, long finish." Scored 19+ points in the May issue.
Cabernet Sauvignon $25-65: 2013 Woodward Canyon, Artist's Series, Columbia Valley
This was also my top pick, 19/20 points. "Dark, intoxicating, tobacco, incense. Full flavored, deep." Scored 19+/20 points in the January issue.
Cabernet Sauvignon over $65: 2013 Upchurch Red Mountain, Estate Vineyard
Also my top pick. "Blackberry, cherry, plum, thick, tremendous elegance." 20/20 points. Also 20/20 points in the March issue. The 2013 Mark Ryan, Lonely Heart, Red Mountain also scored 20/20 in the judging. "Intense nose, tobacco, cedar, deep cored, dark fruits, minerals." Also 20/20 in the April issue.
Corrected version after autocorrect misspelled Celilo as Cello and Boushey as Bushy in previous version.