On March 3rd, I participated in the judging for Seattle Magazine's 2014 Washington Wine Awards. This was the second consecutive year, that I was on the judging panel. The winners were announced in the August issue of Seattle Magazine. Here are my comments on these awards.
The panel consisted of 20 wine industry professionals, includng sommeliers, wine merchants, winemakers and wine writers. The wines were tasted double blind (wines poured from brown bags and unknown to any of the tasters) and scored on a ten point system (similar to the U.C. Davis 20 point system). Points were scored 1 for appearance, 3 for aroma, 4 for palate and 2 for "Judges choice," an overall quality score component. Scores were tabulated and the winners are as follows, with my scores from the Review of Washington Wines.
White Wine of the Year: 2012 Ch. Ste. Michelle/Dr Loosen "Eroica" Riesling, Columbia Valley ($30) - I reviewed this wine in the March 2014 issue of the Review of Washington Wines, scoring it 19/20 points. At the Washington Wine Awards judging, I gave it 9/10 points. I did, however, score the 2012 Cote Bonneville 9.5 points. But the Eroica is a highly meritorious wine that points up the high quality of old vine Washington Riesling, with its finesse and intense minerality.
Red Wine of the Year: 2011 Mark Ryan "Lonely Heart" Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($80) - Here, again, this was not my top pick which was the 2009 Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cabernet, scoring 10/10 points (see Cabernet $65 and over below), but still highly meritorious. It scored 19.5/20 points in the April issue of the Review of Washington Wines. As a superb expression of Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from the challenging, yet elegant, 2011 vintage, it is a highly impressive wine, indeed.
Other Categories. This years Washington Wine Awards included top wines in several varietal categories at various price ranges. Here's a rundown on those winners, with my scores and top picks.
Sauvignon Blanc $20 and under - 2012 Lobo Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley ($17) - my score 7.5/10 points.
My Pick: - 2012 Guardian "Angel" Sauvignon Blanc - my score 8.5/10 points.
Sauvignon Blanc over $20 - 2012 Efesté "Sauvage" Sauvignon Blanc, Yakima Valley, Goldent View Vineyard ($23)
Mt Pick: same as above, 9.5/10 points.
Chardonnay $15 or less - 2011 For a Song Chardonnay, Columbia Valley ($10) - my score 7/10 points.
My Pick: 2012 Charles Smith "Eve" Chardonnay, Washington State ($12) - my score 17.5/10 points.
Chardonnay over $15, under $40 - 2012 Gorman "Big Sissy" Chardonnay, Columbia Valley ($35) - my score 8.5/10 points.
My Pick: 2011 Array "Dijon Clone" Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, Otis Harlan Vineyard ($32) - my score 9/10 points (reviewed March 2013 - 19/20 points).
Chardonnay over $40 - 2012 Woodward Canyon Chardonnay, Washington State ($44) - my score 9/10 points.
My Pick 2011 Cote Bonneville Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, DuBrul Vineyard ($50) - my score 9.5/10 points.
Riesling $15 and under - 2012 Charles Smith "Kung Fu Girl" Riesling, Ancient Lakes, Evergreen Vineyard ($12) - Sold out.
My Pick: same as above 8/10 points. (reviewed June 2013 - 18/20 points, Best Buy)
Riesling over $15 - 2012 Ch. Ch. Ste. Michelle/Dt.Loosen "Eroica" Riesling, Columbia Valley - see White Wine of the Year above.
Merlot $20 and under - 2011 Blacksmith by Forgeron Merlot, Columbia Valley ($15)
My Pick: same as above, 8/10 points.
Merlot over $20 - 2011 Longshadows "Pedestal" Merlot, Columbia Valley ($60)
My Pick: same as above, 9.5/10 points (to be reviewed in September)
Red Blend $20 or less - 2012 Tamarack Cellars "Firehouse" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($18) - my score 8/10 points.
My Pick: 2012 Syncline "Subduction" Red, Columbia Valley ($20) - my score 8/10 points (reviewed July 2014 - 18/20 points)
Red Blend over $20 - 2010 Soos Creek Champoux Red, Horse Heaven Hills ($40) - 9.5/10 points
My Pick: Tied with 2011 Avennia "Gravura" Red Wine, Columbia Valley ($35) - my score, 9.5/10 points (reviewed May 2014 - 19+/20 points).
Syrah $20 or less - 2012 Charles Smith "Boom Boom" Syrah, Columbia Valley ($15) - my score 8.5/10 points
My Pick: 2012 For a Song Syrah, Columbia Valley ($15) - 9/10 points (reviewed July 2014 - 18.5/20 points).
Syrah over $20 - 2012 W.T. Vintners "Damavian" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, Les Collines Vineyard ($42) my score 9/10 points.
My Pick: 2011 Avennia "Arnaut" Syrah, Yakima Valley, Boushey Vineyard ($48) - 9.5/10 points (reviewed October 2013 - 19+/20 points).
Cabernet Sauvignon $25 or less - 2010 Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($25) - my score 8.5/10 points
My Pick: Tied with 2010 McKinley Springs Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills ($20) 8.5/10 points (reviewed September 2013 - 18.5/20 points).
Cabernet Sauvignon over $25, under $65 - 2010 Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($45) my score 8.5/10 points,
My Pick: 2010 Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($48) - my score 9.5/10 points (reviewed September 2013- 19/20 points).
Cabernet Sauvignon over $65 - 2011 Mark Ryan "Lonely Heart" Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain $80) - see Red Wine of the Year, above. My Pick: 2009 Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon (also see above) - reviewed January 2014, 19.5/20 points.
Best Emerging Winery: Rasa Vineyards - There is no doubt in my mind that Pinto and Billo Naravane keep getting better and better with their wines at their Walla Walla Valley winery. Scores in the Review of Washington Wines have been 19 to 20/20 points.
Winemaker to Watch: Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen, W.T. Vintners - I have been impressed with his 2013 Gruner Veltliner (reviewed May 2014, 18.5/20 points) and the 2012 "Damavian" Syrah (see Syrah over $20 above)
Winemaker of the Year: Greg Harrington, Gramercy Cellars - There, again, I have no doubt about this. Greg's wines, especially his Syrahs and Cabernets have always been outstanding.
Vineyard of the Year: Evergreen Vineyard, Ancient Lakes - This vineyard in the new Ancient Lakes American Viticultural Area is a prime site, best known for Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.