Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Monday, January 25, 2010

2009 Unofficial Classification Of Washington State Wineries

This is the fourth annual Unofficial Classification of Washington State Wineries. The 2009 Unofficial Classification Of Washington State Wineries represents my personal, perhaps, idiosyncratic or eccentric, opinions of the quality of Washington State wineries. Out of more than 650 wineries, there are at least  a hundred producing great wine. About half of the wine produced in Washington comes from wineries owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle. The other 600 some odd wineries are mostly small artisanal family enterprises typically producing 2000-3000 cases, in some cases up to 20,000 cases or more. The AP reports that Washington wineries are increasing their production.The emphasis has been on quality rather than quantity. Let us hope it remains so. In contrast to other classifications of wine such as the 1855 classification of Bordeaux, the Unofficial Classification of Washington Wineries is not set in stone and changes every year. Since it is retrospective, it does not necessarily predict future rankings, past performance is no guarantee of future results.This has been a difficult year with so many people unemployed, retirement funds cut in half, and a housing market that is limping along at best. In general, it appears that most people have lowered the price they are willing to pay for a bottle of wine, but have not cut consumption.Wines at the top of the list be special wines for special occasions, whereas wine in the "Cinqieme" group tend to be outstanding values. Exclusion from this classification, in no way represents a commentary on the quality of a winery. In many cases, it may simply mean that I am not familiar enough with the wines or winemaker to form an opinion. On the other hand , not all Washington wines and wineries are great, so only the best that I am familiar with are listed here. Wineries are listed in alphabetical order  and not ranked within each category. Wineries are listed as "deferred", if I have reason to believe they are worthy, but haven't tasted enough of their wines recently.


Premier Grand Cru ( Extraordinary)

Cayuse

Leonetti

Quilceda Creek


Deuxieme Grand Cru (Outstanding)

Andrew Will

Betz

Cadence

DeLille

Januik

Long Shadow

Pepper Bridge

Spring Valley


Troisieme Grand Cru ( Exceptional)

Abeja

Adams Bench

Amaurice

Boudreaux

Brian Carter

Buty

Cougar Crest

Doyanne

Fall Line

Five Star

Gorman

Hestia

Hightower

Isenhower

Mark Ryan

Note Bene

O-S

Palouse

Ross Andrew

Saviah

Sleight Of Hand

Sparkman

Syncline

Trio


Quatrieme Grand Cru ( Excellent)

426

Adamant

Amavi

Baer

Barrage

Basel Cellars

Beresen

Bergevin Lane

Canoe Ridge

Darby

Desert Wind

Dusted Valley

Flying Trout

Forgeron

Gifford Hirlinger

Hedges

Kestrel

Kiona

L'Ecole

Mountain Dome

Nicolas Cole

Northstar

Novelty Hill

Ponum

Red Sky

Reininger

Seven Hills

Sheridan

Syzygy

Terra Blanca

Tertulia

Thurston Wolfe

Three Rivers

Trust

Vin Du Lac

Walla Walla Vineyards

Walter Dacon

Whitman

Willis Hall


Cinqieme Cru ( Very Good)

14 Hands

Airfield Estates

Apex

Balboa

Boomtown

Barnard Griffin

Chinook

Columbia Crest "Two Vines"

Dama

Goose Ridge

Gordon Bros

Hogue

Martinez & Martinez

Maryhill

Nelms Road

Pavin & Riley

Pine & Post

Red Diamond

Revelry

Ryan Patrick

Sagelands

Saint Laurent

Willow Crest


Deferred

Agate Field

Andrake

Animale

Cameraderie

Canon De Sol

Chatter Creek

Columbia Crest Reserve

Dunham

Ensemble

Glacial Lake Missoula

Hedges

Latitude 46 N

Massett

McKinley Springs

McCrea

Parejas

Rulo

Sandidge

Sandhill

Soos Creek

Terra Blanca - Onyx

Two Mountains

Woodwark Canyon

Yellow Hawk

Zefina

7 Comments:

  • At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice list. I am very much aligned with you, except for me Betz is now above Quilceda Creek.

    Love Cadence too. It's like the musician's favorite rock band, not the general public's though.

     
  • At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Interesting that you don't have Darby listed anywhere on this list, nor Guardian, when they are right in between Kevin at Barrage and Chris's spot at Sparkman. Those two are arguably some of the standout producers in the Woodinville Warehouse District. They are also part of the Grape Killers group with members such as Mark Ryan, Gorman and Sparkman.

    Just spotted another glaring set of omissions in Efeste, Stevens, Cuillin Hills, and Des Voigne.

    These are some folks you'll want track down and drink some of their wine if you haven't and probably add them to your list when you do.

     
  • At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    McCrea would be 2nd cru for me. Incredible rhone style wines (their Sirocco and Mouverdre in particular).

    Canon del Sol would be 3rd cru. They have a fantastic blend (I think it was bordeaux style but with higher than normal Malbec).

    For me I'd bump Gorman up on the strength of their Evil Twin. Good stuff.

    Owen Roe is kinda in between WA and Oregon and they source grapes from both areas... however if you put them in here they would be premiere cru to me. The cab franc and kilmore pinot (willamette grapes however) are unbelievable.

     
  • At 10:15 PM, Anonymous szymanskiea said…

    I am far from familiar enough with WA state wines to comment on your listing in general, but I can't help but notice that you've omitted a fair number of the well-recognized Woodinville wineries. No unfavorable reflection on yourself whatsoever -- I just assume that you aren't as familiar with that area. I might, however, add William Church Winery to your "Deuxieme" list, along with Des Voignes and Cuillen Hills to either the 2iemes or 3iemes. Plaza winery from the Yakima valley should definitely make the 3iemes, though Plaza's prices make them a far better value than most. Tons of other fantastic wineries and winemakers that I am omitting, too, but I felt obliged to add at least these fews. Thanks again for at least making the effort while ackowledging the inevitable omissions!

     
  • At 10:15 PM, Blogger Gene Stein, Ph.D. said…

    Thank you for all your comments. Thay are great. In fact, I know all of these wineries and they are quite good. As I said, my list is excentric. I did add Darby which was a particularly glaring omission on my part. Your comments expand the universe of good wineries for possible inclusion in future "Classifications." Gene

     
  • At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Bill said…

    Good list - I would have Barrister and Robert in the Outstanding if not Excellent range

     
  • At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Waage said…

    Fun list, Still exploring the WA wines as I am a new commer to the area. I do like the wines from o'shea scarborough.

     

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