2010 Best Washington Wines
Category: seattlepi.com teaser headlines
It’s been a fascinating year in the world of Washington wine. With the economic downturn, the buzzword is value, and as a result, we’ve discovered several new, affordable (less than $20) and delicious wines that we might never have seen had times been better. But the high rollers are still rolling. A few new wineries, such as Corliss Estates, have gone to extremes to build an impressive tasting room and a label for which serious wine collectors will open their wallets. And others, such as high-end Long Shadows Vintners, have acquired some of the best vineyard land in the state. Meanwhile, Columbia Crest garnered the Number One Wine of the Year spot from Wine Spectator in 2009, turning international eyes toward Washington wine. With these shifts in the economics of grape growing and winemaking, consumers are the ones to benefit, with more and more bottles available to fill glasses gloriously for less, as well as continued world-class winemaking that raises the bar for Washington on the international scene.
Best New Winery and Most Outstanding Wine of the Year
Corliss Estates 2003 Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $75
Seattle real estate developer Michael Corliss has been an avid wine collector, so about 10 years ago he started his own winery. With partner Lauri Darneille and winemaker Kendall Mix (who recently left Corliss), Corliss has been focused on making the highest-quality wine possible, producing a superb, complex, classic Washington red. The 2003 Red Wine—a blend of Merlot (34.6 percent), Cabernet Franc (23.3 percent), Cabernet Sauvignon (24.6 percent), Petit Verdot (12.9 percent) and Malbec (4.6 percent)—was quickly snatched up and has sold out. Still available at press time, the 2004 Corliss red, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (44 percent), with Cabernet Franc (34.5 percent), Petit Verdot (9 percent), Malbec (9.6 percent) and Merlot (2.1 percent), is an equally lush, elegant, balanced Bordeaux blend. Using the best Red Mountain and Columbia Valley fruit and perfectly timed aging in French oak barrels, Corliss Estates has created a conundrum for collectors—a wine worthy of collecting, but so tempting to drink now.
Best Emerging Wine Region
After a two-year wait, Lake Chelan finally received approval as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) last year, bringing the number of AVAs in Washington to 11. Though it currently has only 260 planted acres, the area is developing a reputation for excellent fresh, crisp Riesling and Chardonnay, as well as Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. The area’s largest winery, Tsillan Cellars, focuses on whites, and owner Dr. Bob Jankelson is optimistic about the AVA’s future. “This area has potential to produ