Guessing Spectator's Top 100 of 2009

Your mission should you choose to accept it: Fill out on the survey on the right on the number of Washington wines you think will be in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2009. The survey will be open until Sunday November 15th. The list of wines will be released by Spectator on Monday, November 16th. For extra credit, send in a comment on any of the following:

- What wineries will be selected and why
- What the wines selected will be and why
- What the highest position is that a Washington wine will achieve

For context, I have listed below the number of Washington wines in Spectator’s Top 100 since 2000 and the highest position these wines have achieved.


# Washington Wines

Highest Position




























In picking wines for the Top 100 list, Spectator considers the following:

- Value, reflected by release price
- Availability, measured by case production or cases imported
- An X-factor which they call “excitement”

I am guessing that Spectator will select five wines from Washington this year. They have been consistent with four in the last several years, but I say they add one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more but would be surprised to see less given the QPR’s of the wines coming out of Washington and the bad economy.

Speaking generally, selecting on Spectator’s scores, I’m guessing they select wines from: Andrew Will, Columbia Crest, K Vintners/Charles Smith/Magnificent Wine Co., Chateau Ste. Michelle, and Januik/Novelty Hill. My rationale for selecting these producers is that they have all made highly rated wines that are also generally available (part of the purpose after all is to move wine). Dark horses would be Gorman Winery and Owen Roe who are making small case productions but have also received high scores.

Speaking more specifically, one wine that I am certain will be on there is the 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet (see a post on why here). Another wine I would guess would be the Andrew Will 2006 Sorella given the high score relative to the price. My dark horse would be Owen Roe’s Ex Umbris 2007. An interesting choice for Spectator would be something from Cayuse. Given the limited availability of these wines, it is unlikely it will make it, but, that said, it’s time. In terms of highest position, I will say there will be something in the top 25. Why? Why not?

As I did last year, I will be conducting a reader survey as well as compiling my own list of wines of the year in December. I will also be posting up information from Wine Enthusiast's lists once they are all published.

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Sean P. Sullivan


  1. Darren, thanks for the comments and good picks. Good to see you as well in W2. Hope to see you soon.

  2. Hey Sean,

    I would agree with most of your predictions except maybe the Gorman (production is just too low). I've got the Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet 2005 at number 3, in the WS Top 10 contest I'm in.

  3. gj-captures, thanks for the comment. I think you're probably right on Gorman given the production. I decided to go out further on the limb picking this winery, thinking maybe they would go for something a little more cultish and low production than unusual. Realistically if they did that it would more likely be Cayuse. We'll see!

  4. cityroute16, Good list! Thanks for sending it along. Spectator hasn't reviewed the Corliss wines which is interesting because others have. I'm looking forward to the reader survey as well and having fun putting together this year's top list. December is just around the corner!

  5. LI, good guesses. I think Cayuse is a long shot given its general lack of availability. Spectator's scores for Leonetti were in the low 90s (Merlot, 91; Reserve 93; Cabernet 90) so given the price of these wines I think they probably won't make it. The same goes for Quilceda. Although the CV Cabernet 2006 received 94 points, Spectator seems to generally put expensive wines on the list if they receive 95 points or more from what I have seen in the past. We'll see. I think the CC Reserve is a lock and wouldn't be surprised to see K on there as well. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Had two of the '05 CC Reserve this summer. Best part then was $27 a bottle and 95 points. Today, if you can find it, it's $90 plus a bottle and 95 points. Yeah, I guess Wine of the Year makes those two I had in July, reallllllly good! Great job in calling it right.

  7. Just another one of many examples of how points can drive sales and prices. And make people do crazy things. My friend who picked up this wine last year when it came out walked several miles in a snowstorm to a store that had promised her a few bottles. And then all the way home. 95 points make people do crazy things! Just imagine what WOTY might do! Thanks for the comment.