Accolades Continue for Washington Wine

2009 was a year of extraordinary recognition for Washington wine. Wine Spectator named a Washington wine its ‘Wine of the Year’; Wine Enthusiast gave a Washington wine a 100 point score; and Wine & Spirits Magazine named a Washington winemaker its ‘Winemaker of the Year.’ 2009 was such a critically acclaimed year that it seemed hard to imagine what 2010 could do for an encore.

Less than half way through the year however, the beat goes on. Earlier in the year Wine Spectator gave the 2006 Charles Smith Royal City Syrah a 97 point rating. This is the highest score the publication has ever given a red wine from Washington State. This wine received a 100-point rating from Wine Enthusiast last year.

In its upcoming issue, Wine Spectator gives Cayuse Vineyards 2006 Armada Vineyard Syrah a 97-point rating. At $65, this wine would seem to be a lock for the magazine’s annual Top 100 list. If so, this would be the second year in a row Cayuse Vineyards has received this recognition. In 2010, an additional four wines, three from Cayuse and one from Gorman Winery, have received 95-point ratings from Wine Spectator – ‘Classic’ in the magazine’s rating scale.

But the accolades don’t stop there. Paul Gregutt at Wine Enthusiast gave the 2006 Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon a 98-point rating earlier this year. Additionally, Wine Enthusiast gave Buty’s 2006 Columbia Rediviva a 96-point rating. Two Washington white wines also received high marks – the 2008 McCrea Cellars Sirroco Blanc (95 points) and the 2008 Buty Winery Semillon-Sauvignon-Muscadelle (95 points). Based on a search of the Wine Enthusiast database, these appear to be the highest scores Gregutt has given a white wine from Washington State. Stunningly, this same white wine from Buty received an 86-point rating from Wine Spectator (as I said on the WWR Facebook page, “I thought only winemakers got upset by bad scores.”)

As we are less than half way through the year and many wines from the heralded 2007 vintage remain to be reviewed, I expect the high marks in the major publications to continue. This shows that 2009 was far from an aberration but rather was a significant turning point for Washington being recognized as a premier wine region.

Sean P. Sullivan


  1. Hull-ohhhh. Anybody got some spine and wanna comment on this?
    I know wineries hate scores...until they get a good one that drives sales, then they're on the bandwagon.
    I also know non-blogging winos are too pretentious to acknowledge other scores. As if they have a better style!
    And, those who bloggers who use a rating system generally model theirs after the 100-pointer, which can be interpreted as an acknowledgement of support for it.
    Too bad, such an interesting topic that crosses all lines of wine drinkers, and no one has the cojones to stand for something.

  2. WAwineman-

    Can't disagree with you on the score discrepancy and all that comes with it. Everyone likes the 90+, but the 89 not so much. Subjectivity rules in anything that gets voted on. I've seen where the same wines that wine golds don't even place in the next weeks competition. Different strokes, different folks. Horses for courses.
    What's with the KY jelly? How's Kentucky getting that gig? As far as the BS-C in football, it's a great controversy that makes the NCAA a whooooollllle lot of cash!