In a state known for delivering relatively consistent vintages, the last four years have yielded anything but. After a warm but frost-shortened 2009, 2010 was Washington’s coolest growing season of the past decade—at least until the even cooler 2011 came along. The pendulum swung again in 2012, when warmer temperatures and a hundred-day dry spell returned our grapes to their usual high levels of ripeness.

Wine is a reflection of a particular moment in time, and you can see these differences in the glass. On this year’s list of Washington state’s finest, the lush, bold reds from the warmer 2008 and 2009 vintages and the full-bodied whites from 2012 bookend wines from the cooler 2010 and 2011. These vintages produced both red and white wines the likes of which the state had not seen in the last decade.

Thanks to the cooler temperatures, 2010 and 2011 wines tend to be lighter in style—and lower in alcohol—than Washington’s usual suspects, though they still possess good depth of fruit flavors. Some also have more acidity (like salt in food, acid in wine enhances its flavor). In contrast, a number of the white wines from the warmer 2012 vintage are bigger in style, with alcohol levels that often exceed 14 percent—high for Washington. 

Much as different vintages bring changes, Seattle Met has restructured our annual list of Top 100 Washington Wines. We divided the wines into subcategories based on varietals, styles, and other factors like bang for your buck or sense of place. We received more than 600 submissions, among them the highest number of quality wines since this list began. 

 


Published: September 2013