It’s the vintage Washington winemakers have been waiting for—some of the highest-quality wines the state has produced in the last decade, fragrant with the state’s signature generous fruit, but with a core of acid and tannins lending a sense of gravitas.
The 2012 vintage, which yielded most of the wines on this extraordinary list, is the result of temperatures that were decidedly—and perfectly—average. In winemaking, that’s a good thing.
The year tracked almost perfectly to 20-year historical averages for heat accumulation, after a warm 2009 with an early October frost and growing seasons in 2010 and 2011 that were cool and cooler.
Reds from the dazzling 2012 season are more than just fruit forward, immediately appealing wines. There’s a core of acid and tannin that gives them a sense of gravitas and also bodes well for their longevity. These are wines to open and enjoy now or tuck away in the cellar for the future. And that’s exactly what we need while waiting for the more brooding 2010s and 2011s to strut their stuff. The 2012 vintage was also a great one for whites.
Though syrah proved the year’s big star, most varieties rejoiced at the growing season. For the first time, this year’s list contains a separate category for grenache, a fruit-rich grape variety making inroads in the state, though Bordeaux-style blends and cabernet sauvignon continue to be strengths.
Overall, the year’s list is more selective and represents a higher level of quality than it ever has before. And now, a toast to this most exceptional, average year.