Snooth West Coast Wines of the Year 2010

And the winners are...


Owen Roe Syrah Ex Umbris 2008, $25

I've written more than my fair share about Syrah, and how it's so different depending on all the factors that come into play when making a wine. Terroir -- that combination of man, land, and weather -- is something that Syrah excels at expressing, which is why I never tire of tasting Syrah, particularly Syrah like this.

The Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah is absolutely packed with fruit and yet it remains fresh and bright, with impressive mineral and herbal tones adding considerably complexity. While this is great today, I bet it'll be even more impressive after a year or three in the cellar.

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Alta Maria Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley 2008, $25

OK, I'm the guy who says he doesn't like Chardonnay, but I'm not the incorrigible guy who's saying that. Truth is, I do like some Chardonnay and from California the wines from Santa Barbara Country seem to hit my sweet spot.

This Alta Maria Chardonnay from the Santa Maria Valley combines some salty mineral tones with pure ripe fruit with such class and purity that I was frankly taken aback when I first tried it. Love this Chardonnay. Yes, I said that and it's in print!

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Andrew Rich Syrah "Les Vignes En Face" 2006, $35

Not to beat the Syrah horse to death, but, like I said, I really like Syrah and this was one of the best of the year. It's easy to see where many wines are headed in their youth but Syrah tends to zig when you think it's going to zag. A fruity wine may end up turning into a savory, meaty mess of deliciousness, and it may not, but my money is on this wine absolutely blossoming with some time in the cellar, though it's already a great bottle if you can stand the formidable tannins.

I love those tannins, and these tannins, and have no problem with this wine today, though I am excited to see where time will take it. Will it zig or will it zag?

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Torii Mor "Deux Verres" Reserve Pinot Noir 2008, $35

Oregon Pinot has really been on fire these past few years and the last two vintages, 2007 and 2008, have proven to be a dynamite set for learning about the terroir of various vineyards and how each winemaker handles that terroir.

2007 has been called a wine drinker's vintage as the wines tend to the elegant, complex side of things and lack the power that 2008 provides.

This Torii Mor Pinot has that rich fruit yet remains expressive and elegant. The best of both worlds and a fine example of Oregon Pinot.

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Emblem Oso Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, $45

I like my California Cabernets to smell like Cabernet and feel like wine. Yes, I get it, it's hot in Napa Valley, so I shouldn't be looking for Bordeaux. And the truth is I'm not, but something less than a blueberry/vanilla milkshake would be appreciated.

The Emblem Oso Cabernet might disappoint some folks. It's big, but not that big, fruity, but not that fruity, and has aromas reminiscent of herbs and tomato leaf -- oh, the horror!

In short, it's about as good a California Cabernet as I've had this year, and comes in a not inexpensive yet totally reasonable $40 or so per bottle.

Find out more.

Top 12 West Coast Wines of the Year

To view this slideshow as one page, go to Top 12 West Coast Wines of the Year.

Snooth's Wines of the Year 2010 series

Read more of Snooth's Wines of the Year 2010 series:

Snooth Vintage of the Year

Snooth Winery of the Year

Snooth Wine Region of the Year

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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: royedk
    473959 54

    showing Pinot Noir rather than Reisling.

    Dec 21, 2010 at 1:20 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748



    Dec 21, 2010 at 1:35 PM

  • Snooth User: eag36jr
    685972 6

    how can I order the 12 selections as a case?

    Thanks, Ernie

    Dec 21, 2010 at 4:46 PM

  • Snooth User: Cbil
    377998 1

    Isn't it Torii Mor?

    Dec 21, 2010 at 4:58 PM

  • Great article
    I want to try the Emblem Cab.

    Dec 21, 2010 at 5:15 PM

  • Great Article
    I want to try "Emblem"

    Dec 21, 2010 at 5:24 PM

  • Write your comment here.

    Dec 21, 2010 at 5:26 PM

  • Snooth User: JMH58
    619330 9

    I tried the Chateau Ste Michelle 2008 Indian Wells Cab about a month ago. Immediately tried to buy a case, but it was already sold out in the DC area. Several shippers are now also out. A few have it and get it if you can.

    Dec 21, 2010 at 6:10 PM

  • Snooth User: dangler88
    632036 1

    Just about anything by Ch Ste Michelle is solid these days

    Dec 21, 2010 at 7:28 PM

  • Snooth User: Polly4
    491750 11

    Our Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling snuck into our store like a thief in the night. Alas, it is all gone after a mere 24 hours!

    Dec 21, 2010 at 10:59 PM

  • Snooth User: Jildaz
    476658 163

    I love your West Coast 2010 choices, but I'm from British Columbia , we are part of the Pacific Northwest and we have wines that merit your attention.
    I really do love your 2010 choices.

    Dec 21, 2010 at 11:21 PM

  • Snooth User: Stewart Mclennan
    Hand of Snooth
    557076 3

    I added a comment to this thread that never made it so I'll try again. I think caveats aside the words top choices and West Coast are misnomers regarding these picks. "A selection of Some good West Coast wines chosen by Me", would perhaps be a more apt if not as headline grabbing a title for these choices. Unfortunately the West Coast is a very large producer of wines and a lot of regions probably were never even factored into this mix. I appreciate Gregory's writing and his choices but feel many great wines and regions were overlooked here. Perhaps that's in part because of the enormity of the task however if you live by the West Coast sword then............

    Dec 22, 2010 at 4:21 PM

  • Snooth User: ausrine
    526520 11

    Yes, Stewart. None of my favorites were mentioned either.

    Jan 04, 2011 at 3:09 PM

  • Snooth User: hogfatt
    623701 18

    Nice, I have one of those Torii Mor "Deux Verres" Reserve Pinot Noir 2008 in my fridge sent from the wine club this year! $$

    Jan 04, 2011 at 6:23 PM

  • Snooth User: MANY 82
    675808 1

    You said "Top 12 West Coast Wine of the year 2010", them you show wine from 2009, 2008 and others not one from 2010.
    I would prefer you tell us what are the wine that you like.
    When I was in San Francisco, I rent a car and visit at list 20 winery, I did not like any. They all taste vinaigrette.
    Them we went to eat in a small Restaurant, that some one recommended,it was run by a husband and wife, I ask the house wine and it was delicious, I ask for the label, I place in my wallet and I ask in many stores and not one had it.
    Dr. Manuel Avellan, PhD

    Jan 04, 2011 at 7:08 PM

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