Snooth West Coast Wines of the Year 2010

And the winners are...


It’s time to now reveal the final winners in our Snooth Vintage of the Year, Winery of the Year, Wine Region of the Year, and Wines of the Year 2010 series.

Time for me to add my favorite West Coast Wines of the Year to the chorus. This is hard for so many reasons. Do I include all the back vintages of wines I’ve enjoyed? If not, then how far back can I go? Good questions and best answered by creating a list of wines from the West Coast that you can buy now. Let me just say that I do not purport this short list to be anything more important than what it is: a short list of wines that I particularly liked and that are generally available.

What I’ve tried to do here is highlight a few wines that surprised me this year. In truth, a fair amount of wines surprise me and I’m not including those here, so a little 'splaining is in order. The wines on this list are wines that are readily available, well priced, and offer a special drinking experience. Best? Well, they’re not even my highest-rated wines, since many of those are distinctly neither affordable nor well priced.

These are West Coast Wines of the Year for specific reasons, and I’ve pointed those reasons out with each wine. You may, or may not, enjoy these wines. Perhaps you’ll enjoy some but not others. I hope you will enjoy at least a few of them, but these wines made the list because I enjoyed them. I found each of these wines to be special, unique and distinct, and worth buying and sharing. So, with no further ado, my list of West Coast Wines of the Year!

Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling 2008, $12

Riesling seems to be the grape variety that is always poised for greatness but never seems to break through, excepting of course with the geek crowd of self-proclaimed acid freaks -- oh, and then there's the folks that are just looking for something a bit sweet.

Well, this Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling will please both crowds, and so many more. It's bursting with fruit and has a sweet edge yet there is so much electric acidity here that the wine finishes zesty and dry. A superb summer sipper and a great wine for spicy, complex, acid rich foods.

Find out more.

Sausal Winery Zinfandel Family Estate 2007, $18

I'm a big fan of Zinfandel and have loved the wines for decades, but as those decades have passed, the wines have changed, and some more than others. Over time I've realized that I like some prominent American oak on my Zins, and Petite Sirahs as well. All that vanilla plays well with the rich fruit of Zinfandel and I've found that the briary, peppery qualities of Zin sometimes face too much competition from French oak.

I also like my Zin well balanced, and well behaved at the dinner table. This Sausal Zin hits all those buttons. It's fresh and balanced with red fruits and classic American oak notes. A bit of a throwback, but then again I like to throw them back!

Find out more.

Kenwood Jack London Syrah 2007, $20

Speaking of Syrah and all its varied glory, sometimes a wine from California will surprise me with its restraint. I think these are sometimes called failures by many California wine lovers, but it's great to have the choice of experiencing a fruit bomb (or not) or something more subtle.

The Kenwood Jack London Syrah is definitely more restrained, and even subtle. It's a sneaky wine that disarms you with a bit of savory funk before unleashing fresh black fruit flavors. I know it surprised me!

Find out more.

Valley of the Moon Pinot Noir 2009, $20

If we're talking about wines that may not find huge critical acclaim but meet one of my basic rules for ranking them well -- mainly that they are freaking delicious and fun to drink -- then we have to look no further than this somewhat off-center Pinot.

This is fresh, fruity, and seamless with blood orange and herbal tones adding some complexity, but complexity is not the point here. Having fun is, and if you don't have fun with this wine you should see a doctor. Your fun-o-meter is obviously broken.

Find out more.

Château Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, $20

We tend to fixate a bit on regionality a bit at a time. California for cabernet, Oregon for Pinot, and Washington for Syrah. Or, wait -- is it Washington for Merlot? No, that might be Long Island. Whatever.

Here is a Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon, with 16% Syrah added -- so I might have been on to something there -- that manages to combine classic new world richness with excellent balance and real complexity from both grapes, as well as judicious use of oak.

Find out more.

Willakenzie Estate Pinot Blanc Estate Bottled 2009, $22

I mentioned earlier that I've never been much of a Chardonnay kind of guy. So, what have I been drinking? Well, among other things, I'm one of the very few adamant fans of Pinot Blanc/ Pinot Bianco!

If you're looking for a fun wine that's decidedly different yet somehow very familiar you owe it to yourself to try a few Pinot Blancs. Willakenzie's version is a wonderful example. The fruit is fresh and bold but the wine's strength is the terrific interplay between fruit, acid, and a subtle bitterness that makes this refreshing and oh-so-food friendly.

Find out more.

Flora Springs Sauvignon Blanc Soliloquy Vineyard Oakville 2008, $22

Sometimes we overlook some of the names that have been around for a while, since as wine geeks we're always hunting for the latest and the greatest. After a particularly impressive showing with Sangiovese, of all things, last year being followed up with this wonderful Sauvignon Blanc, it's time to tell folks to stop and take a new look at Flora Springs.

This is a wonderful Sauvignon Blanc. It's not trying to be anything but Californian and pulls that off with rich, complex fruit and lovely balance.

Find out more.

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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 225,524



    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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