Magazine article Sunset

Sunset Wine Awards

Magazine article Sunset

Sunset Wine Awards

Article excerpt

If you thought the Oscar race was competitive, check out the Western wine scene. Here's your indispensable guide to the true stars

What's inside

TOP 50 BOTTLES

UP-AND-COMING WINE RFiGION

BtST WINE BAR

THE GREEN AWARD

WINE TREND OF THE YEAR

WINE MAKER OF THE YEAR

BEST WINERY TASTING ROOM

10 PERFECT FOOD-AND-WINF MATCHES

WE'VE PAIRED OUR WINNING WINES WITH CLASSIC 5UNSET RECIPES FOR A FALL DINNER PARTY: sunset.com/perfectmatches

Top 50 Bottles to Buy

HOW THE BEST WAS WON Our panel of wine pros nominated more than 200 wines, tasted them blind, and found a red and a white winner in each of our five categories, with 40 runners-up.

WHAT THE JUDGES SEE For our blind tasting, we bagged each bottle and marked it with its grape variety (or blend). Then we got busy: 75 to too wines in 2 hours. One judge tasted them all.

The 10 winners

STEALS // $15 OR LESS (OUR PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS, TASTED BY SUNSET WINE CLUB MEMBERS)

WHITE: Edna Valley Vineyard Paragon Chardonnay 2007 (San Luis Obispo County; $12) WHY WE CHOSE IT All the apple, spice, and lemon brûlée a good Chard needs.

RED: Cycles Gladiator Syrah 2007 (Central Coast; $9-99) WHY WE CHOSE IT Juicy blueberries spiked with white pepper make your mouth water.

GOOD VALUES // $16 TO $30

WHITE: Geyser Peak "Block Collection" River Ranches Sauvignon Blanc 2008 [Russian River Valley; $79) WHY WE CHOSE IT Fresh herbs and pink grapefruit add up to a vibrant sip.

RED: Hahn Meritage 2007 (Central Coast; $16) WHY WE CHOSE IT Sweet black cherry and cedar with a touch of espresso.

SPECIAL OCCASION BOTTLES // $31 TO $50

WHITE: Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2005 (Worth Coast; $36) WH Y WE CHOSE IT Complex toast and tart apple with tiny lemon-honey bubbles.

RED: Abeja Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Columbia Valley; $42) WHY WE CHOSE IT Rich, long blackberry fruit over velvety tannins.

DEEP POCKET WINES // MORE THAN $50

WHITE: Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay 2006 (Santa Cruz Mountains; $60) WHY WE CHOSE IT Lively citrus brightens classic golden apple.

RED: Continuum Cabernet Sauvignon blend 2006 (Oakwlle, Napa Valley; $134) WHY WE CHOSE IT Ripe black cherries, a hint of licorice, and great structure.

CRITICS' CHOICE AWARD // HARD TO FIND, BUT OUR JUDGES WERE IMPRESSED

WHITE: J. Rochioli Rachael's Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 (Russian River Valley; $70; limited release) WHY WE CHOSE IT Perfect balance of bright apple and lemon cream.

RED: Evening Land "Celebration" Gamay Noir 2007 (Eola-Amity Hills; $20) WHY WE CHOSE IT Unusual, spicy red with minerals and dried flowers.

... and the runners-up

WHITES

STEALS

* Bogle Chardonnay 2007 (Clarksburg and Monterey County; 9)

* Evesham Wood Chardonnay 2008 (Willamette Valley; $13)

* Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (California; $12)

* Justin Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Paso Robles; $15)

* Sokol Blosser "Evolution" White Blend Nonvintage (United States; $15)

* Uvaggio Vermentino 2008 (Lodi; $14)

GOOD VALUES

* Anne Amie Pinot Gris 2008 (Willamette Valley; $19)

* Chateau Ste. Michelle "Indian Wells" Chardonnay 2007 (Columbia Valley; $18)

* Morgan "Metallico" Unoaked Chardonnay 2007 (Monterey; $20]

* Schramsberg "Mirabelle" Brut Multivintage (North Coast; $23)

* Tsillan Cellars Estate Riesling 2007 (Columbia Valley; $22)

SPECIAL OCCASION BOTTLES

* Landmark "Damaris Reserve" Chardonnay 2006 (Sonoma County; $40)

* Rusack Reserve Chardonnay 2007 (Santa Maria Valley; $32)

* St. Supéry Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Napa Valley; $35)

DEEP POCKET WINES

* Lynmar"LaSereinité" Chardonnay 2006 (Russian River Valley; $70)

* Schramsberg "J. Schram" Brut Rosé 2000 (North Coast; $130)

REDS

STEALS

* Big Ass Zin 2006 (Sonoma County; $15)

* Columbia Crest "H3" Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Horse Heaven Hills; $75)

* Easton "H" House Red Blend 2005 (California; $10)

* Four Vines "Old Vine Cuvee" Zinfandel 2006 (California; $14)

GOOD VALUES

* Brandborg "Bench Lands" Pinot Noir 200e (Umpqua Valley; $22)

* Cadence "Coda" Cabernet Blend 2006 (Columbia Valley; $25)

* Monte Volpe Sangiovese 2005 (Mendocino County; $17)

* Pellegrini Family Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Alexander Valley; $28)

* Siduri Pinot Noir 2007 (Willamette Valley; $20)

SPECIAL OCCASION BOTTLES

* Cadaretta Syrah 2006 (Columbia Valley; $35)

* JC Cellars Caldwell Vineyards Syrah 2005 (Napa Valley; $45)

* Kutch McDougall Ranch Pinot Noir 2007 (Sonoma Coast; $48)

* Morgan "Twelve Clones" Pinot Noir 2007 (Santa Lucia Highlands; $32)

* Neyers Old Lakeville Road Syrah 2007 (Sonoma Coast; $33)

* Snows Lake "Two" Cabernet Sauvignon/ Cabernet Franc 2005 (Red Hills, Lake County; $45)

* Tantara Bien Nacido Vineyard-Adobe Pinot Noir 2006 (Santa Maria Valley; $48)

DEEP POCKET WINES

* Boudreaux Cellars Champoux and Loess Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Washington; $100)

* Kapcsándy State Lane Vineyard "Estate Cuvée" Cabemet/Merlot Blend 2006 (Yountwlle; $135]

* Mazzocco Maple Vineyard Reserve Zinfandel 2006 (Dry Creek Valley; $6o)

* O'Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Howell Mountain; $75)

* Quintessa Cabernet Blend 2005 (Rutherford; $145)

* Realm Cellars Farella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Napa Valley; $85)

* Shafer "One Point Five" Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Stags Leap District; $70)

* Testarossa "Cuvée Niclaire" Pinot Noir 2005 (California; $75)

Up-and-Coming Wine Region

Walla Walla Valley, WA

In the past five years, more than 70 witnenes have set up shop in the region wrapping the town of Walla Walla in the far southeast corner of Washington State, pushing the total to more than 100. …

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