Woodward Canyon tops Seattle Times top 50 wines of 2015

By on November 13, 2015
Woodward Canyon Winery's 2012 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon is the top wine in The Seattle Times top 50 wines of 2015.

Owner Rick Small, left, and winemaker Kevin Mott are the two behind the Woodward Canyon Winery 2012 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, which is The Seattle Times Wine of the Year for 2015. (Photo by Great Northwest Wine)

LOWDEN, Wash. – A Walla Walla wine with a long and distinguished pedigree was named the best Pacific Northwest wine of 2015 by The Seattle Times.

Woodward Canyon Winery‘s 2012 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon was the top wine in The Seattle’ Times’ annual list of the 50 best regional wines. The list was compiled by Andy Perdue, wine columnist for The Seattle Times and editor and publisher of Great Northwest Wine. The story appears in Sunday’s Pacific Northwest magazine, which is inserted in the newspaper.

Woodward Canyon Winery created its first Cabernet Sauvignon with its inaugural 1981 vintage using grapes from Sagemoor Vineyard north of Pasco. At the time, those vines were nearly a decade old.

Beginning in 1985, Woodward Canyon Winery owner Rick Small began using grapes from Mercer Ranch, the first vineyard planted in the Horse Heaven Hills. By 1996, he became an investor in the vineyard, which by that year had been renamed Champoux Vineyards after Paul Champoux, the grape grower who led the consortium and managed the vines.

Since 1985, Champoux grapes have been a part of the Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon. Four times, the Old Vines Cab has been 100 percent of the wine.

The only year that Small and his longtime winemaker, Kevin Mott, have not produced the Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon was 2010. That year, they believed the grapes they had did not live up to the standards they expected from the $99 red.

“2010 was an interesting year,” Small told Great Northwest Wine in 2013. “We couldn’t see enough of a difference between our Old Vine blocks and Artist Series blocks. It wasn’t what we wanted to do. Old Vines has to have a ‘Wow’ factor. This is a long-term business. My daughter and son will be in this business. You have to do the right thing.”

The 2012 edition, from one of the best vintages in Washington history, earned four gold medals in 2015: Great Northwest Wine Competition (double gold), Walla Walla Valley Wine Competition (gold), Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition (gold) and Seattle Wine Awards (gold). It also received Great Northwest Wine’s top “Outstanding!” rating in a double blind tasting.

List: Seattle Times top 50 wines

The Sauer family pays tribute to the late Monsignor Mulcahy with their hilltop chapel built from stones taken from Red Willow Vineyard. The chapel was completed in 1997.

Syrah from the Chapel Block at famed Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley went into Owen Roe’s 2012 Syrah, which was the No. 2 wine on The Seattle Times top 50 for 2015. (Photo by Bob Marple Jr./special to Great Northwest Wine)

Woodward Canyon Winery was not the only Walla Walla Valley wine on The Seattle Times top 50 list. At No. 3 was a Malbec from Seven Hills Winery, and at No. 4 was an Albariño from Palencia Wine Co. In all, 11 wineries from the Walla Walla Valley earned a spot on the list.

Woodinville wineries – some of which also are based in Walla Walla and elsewhere – had 15 wines on The Seattle Times top 50. And 14 wines from wineries that either are in the Yakima Valley or used the Yakima Valley American Viticultural Area on the label also earned a place on the list.

Beyond Washington, there were eight wines from Oregon, four wines from Idaho and two wines from British Columbia on the list.

Here is the complete list of The Seattle Times top 50 wines of 2015:

  1. Woodward Canyon Winery 2012 Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $99
  2. Owen Roe 2012 Red Willow Vineyard Chapel Block Syrah, Yakima Valley, $55
  3. Seven Hills Winery 2013 McClellan Estate Vineyard Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, $30
  4. Palencia Wine Company 2014 Albariño, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $18:
  5. DeLille Cellars 2012 D2, Columbia Valley, $45
  6. Barnard Griffin 2014 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $12
  7. Thurston Wolfe 2012 Zephyr Ridge Petite Sirah, Horse Heaven Hills, $20
  8. Obelisco Estate 2012 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $70
  9. Passing Time 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills, $75
  10. Panther Creek Cellars 2012 Lazy River Vineyard Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton, $45
  11. Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2014 Classic Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $15
  12. Saviah Cellars 2012 Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $38
  13. Walla Walla Vintners 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $38
  14. Jones of Washington 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $15
  15. Maloney Wine 2012 Elephant Mountain Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Rattlesnake Hills, $65
  16. Elk Cove Vineyards 2014 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, $19
  17. Mercer Estates 2012 Dead Canyon Vineyard Reserve Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $42
  18. Amavi Cellars 2014 Estate Sémillon, Walla Walla Valley, $24
  19. Grantwood Winery 2012 Petit Verdot, Walla Walla Valley, $22
  20. Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery 2013 Stoney Slope Riesling, Okanagan Valley, $20
  21. Cascade Cliffs Vineyard & Winery 2013 Barbera, Columbia Valley, $60
  22. L’Ecole No. 41 2014 Alder Ridge Vineyard Grenache Rosé, Horse Heaven Hills, $22
  23. Mosquito Fleet Winery 2011 Reserve 34 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $65
  24. Côtes de Ciel 2012 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Red Mountain, $39
  25. Mt. Hood Winery 2014 Dry Riesling, Columbia Gorge, $20
  26. Auclair Winery 2012 Artz Vineyard Right Blend, Red Mountain, $39
  27. Dusted Valley Vintners 2012 StoneTree Vineyard Petite Sirah, Wahluke Slope, $42
  28. Long Shadows Vintners 2014 Poet’s Leap Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20
  29. William Church Winery 2012 Gamache Vineyards Malbec, Columbia Valley, $38
  30. Coiled Wines 2014 Rizza, Snake River Valley, $28
  31. Bunnell Family Cellar 2010 Discovery Vineyard Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $44
  32. Chehalem Wines 2012 Ian’s Reserve Chardonnay, Dundee Hills, $40
  33. Pondera Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $32
  34. Ross Andrew Winery 2010 Boushey Vineyard Syrah, Columbia Valley, $40
  35. Tamarack Cellars 2010 Tapteil Vineyard Reserve, Red Mountain, $50
  36. Cave B Estate Winery 2012 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $33
  37. Plain Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $35
  38. Maryhill Winery 2013 Winemaker’s Red, Columbia Valley, $12
  39. Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Mimi Chardonnay, Horse Heaven Hills, $20
  40. Cinder Wines 2013 Syrah, Snake River Valley, $28
  41. San Juan Vineyards 2014 Siegerrebe, Puget Sound, $22
  42. Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards 2013 Gloria’s Syrah, Umpqua Valley, $42
  43. Tenet Wines 2013 GSM, Columbia Valley, $70
  44. Van Duzer Vineyards 2014 Riesling, Willamette Valley, $20
  45. HAT Ranch Winery 2014 estate Dry Moscato, Snake River Valley, $18
  46. Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2013 Carménère, Washington, $28
  47. Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Shepherds Mark, Horse Heaven Hills, $24
  48. Willamette Valley Vineyards 2012 O’Brien Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, $100
  49. Karma Vineyards 2011 Brut, Columbia Valley, $50
  50. Bainbridge Vineyards 2013 Müller-Thurgau, Puget Sound, $18

About Great Northwest Wine

Articles credited to Great Northwest Wine are authored by Eric Degerman and other contributors. In most cases, these are wine reviews that are judged blind by the Great Northwest Wine tasting panel.

One Comment

  1. […] One of Woodinville’s most overlooked wineries is Pondera, and Shane Howard continues to burnish his reputation for producing some of Washington state’s top reds. This blend from Dineen Family Vineyard in the Yakima Valley and Stillwater Creek Vineyard in the Frenchman Hills drinks akin to a Meritage, and yet he’s priced it in the teens. He leads with Cabernet Franc (64%) and follows up with Cabernet Sauvignon (17%), Merlot (8%), Petit Verdot (6%) and Malbec, A subtle use of oak allows for the lovely crushed herbs of the Cab Franc to play with the aromas of red currant, plum, dried strawberry  and milk chocolate. There’s a richness to the flavor profile of black cherry, strawberry and raspberry that picks up refined tannins reminiscent of bittersweet chocolate, while lingering black currant acidity and dusty minerality combine for a long finish. It’s no surprise that his standalone bottling of Cabernet Franc from this vintage made last year’s The Seattle Times’ Top 50 list. […]

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