Washington's largest winery made the world's greatest wine this year, according to Wine Spectator.
The world's largest wine magazine revealed Friday that the No. 1 wine on its annual top 100 list was Columbia Crest's 2005 reserve cabernet sauvignon.
It's the first time a Washington wine has topped the list since Wine Spectator began it in 1988. The previous best was No. 2 in 2006 for Quilceda Creek's 2003 cabernet sauvignon.
Doug Gore, vice president of winemaking and viticulture for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, was ecstatic when he heard the news Friday afternoon.
"I'm thrilled for Columbia Crest, I'm thrilled for (winemaker) Ray (Einberger), I'm thrilled for the team, and I'm thrilled for Washington state," said Gore, who was Columbia Crest's winemaker until being promoted in 2003.
Gore said the award is a game changer for Columbia Crest, which produces more than 2 million cases of wine annually in Paterson, making it the largest producer in the Northwest.
"It brings attention to who you are," he said. "It just brings one more huge piece of notoriety to Washington. There's nothing in front of No. 1."
Those hoping to find the world's top wine on store shelves will be hard pressed, however, as the wine has been basically sold out for months. However, Columbia Crest has been fielding calls from customers and seeing if it can find any through distributors.
Columbia Crest wasn't the only winery owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates to make the list. Chateau Ste. Michelle's 2006 Canoe Ridge Estate cabernet sauvignon was No. 38, and Spring Valley Vineyards' 2005 Uriah red blend from Walla Walla was No. 60.
As a whole, Washington had nine wines in the top 100.
Cayuse Vineyards in Walla Walla was at No. 26 for its Cailloux Vineyard syrah. Novelty Hill in Woodinville was No. 33 for its 2006 cabernet sauvignon. Efest, another Woodinville winery, was No. 36 for its syrah from Red Mountain. Barnard Griffin in Richland was No. 66 for its 2008 riesling. Magnificent Wine Co. of Walla Walla was No. 72 for its 2006 syrah. And Waterbrook Winery of Walla Walla was No. 74 for its 2006 reserve cabernet sauvignon.
Two Oregon wines also made the top 100: Argyle Winery of Dundee was No. 18 for its 1999 Extended Tirage sparkling wine, and King Estate of Eugene was No. 77 for its 2008 Signature Collection pinot gris.
* Andy Perdue is editor of Wine Press Northwest, a quarterly wine magazine owned by the Tri-City Herald.