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California, Oregon & Washington: top red wines

Top-scoring wines from California to the Pacific Northwest at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020...

‘What North America is offering, really almost more than any other region outside Europe, is diversity and variety now’, says DWWA Co-Chair Andrew Jefford.

From California to the Pacific Northwest, red wines tasted and rated at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 delivered in the glass, with elegant and fresh to grandiose styles receiving top accolades at the competition.


Andrew Jefford on judging USA wines at DWWA 2020

North America has been great in not only taking on board the theoretical challenge of terroir, but actually delivering it in the glass. There are many growing environments, with huge contrasts between them. And when I taste wines from North America, I particularly look forward to tracking that diversity and variety.

Obviously you have wonderful, opulent wines from Napa and so on, but you also have a lot of fine-grain wines, fresh wines, nuanced wines, and a lot of wines where producers are sitting back and saying, “what does our region want to deliver”, “what does our locality want to deliver”, “what does our vineyard want to deliver” – and they’ve really gone through with that, to the nth degree.


Discover which red wines from the USA scored best…

The Best in Show

Alpha Omega, Era, Napa Valley, California 2017

98 points, Best in Show
US$370-$400 Benchmark Wine Group, Mission Wine & Spirits, Vintage Wine Merchants
DWWA 2020 saw an exceptionally strong entry from Napa. This Cabernet with just a little freshening Malbec stood out for the lifted fragrance of its aromas, as well as for the astonishing depth, texture, purity and length of the palate. A wine of extravagant amplitude yet without an ounce of excess weight. Revel in the resonance of its mulberry, blackberry, dark chocolate and incense spices. Alcohol 14.8%

Domaine Serene, Mark Bradford Vineyard Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, Oregon 2016

97 points, Best in Show
$390/magnum www.domaineserene.com
The quality of Oregon’s finest Pinots impresses our judges more every year. This wine stood out for its overall composition, its refinement and its poise: nothing overdone, nothing missing, everything appealing, everything in balance. As much savoury as sweet, and the wine has admirable textures. It’s a Pinot which seems to melt in the mouth, yet the flavours linger: bravo. Alc 14.5%

Trefethen, Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak Knoll District, California 2017

97 points, Best in Show
£39.95-£42.95 Cheers, Secret Cellar Cardiff, St Andrews Wine Co
This wine from Oak Knoll makes it admirably clear how different the Napa Valley AVA’s sub-districts can be. The wine is a dark opaque black, but its soft resins and calmly ordered fruits alert the drinker that the wine has nothing disproportionate about it. The Napa hallmark of opulence is there in the succulent grain of the fruit, but in every other respect this is a deft, finely judged mid-weight. Alc 14.2%

California

Forthright, Merlot, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley 2014

96 points, Gold
$125 www.forthrightwinery.com
All the pleasures of a mature wine: lush, resinous aromas of ripe tobacco and earth, dark fruits with cinnamon, vanilla spice and figgy sweetness. Alc 15.8%

Luna Vineyards, Petit Verdot, Napa Valley 2017

96 points, Gold
$70 (2016) www.lunavineyards.com
Fascinating and impressive. Plentiful aromatics show chocolate Sachertorte cake, while the palate is deep and driving, with dark pepper and sloe fruits, elderberries and olive tapenade. Alc 14.7%

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Fay Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa 2016

96 points, Gold
£262.84-£330 Blanco & Gomez, The Great Wine Co
Lush plum and damson with a tea leaf note, fresh thyme and charred red meat, black pepper spice. Elegant, exciting. Alc 14.5%

Stringer, Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa 2017

96 points, Gold
$73-$79 A Hidden Vine, Holiday Wine Cellar, Mr D
Haute-couture Napa: cassis, blueberry and creamy black fruits of great purity as well as sweet depths. Notes of vanilla and a silky, sweet spice finish. Alc 15.3%

Odd Lot, Petite Sirah-Petit Verdot, Monterey County 2017

95 points, Gold
£9.99 North South Wines
A wonderfully silky and sumptuous, indigenous style. Forest damson, sloe and dark cherry with tender, supporting elderberry acidity, measured tannins and integrated oak. Alc 14.5%

Alexander Valley Vineyards, Cyrus, Alexander Valley 2015

93 points, Silver
$65 www.avvwine.com
A smoky-toned, deep and searching wine with sweet raisin and fig, freshness on the palate and sweet oak. Alc 14.5%

Long Meadow Ranch, EJ Church Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2014

93 points, Silver
$135 (2015) www.longmeadowranch.com
Earthy and rich, showing damsons and plums mingling with hedgerow herbs and forest floor characters. Savoury black olive finish. Alc 13.5%

Pine Ridge, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 2015

93 points, Silver
£149.99 Liberty Wines
Haunting and muscular, with vitality to a sloe and blackcurrant palate. Gracefully fragranced: wild grasses, woodland black fruits and a herbaceous touch. Alc 14.8%

Oregon

Domaine Serene, Aspect Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills 2016

96 points, Gold
N/A UK www.domaineserene.com
A stylish wine of lovely poise and drama. Elegant, enticing, with aroma notes of fine cologne spices, then a hazel creaminess, red cherry and blackberry fruit, and lifted floral characters. Alc 14.4%

Domaine Serene, Two Barns Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills 2016

95 points, Gold
N/A UK www.domaineserene.com
Grand cru-level Pinot Noir with spices hiding behind impressive plum fruit. Symphonic aromatics bring in dug earth, sweet flowers and the limpid sweet infill of subtle oak. Alc 14.4%

Cristom, Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills 2017

92 points, Silver
£40-£45 (ib) Stannary Wine, Uncorked
Nuanced and fine raspberry, redcurrant and cherry fruit with some cherry blossom finesse. Black liquorice and earthy tobacco characters. Very classy. Alc 14%

Washington

Doubleback, Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley 2017

96 points, Gold
$100-$140 B-21, LA Wine Co, Solano Cellars, Yahyn, Yiannis
Impressive aromatic intrigue and finesse – fresh dark berry fruits mingling with violets, spice and oak – follows through from nose to palate. Splendid. Alc 14.4%

Double Canyon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain 2017

96 points, Gold
£27.50 Wanderlust Wine
Jammy blackcurrants and cherries, sweet vanilla and nutmeg, with really splendid aromas of beautiful black raspberries and cologne-like citrus notes. Gratifying ripeness in a svelte frame. Alc 15%

Doubleback, Estate Reserve, Walla Walla Valley 2017

95 points, Gold
$159 Canal’s Bottlestop
A vivaciously, charmingly fruited wine with a lyrical flush of blackcurrant, black plum, pepper and sloe. A meaty, floral character, oak spice and cardamom. Alc 14.5%

Mark Ryan, Dead Horse Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain 2017

95 points, Gold
$48-$63 Artisan Wine & Spirits, Compass Wines, Corx, Park Avenue Fine Wines, The Wine Crush, VinPorter
Deep, refined and singing: how can anyone resist this? Lovely lifted cherry-raspberry fruits, a creamy character, floral notes and a sweet oak finish. Alc 14.9%

Chateau Ste Michelle, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley 2016

93 points, Silver
£14.66-£18.50 Chiltern Wines, Exel, Fareham Wine Cellar, GP Brands, Majestic, My Somm, Noble Green, The Fine Wine Co, The Great Wine Co, Vintriloquy, Wine Direct
An engagingly fruity wine with superb freshness. Blackcurrant, raspberry, blueberry and sour cherry, with charming violets and savoury Syrah notes. Alc 13.5%

Gramercy Cellars, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley 2016

93 points, Silver
$85-$111 Compass Wines, Gary’s, Sokolin, Solano Cellars, Total Wine
Graceful, with soft gathered fruits of blueberries and blackcurrants. Violets, sweet spice notes, freshness and ripe tannins. Attractive. Alc 14.2%


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