Every December, all of the major wine magazines release their “Wines of the Year” list. Since taking over the Wine Shack in 2012, we’ve named our top wines as well. The annual list creates discussion among our winemaking friends, distributors and staff, but most importantly, it creates discussion with our customers. They want to know why these wines are so special and why they made the list.

Here’s how we select our “Wines of the Year.” First, the Wine Shack staff makes a list of their favorite wins from the more than 1,000 wines they’ve tasted during the year. We then consider the wines which were superstars from our most recent summer winery series, the wines that generated rave reviews and big smiles from customers. We take those lists and then begin to pare it down to the 12 wines we feel represent the finest of 2015. Here they are.

1. Reustle Prayer Rock’s 2013 “Masada Bloc” syrah. The Wine Shack’s “2015 Wine of the Year”. This syrah is packed with aromas and flavors of of violet, black cherry, pepper, cedar and savory bacon. Winemaker, Stephen Reustle, is doing amazing things in Roseburg and he is poised to be the next superstar from Oregon. How good is this wine? Each Wine Shack staff member named this their “Wine of the Year.” High praise.

2. Elk Cove 2014 pinot blanc. This delicious wine from Gaston delivers green apple, strawberry and of honeysuckle flavors. A very food friendly wine, this pinot blanc would be a wonderful match with Dungeness crab or razor clams. This wine single-handedly turned a lot of customers into white wine fans.

3. Sleight of Hand 2012. “The Illusionist” cabernet sauvignon. Last year’s “Wine of the Year” stays on the list and retains its status as Washington’s best cabernet sauvignon. Packed with big red fruit flavors and tannins that provide just the right amount of structure, Wine Spectator gave this wine 93 points and we weren’t surprised. We are proud to have locked onto this wine before the Wine Spectator score.

4. Bergstrom 2014 Cumberland Reserve pinot noir. This wine was just released and if it’s a precursor to the 2014 pinots, we’re going to be very happy. This pinot noir delivers classic red cherry and earthy flavors with a softness usually not seen until after the wine ages for a couple of years. Enjoy this with grilled salmon tonight.

5. Sokol Blosser 2012 Dundee Hills pinot noir. This wine offers dark cherry and spice combined with an earthiness that separates pinot noir from any other grape. This Sokol Blosser pinot noir has a slightly bigger mouthfeel than your typical Willamette Valley offering, which makes it a favorite.

6. Puffin 2012 pinot noir. Yes, it’s a “homer” pick, but this wine deserves to be on the list. Puffin was one of only three Oregon pinots to receive a “double gold” rating at a major wine competition this fall. Puffin pinot delivers brooding flavors of black cherry and plum combined with flavors of toast, earth and bramble. As this wine has aged, it has really become special. This is the Wine Shack’s best-selling wine and it’s easy to taste why.

7. Angel Vine 2012 Columbia Valley zinfandel. Ed Fus has moved his winery from Carlton to downtown Portland, but he continues to deliver incredibly delicious wine! This zinfandel is packed with flavors of blackberry, cocoa with a hint of smokiness. We poured this wine several times during the year and each time it sells out.

8. Puffin 2014 pinot gris. Puffin Pinot Gris is the best-selling white wine in our store for a reason, it’s delicious. A Gold Medalist at the 2015 Oregon Wine Awards, Puffin offers the flavors you expect from an Oregon Pinot Gris apple, pear and citrus. Enjoy with a cheese plate.

9. J Scott 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. The rise in popularity of sauvignon blanc was one of the big surprises of 2015. J Scott’s sauv blanc is loaded with delicious flavors of apricot, apple and nectarines. I enjoy sauv blanc ice cold, with goat cheese, salads and seafood.

10. Coe Cellars 2013 Sangiovese. New winemaker, Aaron Coe hits a homerun with his latest release. I love the way the flavors of cherry, currant and cocoa blend together. Aaron visited the Wine Shack’s tasting room twice this year and each time, this wine was the superstar. This wine is ready for a bowl of pasta or a stone baked pizza.

11. Pudding River 2013 malbec. Yum. This malbec is full of dark fruit flavors with a hint of raspberry, spice and pepper. Sean Driggers is one of my favorite winemakers in Oregon and I am of fan of everything he makes, but this wine is amazing. Enjoy with grilled foods.

12. Stoller Reserve 2013 chardonnay. Stoller is quickly becoming known for their incredible chardonnay. This wine offers classic chardonnay flavors of apple, pear with notes of spice. Aged in French oak, this wine has a soft mouthfeel that makes it a perfect accompaniment to salads, chicken or creamy dishes.

That’s our list and we’re sticking to it. For those of you who don’t get to Cannon Beach regularly, we offer these wines for sale as our “Wines of the Year” case on our online store at www.beachwine.com. Whether you agree or disagree on our selections, we look forward to talking to you about them. My advice is to give them a try, you might find a new favorite.

Please drink responsibly. Don’t drink and drive. We’ll see you again soon at The Wine Shack.

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