By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue
Last week, we took at look at the top wines at this month’s inaugural Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition. This week, we put the spotlight on the 15 gold-medal winners.
The competition was unusual because the 12 judges, all influential Northwest wine professionals, nominated the wines they wanted judged. Typically, wineries may enter any wine they wish. The judging was staged at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore.
Here are the gold medal winners. Look for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.
Woodward Canyon Winery 2011 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington, $59: This has been a classic Cab since owner Rick Small first released it in 1993. This edition uses grapes primarily from Champoux and Canoe Ridge vineyards, along with contributions from Sagemoor, Woodward Canyon Estate, Hedges, Andrews, Spring Creek, Weinbau and Mirage.
Barnard Griffin 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $17: This red from winemaker Rob Griffin in Richland, Wash., is always a great value and a consistent award-winner. This latest version, from a cooler vintage, is already is showing its greatness.
Reininger Winery 2010 Seven Hills Vineyard Carmenere, Walla Walla Valley, $48: Carmenere, a red Bordeaux grape nearly lost during the great phylloxera scourge of the 19th century — and rediscovered in Chile — has become a cult favorite in the Walla Walla Valley.
Cave B Estate Winery 2010 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $25: Winemaker Freddy Arredondo’s latest Syrah previously impressed judges by winning gold at this summer’s North Central Washington Wine Awards, and it repeats the feat at the Great Northwest Invite.
Smasne Cellars 2010 Upland Vineyard Ancient Rocks, Snipes Mountain, $44: No winemaker knows the tiny appellation of Snipes Mountain better than Robert Smasne. This is the first release for this Rhone-style blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and a splash of Viognier.
Boedecker Cellars 2010 Stewart Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $34: Stewart Boedecker, who shares the winemaking duties with his wife, Athena, used grapes from Carlton Hill and Stoller vineyards to craft a stunningly complex Pinot Noir.
Fort Walla Walla Cellars 2008 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $28: Winemakers Cliff Kontos and Jim Moyer reached into famed Pepper Bridge Vineyard and blended in just a touch of Merlot to round out this superb Syrah.
Sparkman Cellars 2011 Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $62: Winemakers Chris Sparkman and Linn Scott sourced primarily from famed Klipsun Vineyard, as well as nearby Obelisco, for this powerful Cab.
Dunham Cellars 2010 XVI Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $45: Eric Dunham and Daniel Wampfler are the winemakers behind this longtime Walla Walla Valley winery, and Cabernet Sauvignon remains their signature wine.
Col Solare 2009 Red, Columbia Valley, $75: Marcus Notaro — now departed to fabled Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley — was the winemaker behind this glorious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
Jones of Washington 2012 Viognier, Wahluke Slope, $15: Phenom winemaker Victor Palencia, who attended his 10-year Prosser High School reunion this summer, scores with this crazy good Viognier.
Jones of Washington 2008 Lewis &Clark Vineyard Barrel Select, Columbia Valley, $25: Palencia nails it again with his take on a Super Tuscan style of red. This unusual red blend is built on Sangiovese, backed up by Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2011 Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $25: Cold Creek, a vineyard planted by Ste. Michelle in 1973, is a prized vineyard for winemaker Bob Bertheau.
Maryhill Winery 2010 Hattrup Farms Marvell, Rattlesnake Hills, $32: Winemaker Richard Batchelor loves the fruit he gets from Joe Hattrup, owner of Elephant Mountain and Sugarloaf vineyards in the northern Yakima Valley.
Stoller Family Estate 2010 Reserve Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills, $45: Winemaker Melissa Burr blended six clones of Pinot Noir from estate grapes to craft this luscious and refined Pinot Noir.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, www.greatnorthwestwine.com.