6 standouts at Great Northwest Wine contest

The inaugural Great Northwest Wine Competition is in the books, and the results showed a delicious diversity of wines from across the Pacific Northwest.

The competition, held at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore., drew 791 wines from more than 200 producers in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.

Sixteen wine professionals tasted the entries over two days. They evaluated all the wines blind, meaning they didn’t know who made them, so they were not influenced by anything except the quality of the wines.

The results: nearly 100 gold medals and several hundred silvers and bronzes — a great showing by any measurement.

In the next couple of weeks, we will take a closer look at the top red and white wines in the competition, which should give you some ideas on wines you will want to have in your cellar or on your dinner table.

This week, we take a look at the top six wines of the competition.

Interestingly, those six wines included three from Washington, two from Oregon and one from British Columbia — a spread that showed the tremendous talent throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The best in show was Zerba Cellars’ 2010 Malbec from the Walla Walla Valley. The winery is in Milton-Freewater, Ore., about 15 minutes south of Walla Walla, Wash. Zerba uses estate grapes from the Oregon side of the Walla Walla Valley. The winery’s prowess should come as no surprise, as winemaker Doug Nierman’s reds have been among the best anywhere for the past half-dozen years.

The top white wine also came from Oregon. Abacela’s 2012 Albarino from the Umpqua Valley was a big favorite with the judges. The winery near Roseburg has pioneered this Spanish variety in the Northwest, and its stunning fruit and remarkable acidity caught the attention of the judges. It was a close second for best in show.

The best rose of the competition also nearly came out on top. It was from Barnard Griffin in Richland. Winemaker Rob Griffin has made a rose of Sangiovese for several years, and this is the eighth consecutive year it has won a gold medal or better in a professional wine judging. It’s a gorgeous dry rose that has gained near-cult status among Barnard Griffin’s customers.

Robert Smasne is a Yakima Valley winemaker who won a startling six gold medals in the competition under three different labels (Smasne Cellars, Northwest Cellars and Upland Estates). His Smasne Cellars 2010 Muscat Ice Wine using grapes from Snipes Mountain in the Yakima Valley was the best dessert wine in this competition.

On the Washington coast, Westport Winery is earning a strong reputation, thanks to the winemaking of young Dana Roberts, who makes no fewer than 33 wines. His sparkling cranberry wine called Rapture of the Deep captured our judges’ attention and earned the best fruit wine. The winery near Aberdeen used fruit grown in bogs on the nearby Cranberry Coast. Even if you don’t care for fruit wines, this is one you should consider trying.

And the top sparkling wine came from Bella, a new winery in British Columbia that focuses exclusively on bubbly. Owner/winemaker Jay Drysdale’s 2011 sparkling Chardonnay was made in the traditional methods used in Champagne, though he tops his bottle with a crown cap instead of a cork, which makes it a lot easier to open.

It is important to note that Drysdale — who has worked for years in British Columbia as a chef, wine retailer and government wine evaluator — was a judge at the Great Northwest Wine Competition. However, he did not judge his own wine, and none of the other judges realized any of his wines were entered.

For complete results of the competition, go to www.greatnorthwestwine.com. Next week, we will look at some of the top red wines of the judging.

Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. For more information, go to www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

More in Life

Lots to see in Upper Skagit, even if the eagles are elusive

A guided hike through a mossy old-growth forest more than makes up for a lack of raptor sightings.

Shopping cart showdown: Which stores have best food prices?

Jennifer Bardsley compares Fred Meyer, PCC, QFC, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, WinCo and Whole Foods offers.

Take a closer look: Winter gardens share gifts in subtle way

Go on a neighborhood walk this month to enjoy the seasonal beauty offered by a variety of gardens.

Samish Flats in Skagit County prime turf for winter birders

This spot is great for birdwatching because of the mostly flat land, marshy areas and open water.

Outdoor classes and activities in and around Snohomish County

GET OUT Christmas bird count: Volunteers are needed for the Everett-Marysville Christmas… Continue reading

Relationship do’s and don’ts: Lessons from 40 years of marriage

Paul Schoenfeld reflects on what he’s learned about relationships after four decades with his wife.

Making it through the holidays on 4 legs and 4 wheels

1. Driving safety Here are some travel tips from the Red Cross… Continue reading

The top 10 albums of 2017: From Jay-Z to St. Vincent

This year saw an upward trend in music industry revenue due to the popularity of streaming services.

Snohomish County book calendar

Jennifer Wilhoit Noon to 1 p.m., Jan. 13, Edmonds Bookshop Wilhoit will… Continue reading

Most Read