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

Ice queen: Local women’s hockey team founder is fearless

Leslie Tidball’s fearless competitive spirit keeps her going strong in ice hockey at 64 years old.

How to entice a wide range of winged friends to your yard

A Tulalip Bay couple shares how they encourage birds, bees and butterflies to visit their garden.

Growing up: Some plants go through changes not unlike puberty

Arborvitae, junipers, spruce and pines, for example, exhibit juvenile and adult characteristics.

Decorated ceramic pig bares famous Wemyss Ware trademark

Very early flower-decorated pigs from Wemyss Ware have auctioned for over $30,000.

Great Plant Pick: Crocus ‘Spring Beauty,’ large-flowering crocus

What: Crocus “Spring Beauty,” commonly called large-flowering crocus, are a harbinger of… Continue reading

Beer of the Week: Hazy IPA, 4-Ways

Four Snohomish breweries decided to brew a single malt hazy IPA made with four different hops.

Defunct brewers collaborate on five all-star beers

The new brews will be pouring at SnoTown Brewing during the Washington Beer Open House on Feb. 24.

Garden clubs in Snohomish, Island counties

Alderwood Garden Club: Cedar Valley Grange Hall, 20526 52nd Ave. W., Lynnwood;… Continue reading

Home & Garden events in Snohomish County and the region

Repair Cafe: Have broken stuff laying around your home or garage? Bring… Continue reading

Most Read