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

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Kamiak student Aidan Norris (center) drags Matthew Ninh into a scene as Mitchell Beard (left) reads his lines. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Joy, disappointment at Kamiak High’s ‘Spamalot’ auditions

More than 80 students try out for 45 roles in the outrageous Monty Python musical comedy.

Arlington eagle fest wants your nature-themed artwork, haiku

Local residents of an artistic bent are invited to submit… Continue reading

What’s new for 2018 for travelers in Scandinavia

Sweden, Norway and Finland have embarked on many urban, cultural and transit projects.

Kia Rio subcompact takes a classy step up in 2018

A new design, roomier cabin, and better fuel economy are among the improvements on the 2018 Kia Rio.

Overcome your fear of death, in a book title at least

Three novels about death worth reading at Everett Public Library.

Dolores O’Riordan was lead singer of Irish band The Cranberries

The police force said the death was being treated as “unexplained.”

‘Trump saying something racist isn’t exactly news anymore:’ ‘SNL’

The week’s news was dominated by reports that Trump disparaged Haiti, El Salvador and all of Africa.

Bald eagle no longer listed as ‘sensitive species’ in the state

A recent study found that eagle numbers are strong throughout Washington.

Most Read