At the recent Great Northwest Wine Competition, wine professionals judged 800 wines from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. Of these, 267 were white or pink wines, of which 24 won gold medals.
This week, we take a look at some of these top white and rose wines. Our friend, longtime wine scribe and newspaperman Ken Robertson, took on the enviable task of tasting and describing each gold medal winner during the competition, and we appreciate his contributions to this column.
Here is a sampling of the top white (and one pink) wines of the Great Northwest Wine Competition, staged March 16 and 17 at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore.:
Jones of Washington 2012 Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $12: Victor Palencia oversees this winery with a tasting room in Quincy, Wash. This wine won a unanimous double gold medal, and for good reason. The aromas open like a politician at a fundraiser, promising everything — peaches, oranges, limes and apricots — and pledging the flavors will bring even more riches. In the mouth, it delivers a cornucopia of fruit cocktail, with tropical elements that include guava. This one sets the bar for Riesling. Enjoy it with Asian fare.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay, Horse Heaven Hills, $22: Washington’s oldest winery continues to deliver greatness, as this Chardonnay attests. Apple, pineapple and a hint of caramel from its oak open this delightful white. Like many wines from the chilly fall of 2010, it holds on to crisp acidity at the end of its bountiful display of apple, pineapple and tropical fruit flavors.
Sparkman Cellars 2010 Apparition Roussanne, Yakima Valley, $32: Chris Sparkman is well known in Seattle circles as a top sommelier. He’s also proven his prowess on the other side of the bottle as he crafts superb wines in Woodinville. Pears and wet slate open this wine’s aromatics. In the mouth, lush and slightly sweet pear flavors and Gravenstein apples arrive, followed by lime acidity at the end.
Ste. Chapelle 2011 Winemaker’s Series Chardonnay, Snake River Valley, $10: Ste. Chapelle is Idaho’s oldest and largest winery, and it’s been re-acquired by the Baty family under Precept Wine in Seattle. Maurine Johnson has been with Ste. Chapelle since 1987 and now leads the charge as head winemaker. Notes of honeysuckle, apple, pear and dried pineapple launch this wine, followed by a surprisingly lush fruit bowl of Fuji apple, pineapple, pear and lime. Crisp acidity clears the fruit off the palate.
Naches Heights Vineyard 2012 Riesling, Naches Heights, $13: Phil Cline is the driving force behind this winery and new growing area near Yakima. He’s quickly proving this area is perfect for Riesling. Sweet citrus aromas and stone fruit open this wine. On the palate, lime, orange and a bit of pink grapefruit lead into white peach and apricot. A crisp close ends with a bit of Granny Smith apple-peel bite.
Barnard Griffin 2012 Rose of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $12: Simply put, owner/winemaker Rob Griffin makes some of the best rose in America. This is the eighth consecutive vintage in which his rose of Sangiovese has won gold or best pink in a major competition. Strawberry, rhubarb and pie cherry notes lead to pie cherries and rhubarb on the palate in this bright and brilliant rose.
Treveri Sparkling Wine Cellars NV Laudare, Columbia Valley, $18: Juergen Grieb has worked in the background of the Washington wine industry for decades. Now he is stepping forward and showing his skills as one of our region’s top sparkling wine producers. Lovely, creamy bubbles carry Texas pink grapefruit aromas, plus a hint of minerality. On the palate, the grapefruit combines with lemon and meringue flavors, followed by a crisp bite of acid. A great aperitif wine.
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. For more info, go to www.greatnorthwestwine.com.