Top Northwest wines from San Francisco competition

  • By Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue Great Northwest Wine
  • Friday, January 15, 2016 2:15pm
  • LifeHops and Sips

CLOVERDALE, Calif. — On the American wine industry’s biggest stage, Pacific Northwest wines showed just how good they can be.

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition took place the first full week of January in this Sonoma County community. It is the largest judging of U.S. wines, this year drawing 7,162 entries from more than 20 states.

Wines from Washington, Oregon and Idaho won an impressive 676 medals, including 144 double gold and gold medals. At the top, two of the five top wines were from Washington: Barnard Griffin’s 2015 Rosé of Sangiovese and Claar Cellars’ 2013 Riesling ice wine.

We were among the more than 70 wine professionals who served as judges at the 31st annual San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Here are a few of our favorite Northwest wines from the judging, all tasted under blind conditions. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.

Barnard Griffin 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $40: Rob Griffin is one of Washington’s top winemakers, and it shows on this reserve-level red. Aromas of black pepper, dark fruit and cola give way to rich, dark fruit flavors backed by cocoa powder and lively acidity. A gold medal winner.

Poet’s Leap 2014 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: A classic Riesling from a top Walla Walla Valley producer reveals aromas and flavors of orchard fruit, honeydew melon and spice backed by steely acidity. A gold medal winner.

Westport Winery 2013 Swimmer Petite Sirah, Wahluke Slope, $29: This big, bold red from a winery on the remote Washington coast is loaded with mesmerizing aromas and flavors of plum, blackberry and dark chocolate, all backed by rich, approachable tannins. This won a unanimous double gold.

Camaraderie Cellars 2013 Dionysus Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $40: Owner/winemaker Don Corson works in relative obscurity on the northern Olympic Peninsula. This superb Cab provides aromas and flavors of boysenberry, black tea and black cherry, all backed by stout tannins. This earned a unanimous double gold medal.

King Estate 2014 Pinot Gris, Oregon, $18: One of the Oregon wine industry’s leading properties uses certified organic farming methods to produce one of the nation’s best examples of Pinot Gris. It’s rather showy with its nose of jasmine, lavender and orchard fruit, and the flavors match. Mouthwatering acidity makes this particularly bright, bone-dry and food friendly — and worthy of its double gold medal.

College Cellars 2014 Anderson Vineyard Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $20: Produced by the students and professors at Walla Walla Community College, this gold medal winner offers aromas and flavors of strawberry jam, mocha and oak spice, all backed by bright acidity and approachable tannins.

Marchesi Vineyards &Winery 2013 Cereja Uvvagio Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $34: Franco Marchesi, a Hood River, Ore., winemaker, grew up in Italy’s Piemonte region but he used Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah to create a beautifully balanced new blend that offers baking notes of cinnamon bark and clove with creamy flavors of plum, black currant and black cherry.

Mercer Estates 2013 Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, $24: WSU grad Jessica Munnell mined many gold medals last year, and she opens up 2015 by winning best of class with this rich Merlot that’s filled with black currant jam, black cherry, pleasing tannins and good acidity.

Avennia 2013 Boushey Vineyard Arnaut Syrah, Yakima Valley, $50: Chris Peterson burnishes his reputation as one of Woodinville’s cult producers with a delicious and complex Syrah from one of Washington’s famous vineyards. This gold medal winner is bright, minty and a bit hedonistic with its theme of Marionberry, black cherry, plum and espresso.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, www.greatnorthwestwine.com.

More in Life

Andrea Rosen, mother of two, quit eating sugar more than 1,000 days ago. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
How kicking her sugar habit changed a Mill Creek mom’s life

Andrea Rosen quit eating sweets 3 years ago, lost weight, felt better and her family also benefited.

Mark Ellinger works with fire to create unique texture and color on a float. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Glass Quest: Find clue balls to trade in for hand-blown floats

The ninth annual Great Northwest Glass Quest is on Camano Island and in Stanwood through Feb. 25.

See migrating snow geese at birding festival next weekend

The Port Susan Snow Goose Festival in Stanwood features speakers, bus tours and kids activities.

Mixer vs. maker: War for counter space is like Game of Thrones

Is there a correlation between weight gain and the small appliances we keep on our kitchen counters?

Welsh revival: Cardiff sheds rust-belt past for glossy future

Just an hour from major English destinations such as Bath and the… Continue reading

The farm-to-table concept in an easy-to-grow container garden

Through container gardening, you can grow edible plants in pots instead of the ground.

How do plants survive freezing temperatures? With genetics

Plants have evolved to tolerate the weather conditions of where they are growing.

Beer of the Week: Scrappy Punk’s Dark English Lager

The Snohomish brewery’s English-inspired lager was created by a first-time brewer.

Barnard Griffin’s award-winning rose is a wine to fall for

Looking for a bottle of vino to go with your Valentine’s Day weekend dinner? Think pink.

Most Read