White wines take lead in best-of-the-best contest

January 15, 2014 

In Wine Press Northwest magazine’s 14th annual Platinum Judging, white wines led the way, with the top two wines in the competition being a Chenin Blanc from Washington and a white blend from British Columbia.

The judging is a year-end, best-of-the-best competition that is open to Pacific Northwest wines that have earned a gold medal in any of about 35 competitions we track throughout the year.

The 14th Platinum Judging drew a record 634 entries from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho. Last week, we took a look at some of the top red wines. Here are some of the best white wines from Washington.

L’Ecole No. 41 2012 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $15: Owner Marty Clubb has been dedicated to this Loire Valley variety for as long as anyone in the Pacific Northwest. It opens with aromas of elderflower, Fuji apple and a hint of citrus, followed by flavors of lime and apple among spritzy acidity. The hints of apple peel and spot-on brightness make this a wine worth savoring.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2012 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Riesling, Horse Heaven Hills, $16: This begins with floral notes followed by aromas of minerality, spring water and fresh lime. On the palate, this is a delight, with flavors of apple, lemon and slate. This wine cries out for spicy dishes.

Cave B Estate Winery 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $20: Winemaker Freddy Arredondo is doing great work at his in-laws’ winery in the Ancient Lakes near George, Wash. This Sauvignon Blanc is a classic version with pronounced aromas of lemon and mint, followed by flavors of lime, Meyer lemon and dried herbs. It’s all backed with beautifully crisp acidity.

Lopez Island Vineyard & Winery 2012 Siegerrebe, Puget Sound, $25: One of the rarest grapes in the Northwest is Siegerrebe, a white German variety. A bit is planted in the Puget Sound region, where it is able to ripen most years. Owner and winemaker Brent Charnley consistently crafts one of the most delicious examples we’ve seen. This opens with beautiful aromas of spice, apple and white flowers, followed by long, lush flavors of ripe stone fruit, honeysuckle and Asian pear.

Thurston Wolfe 2012 PGV, Washington, $16: Longtime Washington winemaker and viticulturist Wade Wolfe has found terrific balance blending pinot gris and viognier, and this example continues to shine. It is loaded with fruit aromas and flavors, including apricot, peach and apple, all backed with bright, beautiful acidity.

Saviah Cellars 2011 The Jack Riesling, Columbia Valley, $15: Perhaps the most acclaimed riesling vineyard in Washington is Evergreen, which is in the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley appellation near the towns of George and Quincy. This opens with a gorgeous nose of orchard fruit, followed by a balanced palate of pear and apple.

Tsillan Cellars 2012 Pinot Grigio, Lake Chelan, $19: Winemaker Shane Collins has found one of the keys to great pinot gris: location. Estate vineyards on the south shore of Lake Chelan are perfectly positioned for producing this sleek white wine. Here’s a stylish, distinctive and highly rewarded example with aromas of Asian pear and spice, followed by flavors of grapefruit and apple.

Gilbert Cellars 2012 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: Winemaker Justin Neufeld used estate grapes from the family’s Sunrise Vineyard to craft this superb riesling. It’s loaded with aromas and flavors of pineapple, peach, honeysuckle and minerality. Just a bit of residual sweetness carries nicely with the gangbuster fruit and elegant minerality.

Westport Winery 2012 Capt. Gray Gewrztraminer, Yakima Valley, $25: Dana Roberts, a young Washington State University-trained winemaker, runs the bustling cellar at this coastal winery and has crafted a classic Gewrztraminer. It is packed with aromas of clove and lychee, followed by flavors of tropical fruit and Royal Ann cherry, as well as hints of cardamom and quince.

Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information site. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.

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