I had the great pleasure last weekend to attend Taste Washington 2016. My assignment, to cover white wine varieties, was definitely a challenge given there were more than 225 wineries represented at the Grand Tasting. Some of my old favorites maintained their excellent wine making and some new wineries to me that really stood out in their specific specialties. Before going into more detail about my favorite Washington white wine choices I would like to note that Taste Washington 2016 Grand Tasting was FANTASTIC! The event was well laid out and not over sold. There was an amazing plethora of tasty dishes featuring some of the best that Seattle has to offer. In fact, the food reminded me of what Bite of Seattle used to be like when it showcased fantastic caterers and restaurants before it turned into nothing more than carnival food. The fantastic presence of Washington wine industry professionals that work in a synergistic way with our talented wine makers, viticulturists and the great Washington fruit and to make this one of the best wine events of the year.
Now on to those delicious Washington white wines!
Albariño is an old favorite white wine of mine and once again Mike Andrews of Coyote Canyon Winery remains my gold standard on this variety. The 2013 vintage Coyote Canyon Albariño is a multi-award winner. Look for it, you won’t be sorry!
I was impressed by the 2013 Gravel Bar Winery Chardonnay, an excellent vintage that was showcased at the US Open Golf tournament as the best example of Washington Terroir. Array Cellars provided three different Washington Chardonnays; a 2012 Chardonnay, the 2012 Celilo Vineyard Chardonnay from Columbia Gorge (my favorite) and the 2012 Otis Harlan Vineyard, Dijon Clone Chardonnay from Yakima Valley. It was a great opportunity to taste the diversity of Washington Chardonnays. A great favorite of mine is EFESTÉ 2013 Evergreen Vineyard Lola Chardonnay. The EFESTÉ Lola is an amazing Washington Chardonnay, well worth the price.
Atam Winery from Chelan poured for me the most unusual yet pleasant surprise of the afternoon with their dry Gewurztraminer. Denis and his wife, Irmi Atam, are experts on these German variety as they are from Germany. Denis pointed out that Gewurztraminer means “Spice Grapes” and the spice of this variety really came through. I usually expect a more “tropical fruit/lychee” finish on a Gewurztraminer but this was even more complex. I highly recommend this the Atam Winery Gewurztraminer, especially for those folks who tend to avoid white wines due to their sweetness.
Wine maker Chris Primus of San Juan Vineyards has made a great wine with this variety from the Puget Sound AVA. The San Juan Vineyards 2014 Estate Madeleine Angevine is light and delicate with an array of tantalizing aromas. I really enjoyed the finish on this Washington white wine and it is one of the best Madeleine Angevine wines that I have ever tasted. It is a great example of a uniquely Washington wine. Although grown in France, Germany and Kyrgyzstan, Madeleine Angevine is only grown in the Puget Sound area here in the US. If you haven’t tried a Madeleine Angevine wine before, I encourage you to begin with the San Juan Vineyards 2014 Estate Madeline Angevine.
An unusual “white” wine that made a great aperitif was the Almquist Family Vintners 2014 l’orange Pinot Gris. The deep orange color really made this delicious wine really stand out.
A lot of good wine in the Riesling category and it made me sorry that I missed the Riesling seminar earlier in the day. Atam Winery poured a great dry Riesling that had lovely apple notes in addition to the Gewurtz I mentioned earlier. I am a big fan of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Eroica and it did not disappoint. Another great Washington wine, especially given the price point, was Anew Winery’s 2014 Columbia Valley Riesling for only $11.
The vintner that really shined on this was Michael Savage of Savage Grace Wines with his 2015 Red Willow Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc for $21 a bottle. The citrus notes were spectacular. Michael is particularly proud of this Sauvignon Blanc and this can be purchased at Savage Grace Wines in Woodinville.
This is another wonderful variety from the Puget Sound AVA, generally with delicious pineapple notes. Bainbridge Island Winery continues to make an excellent wine of this variety that retails for $17.38. They also have a 2006 late harvest Siegerrebe that is wonderful desert wine and retails for $32.58. I wanted to get sort of feedbag apparatus for my nose to just smell that great dessert wine all evening. San Juan Winery was pouring their 2014 Estate Siegerrebe and it was also great. Retails for $22 a bottle.
Alexandria Nicole Cellars poured my gold standard of Washington Viogniers; their 2015 Destiny Ridge Estate, Crawford Viognier from Horse Heaven Hills. A new winery for me, but well known to Bean, aMaurice Cellars also poured a great 2015 Viognier.
White Wine Blends
The White blends of note were DeLILLE Cellar‘s Chaleur Estate Blanc White Bordeaux Blend and Hedges Family Estate Descendants Le Blanc White Rhone Blend.
I gave it a valiant effort but I admit I did not get to the majority of the white wines on the Grand Tasting list before my palate and time gave out. Somehow a Betz Syrah, a Coyote Canyon Primativo, Adam’s Bench Cabernet Sauvignon and Savage Grace Cab Franc all found their way in my glass and I was forced to partake. It is important to give the palate a change now and again.
Truly to do the Taste Washington Grand Tasting any justice a person really should invest in the two-day pass so you can explore more of the delicious wines that Washington has to offer!