By Chuck Hill
Wines of the Week Archive
As the days have turned from warm to hot (by my Scandinavian standards), there is real pleasure to be obtained by enjoying chilled white wine with various seafood dishes. Whether the choice is a crisp and refreshing shrimp salad, oysters on the half shell, a crab cocktail or a skewer of sea scallops from the grill, this lifestyle is the epitome of Northwest living at its best.
This wine is part of King Estate’s Vineyard Designate program, matching superb vineyard sites with meticulous winemaking. Croft Vineyard is located southwest of Salem, Oregon, along the Willamette River. Tasters enjoyed this wine’s ripe fruit of pear and citrus with complex spice and sur lie character – best paired with rich seafood choices or seafood dishes with rich sauces.
Pepper Bridge Winery
Pepper Bridge Sauvignon Blanc offers the taster the best of both worlds with round flavors of melon and pear mingling with grassy notes and a vein of citrus running through the wine. Hints of floral perfume and earthy mineral add further interest to this seafood-friendly offering.
Columbia Crest winemaker Juan Muñoz Oca crafted this wine from grapes grown at Jacona Vineyard near Prosser, Washington. Using one concrete tulip-shaped tank and neutral oak barrels, the wine was aged on the lees for more than 20 weeks. My tasters enjoyed the grapefruit, lime and gooseberry character and the bright acidity – a superb wine to accompany oysters on the half shell.
Oregon winemaker Peter Rosback began his winemaking career in 1985 and enjoys making the wines he likes. Pinot Noir from special Oregon vineyard sites are the top billing at Sineann, but Peter also offers hearty reds from Washington, and New Zealand Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. His Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc offers grapefruit, gooseberry and lovely crisp acidity to pair with your favorite seafoods.
Browne Family Vineyards
If you’re in Walla Walla, be sure to stop in at the Browne Family Vineyards tasting room at 31 E. Main Street. The location features wines from Browne Family, Ross Andrew, Waitsburg Cellars and Cavatappi. A convenient patio is available for al fresco sipping. You might try this rich and flavorful Sauvignon Blanc, offering fresh herbs, citrus and passion fruit with hints of gooseberry and wet stone.
Tony Dollar aged this wine on the lees for seven months and offers it as a companion to his single-vineyard SB featured last week in this column. Look for ripe apple wrapped in layers of lemon zest, grapefruit and grassy Yakima Valley hay – another top oyster wine.
Here is another winery visit to add to your itinerary when you come to the Walla Walla wine country. This modern facility features excellent amenities and food offerings to accompany your wine selections – Highway 12 just east of Woodward Canyon / L’Ecole No 41. Try Waterbrook’s light and tasty Sauvignon Blanc offering zesty mineral, citrus and hints of gooseberry and Asian pear.
Woodward Canyon Winery
Rick Small and his family and staff continue to create popular wines for their many fans in the Northwest and beyond. The winery was one of the pioneers in Walla Walla and has continued to innovate with different varieties, blends and styles. The 2016 Sauvignon Blanc offers ripe tropical fruits, citrus and spice with a soft palate perfect for sipping.
Other White Varieties
A to Z Wineworks
This ever-popular Riesling is made from grapes grown in the Rogue and Applegate Valley sub AVAs of Southern Oregon. The package is an enchanting image of apple blossoms, simulating hand painting with a friendly bee at work pollinating. A portion of each sale goes to supporting bee-health research. Honeysuckle, citrus zest and orchard blossom intrigue the nose and invite a taste of apricot, apple and mineral with a hint of sweetness.
Riesling has been part of the Ponzi wine program since the very beginning with production waning and waxing with the popularity of the variety in the marketplace. Riesling is currently on an upswing and Luisa Ponzi crafts a small amount of this wine from estate grown fruit. Look for aromas and flavors of ripe apricot, lime zest, orchard blossom, floral tea and Riesling petrol on the finish – good acid balance for food pairing.
North by Northwest
Completing our mini geographic tour of Northwest Riesling, we arrive at Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills AVA. From vineyards on the north side of the Columbia River, grapes were harvested in near-perfect vintage conditions to craft this seafood-friendly wine. Look for classic Riesling aromas of apricot, citrus and lavender, leading to flavors of ripe peach and pineapple with bracing mineral, citrus and spice on the finish.
This wine is a combination of grapes harvested at Chehalem’s estate vineyards: Ridgecrest, Stoller and Corral Creek. Chehalem’s winemakers are learning to deal with warmer vintages as the heat units have crept up starting in 2012. Ripe grapes are the result with slightly different aromas and flavors. On the nose you find stone fruits, honeysuckle and a tangy nuance that the label refers to as “fir tips.” The palate is rich with nectarine, juicy apple and mineral.
Müller-Thurgau is a cross of Riesling with Madeleine Royale, created by Hermann Müller in the Swiss canton of Thurgau in 1882. It is widely planted in Germany (a major component of Blue Nun wine) and was once seen commonly as a varietal wine in Oregon. Montinore Estate produces this flavorful version offering aromas of peach, pear and gardenia with added tropical notes of melon and citrus.
Wines from other areas
Several years ago, this wine was included in my annual oyster wine tasting, and it was a smash hit with the tasters. It offers all the components that we love about NZ Sauvignon Blanc, plus complexity and nuances galore. Look for aromas and flavors of grapefruit and passion fruit with hints of violets, grassy hay, gooseberry and lemon.
Nobilo Icon is the reserve tier of the vastly popular Nobilo brand that has set the standard for New Zealand wines for decades. This vintage of Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc continues the tradition of a tight focused wine, offering passion fruit and gooseberry with distinct notes of mineral and bracing acidity.
Grgich Hills Estate
Grapes for this wine came from Grgich Hills’ vineyards in the southern, cooler part of the Napa Valley in American Canyon and Carneros. The wine exhibits the classic Grgich structure and balance with aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, citrus and mineral along with nuances from oak aging: toasty cedar and vanilla – a nice complement to Dungeness crab.
Dry Creek Vineyard
On a historical note, Dry Creek Vineyard has been producing Fumé Blanc since 1972, with founder David Stare being the first to plant the variety in the Dry Creek Valley. We older wine tasters recognize the house style, showing aromas of lemon, cut grass and herbs. The palate is a wonderful complement to seafood with citrus and mineral flavors being a perfect foil for fresh oysters on the half shell!
# # #
To find contact information for most of the wineries
in the above text,