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By Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

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Pinot Noir with
Copper River Salmon

A 4-Part Series
Published Jun & July 2016

Red Rhone Varietals
& Blends

A 4-Part Series
Published May & Jun 2016

Versatile Chardonnays
for Spring

A 4-Part Series
Published Mar & Apr 2016

Italian Varietals for 2016
A 4-Part Series
Published Jan & Feb 2016

Cabernet Sauvignon
and Blends

A 4-Part Series
Published Nov & Dec 2015

Thanksgiving Wines
Published Nov 16, 2015

Meat My Merlot
A 4-Part Series
Published Oct & Nov 2015

Bordeaux Buddies
The Blending Grapes

on their own
A 4-Part Series
Published Aug & Sep 2015


Index to Archived
Wines of the Week
...Earlier Columns


Chuck's Wine Reviews
of other Northwest Wines

Organized by varietal


Book Reviews







































Last Week's Reviews
Published August 16, 2016

Seafood Wines for Summer 
Part 2 of a 5-Part Series  (Part 1)  (Part 3)
By Chuck Hill 

This week we paired up delicious white wines with delicious crab cakes.  Crab cakes styles vary on each coast, with fancy west coast versions made from succulent Dungeness crab and most of those from the east coast made from Maryland jumbo lump crab.  Maryland crab cakes use Old Bay seasoning for a distinctive spicy flavor.  Dungeness crab cakes use more delicate seasoning to let the sweet flavor of the crab shine through, and they often feature fresh red pepper, apple or other ingredients to add complexity. 

While fresh-picked Dungeness crab is a more difficult pairing (many prefer Riesling), crab cakes are friendly to many varietal wines.  Grab one of the following for dinner at home or order one for your meal at your favorite seafood restaurant. 

2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, NZ

Oregon winemaker Peter Rosback travels to New Zealand each spring to craft two wines for his Oregon brand. His Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc come from the Awatere Valley, which he prefers to the warmer Wairau Valley.  Aromas and flavors of gooseberry, grassy herbs and fresh citrus captivated my tasting panel with Chef Ted’s spicy crab cakes. 

J. Christopher
2015 Sauvignon Blanc
Willamette Valley AVA

Jay Somers’ Sauvignon Blanc comes from some of the scarce plantings of the varietal in the Willamette Valley.  He aims for a Loire Valley style, and the wine delivers... aromas and flavors of white flowers and peach with notes of citrus and mineral – great with crab. 


2015 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley AVA

Waterbrook has focused on Sauvignon Blanc since their beginnings in the late 1980s.  This easygoing style captures the grassy Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc character with delicate hints of gooseberry, wet stone and tropical kiwi and guava.  Bright acidity and a value price make it a “must buy” for your crab cake adventure. 

Maryhill Winery
2013 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley AVA

Maryhill Winery is a favorite summer destination for wine lovers who enjoy music on the plaza, bocce ball, picnicking and tasting delicious wines. Check our their website for upcoming concerts in the amphitheatre, and choose this Sauvignon Blanc for pear and citrus flavors that pair perfectly with crab cakes. 

Ded. Reckoning, Compass Wines
2015 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley AVA

There is no one on the planet who is more knowledgeable about Washington State wines than Compass Wines owner Doug Charles.  He has close connections with the state’s best winemakers and works with them to create wines under his pirate-themed Ded. Reckoning label.  Look for citrus and green apple with notes of herbs and crisp acidity. 

Januik Winery
2015 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley AVA

Veteran Washington winemaker Mike Januik makes wines for his eponymous label and also for Novelty Hill Winery in Woodinville, where his brand is produced.  This Sauvignon Blanc comes from Sagemoor Vineyards in the lower Columbia Valley and is blended with 21% Semillon from Dionysus Vineyard.  Look for pear and melon with tangy notes of citrus and spice. 

Amavi Cellars
2015 Semillon
Walla Walla Valley AVA

This delicious wine is crafted from grapes grown at some of Walla Walla’s most esteemed vineyards located near the Oregon/Washington border.  Winemaker Jean-Francois Pellet ages the wine in 100% neutral French oak to create a complex wine featuring aromas and flavors of pineapple and mango, lemony citrus and notes of green apple and melon. 

Pinot Gris

Archery Summit
2015 Pinot Gris, Vireton
Willamette Valley AVA

This elegant Pinot Gris was sourced from select Willamette Valley Pinot Gris vineyards – whole-cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel.  Aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, Asian pear and flinty mineral pair well with crab cakes and other favorite seafoods. 

Thurston Wolfe Winery
2015 PGV
Columbia Valley AVA

Wade Wolfe, Ph.D. and his wife Becky Yeaman merged their love for the Yakima Valley when they created Thurston Wolfe Winery in Yakima in 1987 – named for Wade’s father.  Their most popular wine came along later.  PGV is a 65/35 blend of Pinot Gris and Viognier that is a favorite with Northwest seafood.  Enjoy crisp citrus and mineral with a background of pear and melon. 

Maryhill Winery
2014 Pinot Gris
Columbia Valley AVA

Visit Maryhill Winery in the Columbia Gorge as summer yields to fall and the weather cools. Visitors are welcome here to enjoy both the great views and great wines.  Maryhill’s Pinot Gris is sourced from nearby Tudor Hills Vineyard and offers aromas of lemon, melon and apple with flavors of melon, citrus and a bit of honey. 


A to Z Wineworks
2015 Riesling

I don’t often wax poetic about wine packaging, but the simulated hand-painted floral design of this wine is exceptional. T he flowers offer a preview to the delightfully fresh floral, lychee and spice character of the wine.  A slightly off-dry palate is balanced with crisp acidity, making this a great wine to pair with Dungeness crab. 

Elk Cove Vineyards
2014 Riesling
Willamette Valley AVA

Oregon wine pioneers Pat and Joe Campbell founded their winery in the foothills of the Coast Range in the 1970s.  Son Adam Campbell now makes the wines, including this Riesling from estate vineyards dating back to 1975.  Look for white flowers, pear, peach and a touch of typical Riesling petrol that will thrill devotees of the varietal. 

Pacific Rim
2014 Dry Riesling
Columbia Valley AVA

This delightful, value-priced Riesling celebrates the warm Columbia Valley with aromas and flavors of ripe peach and apricot, dancing with floral notes of jasmine and honeysuckle.  Pour this slightly off-dry wine as an aperitif or with your favorite seafood. 

2014 Riesling
Columbia Valley AVA

Most of the fruit for this wine comes from Yakima Valley vineyards, and the blend includes 15% Gewurztraminer and 7% Chenin Blanc.  Look for citrus and tropical fruit aromas and flavors with notes of passion fruit and honeysuckle. 


2014 Albariño
Yakima Valley AVA

Salida winemaker Doug McCrea started his Washington winemaking career crafting Rhone varietal wines as one of the state’s first “Rhone Rangers.”  His experience at McRea Cellars led to appreciating the Spanish heritage of Grenache and Mourvedre (Spanish Garnacha and Monastrell) and experimenting with Tempranillo.  Spanish whites followed, including the queen of Spanish whites, Albariño.  Grapefruit, Bartlett pear, white peach and other citrus make this wine a delight with seafood of all types. 

2015 Albariño
Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA

Victor Palencia followed his father and brothers into the vineyards of Eastern Washington from the age of 13 and now crafts Washington wines under the credo Musica-Vida-Vino.  His Albariño from Washington's new Ancient Lakes AVA offers grassy herbs, mellow citrus, Asian pear and finishing flavors of melon and orchard blossom. 

Wines from other areas: 

Le Domaine Saget
2013 Pouilly Fume, Sauvignon Blanc
Pouilly Fume Controllee

Among the original wines hailed as those that best accompanied oysters were the crisp, white wines of the Loire Valley in France.  Pouilly Fume, Sancerre, Muscadet and others have been served with seafoods of the nearby Atlantic coast for centuries.  The Saget family produces each of the favored wines of the area inclusing this flinty and complex Pouilly-Fume featuring citrus, pear and tropical fruits on both the nose and palate. 

Domaine de la Perriere
2014 Sancerre
Loire, France

Here is another great oyster wine from the Saget family of France’s Loire Valley.  Slurping an oyster with this classic varietal reveals the “bliss factor” and offers aromas and flavors of gooseberry, flinty mineral, citrus and tropical notes – and so much more. 

2014 Sauvignon Blanc
Venezia Giulia, Italy

It is truly a pleasure to enjoy a Sauvignon Blanc from Italy that exhibits the best of the fruit, offering a great foil to oysters and other seafood.  This refreshing wine shows aromas of gooseberry, green apple and hints of bell pepper and pear.  The palate is assertive with citrus and mineral flavors, complementing the oyster, then cleansing the palate for the next slurp. 

Avant by Kendall-Jackson
2014 Sauvignon Blanc

This fresh and crisp Sauvignon Blanc hails from Lake County and Sonoma County in northern California.  Look for grapefruit and lime with notes of lemongrass and flinty mineral. 

Madrigal Family Winery
2015 Sauvignon Blanc
Napa Valley, Estate

Since the late 1930s, three generations of Madrigals have farmed some of the Napa Valley’s finest vineyards.  Today, the company is run by Chris Madrigal, grandson of the founder.  This Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc offers grapefruit and lemon with notes of herbs and earthy mineral.

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All rights reserved.  Last revised: 08/26/2016