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By Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill, wine reviewer and columnist

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(In the order of their
publication dates)

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


Wines of the Week
...Earlier Columns


Chuck's Wine Reviews
of other Northwest Wines

Organized by varietal



















Wines of the Week

Published August 26, 2016

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

This week we enjoyed a variety of wines with succulent shrimp from the grill.  Adding the grilled touch helps to expand the foods’ affinity for a wider range of wines, presenting an opportunity for cleansing of the palate with hints of smoky, toasty goodness. 

Pinot Blanc

Ponzi Vineyards
2015 Pinot Blanc
Willamette Valley AVA

Talented winemaker Luisa Ponzi was offered a great opportunity in the 2015 vintage when she was presented with “pristine fruit, picked at perfect ripeness.”  The resulting wine is a perfect expression of Pinot Blanc, showing a bouquet of floral aromas mingling with herbs and baking spices.  The palate adds lovely citrus, wet stone and ample acidity to pair with almost any lighter seafood. 

Adelsheim Vineyard
2015 Pinot Blanc
Willamette Valley AVA

Here is another exceptional Pinot Blanc from the 2015 vintage in Oregon’s northern Willamette Valley, specifically from Adelsheim’s estate Bryan Creek Vineyard.  About the wine, the winery offers “racy, but bold in character.”  Look for stone fruits and citrus with bracing minerality and crisp acidity – equally at home with seafood or spicy Asian dishes. 

Elk Cove Vineyards
2015 Pinot Blanc
Willamette Valley AVA

Winemaker Adam Campbell whole-cluster pressed his pristine Pinot Blanc fruit, and cold fermented the wine in small stainless steel tanks.  Aromas of tropical fruits, grapefruit and elegant floral notes lead to crisp citrus flavors on the palate and a lingering finish of wet stone and tangy stone fruits. 


Pinot Gris

Chateau Ste. Michelle
2015 Pinot Gris
Columbia Valley AVA

This flavorful Pinot Gris falls somewhere between the lighter style Pinot Grigio of Italy and the richer Alsatian style.  Classic aromas and flavors of pear and melon mingle with spice and citrus with mineral notes.  Grapes were harvested from vines planted on vinifera rootstock, as opposed to being grafted onto resistant labrusca roots.  This is possible because the sandy soils of Eastern Washington don’t support the root louse phylloxera.  

Acrobat by King Estate
2015 Pinot Gris

This stainless-steel fermented Pinot Gris is a blend of grapes harvested from vineyards throughout Oregon. It was aged sur lie in tank for two months prior to bottling.  Pear and floral notes join with citrus and mineral to create a very appealing seafood wine. 

Vizcaya Winery
2014 Pinot Gris
Snake River Valley AVA

Larry and Kay Hansen are the owners of Vizcaya Winery in the Snake River Valley of western Idaho.  They have been growing wine grapes since 2008 and opened the tasting room for their new winery in 2015.  Look for aromas and flavors of peach, pear and baked apple with nice acidity and mineral on the finish. 

Mercer Estates
2015 Pinot Gris
Columbia Valley AVA

The Mercer family has been farming in Eastern Washington since 1886, and Don Mercer planted some of Washington’s first new-era grapevines in 1972, establishing the renowned Mercer Ranch Vineyard.  Today, grapes come from a variety of Columbia Valley sources, and winemaker Jessica Munnell crafts superb wines for several different Mercer brands.  This Pinot Gris hits the spot with shellfish and lighter finfish, offering aromas and flavors of stone fruits, honeysuckle and citrus. 


Thurston Wolfe Winery
2015 Albariño
Yakima Valley AVA

This is the third vintage of Thurston Wolfe Albariño from Crawford Vineyard in the central Yakima Valley. Winemaker Wade Wolfe fermented the wine in stainless steel, preserving the signature pear and apricot aromas and flavors.  The well-balanced palate pairs nicely with shrimp and crab for summertime dining. 

2015 Albariño, Estate
Umpqua Valley AVA

Earl and Hilda Jones came to Southern Oregon with the intent to produce wines from varieties grown in Spain.  Spanish white Albariño was a natural choice to plant in their Fault Line Vineyard near Roseburg, Oregon.  This assertive white wine offers bright citrus and floral character with crisp acidity to complement your favorite lighter sea foods. 


Charles Smith Winery - Sixto
2013 Chardonnay
Moxee Vineyard, WA

I can’t hear the name Moxee without recalling 1970s bird watching trips to view the elusive Long Eared Owl at the USDA research station just east of this tiny Yakima Valley community.  In the meantime, grapes were planted in 1984 north of town at the Moxee Vineyard!  This exotic Chardonnay offers tropical aromas and flavors with hints of vanilla, lemon cream and toasty oak. 

Three Rivers Winery
2014 Chardonnay, Steel Chardonnay
Columbia Valley AVA

Holly Turner crafts this clean and crisp Chardonnay from vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley.  Grapes were lightly pressed and the wine fermented in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation during aging.  A classic seafood Chardonnay; look for green apple, Asian pear, orchard blossom and crisp minerality on the finish. 

Wines from other areas

Mas Fi
Brut Rose Cava, Non-Vintage
Penedes, Spain

This wine is produced by the Massachs family in Northern Spain from the Trepat grape variety.  The fruit is harvested and light-pressed, then fermented in stainless steel.  The wine is finished in the traditional Metode Tradicional (same as French Methode Champenoise) – fermented in the bottle.  In the glass, a fine bead of bubbles and delicate pink color attracts the eye, while the palate enjoys a refreshing citrus and strawberry flavor that is great with seafood from the grill. 

Mer Soleil Vineyard
2014 Chardonnay
Monterey County, CA

The Wagner-family legacy of winemaking in California has been carried on for three generations.  Charlie F. Wagner and his son Chuck established Caymus Vineyards in 1972, and today, the third generation continues winegrowing innovation.  Chuck’s son Charlie farms the Mer Soleil Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands and uses it to produce his unoaked Chardonnay.  Look for orchard blossom, pear, lemon and crisp acidity, a perfect pairing for seafood. 

2015 Pinot Grigio
Monterey, CA

Actress Drew Barrymore lends her family’s name to this wine crafted by Carmel Road winery’s Kris Kato. While Drew suggests gnocchi in brown butter and Caprese salad, I would recommend grilled shrimp a la Chef Ted served with spinach salad and artisan bread.  Enjoy light aromas and flavors of citrus and honeydew melon with mineral notes and crisp acidity.


To find contact information for most of the wineries in the above column,
visit our alphabetical list of Northwest States and their Wineries.

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©  August, 2016  Chuck Hill
All rights reserved.  Last revised: 08/26/2016