Northwest White Wines Tasting Notes Page

Tasting Notes Digest
White Wine Page
Updated 01/07/2014

   

Chardonnay

Fira
2009 Chardonnay
WineGirl Wines, Manson
Columbia Valley
$17.00

"Fresher than a hickey on a Catholic school girl's neck on the first day of class!"  So says WineGirl - Angela Jacobs, proprietor of The Blending Room at Manson on Lake Chelan, and maker of Fira and Kamari wines.  You will enjoy the aromas of citrus, vanilla and floral notes leading to tropical and citrus flavors that perk up your oyster experience.

Chateau Ste. Michelle
2009 Chardonnay
Columbia Valley
$13.00

This food-friendly, fruit-forward Chardonnay is a favorite with wine lovers around the country.  It is mostly barrel fermented and sur lie aged, giving the wine a soft character with complex notes of citrus, spice and vanilla.  Hardcore oyster slurpers might balk at the body and softness, but there are many who like their bivalves swathed in creamy apple, pear and spice.

St. Clement Vineyards
2008 Chardonnay
Carneros, Napa Valley
$19.00

Now that we have the Chardonnay lovers' attention, we can point to another winner that can mussel its way into your heart.  This beauty offers tropical aromas of melon, citrus and vanilla leading to a complex palate with flavors of grapefruit, Asian pear, vanilla, toasty spice and flinty mineral.  You might consider checking out a mussel recipe with coconut milk and Thai spice for a South Seas seafood getaway.

Lange Winery
2009 Chardonnay
Willamette Valley
$16.00

This soft and approachable Chardonnay from Lange Winery in Dundee, Oregon is quite versatile.  The winemaker describes it as "lush and fruit forward."  It offers aromas of peach and pear with notes of floral perfume and mineral.  The palate is rich with stone-fruit flavors, and hints of melon and pear.  My friends who buy wines for pretty labels like this one.  What do you think?

Tamarack Cellars
2009 Chardonnay
Columbia Valley
$15.00

One of the advantages of Washington as a wine-growing region is the wide variety of microclimates where wine grapes are grown, permitting winemakers to source the same varietal from different areas and thus produce a more interesting and complex wine.  Ron Coleman blended fruit from six vineyards in three AVAs and created this delicious Chardonnay.  Look for aromas of ripe green apple, clove and Asian pear.  The palate offers flavors of pear, melon and floral perfume with a citrus finish.

Stoller Vineyard
2009 Chardonnay, JV Estate
Dundee Hills
$20.00

Bill and Cathy Stoller began their vineyard in Oregon's Dundee Hills in 1995 by planting 10 acres each of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Dijon clones were a part of the plan and extensive plantings of Dijon clone Pinot Noir are now producing.  Their tasty JV Estate Chardonnay is crafted from three Dijon clones of Chardonnay.  Aromas of pear, melon, mineral and lemon lead to a crisp palate of white peach and citrus flavors with a flinty finish. 

Milbrandt Vineyards
2009 Chardonnay, Traditions
Columbia Valley
$13.00

The Milbrandt family has been farming on the high desert of Eastern Washington since the 1950s, but Butch and Jerry Milbrandt planted their first winegrapes in 1997.  After selling their superb fruit to many Washington wineries for eight years, they hired veteran winemaker Gordon Hill to craft wines under the Milbrandt Vineyards label.  Their 2009 Traditions Chardonnay is fruit forward, offering aromas of apple, peach and lemon leading to a crisp, oyster-friendly palate of citrus and pear flavors with a light vanilla finish.

Columbia Crest
2008 Chardonnay, Grand Estates
Columbia Valley
$11.00

Columbia Crest's Grand Estates Chardonnay is 70% barrel fermented in a combination of French and American oak, some new and some one-to-three years old.  The remainder is fermented in stainless steel.  The nose shows toasty apple, vanilla and light notes of caramel, butter and lemon.  The palate offers flavors of creamy lemon curd, apple and notes of mineral and grapefruit.  Meticulously crafted and blended, the wine is a superb complement to seafood including oysters and mussels.  

Fumé Blanc/Sauvignon Blanc

Covey Run
2008 Fume Blanc
Columbia Valley
$9.00

So, you're looking for an inexpensive white wine to serve with fresh oysters?  Nothing fancy, just crisp, refreshing and complementary to the delicate, little bivalves?  Fermented in stainless steel tanks and crisp as a November morning, look to this Covey Run Fume Blanc for light citrus, tropical fruits and hints of toast and vanilla. 

Kestrel Vintners
2009 Sauvignon Blanc, Estate Old Vine
Yakima Valley
$20.00

Kestrel Vintners owns one of Washington's oldest wine grape vineyards north of Prosser, named Kestrel View and this tasty oyster wine hails from that site.  The nose promises oyster-pairing success with aromas of citrus, mineral and pear.  The palate is crisp with grassy citrus, green apple and gooseberry flavors making an excellent match with half-shell oysters.

Fish House
2008 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley
$17.00

Charles Smith's Magnificent Wine Company folds this Sauvignon Blanc into its House Wine brand with the iconic name Fish House as a bold invitation to consumers looking for a seafood-friendly sip.  Citrus and flint aromas dance with forward notes of vanilla and floral perfume.  The palate adds tropical fruit flavors to tango with grapefruit and pear.

Chateau Ste. Michelle
2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Horse Heaven Hills
$15.00

This perennial favorite from Chateau Ste. Michelle's Horse Heaven Vineyard is a very versatile food wine pairing equally well with seafood and lighter meats and cheeses.  Aromas of citrus, mineral, green apple and herbs lead to a medium-bodied palate with rich flavors of citrus, grassy herb and flinty mineral.  Blended with 11% Semillon for added complexity and character.

J. Christopher Winery
2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Willamette Valley
$20.00

Winemaker/owner Jay Somers crafts this excellent Sauvignon Blanc from grapes grown at Croft Vineyard in Polk County, Oregon.  I swear on the ghost of oysters past that this wine wafts a faint hint of sea breeze to complement grassy, pear, herbal and lemon aromas and flavors.  Just a hint bitey on the palate, it takes on the oyster with gusto and makes for a superb match.

Hogue Cellars
2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley
$12.00

This is one of several bargain Sauvignon Blancs that has passed through our tasting panels recently.  It is crisp and clean with Columbia Valley grassy and herbal notes wrapped around aromas and flavors of lemon, grapefruit, orange blossom and flinty mineral.

Spangler Vineyards
2008 Sauvignon Blanc
Southern Oregon
$17.00

This wine came on top of our most recent tasting, featuring grassy, herb and citrus aromas and a palate of herb, mineral and citrus flavors that complemented the oyster perfectly.  Well done to Pat Spangler. 

Apex Cellars
2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley
$12.00

A nice, straightforward Sauvignon Blanc with fresh aromas of citrus and grass that lead to flavors of herbs, green apple and grapefruit.  Clean and refreshing with your oyster.  Nice job!  You can find this wine on sale quite often for less than the price above. 

Alexandria Nicole Cellars
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Steel Horse
Horse Heaven Hills
$14.00

From Destiny Ridge Vineyard - the Estate vineyard for Alexandria Nicole Cellars - comes the Steel Horse of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.  Crafted by winemaker/owner Jarrod Boyle, Steel Horse offers grassy herbs, gooseberry and citrus on the nose and a citrus and stone fruit flavors to complement the oysters and mussels.

Snoqualmie Vineyards
2008 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley
$12.00

Some vintages provide oyster lovers a bounty of crisp, flavorful white wines that truly are my favorites with half-shell oysters.  This version of Sauvignon Blanc, crafted by winemaker Joy Andersen, offers bright varietal aromas of citrus and melon and flavors of fresh citrus and grassy herb.  Crisp acidity freshens the palate for another oyster slurp.

Mercer Estates
2008 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley
$14.00

Mercer Estates is a family-owned Washington State winery through a partnership of the Mercer and Hogue families.  Winemaker David Forsyth vinted this tasty oyster wine featuring citrus and tropical aromas leading to flavors of green apple, grassy herb and grapefruit.  It is a nice complement to oysters, mussels and other fish dishes.

Three Rivers
2008 Sauvignon Blanc
Columbia Valley
$16.00

The addition of 25% Semillon to the blend of this wine, combined with eight months of sur lie aging, created a complex wine with soft edges and balanced acidity on the palate.  Look for sweet spice, mellow citrus, and tropical aromas and flavors with a finish of crisp grapefruit and grassy herb.  This is a very nice sipping wine with or without oysters.

Desert Wind
2008 Sauvignon Blanc,
Wahluke Slope AVA
$12.00

Desert Wind Winery's estate vineyard is on Washington's Wahluke slope where near-perfect growing conditions ripen Sauvignon Blanc grapes for this tasty oyster wine.  Look for aromas of grassy herbs, lemon grass, melon and mineral.  Light flavors of citrus, stone fruit and herb complement both half shell oysters and mussels.

Gewürztraminer

August Cellars
2007 Gewürztraminer, Dry
Oregon
$14.00

August Cellars makes its home on the Schaad family farm on Chehalem Mountain in the Chehalem Mountains AVA.  The winery is named for August Schaad who founded the family farm after emigrating from Germany in the 1890s.  Descendents of the founder now operate the farm and winery.  August Cellars Gewürztraminer was a standout at our tasting showing aromas of musky rose petal and stone fruits with flavors of lychee and citrus on the light-bodied palate. 

Brandborg Winery
2009 Gewürztraminer
Umpqua Valley
$18.00

The Brandborg Winery is located in Elkton, Oregon in the Umpqua Valley AVA where the founders purchased the property in 2001.  This shimmering beauty of a wine offers all the exotic pleasure one expects from Gewürztraminer.  A nose of lychee, tea rose, grapefruit and light vanilla leads to flavors of citrus, baking spice and tropical fruits with crisp acidity balanced by 2.38% residual sugar.

Amity Vineyards
2008 Gewürztraminer, Dry
Sunnyside Vineyard
Willamette Valley
$20.00

Myron Redford's iconic Oregon winery celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010 and, over four decades, has helped spread the good word about the Willamette Valley and the delicious wines made there.  Amity winemaker Darcy Pendergrass crafted this tasty Gewurz featuring clear varietal aromas of spicy lychee, rose petal and delicate tea.  The palate has nice body and good acid balance - a nice accompaniment to many foods.

Pacific Rim
2009 Gewürztraminer
Columbia Valley
$13.00

Spawned by Randall Grahm (of Rhone Ranger fame), the Pacific Rim brand began with Riesling and has stayed that course adding just a few exceptions including this flavorful Gewürztraminer.  Sniff for aromas of ripe pear and apricot with notes of spice and floral perfume.  Forward flavors of stone fruits and citrus welcome a bite of your medium to light mealtime fare.

Chateau Ste. Michelle
2009 Gewürztraminer
Columbia Valley
$12.00

My first serious Gewürztraminer experience was a vertical tasting of the varietal vinted in the 1975, 1976 and 1977 vintages.  At the time, the Chateau was moving from a sweeter wine profile to a drier one, so the comparison was very interesting.  We also included a Alsatian wine and two other Northwest bottlings.  More than 30 years later, look for aromas of stone fruits, floral perfume and clove, leading to a crisp palate that brims with citrus and spice, perfect for
Asian dishes.

Phelps Creek Vineyards
2009 Gewürztraminer, Oakridge Vineyard
Columbia Gorge
$18.00

The current leader in becoming the most-talked-about winery in the Columbia Gorge AVA, Phelps Creek Vineyards produces a variety of wines including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and other blends under the Mt. Defiance Wine Company brand.  An ongoing consultant to winemaker Rich Cushman is Alexandrine Roy, a bi-continental, fourth-generation Vigneron from France, who contributes with superb insights.  A nose of dusty rose, peach and vanilla cloaks a core of lychee and citrus with notes of floral perfume and pear.  Flavors echo the aroma, and the wine is rich on the palate.

Steppe Cellars
2008 Gewürztraminer
Columbia Valley
$14.00

This successful family vineyard operation in Sunnyside, Washington branched out into winemaking in 2005, utilizing the skills of veteran winemaker Anke Freimuth-Wildman to craft their wines.  Anke's 20-year experience in the Columbia Valley and education in her native Germany at Geisenheim qualifies her as an expert in the field.  The 2008 Steppe Cellars Gewürztraminer offers aromas of lemony citrus, vanilla and floral perfume.  The palate adds notes of lychee and rose petal with fine balance and exceptional food friendliness.

Airlie Winery
2007 Gewürztraminer, Dry
Willamette Valley
$12.00

Grab some Asian takeout food and enjoy this dry-style Gewürztraminer with your dinner!  Tucked into a wooded cove outside of Monmouth, Oregon, Airlie Winery makes a wide variety of white wines and a few reds, mostly from fruit grown in their own 32-acre vineyard.  Aromas of dusty rose, apple, and spicy pear lead to similar flavors with hints of grapefruit and mineral added in.

AlexEli Vineyard & Winery
2009 Gewürztraminer
Willamette Valley
$14.00

AlexEli is located southeast of Woodburn, Oregon, in the East Willamette Valley area.  The family vineyard and small winery produce handcrafted wines, and the owners are in the tasting room on weekends to pour it for you.  The 2009 Gewürztraminer offers aromas of dusty rose, grapefruit and mineral.   Flavors of citrus, pear and apple are joined with notes of anise and lychee.  Tasty with lighter fare.

Hogue Cellars
2009 Gewürztraminer
Columbia Valley
$12.00

Hogue Cellars has been making Gewürztraminer from Columbia Valley fruit for many years.  The grapes are harvested fully ripe to ensure the spicy quality for which the variety is known.  Slow, cool fermentation maintains this fruit quality in the final bottling.  Aromas of lemon, lime zest, lychee and pear invite a sip, revealing flavors of lemon-lime citrus, lychee, apricot and floral perfume.  The wine is off dry at 2% residual sugar to tame spicy Thai or other Asian cuisine.

Desert Wind Winery
2007 Gewürztraminer, Late Harvest
Columbia Valley
$35.00/375ml

Desert Wind Winery is located in Prosser, Washington, featuring southwest-inspired architecture and elegant appointments, guest rooms and complete kitchen and banquet facilities.  Their late harvest sweet Gewürztraminer is just the ticket for sipping with a little cheese and shortbread after a meal.  Aromas of white raisins, peach and baked apples lead to flavors of dried white plums, caramel and peach nectar.

Francis Tannahill
2007 Gewürztraminer, Dragonfly
Columbia Gorge
$24.00

Talented winemakers Cheryl Francis and Sam Tannahill joined together in 2001 to craft wines that "balance power and concentration with integrity and elegance."  Their 2007 Gewürztraminer is sourced from The Dragonfly Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge near White Salmon, Washington.  Look for aromas of pear, lychee and herbal notes inviting a taste which reveals spicy pear, lychee, floral perfume and citrus.

Pheasant Valley Winery
2009 Gewürztraminer, Vintage Select
Columbia Gorge
$18.00

Made from fruit harvested at the famed Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge, this Gewürztraminer is "semi-sweet" and is a great accompaniment to Asian fare if one prefers the sweeter dinner wine style, or with cheese and shortbread after dinner as a dessert wine.  The aroma is classic Gewürztraminer with lychee and floral notes playing over pear and peach.  Flavors of stone fruits and floral perfume mark the succulent palate.

River's Edge Winery
2009 Gewürztraminer
Umpqua Valley
$12.00

River's Edge Winery began with the purchase of two vineyards near Elkton, Oregon, in 1996 by Mike and Vonnie Landt.  The Landts were absentee owners from the Midwest until moving permanently to the property in 2005.  Many helpers and part-time employees have contributed to the winery's success.   Their 2009 Gewürztraminer offers aromas of ripe stone fruits and floral perfume with hints of butter.  Flavors of peach and honeyed pear are complemented by a light finish of citrus.

Ewe Eye White
2009 Gewürztraminer
Washington - $12.00

Ewe Eye White is made by Camas Prairie Winery, Idaho's oldest independent winery, founded by Stu and Susan Scott in 1983.  The clever Mona Lisa with an ovine twist introduces the winery's Gewürztraminer bottling.  Look for aromas of earthy grapefruit and honey with flavors of sweet spicy pear and peach.

Tyee Wine Cellars
2009 Gewürztraminer, Estate
Willamette Valley
$19.00

Located on the Buchanan Family's Century Farm near Corvallis, Oregon, Tyee Wine Cellars celebrated their 26th year in 2010.  Daughter Merrilee Buchanan Benson is the winemaker crafting Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir.  The 2009 Gewürztraminer shows aromas and flavors of light pear and peach with hints of vanilla and baking spice. 

Oak Knoll Winery
2007 Gewürztraminer, Wirtz Vineyard
Willamtte Valley
$12.00

One of Oregon's pioneer wineries, founded in 1970, Oak Knoll is the original winery located in Washington County.  For more than forty years, the winery tasting room outside Hillsboro continues to be a favorite stop for peripatetic wine lovers of all stripes.  The 2007 Gewürztraminer is a zesty wine with aromas and flavors of pear, citrus and floral perfume - nice with Asian cuisine.

Semillon

Novelty Hill
2009 Semillon
Stillwater Creek Vineyard
$18.00

Despite the decline in Semillon acreage and consumer resistance to the varietal in general, there are those that stand by this grape for its complexity and ability to age in the bottle for extended periods.  This rich and enticing version from Novelty Hill is sur lie aged creating ripe aromas of tropical fruits, herbs and mineral.  The palate is more delicate and goes well with oysters and mussels.

Amavi Cellars
2009 Semillon
Walla Walla Valley
$20.00

Jean-Francois Pellet is the winemaker for Amavi Cellars as well as for Pepper Bridge Winery.  His delicious Semillon is a blend of 86% Semillon and 14% Sauvignon Blanc from vineyards in the Walla Walla Valley.  This wine evokes a high "bliss factor" when sipping with half-shell oysters.  The wine makes the oyster more fresh and memorable, and the oyster lends a bit of seaside character to the wine.  Hard to describe, easy to enjoy.  Aromas and flavors of Asian pear, vanilla, peach and fresh grassy herb.

L'Ecole No 41
2009 Semillon
Columbia Valley
$16.00

We have always favored Semillon as the varietal of choice to pair with mussels steamed with wine and herbs.  Barrel fermentation and aging on the lees (sur lie) adds just the right muscle and complexity for the wine to stand up to rich mussels and flavorful juice sopped up with sourdough bread.  Hungry yet?  Aromas of herbs, figs, Meyer lemon and light bell pepper lead to ripe flavors of pear, citrus and grassy field herbs.  There is no better pairing in all the world of wine and food.

Viognier

Doyenne
2009 Metier Blanc
Red Mountain AVA
$32.00

This mouth-filling wine is a blend of 90% Viognier with 10% Roussanne.  DeLille Cellars winemaker Chris Upchurch crafts his Doyenne wines for complexity and intensity.  On the nose, look for melon, citrus and mineral.  The creamy palate of citrus and mineral is great with mussels and lingers on the tongue with a finish of herbs, honey and vanilla.


 

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Last revised:   01/07/2014