The Washington State wine industry reminds me of the actor who took fifteen years to be discovered overnight. Washington has been growing grapes since 1825 and now has nine American Viticultural Areas. They are booming, with almost every varietal you can name and every quality and price range you could wish for. Washington’s latitude matches up nicely with Bordeaux and Burgundy, but it has a longer growing season. And its wide range of soils and weather patterns give winemakers dozens of options for grape types, wine styles, and blends. These wines prove that very good wine from the Pacific Northwest isn’t just from Oregon.
This month’s selections are available at Sutler’s Wines & Spirits, 2225 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater, 651-439-3399.
Columbia Crest Merlot 2002 (Columbia Valley), $10.99
A crowd pleaser. Lots of red berry fruit and soft tannins. Goes with almost everything, and at a very good price. An everyday drinker that would be a nice red for large holiday parties.
Powers Riesling 2004 (Columbia Valley), $10.99
A peach and kiwi nose with a bit more peach, cinnamon, and crisp clean acids on the tongue. It has lots of fruit to go with spicy foods.
Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells
Chardonnay 2004 (Columbia Valley), $21.99
World-class chardonnay from Washington? Yes! This wine is full-bodied, with balanced oak, the requisite butteriness, and pineapple fruit notes. It’s great with lobster or crab and even holds up to some red meats for “white wine only” drinkers.
Dusted Valley Vintners Stained Tooth Syrah 2004 (Walla Walla), $26.99
Blueberries and backbone! This is a lush syrah that would be great with grilled pork loin or lamb. This is the first time I have written about a wine I sell in my day job, but it is so good that I couldn’t leave it out. Incidentally, the winemaker’s brother owns Town Talk Diner.
Hedges Three Vineyards 2003 (Red Mountain), $21.99
This is the best blend I have tasted in a long time. It’s big, rich, complex, and balanced. I would put it up against any California meritage at twice the price. You can drink it now with a big rib eye and be very content or cellar it.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.