As grapes for the 2011 vintage begin to form on vineyards throughout the Northwest, we are beginning to see wines from the 2010 vintage being released.
So far, we are tasting white and pink wines, as most reds are gently aging in oak barrels and won't be released for at least another year.
The timing for these wines could not be better, as our cool spring finally has given way to warmer days, and bright, crisp wines go beautifully with fresh summer bounty from Northwest farmers markets.
This week's featured wines include two from British Columbia, which will be impossible to find south of the 49th parallel. But this should give you an excuse to book a weekend trip to British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, which is home to more than 100 wineries. For the rest of this week's selections, check with your favorite wine merchant or order directly from the winery.
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Wind Rose Cellars 2010 barbera rosé, Washington, $12: David Volmut, a graduate of Yakima Valley Community College's wine program, has a delightful pink to help christen his new winery on Washington's Olympic Peninsula near Sequim. There are aromas of black cherry and apricots with hints of crushed filbert, cinnamon and caramel. On the palate, it drills down toward pie cherry flavors, backed by cranberry and pomegranate acidity with distinctive minerality and a remarkable finish of peaches.
Pondera Winery 2010 chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $22: Looking for a bone-dry, no-oak chardonnay to serve with ling cod? Here's the wine. This wine's crispness shows in the nose with starfruit, quince, clementine, gooseberry, yellow grapefruit peel and jasmine. It's long and juicy on the palate with crushed pineapple, green banana, lemon bitters and more jasmine.
Stina's Cellars 2010 Millennium Vineyards Siegerrebe, Washington, $14: The grapes for this rare cool-climate wine come from a vineyard in Winlock. It comes with a fanciful nose of peaches, gooseberry, prickly pear cactus, sea air, rose hip oil, sandalwood, bees wax and fennel. In the mouth, it is all about fruit, starting with peach, honeydew melon, lychee and pineapple juice.
Van Duzer Vineyards 2010 Estate pinot gris, Willamette Valley, $16: A year ago, Jerry Murray took over the winemaking at this picturesque winery near Salem, so this is his debut wine. The aromas provide an early indication of the dry style as it exudes segmented orange, yellow grapefruit, quince, lemon juice and honeysuckle. Tangelo and grapefruit flavors tow along Asian pear and nice minerality.
Cinder Wines 2010 dry viognier, Snake River Valley, $17: Williamson Vineyard fruit produces remarkable Viognier in the hands of Idaho's top winemakers, and Melanie Krause is in that class. It screams orange Creamcicle in the nose, along with hints of lemon sorbet, dusty apple and canned peaches. The fruit is joined in the mouth by flavors of yellow grapefruit, and the lack of malolactic fermentation keeps the acid level lively and lovely. Make no mistake -- this ranks among the best in the Northwest.
Wild Goose Vineyards 2010 gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley, $19: This is a textbook example of this German variety with fresh-cut pink grapefruit, lychee, honeysuckle, jasmine and slate and a pinch of rosemary. If you love Gewürz done dry, you will cherish this. There is a continuation of grapefruit as flavors, backed with Key lime, lemon meringue and orange. The texture of rosewater on the midapalate is fascinating, and the hanging acidity makes it succulent.
JoieFarm 2010 riesling, Okanagan Valley, $23: Here is a classic British Columbia expression of this German grape. A wide assortment of aromatics includes Granny Smith apple, Thompson seedless grape, white peach, hominy, candy corn and diesel. The flavors sing with lime, jasmine, rosewater, honeysuckle, lychee and more apple. This is not unlike a German sptlese with its residual sugar of 2.5 percent. Enjoy with ceviche sprayed with lime juice or serve it in a cool glass.
*Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine, a website that provides news and information about the wines of Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.