As we enter another glorious Pacific Northwest summer, now is a great time to load up on summer-friendly white wines.
There is nothing like a refreshing white wine in your glass on the patio or deck to finish off a beautiful warm day. Especially with fresh seafood or fish on the grill, including salmon, trout, scallops or clams.
As a species, we tend to drink our white wines a bit too cold. An ideal target temperature is 50 to 60 degrees. Your best bet is to keep your wine in the fridge for a couple of hours, then bring it out and set it on the counter for 15 or 20 minutes. When a wine is served too cold, the aromas tend to become muted and less enjoyable. They emerge as the wine warms up.
Here are several Northwest whites that earned gold medals at this spring’s Cascadia International Wine Competition, an event judged by nearly a dozen of the Northwest’s top winemakers. Ask for these bottles at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries to purchase directly.
Abacela 2017 Estate Albariño, Umpqua Valley, $21: Vaunted Southern Oregon producers Earl and Hilda Jones continue to champion this Spanish grape they helped introduce to the Pacific Northwest. White florals, lime and peach lead off their latest outstanding example, which bursts with crisp lime acidity and a hint of papaya in the mouth. Its long and lean finish is perfect for seafood, Spanish-style tapas or a wedge of Manchego cheese and quince paste.
Crayelle Cellars 2017 Albariño, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $24: Consider this a textbook example of Albariño grown in Washington state. It carries a sense of flair as the nose draws you in immediately, showing off green apple Jolly Rancher candy with a kick of grapefruit juice. The palate developed by Ivy League grad Craig Mitrakul matches the nose with fruit so ripe and lush, amplified by natural sweetness. It’s a real treat.
Smasne Cellars 2017 Otis Vineyard Albariño, Yakima Valley, $18: Robert Smasne’s wonderfully fragrant work with historic Otis Vineyard near his childhood home is redolent of green apple and citrus fruit. Spot-on acidity supports that fruit while allowing the lush ripeness to shine in this medium-bodied easy drinker.
Cinder Wines 2016 Chardonnay, Snake River Valley, $18: Idaho talent Melanie Krause, who trained at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, presents Chardonnay with bright aromas of pear tart, baked apple and hazelnut. The crisp approach shows off a wonderful balance of fruit, acid and a tingly finish.
Chaberton Estate Winery 2017 Gewürztraminer, Similkameen Valley, $17: This historic property on British Columbia’s Lower Mainland used grapes from the emerging Similkameen Valley southwest of Okanagan Lake to develop aromas of candied ginger and lychee, followed by ginger and lychee on the palate. It’s finished off-dry and would pair well with curry, Thai chicken and strong cheese.
Eleven Winery 2015 Viognier-O, Yakima Valley, $40: Bainbridge Island winemaker Matt Albee tries his hand at an “orange” wine with Viognier from the Yakima Valley. It results in gorgeous orange aromas and flavors, but in the mouth it has a surprising texture and body.
Elevation Cellars 2017 Imperium Riesling, Columbia Valley, $18: Steven Stuart in Woodinville crafted this Riesling close to bone-dry with hints of lime, apricot and peach. A regal drink, its subtle bow to sweetness is quickly ushered off the palate by vibrant acidity.
Maryhill Winery 2016 Winemaker’s White, Columbia Valley, $10: Richard Batchelor works with some of Washington’s top vineyards, and his bargain Winemaker’s White program shows the abundant quality of fruit from sites such as Tudor Hills in the Yakima Valley. Pinot Gris from the Tudor family forms the base of this white blend, which brings aromas and flavors of lime, starfruit and Asian pear to the table. Its abundant acidity will pair well with a tray of fruit, cheeses and cured meats.
Vino la Monarcha Winery 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $18: Entrust winemaker Victor Palencia with grapes from the Ancient Lakes and it seems certain to be a winner. He somehow wrings aromatics that include perfumy grapefruit and guava, which then lead into flavors of lime, guava and even a bit of papaya. All that fruit hangs on for a long finish of refreshing burst acidity that encourages another sip.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company; www.greatnorthwestwine.com