As recently as five years ago, few would have thought Washington wine country would extend as far west as Aberdeen. Yet in 1997, the Roberts family purchased land for a winery and vineyard and opened Westport Winery a year later.
It's a family affair, with Blain and Kim Roberts founding the winery, son Dana the winemaker and daughter Carrie running the tasting room. The winery features a dizzying lineup of wines -- more than 30 in all.
The labels tend to reflect the region, with names such as "Jetty Cat Red," "Going Coastal," "Captain Gray's Gewürztraminer" and "Shelter from the Storm." Two especially clever names are "Pinot Noirvana" (named to honor Aberdeen native Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame) and "Bella" (a take on the popular Twilight books and movies).
The winery includes a 40-foot-tall lighthouse to keep with the coastal theme. The 21-acre farm was planted in 2008 with such varieties as pinot noir, muscat, siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine. Last year, the winery added chardonnay, pinot gris, gewürztraminer and riesling.
Beyond the clever names and labels, Westport Winery is crafting superb wines. Here are a few we have tasted recently. To order, call 360-648-2224 or go to www.westportwinery.org.
Westport Winery 2009 Mermaid's merlot, Washington, $23: Perhaps no winery in the Northwest turns around its reds more quickly than Westport. As one would expect, there's not much oak influence but plenty of cherry pie filling, raspberry, cranberry and watermelon notes. It's spiced up by cinnamon and bright acidity that overshadows the tannin.
Westport Winery 2009 Boom Runner Reserve merlot, Washington, $29: This is a youthful, juicy and smooth merlot. Blueberry syrup, blackberry, wild cherry Gummi Bear and black pepper aromas merely set the table. Those same berries pick up dried currant flavors and make for nice transition from front to back. Black pepper, bittersweet chocolate tannins and a sense of gaminess will serve it well with grilled lamb or barbecue.
Westport Winery 2009 Bella, Washington, $33: This blend of tempranillo, primitivo, refosco, barbera, merlot and syrah gives off aromas of fresh marionberry, blueberry and cocoa with hints of hoisin sauce. There's similar fruit on the palate, along with Bing cherry and dried plum. Nice acidity and low-level tannins make it solid on all bases.
Westport Winery 2009 Jetty Cat Red, Washington, $25: It's easy to reel in descriptors from this blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and cabernet franc. Fresh boysenberry and plum aromas are joined by brown sugar, allspice and mint tea. It's a deliciously delicate drink with accessible flavors of plums and more boysenberry in a rich style with low alcohol. The tannins are virtually declawed.
Westport Winery 2009 Skookumchuk, Washington, $19: Those looking for a Northwest version of "California Kool-Aid" -- aka white Zinfandel -- will find favor with this blend of cabernet franc, merlot, pinot noir, syrah and muscat. Be prepared for a sweet pour from the punch bowl (6.5 percent residual sugar), yet there's just enough lingering acidity to balance.
Westport Winery 2009 Fleur de Lis Pinot Gris, Washington, $20: Fans of the New Orleans Saints are familiar with the French symbol of the "flower of lily," the namesake for this dry, unoaked wine, which features peaches, golden delicious apples, the second-cut of pineapple and an orange segment.
Westport Winery 2009 Going Coastal Sparkling Gewürztraminer, Washington, $35: Sometimes, the Roberts family must feel as though they are going nuts with the huge assortment they offer visitors, and their effort at bubbles from this German variety is stunning. Great mousse throws off aromas of Asian pear, lychee and Meyer lemon. Strong flavors follow with grapefruit, banana, passion fruit and anise. The residual sugar (3 percent) comes in check.
*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.