Wine lovers are just beginning to see white wines show up from 2013, and we're still enjoying those from the superb 2012 vintage.
We got a good dose of both at the second annual Great Northwest Wine Competition, held in early April at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River.
The featured wines below earned gold medals. Check for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.
Hogue Cellars 2012 Late Harvest Riesling, Columbia Valley, $11: Hogue Cellars has been crafting this inexpensive off-dry wine for ages, and it's always refreshing and delicious. Aromas of baked apple, fresh pear and clove lead to flavors of apricot, apple and golden raisin.
Kyra Wines 2013 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $15: Winemaker Kyra Baerlocher is a one-woman revival show for noble Chenin Blanc. Every year, she consistently crafts one of the finest anywhere, and this young wine is no exception. It opens with aromas of intriguing minerality, melon, sweet herbs and Asian pear, followed by luscious flavors of pear, Granny Smith apple and honeydew.
Indian Creek Winery 2013 Muscat Canelli, Snake River Valley, $15: The Stowe family opened its winery in Idaho's Snake River Valley in 1982, making it one of the oldest producers in the Gem State. This luscious Muscat opens with aromas of orange water, lychee and a hint of clove. On the palate, it reveals delicate flavors of rosewater, orange and grapefruit.
L'Ecole No 41 2012 Semillon, Columbia Valley, $15: L'Ecole No. 41 has earned its reputation as arguably the Northwest's top producer of Semillon, and this vintage might be its best effort. There's a beautiful nose of dusty apple, pineapple, poached pear, fresh fig and a touch of oak. Inside comes a rich and buttery structure that also offers fig and pear flavors, along with a spoonful of lemon yogurt, a cut of grassiness and a kiss of oak in the finish.
Martinez & Martinez Winery 2013 Tudor Hills Vineyard, Pinot Grigio Yakima Valley, $16: This two-generation winemaking family in Washington's Horse Heaven Hills also has family ties to this vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Aromas of starfruit, Bosc pear, lime peel and alyssum lead to flavors that scream of fresh-cut Golden Delicious apple, more pear and Key lime pie. While the residual sugar is reported at 1.5 percent, it finishes dry with no perception of alcohol.
Mount Baker Vineyards 2012 Madeleine Angevine, Puget Sound, $17: Madeleine Angevine is a rare grape in the New World (and Old, for that matter). It's traditionally grown in the Loire Valley but is rarely found in the United States outside of the cool Puget Sound region of Washington. This example comes from Mount Baker Vineyards, a winery in the Nooksack Valley that is so close to the Canadian border, it wouldn't hurt to know the metric system. Aromas of fresh-cut hay, melon and minerality lead to flavors of bright flavors of honeydew, lemongrass and flinty acidity. This is a perfect wine to pair with oysters (raw or baked).
Smasne Cellars 2013 Otis Vineyard Pinot Gris, Yakima Valley, $12: Yakima Valley winemaker Robert Smasne is starting to get his hands more deeply into one of Washington's most historic vineyards, and this Pinot Gris is a sign of more great things to come. It's focused on minerality, Asian pear, starfruit and lemon peel -- in the aromatics and the palate. The entry is akin to a bite into juicy Bartlett pear before the focus swings into a bone-dry approach with persistent acidity.
Tsillan Cellars 2012 Estate Nudo Chardonnay, Lake Chelan, $18: Winemaking Shane Collins crafts superb wines on the south shore of Lake Chelan using estate grapes. This tree-free Chardonnay shows off aromas of flint, Key lime, Mandarin orange and white pepper, followed by flavors of crisp apple, Asian pear and steely minerality.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company.