In Wine Press Northwest’s latest issue (which went to subscribers in time for Christmas), the longtime regional wine magazine released the results of its 16th annual Platinum Judging.
The Platinum Judging is a year-end wine competition that includes only wines that earned gold medals at any of about 40 wine competitions conducted around the world. Only wines from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho are eligible.
The wines are then tasted blind (the judges don’t know whose wines they are or what they cost) by panels of international wine experts over the course of three days, and the best are considered Platinum winners.
In this year’s competition, a record 698 wines were entered, and of those, 143 earned Platinum or Double Platinum status (a Double Platinum is earned when a wine is awarded Platinum by all judges on a panel).
This year, the top wine of the judging was from Barnard Griffin in Richland for its 2013 Syrah Port.
Here are a few of the top wines from the 16th annual Platinum Judging. For full results, go to www.winepressnw.com.
Barnard Griffin 2013 Syrah Port, Columbia Valley, $17: This fortified dessert wine is consistently one of winemaker Rob Griffin’s finest efforts. It opens with aromas of blueberry, Marionberry, dark chocolate and huckleberry. The alcohol is beautifully integrated, and the creamy, silky palate turns this into a sensual, luscious wine. (19.5 percent alcohol)
Walla Walla Vintners 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $38: This gorgeous Cab opens with subtle aromas of oak, dark cherry and spice, followed by flavors of black olive, black tea and dark fruit, all in a classic Bordeaux style. All of this is backed with beautifully handled tannins. (14.4 percent alcohol)
Northwest Cellars 2012 Carménère, Columbia Valley, $48: This Carménère — a rare red Bordeaux variety — balances the line between classic sweet herbs and opulent purple fruit. Aromas of violet, black pepper and black olive give way to flavors of spice and dark red fruit. (13.9 percent alcohol)
Zerba Cellars 2012 Cockburn Vineyard Dolcetto, Walla Walla Valley, $36: This Italian red opens with aromas of sandalwood, cranberry sauce and blackberry jam. On the palate, it’s a rich, delicious red with enticing flavors of Christmas spices, blueberry and cherry pipe tobacco. It concludes with a long, lingering finish. (14.5 percent alcohol)
Jones of Washington 2014 Pinot Gris, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $13: This luscious Pinot Gris offers aromas of white flowers and starfruit, followed by flavors of Key Lime pie and hints of pear that are balanced perfectly with bracing acidity. Pair this with grilled halibut, seared scallops or grilled chicken. (13.4 percent alcohol)
Legend Cellars NV Vincitore, Columbia Valley, $30: This off-dry vermouth from a young winery near Lake Chelan is created using Cabernet Franc, botanicals such as citrus and lavender, then fortified with brandy. It opens with aromas and flavors of chai spices, roasted hazelnut, cinnamon and plum. It is an unusual and delicious aperitif or after-dinner delight. (85 cases; 18.2 percent alcohol)
Dusted Valley Vintners 2012 Wallywood, Columbia Valley, $42: Here is a Syrah-based blend that pays homage to Dusted Valley’s home in Walla Walla and tasting room in the Hollywood district of Woodinville. This gorgeous wine is a deep purple with aromas of blackberry, sweet herbs and hints of cured meat. On the palate, expect a full-throttle red with flavors of plum, spice, minerality and dark coffee. It’s a rich, complex, cellar-worthy wine. (15.2 percent alcohol)
Ryan Patrick Vineyards 2013 Ryan’s Riesling, Columbia Valley, $12: This succulent Riesling offers aromas of pear, floral notes and ripe Ginger Gold apple. On the palate, the 2 percent residual sugar provides plenty of sweetness, yet bright acidity more than makes up for it. This offers something for new wine drinkers as well as experts. (12 percent alcohol)
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, an award-winning news and information company; www.greatnorthwestwine.com.