At the recent Great Northwest Wine Competition staged March 16-17 at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore., wine professionals judged 800 wines from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia. Of these, 267 were white or pink wines - of which 24 won gold medals.
This week, we take a look at some of these top white and rose wines. Our friend, longtime wine scribe and newspaperman Ken Robertson, took on the enviable task of tasting and describing each gold medal winner during the competition, and we appreciate his contributions to this column.
Jones of Washington 2012 Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $12: Victor Palencia oversees this winery with a tasting room in Quincy, Wash. This wine won a unanimous double gold medal. The aromas open like a politician at a fundraiser, promising everything - peaches, oranges, limes and apricots - and pledging the flavors will bring even more riches. In the mouth, it delivers a cornucopia of fruit cocktail, including tropical elements that include guava. Enjoy it with Asian fare.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay, Horse Heaven Hills, $22: Washington's oldest winery continues to deliver greatness, as this Chardonnay attests. Apple, pineapple and a hint of caramel from its oak open this delightful white. Like many wines from the chilly fall of 2010, it holds onto crisp acidity at the end of its bountiful display of apple, pineapple and tropical fruit flavors.
Sparkman Cellars 2010 Apparition Roussanne, Yakima Valley, $32: Chris Sparkman is well-known in Seattle circles as a top sommelier. He's also proven his prowess on the other side of the bottle as he crafts superb wines in Woodinville. Pears and wet slate open this wine's aromatics. In the mouth, lush and slightly sweet pear flavors and Gravenstein apples arrive, followed by lime acidity at the end.
Ste. Chapelle 2011 Winemaker's Series Chardonnay, Snake River Valley, $10: Ste. Chapelle is Idaho's oldest and largest winery, and it's been re-acquired by the Baty family under Precept Wine in Seattle. Maurine Johnson has been with Ste. Chapelle since 1987 and now leads the charge as head winemaker. Notes of honeysuckle, apple, pear and dried pineapple launch this wine, followed by a surprisingly lush fruit bowl of Fuji apple, pineapple, pear and lime. Crisp acidity clears the fruit off the palate.
Naches Heights Vineyard 2012 Riesling, Naches Heights, $13: Phil Cline is the driving force behind this winery and new growing area near Yakima, Wash. He's quickly proving this area is perfect for Riesling. Sweet citrus aromas and stone fruit open this wine. On the palate, lime, orange, a bit of pink grapefruit lead into white peach and apricot.
Barnard Griffin 2012 Rose of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $12: Simply put, owner and winemaker Rob Griffin makes some of the best rose in America. This is the eighth consecutive vintage in which his rose of Sangiovese has won gold or best pink in a major competition. Strawberry, rhubarb and pie cherry notes lead to pie cherries and rhubarb on the palate in this bright and brilliant rose.
Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman run Great Northwest Wine. For more information, go to GreatNorthwestWine.com.