Recently, I was able to take a tour of Washington wine country, one of my absolute favorite regions. Washington state has a reputation for being relentlessly rainy, but during this trip I ventured east of the Cascade Mountains where the landscape is completely different. I visited several vineyards nestled in the sprawling plains of the Pacific Northwest, where the scenery is stunning and produces some equally beautiful wines. As a long-time lover of wines from Bordeaux, I’ve always enjoyed Washington wines, with blends of Merlot, Cabernet, and Syrah which typically take center stage. For lovers of white wine, Washington also produces outstanding Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Here are a few of my favorite wines from Washington state, and each makes a great introduction to this region.
Disastrous by Nature is a bright, slightly sweet Rosé that pays homage to the unique geology of Washington’s Columbia Valley. Notes of strawberry open to flavors of watermelon and citrus. I enjoy sipping this Rosé on my back porch during the warmer months.
Many people think of Riesling as a sweet wine, but there are varieties ranging from dry to ultra-sweet. Cluster strikes a nice balance between sweet and dry, with aromas of green apple and pear. Rieslings pair well with a range of foods, but my go-to pairing is something spicy and savory like curry.
Columbia Valley’s hot days and cool nights are the perfect climate for Merlot. Merlots from this area are known for flavors of black cherry and plum with a slight spiciness. This selection is the perfect example of Columbia Valley Merlot and would be a lovely pairing with BBQ.
Some of the most in-demand wines coming out of Washington are red blends. These are usually made up of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Malbec. This bold red blend is structured and well-balanced making it the perfect accompaniment to all back-yard cookouts.
Un-Oaked Chardonnay is a true expression of the Chardonnay grape and allows the winemaker to show the freshness of the wine. Light and refreshing with aromas of Meyer lemon and pear, this wine pairs great with salads, seafood, and cream-based dishes. I like to suggest this wine for the customer who typically enjoys Sauvignon Blanc but is looking for something new to try.
by Amy McIntosh, Liquor Barn Private Label Wine and Spirits Buyer