Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills Appellation is one of those wine regions you may not have visited or know little about, but you’ve almost certainly tasted the wines made from the grapes that are grown there.
Located in south central Washington, the appellation is tucked between the Yakima Valley to the north and the Columbia River to the South. According to the Washington Wine Commission, this region is responsible for about 25-percent of the state’s total wine production.
The area is one of the more isolated in Washington and only a handful of wineries are located within its boundaries. But chances are you’ve seen the “Horse Heaven Hills” designation on wines that are produced by several wineries outside the region.
That’s because the federal government requires disclosure of the source of the grapes on the label, regardless of where the wine is produced or what winery makes it. I call it the “truth in labeling law” and it alerts consumers that the grapes used to make the wine inside the bottle came from a particular Washington wine region.
Horse Heaven Hills is home to a number of first-class vineyards including Alder Ridge, Champoux, and Destiny Ridge.
This week I’ll give you a few white wine recommendations sourced from Horse Heaven Hills and next week I’ll focus on the reds.
McKinley Springs Winery 2010 Chenin Blanc (about $14) – One of my all-time favorite varietals shines in this refreshingly tasty release. Crisp Fuji apple and citrus flavors are framed by mineral notes and a lingering, understated trace of honeysuckle that comes through on the finish.
Martinez & Martinez Winery 2011 Viognier (about $14) – Beautiful stone fruits, particularly white peach, predominate in the bouquet and on the palate with a touch of honeydew melon on the side. This delicious medium-bodied wine delivers a bundle at an incredibly reasonable price.
Canoe Ridge Vineyard 2011 Reserve Chardonnay (about $25) – Huge flavors of pineapple and tropical fruit melt into more of a savory, butter-bomb finish. Given that this was a cooler growing year, the heft and full-bodied nature of this wine may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it to be a guilty pleasure.
Mercer Estates 2011 Reserve Chardonnay (about $40) – Rich, without being overwhelming, this exquisite chardonnay starts with a base of baked apple along with nuances of hazelnut, butterscotch and caramel. The flavors flow seamlessly on a silky finish that will leave you happy you decide to take the splurge.