As we wind down on 2008, this seems as good a time as any to do an assessment of the past year for Washington wineries and take a look at what lies ahead.
While I was sampling wines and schmoozing with winemakers during the Tri-Cities wine festival in Pasco last month, several things came to mind.
Washington winemakers are continuing to reinvent themselves by producing wines that are considerably more food-friendly. The prevalence of the one-dimensional fruit bomb appears to be in decline; a good thing when you consider how much more versatile a wine becomes when the fruit component doesn’t overwhelm other characteristics such as acid, oak or tannins.
Blends are becoming even more popular, particularly among white varietals. I’m finding that riesling is popping up in more and more blends, a fantastic ingredient that adds lift and brightness when combined with other white grapes that have lower acidity levels.
The different kinds of both red and white varietals produced by Washington wineries is also exploding; not only in blends, but also as stand-alone varietals. Look for more viognier and roussanne among white wines and reds such as malbec (pictured above), petite sirah, and barbera – to name just a few – to get increased top billing on Washington wine labels.
With that in mind, I’d like to delve into more of these newer Washington varietals as we get into early 2009. Of course this doesn’t mean that I’ll be completely abandoning other domestic and international wines…and nor should you. In fact, I’ll be offering a few recommendations on some super affordable California wines in the next couple of weeks.
But there are some tremendous wines coming from our state, and the harvest from 2008 is shaping up to be quite possibly one of the best structured, well-balanced vintages on record. That’s continued good news for local wine drinkers – and the rest of the world as well.
Cheers and Happy New Year!