Washington Wine of the Week – Selections for Summer, 2022

For the week of September 18, 2022: Mount Si Winery 2016 Merlot – A 2016 vintage Merlot still available on a winery’s list of current releases? Yes, and this selection from Snoqualmie Valley winemaker Jim Larsen is holding up beautifully. Complex aromas of green herbs, tea leaves, and sweet tobacco are followed by gobs of deliciously ripe strawberry and blackberry fruit. The melt-in-your-mouth, Ligurian cherry finish is velvety soft, and the eye-popping 15.1% alcohol content merely adds depth and structure without being overpowering. Perfect for late-night enjoyment as a by-the-glass sipper. Larsen sourced his grapes from Central Washington’s Arianses Vineyard, located in the Wahluke Slope AVA.

Spoiled Dog Winery’s Karen Krug, far left, and family

For the week of September 11, 2022: Spoiled Dog Winery 2019 Malbec – Whidbey Island winemaker Karen Krug has quietly established herself as one of Washington’s top producers of Pinot Noir. But her skills reach far beyond that varietal, and she’s turning out plenty of other stellar wines, including this outstanding Malbec. It leans ever-so-slightly towards brighter red fruits of raspberry, huckleberry, red currant, and cranberry, with gentle tannins and a finish with elements of green tea and forest floor. Sourced from Crawford Vineyards in the Yakima Valley and available both online and at the winery tasting room, located near the town of Langley.

For the week of September 4, 2022: Eternal Wines 2017 GSM “Eternal Optimism” – This blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre truly has it all: subtle flavors of dark and red fruits, vibrant acidity, and a backbone of structured tannins that all add up to a seamlessly balanced red wine. The lead-off flavors of black currant and blackberry fruit transition into slightly edgier notes of cranberry and red plum, while finishing touches of Earl Grey tea, leather, and a whisper of bittersweet chocolate complete the package. A deftly crafted wine from Walla Walla winemaker Brad Binko; only 175 cases produced.

Map courtesy of winesnw.com

For the week of August 28, 2022: Dusty Cellars Winery 2020 Graciano – Winemaker Ryan Kramer has really stepped up his game the last few years and he’s producing a number of thought-provoking and medal-worthy red wines at his Camano Island winery. This Graciano is brimming with complex flavors of black plum, mulberry, and dried cherry, with underlying notes of licorice, chocolate, and baking spice. Textured tannins on the finish are complemented with a “fun” touch of toasted marshmallow. 95 points and Double Gold medalist at the 2022 Bellingham Northwest Wine Competition.

For the week of August 21, 2022: T2 Cellar 2020 Sangiovese – The winemaking team of Anne Stevens and Todd Threlkeld have crafted a gorgeous Sangiovese that took Double Gold honors and a 94-point score at the 2022 Bellingham Northwest Wine Competition. The wine opens with a lovely nose of strawberry jam along with flavors of fig, Italian plum and baked cherry pie, while the finishing notes suggest toasted plantains framed by beautifully integrated oak and picture-perfect acidity. Classic Washington State Sangiovese and a sensory delight from start to finish. Available at the winery tasting room, located in South Seattle’s Sodo District.

For the week of August 14, 2022: Saviah Cellars 2021 The Jack Rose’ – How about one more Rose’ recommendation during the height of summer? Saviah’s Rich Funk crafted this wine using Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre from the Walla Walla Valley and the end result is another tasty Rose’ with a food-friendly, bone-dry finish. The wine strikes a nice balance between its fruit and savory elements, with strawberries, honeydew melon, and macerated orange flavors up front followed by notes of sweet pea, field grasses, rose hips, and dried cola nut near the finish. Try pairing it with grilled shrimp or barbequed salmon for a couple of amazing summertime food and wine combinations.

For the week of August 7, 2022: Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2021 Linen Rose‘ – Annette Bergevin and her Walla Walla-based team sourced this wine from their estate vineyards using 100% Cabernet Franc. It’s a gem of Rose’, with fresh melon, bergamot, and citrus aromas and an deliciously complex flavor profile of white raisins, cherry juice, cranberries, and strawberry preserves. The 2.4% residual sugar content provides it with a subtle, “just right” hint of sweetness on the finish. Double Gold medalist at the 2022 Bellingham Northwest Wine Competition; 160 cases produced.

For the week of July 31, 2022: Goose Ridge Vineyards 2021 Revelation Rose’– Can you think of a better wine to enjoy in the middle of the summer than a perfectly chilled bottle of Rose’? This predominately Syrah-based selection from the Richland winery is a stunner: lovely aromatics of rose petals and stone fruits are followed by generous flavors of white peach, red raspberries, and ripe pineapple. There’s a bit of a full-bodied mouthfeel to this wine for starters that’s quickly balanced by racy acidity on the finish.

For the week of July 24, 2022: Cotes de Ciel 2021 Arneis – This Italian-based varietal – grown by Cotes de Ciel’s Richard Holmes on Red Mountain – could very well be the grape’s first release in Washington State. It’s highly aromatic with fragrances of white flowers, stone fruits, and fresh-cut hay. Flavors of nectarine, pear, golden apple, and citrus predominate, with a streak of minerality on the finish. Great for summertime sipping, or perhaps with a side of oysters on the half-shell. Gold medal winner at this year’s Bellingham Northwest Wine Competition. Available for purchase on line or at the winery tasting room in downtown Walla Walla.

For the week of July 17, 2022: Thurston Wolfe Winery 2021 PGV Pinot Gris-Viognier – Dr. Wade Wolfe has been making this tasty white wine blend for nearly 25 years and he says it’s been a consumer favorite since day-one. This year, it was also a favorite at the Bellingham Northwest Wine Competition, capturing Best in Show honors from a field of nearly 500 wines.

The list of descriptors for this gem of a wine show just how wonderfully complex it is: Cherry blossoms, jasmine, and rose petals on the nose lead to luscious flavors of starfruit, pear, cantaloupe, and melon on the palate. The finish displays touches of almond paste, slate, and pink grapefruit and the weightiness of the wine is perfectly balanced with just the right amount of crisp acidity. One judge summed it up in a single word: Yum! 3,500 cases produced.

For the weeks of July 3 and 10, 2022: Wines of the 7th Annual Bellingham NW Wine Competition – While we’re working on tasting, critiquing, and awarding medals to 482 wines from Washington (Oregon and Idaho, too!), this is a perfect opportunity to remind area wine enthusiasts to please continue to show your support of wineries from the Pacific Northwest. That includes not only selecting their wines from your local retailer or wine shop, but by visiting them firsthand as well. Spending time at the tasting room has evolved into a most enjoyable experience, with knowledgeable staff, away-from-the-tasting-bar flights, and a side-menu of small plates and appetizers the new “normal” at many Washington wineries.

The results of this year’s competition will be posted on the Whatcom Beer & Wine Foundation’s website on July 14 and I’ll be reviewing and recommending many of these award-winning wines in the weeks to come. Cheers!

For the week of June 26, 2022: Dynasty Cellars 2021 Gruner Veltliner – This lesser-known Austrian varietal is becoming easier to find at Washington wineries, and Bellingham winemaker Peter Osvaldik takes this wine to a new level with this just-released selection. Sugar snap pea, green melon, and white peach flavors dominate from start to finish, and Osvaldik has blended in a splash of Viognier to add stone fruit aromatics plus a bit of body to the otherwise crisp, clean finish. Perfect for summertime enjoyment when well chilled. Only 60 cases produced.

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