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Great-value whites from the Pacific Northwest | NW Wines
By Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman
With few exceptions (such as dessert wines), white wines are less expensive than reds.
Why is this? For starters, white wine grapes are a bit less expensive. For example, last fall, white wine grapes in Washington cost an average of $794 per ton, while red wine grapes cost $987. Additionally, most red wines are aged in expensive oak barrels (French oak barrels cost about $900, while American oak barrels run less than $400) that can be used only a few years, while white wines (with the exception of some Chardonnays) usually are finished in stainless steel tanks that are good for decades. Red wines often are aged for 18 months or longer and released two to three years after the grapes are picked, while many white wines are released just a few months after harvest.
White wines from the Pacific Northwest pair beautifully with our region’s bountiful seafood and fresh spring and summer produce, making these inexpensive offerings a perfect choice as we advance toward warmer days.
These wines have all been tasted in the past several weeks. Look for them at your favorite wine merchant or order directly from the wineries.
- Columbia Crest 2010 Two Vines Gewürztraminer, Washington, $8: When done well, few grape varieties are as beautiful as Gewürztraminer, and here’s a prime example. It shows classic aromas of yellow grapefruit, lychee, dusty apple and Meyer lemon. The flavorful blend of Texas pink grapefruit, green apple and more lemon gets a boost with a bit of spritzy acidity before a finish of limeade. It’s a touch off-dry, making it appealing for enjoying on a warm day or in a hot tub.
- Kyra Wines 2010 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley, $13: This is a delightful drink because the combination of bright acidity and low alcohol creates balance for an off-dry approach, which is 1.8 percent residual for this vintage. Owner Kyra Baerlocher pairs her Chenin Blanc as an appetizer with calamari and a jalapeño dip, as a side dish with prawns and cilantro, an entreé with scallops in a butter infused with vanilla bean and for dessert with panna cotta.
- Silvan Ridge Winery 2010 Semi-sparkling Early Muscat, Oregon, $14: The beautiful nose of this delightful wine screams with lychee, peach, luscious peach, lime and baking spices, and the flavors support that. It’s a veritable fruit bowl that’s almost impossible for a wine judge to spit. Serving it cold will help the acidity to balance the lofty residual sugar (12 percent). The low alcohol lends itself to Sunday brunch, and try serving it with lemon pie.
- Covey Run Winery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $9: Aromas feature gooseberry pie, Meyer lemon, lime, peach, river rock and a whiff of tom cat. There’s delicious acidity to the drink that brings Key lime, lychee, more wet stone and some grapefruit bitterness. Those who enjoy dry Riesling will also appreciate this.
- Latah Creek Wine Cellars 2010 Pinot Gris, Washington, $11: This Pinot Gris is approachable for many reasons, starting with aromas that are loaded with pear and backed by lime, lychee, almond, Mister Lincoln rose and slatiness. It’s far from cloying at 0.5 percent residual sugar and flashes flavors of Asian pear, Granny Smith apple, white peach, tangerine pith and peach pit. Enjoy with white fish or pasta in cream sauce.
- Lost West Winery NV Old Shed White, Snake River Valley, $11: Martin Fujishin owns Fujishin Family Cellars in the Snake River Valley. The Idaho native now has launched this second label with two table wines. This off-dry white is a blend of Riesling and Viognier, and it is tasty. It opens with aromas of yellow grapefruit, lychee, lemon curd, spiced oranges and a sprig of mint, followed by delicious flavors of papayas, sweet limes and other tropical fruits, all backed with just a touch of sweetness and a nice roundness in the palate.
— Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman are the editors of Wine Press Northwest magazine.