Occasionally, I refer to a winery that produces "solid" wines. By solid I mean dependable, reliable choices that you can always count on for good quality and good taste. And if you're able to add affordability to the mix, that's even better.
For me, Thurston Wolfe winery is the epitome of a solid Washington wine producer.
I first met Dr. Wade Wolfe and his wife, Becky Yeaman, when their tasting room was in downtown Yakima in the mid-1990s. Since then, they have moved a couple of times within the town of Prosser to their current, contemporary venue a stone's throw off of Interstate 82.
During that nearly two-decade span, I've come to rely on the Thurston Wolfe label as one that will deliver true-to-the-varietal quality at very reasonable prices.
I could go on and on about this old favorite, but let me cut to the chase with a few recommendations of current releases:
2012 PGV (about $14) - This pinot gris/viognier blend yields incredible aromatics and flavors year after year, and the 2012 vintage is no different. The viognier provides fragrant, juicy stone fruits while the pinot gris keeps everything in balance with crisp, steely acidity. It's an absolute gem of a wine that received a double platinum award from Wine Press Northwest.
2011 D.R. Wolfe's Family Red (about $15) - While the PGV is my solid, go-to white wine of choice, the D.R. Wolfe's is equally reliable among the reds. Even with the problematic 2011 vintage, Wolfe weaves his magic with this combination of zinfandel, petite sirah and lemberger that displays reserved flavors of black plum, caramel, crème brûlée and a trailing hint of earthiness. Outstanding!
2011 Zephyr Ridge Petite Sirah (about $18) - After a slightly smoky opening note, this gorgeous red wine settles in with dark fruits of blueberry and black currant, along with a bit of a buttery quality. The touch of brighter red cherry near the end adds an exclamation point and complexity to the finish.
2011 Tempranillo (about $25) - Here's another nicely complex red sourced from Crawford Vineyards in Yakima Valley. The understated base of black cherry is framed with touches of dried herbs, caramel and licorice root. There's an almost elegant quality to this wine as it lingers on the palate.
Non-Vintage Tawny Port (about $15 for 375 ml) - The color on this zinfandel is nearly ruby rather than tawny, but that's an extremely minor quibble, especially after a sip or two. Ultra-dark dried plum, fig, butterscotch, and toasted walnut flavors predominate on a seemingly endless finish. Try it with dessert or a good after-dinner cigar.
You'll find Thurston Wolfe wines at Whatcom County wine shops and grocers, or order them online at thurstonwolfe.com.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.