Swiftwater Cellars, located off Interstate 90 near the towns of Roslyn and Cle Elum, may well be the state's quintessential destination winery.
With first-class accommodations, recreational activities, restaurants and, oh yes, an excellent winery, this is a location worth searching out for a relaxing getaway.
The winery features three labels: the entry level No. 9 (in reference to the nearby long abandoned Roslyn No. 9 mine), Zephyr Ridge, and the top-of-the-line Swiftwater Cellars.
Today I'll conclude my two-part series by focusing on some of the "best of the best" wines I sampled with winemaker Linda Trotta during a recent visit.
To start, here is Trotta's philosophy about winemaking: "I like acidity and like tannins, but I don't want them to insult you. I think of (my wines) as an 'Evita' style; powerful but with finesse."
With a relatively small production of about 4,500 cases annually, her deft touch and focus on producing flawlessly balanced wines is evident in everything I tasted.
If you press me to choose an all-around favorite, I'd have to lean toward the No. 9 2013 Riesling (about $18). This wine rocked my world with explosive, mouthwatering cantaloupe and green melon flavors up front, and a sassy splash of orange zest. The 0.9 percent residual sugar content is nicely steadied by bracing, steely acidity. This riesling-lover's dream is perfect for sipping or pairing with spicy Asian cuisine.
Three distinctly different chardonnays are also currently available, which gives them broad-ranging wineophile appeal.
An unoaked No. 9 2012 Chardonnay (about $20) opens with gorgeous stone fruit aromas, gentle citrus flavors and a kiss of ruby red grapefruit; the Zephyr Ridge 2012 Chardonnay (about $22) offers sublime baked apple flavors with a round, slightly creamy finish and a perfectly measured touch of toasted oak; and the Swiftwater 2011 Chardonnay (about $28) drinks like a fine French Chablis, with a fragrant hint of ash on the nose, bright apple and green pear on the mid-palate and a slightly buttery trailing note.
In addition to two pinot noirs, there are a bevy of reds to choose from. I enjoyed the No. 9 2010 Red (about $28), a blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and malbec with spicy black plum flavors and great acidity. It begs for a pairing with medium-rare steak or roast duck.
The Zephyr Ridge 2011 Merlot (about $35) is another winner and its dusty, earthy cherry flavor profile reminded me of something from Zillah's Two Mountain Winery.
There are also two Swiftwater Proprietary Reds (a 2009 and 2010 vintage, at $50 each and both superb); and the crown jewel, the Swiftwater 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (about $85). The red cherry fruit, acidity, tannins and oak are impeccably balanced, easily meeting the high expectations for a wine at this price.
Can't visit Swiftwater Cellars firsthand? You'll find their wines locally at Seifert and Jones Wine Merchants in Bellingham.