What’s your favorite wine?
That’s easily one of the most-asked questions I’ve encountered during my 15 years as a wine columnist for The Bellingham Herald.
The answer, of course, is always a moving target, as new wines are introduced into the market and older vintages go out of circulation as they’re consumed or cellared.
One of my goals at last month’s Taste Washington event in Seattle was to come up with a laundry list, of sorts, of some current “favorite” wines from the attending 200-plus wineries to pass along to consumers.
Given the time constraints and volume of wines at the event, first impressions mean everything. With that in mind, here are my notes on some standout wines I sampled during my whirlwind tasting:
White blends: COR Cellars poured an awesome 2014 Celilo Vineyard Alba COR, sourced from Columbia Gorge gewürztraminer and pinot gris grapes. Lake Chelan’s Charlie Lybecker had another winner with his 2013 Southern White Rhône Blend; and Cloudlift Cellars continued to impress with a lovely Bordeaux blend in its 2012 Updraft White.
White single varietal labels: The Ancestry Cellars 2014 Rejouissant Sauvignon Blanc piqued my taste buds with its laser-sharp acidity and crisp, clean finish, as did the Tempus Cellars 2013 Riesling. Victor Palencia scored again with his Palencia Winery 2014 Albariño; and two over-the-top 2013 Columbia Valley chardonnays I enjoyed included those from Forgeron Cellars in Walla Walla and Guardian Cellars in Woodinville.
Sparkling and rosé wines: Yakima’s Treveri Cellars’ two Non-Vintage Brut Methode Champenoise sparklers, a Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noir, were both excellent, as was the 2011 Brut from Karma Vineyards in Chelan (albeit at over twice the price); while Seven Hills Winery served a gorgeous, pale pink 2014 Dry Rosé Cabernet Franc.
Red blends: A pair of Woodinville winery red blends were amazing: Brian Carter Cellars’ 2010 Byzance Red Rhône Blend and Robert Ramsey Cellars’ 2012 Le Mien Red Rhône Blend. Scott Southard of Selah’s Southard Winery poured a mind-blowing 2012 Red Blend that was insanely underpriced, as were two of Redmond’s Cinq Cellars’ selections, a 2012 “The Professors” Bordeaux Blend and 2012 “The Storm” Rhône Blend.
Red single varietal labels: Spokane’s Barrister Winery featured a stunning 2012 Bacchus Vineyard Syrah that was probably near the top of my list of favorites. Des Voigne Cellars’ 2012 The Duke Zinfandel was unique, spicy and flavorful; while relative newcomers J&J Vintners’ 2012 Malbec and 2012 Syrah represented Walla Walla Valley fruit at its finest. Zillah’s Two Mountain Winery 2012 Estate Cabernet Franc was superb, as was the 2013 Cabernet Franc from Walla Walla Vintners; and the $89-a-bottle Doubleback 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon was so spectacular it nearly justified its stratospheric price.