White and sparkling wines are perfect for any time of the year — and especially during the holidays.
White wines tend to be less expensive than reds, and they often pair well with such dishes as seafood, chicken, pork and vegetable dishes.
At the recent Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition at the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River, Ore., 20 top wine professionals from throughout the Northwest evaluated more than 560 nominated wines from Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Idaho.
Here are a few of the top white and sparkling wines. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.
Treveri Cellars NV Blanc de Blancs Brut Columbia Valley, $15: Juergen Grieb and his son, Christian, consistently produce bright, lively sparklers in Wapato, Washington. And among their finest is this brut, which sports green apple flavors and a hint of brioche. There's a minuscule amount of residual sugar, but the bright acids and bubbles make it almost disappear.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, $9: Lime and orange citrus aromas are mirrored in its flavors, and carry into a long finish that displays sublime minerality. The result is a wine that's perfect for sipping or pairing with Asian food.
Jones of Washington 2014 Estate Pinot Gris, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $13: Winemaker Victor Palencia has done it again with Pinot Gris, thanks to aromas of lime, minerality and faint pear. On the palate, lime, pear and a touch of residual sugar combine into a tasty drink that closes with bright crisp acidity.
Amavi Cellars 2014 Sémillon, Walla Walla Valley, $24: Sémillon, long considered one of the premier white wine grapes, has become a hard sell in the 21st century. Jean-François Pellet’s lovely 2014 version from the Walla Walla Valley shows why that's a shame. Citrusy aromas, led by bright lime, are followed by lemon and lime on the palate.
Huston Vineyards 2014 Private Reserve Chardonnay, Snake River Valley, $24: Aging on French and American oak produced soft aromas and flavors of butterscotch and vanilla, late fall apples and just a hint of apple peel before its lingering finish. Devotees of judicious use of oak in Chardonnay will love it.
Saviah Cellars 2013 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $25: Owner/winemaker Richard Funk reached in Stillwater Creek Vineyard near Royal City, Washington, for this Chardonnay. It opens with apple aromas, tinged by a tiny note of spice, then yields crisp apple, pineapple and citrus flavors.
DeLille Cellars 2014 Chaleur Estate Blanc, Columbia Valley, $38: This blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon is a creamy drink of lemon and lime. It's a well-integrated, polished wine perfect for fish or chicken with the character and acidity to stand up against almost any suitable sauce.
Poet's Leap 2014 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: Part of Long Shadows Vintners in Walla Walla, this graceful Riesling shows off aromas and flavors of lime and orange accented by 1.25% residual sugar. That makes it a perfect match for fish or fowl.
Rocky Pond Winery 2013 Riesling, Lake Chelan, $18: Clos Chevalle Vineyard grapes from Lake Chelan went into this 2013 Riesling developed by winemaker Ron Bunnell. There's a whiff of petrol in its citrusy nose, which leads to flavors of lime and a hint of orange. It closes with juicy acidity that makes it a great accompaniment for Asian foods.
Coyote Canyon Winery 2013 Albariño, Horse Heaven Hills, $22: Justin Michaud heads the winemaking at this Prosser, Washington, winery and this Albariño displays his deft touch in its tropical and citrusy aromas. On the palate, lemon-lime flavors dominate with a subtle underlayer of mango.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.