There is a lot of white wine being produced in Washington State, much of it good, but not a lot that is really outstanding. In my recent tastings, though, I have run across some whites that represent exceptional value. Here are some fine examples that show what it takes to produce wines that over deliver in quality-price ratios.
A lot of Riesling is produced, much of which runs from medium dry to medium sweet. But there are some drier versions which show what can be done with the variety. These two from Long Shadows are fine examples.
2016 Nine Hats Riesling, Columbia Valley ($14) - This one shows a greenish gold color and attractive floral aromas and fresh, vibrant fruits that are imbued with peach stone, stony minerals and lemon zest, finishing off dry (1.29 g/L residual sugar). A super bargain at this price. 18.5/20 points. To be reviewed in the July issue.
2016 Poet's Leap Riesling, Columbia Valley ($20) - Vividly fruited (pear, peach, star fruit) and floral (honeysuckle, clover, spiced white incense), this is a beautifully balanced, nearly dry (1.1 g/L residual sugar) with racy acidity that marks a great Riesling. 19/20 points. Full review in July.
Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon
There is a lot of sameness with Washington Sauvignon Blanc, much of it crisp and dry but somewhat straw like, without much vibrancy. Semillon gets really interesting only when the right balance of fruit acidity and viscosity are achieved.
2016 JM Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Red Mountain ($25) - Sourced from the Klipsun Vineyard, this Sauvignon Blanc (with 5% Semillon) offers attractive aromas of meadow flowers and pear blossoms with fresh and brisk flavors that are marked by Red Mountain calcareous minerals. 18.5/20 points. To be reviewed in the June issue.
2016 Amavi Cellars Semillon, Walla Walla Valley ($24) - Blended with 15% Sauvignon Blanc, this offers aromas of pear-apple, peach and melon, with scents of orange blossoms, honeysuckle and wet stone. Saline minerals, beeswax and melon rind add flavor interest. 18.5/20 points. June issue.
2016 Adamant Cellars "Bijoux" White Wine, Walla Walla Valley ($25) - This 65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon combination is a real "gem." It shows a brilliant gold color and attractive aromas of apple, pineapple, cantaloupe, apple and orange blossoms, and fresh, juicy flavors, with a crisp, faintly honeyed finish. 18.5/20 points. To be in the July issue.
Grüner Veltliner and Albariño
These are a couple of varieties not commonly grown in the U.S. Grinner Veltliner originates in Austria, and Albariño from the Galicia region of Northwest Spain. They are highly distinctive.
2016 Adamant Cellars Albariño, Walla Walla Valley, Gateshead Vineyard ($25) - This comes from a vineyard planted with Albariño in 2008. It shows a greenish gold color and fresh aromas of pear, citrus and wet stone. The flavors are crisp and vibrant, calling out for shellfish. 18.5/20 points. To be in the July issue.
2016 Balboa Grüner Veltliner, Yakima Valley, Bloxom Slope Vineyard ($20) - This offers intriguing aromas of granny apple, crenshaw melon, star anise, lemongrass and white pepper, with notes of celery stick, melon rind and saline minerals. 18+/20 points. June issue.
2016 Savage Grace Grüner Veltliner, Columbia Gorge, Underwood Mountain Vineyard ($24) - This wine picks up interesting aromas of Key lime, Crenshaw melon, kiwi fruit, pear blossoms, lemongrass, and notes of grape and pear skins and volcanic minerals. 18.5/20 points. June issue.
Most Viogniers veer toward the tropical side, but those that show more focus and balance can be exceptional. Here are two examples.
2016 Gramercy Cellars Viognier, Columbia Valley, Antoine Creek Vineyard ($22) - From a vineyard between Chelan and the Okanagan Valley, this shows floral aromas, and bright, well-extracted white fruits, with notes of peach stone, pear skin and glacial minerals. Bright fruit acids give the wine verve. 18.5/20 points. June issue.
2016 JM Cellars Viognier, Columbia Valley, Stillwater Creek Vineyard ($25) - With perfumed aromas of Bosc pear, star fruit, white lilac and fresh and lively flavors, with notes of peach stone, alluvial minerals, creme fraiche and hazelnut, followed by a crisp, finely fruited finish, this is a lovely Viognier. 18.5/20 points. June issue.