HOOD RIVER, Ore. – During last week’s third annual Great Northwest Invitational Wine Competition, the 20 judges tasted through hundreds of white, pink and sparkling wines, awarding several with gold medals.
A gold medal was awarded when three of the four judges on each panel voted for gold. In the rare instances that all four judges voted gold, then the wine was awarded a unanimous double gold.
After the wines were judged, then longtime Northwest wine writer and journalist Ken Robertson tasted and wrote reviews of the award-winning wines. Ken also writes a column for Wine Press Northwest magazine.
Here are the white wines that won double gold and gold medals during the third annual Great Northwest Wine Competition, held at the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel.
- See the complete results of the competition.
- Read the reviews of the best-of-class wines from the competition.
- Read the reviews of the red golds and double golds.
- See the judges’ selections from the competition.
Abacela 2014 Grenache Rosé, Umpqua Valley, $18: Abacela, located not far from Roseburg, Ore., in the Umpqua Valley, used some of its Grenache grapes to craft this stunning 2014 rosé. Bright red cherry and pomegranate aromas lead to a mouth-filling drink displaying red cherry, pomegranate and red currant flavors. Its firm acidity finishes with a touch of tannin. It’s built both to sip and also to pair with a Saturday lunch with cheese and cured meats. (13.1% alc.; 879 cases)
Ancestry Cellars 2013 Reminiscence Riesling, Columbia Gorge, $18: Ancestry Cellars, a Columbia Gorge winery, built this wine to be a crowd-pleaser, leaving 4.95% residual sugar, which means you can pull its cork for almost everyone. The aromas and flavors are Mandarin oranges and sweet limes, and it closes with minerality and abundant acidity that keeps the sweetness at bay. It’s great alone and also will pair with sweet-and-sour dishes. (10.4% alc.; 81 cases)
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Indian Wells Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $17: Among the fleet of Chardonnays produced by Washington’s largest and oldest winery, its 2014 Indian Wells Chardonnay stands out. It’s fruit-forward, displaying apple and lush mango fruit layered with caramel. A bit of acid bite in its finish clears the palate of all that richness, paving the way for the next delightful sip. (14% alc.; 90,000 cases)
Lopez Island Vineyards 2014 Siegerrebe, Puget Sound, $25: Siegerrebe is one of those German wines developed in the 20th century that few people know much about. But Lopez Island Vineyards is doing its best to carve out a reputation for the grape in the Northwest, and the 2014 carries on that effort. Its spices, lychee and grapefruit aromas are repeated on the palate, resulting in an appealing, memorable white wine to sip on the deck or to pair with Asian foods. (11% alc.; 180 cases)
Sweet Cheeks Winery 2013 Riesling, Oregon, $14: Sweet Cheeks Winery of Eugene, Ore., crafted this 2013 Riesling from Oregon grapes, leaving it with 5% residual sugar, an aromatic floral nose and flavors and aromas of sweet lime and tart orange. Crisp acidity balances the sugar and a close of minerality finish this wine very cleanly. For a pre-dinner sipper, it’s perfection. (8.7% alc.; 2,707 cases)
Treveri Cellars NV Blanc de Blancs Brut, Columbia Valley, $15: Treveri Cellars consistently produces bright, lively sparklers for a reasonable price at its winery in Wapato, Wash. And among its finest is this nonvintage Blanc de Blanc Brut, which sports green apple flavors and a hint of brioche. There’s a minuscule amount of residual sugar, and the bright acids and bubbles make it all but disappear. (12% alc.; 3,500 cases)
Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery 2014 Mystic River Gewürztraminer, Okanagan Valley, $23: There’s no mystery to the Mystic River wines of Wild Goose Vineyards & Winery in British Columbia. They are regularly superb, and this 2014 Gewürztraminer is yet another example. It opens with aromas of spice, lychee and sweet lime, which also are prominent on the palate. It finishes with crisp acidity and just a touch of minerality. (13.5% alc.; 150 cases)
Airfield Estates Winery 2014 Rosé, Yakima Valley, $15: The 2014 vintage of Airfield Estates rosé takes off with aromas of rose petal, honeysuckle and watermelon. It touches down on the palate with a burst of watermelon and red currant with a tiny splash of residual sugar, blown away by a final burst of acidity. The Prosser, Wash., winery should sell a 747 full of this tasty treat. (14.1% alc.; 700 cases)
Airfield Estates Winery 2014 Chardonnay, Yakima Valley, $15: Prosser, Wash., winemaker Marcus Miller has crafted a high flyer with this 2014 Chardonnay. Tropical aromas of pineapple, augmented by citrus and green apple, combine in its nose. On the palate, lemon-lime, tart Golden Delicious apples and a touch of guava combine into a perfect patio sipper that can linger longer for a languid entry into a dinner with pork or chicken. (14.2% alc.; 3,000 cases)
Amavi Cellars 2014 Sémillon, Walla Walla Valley, $24: Long considered one of the premier white wine grapes, Sémillon 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. Its citrusy aromas, led by bright lime, are followed by lemon and lime on the palate. As it finished, it displays a crisp, satisfying minerality. Try it with poached fish or other light seafoods. (13.9% alc.; 1,080 cases)
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, $9: Wendy Stuckey and Bob Bertheau collaborated on a stunning dry Riesling last year using an array of more than 100 lots. Its 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. It’s easy to see why this is considered one of the greatest dry Rieslings in the world – and drives Europeans crazy because of its price. (12.5% alc.; 61,000 cases)
Coyote Canyon Winery 2013 Albariño, Horse Heaven Hills, $22: The 2013 vintage marked winemaker Justin Michaud’s debut with grower Mike Andrews in Prosser, Wash., and this Albariño displays a deft touch in its tropical and citrusy aromas. On the palate, lemon-lime flavors dominate with a subtle underlayer of mango. It finishes with a dash of Horse Heaven Hills minerality and a crisp, juicy acidity that complements its 2% residual sugar. (14.1% alc.; 543 cases)
Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2014 Dry Rock Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, $13: Few winemakers can match winemaker Walter Gehringer at capturing the diverse elements of a wine from its opening aromas to its satisfying finish. And 2014 Dry Rock Vineyards Chardonnay, grown by his brother, Gordon, does just that, opening with minerality, lemon and tart apple aromas. On the palate, the lemon adds some lime, a dash of Granny Smith apple and then closes with the bite of the apple peel and a sprinkle of dusty minerality. (13.2% alc.; 800 cases)
Maryhill Winery 2014 Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $16: Maryhill Winery has made a habit of producing outstanding rosé of Sangiovese and its most recent version, made from Columbia Valley fruit, is no exception. It’s a medium-toned pink that offers aromas of strawberry and kiwi fruit, which in the mouth turn toward strawberry and pie cherry. Serve early and often with weekend lunches on the deck and save some for sipping as the sun sets as well. (13.3% alc.; 2,497 cases)
Maryhill Winery 2014 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $14: In recent years, almost every wine Maryhill winemaker Richard Batchelor creates seems to turn into a precious commodity. And his 2014 Chardonnay has turned to gold. A hint of caramel, plus pineapple and apple combine in its nose, then in the mouth are augmented by lime, tart apple and a tiny bit of dainty Asian pear at its edges. (14.2% alc.; 4,101 cases)
Memaloose 2014 Idiot’s Grace Riesling, Columbia Gorge, $19: Memaloose names this 2014 Riesling for the Mosier, Ore., vineyard established in 2002, but don’t let the name put you off. White florals, lime and a tinge of orange lead into a dry drink that shows off limey citrus and finishes with a note of minerality and lime zest. (150 cases)
Poet’s Leap 2014 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $20: The Long Shadows Vintners Poet’s Leap Riesling is never a reason to jump off a cliff; on the contrary, it’s a wine to jump on when you can find it. Made from Columbia Valley grapes, the 2014 shows off aromas and flavors of lime and orange accented by 1.25% residual sugar. That makes it a perfect match for fish, fowl or just fooling around, even though it’s a very serious wine. (12.9% alc.; 4,240 cases)
Rocky Pond Winery 2013 Riesling, Lake Chelan, $18: Clos Chevalle Vineyard grapes from Lake Chelan went into this 2013 Riesling made by acclaimed winemaker Ron Bunnell for the Dufenhorst family. There’s just 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. (12% alc.; 130 cases)
Ryan Patrick Vineyards 2013 Ryan’s Riesling, Columbia Valley, $12: Ryan Patrick Vineyards’ 2013 Riesling is just off-dry at 2.2% residual sugar, but its acidity does a good job of rounding the edges of this crowd-pleaser. Its flavors and aromas run to limey citrus with a blast of white peach and a nice concluding note of minerality. (12% alc.; 3,500 cases)
Saviah Cellars 2013 Stillwater Creek Vineyard Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $25: Walla Walla winemaker Richard Funk used Stillwater Creek Vineyard grapes near Royal City, Wash., in crafting this Chardonnay. It opens with apple aromas, tinged by a tiny note of spice, then yields crisp apple, pineapple and citrus flavors. (13.8% alc.; 250 cases)
Stoller Family Estate 2013 Reserve Chardonnay, Dundee Hills, $35: Reserve Chardonnay on a label can mean many things. But in the hands of winemaker Melissa Burr, it means Dijon clones fermented separately and blended with judicious French oak aging. Backdropped by the oak, crisp flavors of lemon, lime and tart green apple play on the palate, creating a bright display perfect for an aperitif and complex enough for a fine dinner. (12.9% alc.; 1,265 cases)
Sweet Cheeks Winery 2014 Riesling, Oregon, $14: This Eugene, Ore., winery used its home-state grapes to craft this Riesling, leaving 4.7% residual sugar. Its lime and orange citrus flavors, plus good acidity, offset the sweetness, making a perfect patio sipper for warm summer and fall evenings. And kudos for winning gold and double gold for the two Rieslings it submitted. (9% alc.; 2,707 cases)