The recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Washington’s 2013 harvest shows that for the second consecutive year, state winemakers crushed more red grapes than white.
Prior to 2012, Washington had never crushed more red grapes than white. And despite this trend, white wines play a vital role in Washington, with chardonnay and riesling the Nos. 2 and 3 grapes in the state.
And Washington whites can be superb, from rich chardonnays to racy rieslings to suave viogniers. Here are some whites — including a sparkler — that we’ve awarded our top “Outstanding” rating in recent weeks. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly.
Treveri Cellars NV Brut Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, Columbia Valley, $14: Nose-tickling aromas begin with honeydew melon, kiwi fruit, apple, apricot, banana and lemon. There’s beautiful mouth feel with its full mousse, which delivers Asian pear, yellow grapefruit and Gala apple flavors.
Eye of the Needle Winery NV Harvest White, Columbia Valley, $11: This Woodinville vintner has done a masterful job with this delicious and affordable white blend. Aromas of apricot, Gala apple and peach blossom flow to flavors of apple, pear, apricot and juicy pineapple and lemon zest.
Silver Lake Winery 2012 Chardonnay, Rattlesnake Hills, $9: One of Woodinville’s first brands has crafted an aromatic white with hints of pear, pineapple, apple, lemon custard, lemongrass and whiff of oak. There’s a rich entry of pear and pineapple on the pour with a bit of creamy butterscotch on the midpalate leading into a pleasing burst of acidity.
Smasne Cellars 2011 Upland Vineyard Viognier, Snipes Mountain, $15: It’s not common to find a dynamic Viognier at such a price point, but winemaker Robert Smasne sells many of his white wines in this range. Tropical fruit aromas are joined by ginger, citrus, creek stone and blossom. It shows typicity on the palate with orange Creamsicle flavors, but there’s noteworthy lemony acidity from beginning to end.
Lopez Island Vineyards & Winery 2012 Madeleine Angevine, Puget Sound, $25: This white variety that excels in England has found a home in the Puget Sound. This example carries a huge nose of orange, rosewater, coconut, apple blossom, peach pit, beeswax and slate. It’s mouth-filling with its complex offering of white peach, Asian pear and crisp apple, backed by a dry finish of lime zest and more peach pit.
L’Ecole No. 41 2012 Semillon, Columbia Valley, $14: L’Ecole No. 41 has earned its reputation as arguably the Pacific Northwest’s top producer of Semillon, and this vintage might be its best effort. There’s a beautiful nose of dusty apple, pineapple, poached pear, fresh fig and a touch of oak. Inside comes a rich and buttery structure that also offers fig and pear flavors, along with a spoonful of lemon yogurt, a cut of grassiness and a kiss of oak in the finish.
Milbrandt Vineyards 2012 Traditions Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $13: Aromas of sweet lemon, clarified butter, artichoke hearts and candela leaf tobacco give way to flavors of lemon yogurt, backed by baked pear, vanilla, a line of minerality and a lovely long citrusy finish.
Cougar Crest Estate Winery 2012 Estate Viognier, Walla Walla Valley, $22: This wine from a top Walla Walla Valley winery presents aromas of dusty pear, honeydew melon, lime juice and Tim’s Cascade Style Original Potato Chip. The palate is complex as it opens with a rich entry of Golden Delicious apple, white peach and lime, capped by a dab of honey.
Swiftwater Cellars 2012 No. 9 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $18: Here’s a gorgeous dry riesling from a showcase winery at Suncadia in the Cascade Mountains. Tropical aromas flash a hint of jasmine, while the flavors push out baked pineapple, pear and a pleasing Granny Smith apple peel bite in the finish.Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.