North Central Washington is one of the up-and-coming regions in Pacific Northwest wine country.
Roughly defined as the areas surrounding Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Quincy, Cashmere, Mattawa and Omak, North Central Washington has long been known for its agricultural prowess. In the past 20 years, that has included more and more vineyards and wineries.
Today, more than 60 wineries are operating in North Central Washington, and that has spurred the launch of the Wenatchee Wine & Food Festival, which has included a wine competition for more than a half-decade.
Here are several of the top wines from this year’s judging. Ask for these wines at your favorite wine merchant or contact the wineries directly. Learn more about the North Central Washington Wine Country group at ncwwine.org.
Silvara Vineyards 2014 Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, $42: This seductive red wine opens with aromas of complex spices, caramel, ripe berry and smokiness, followed by flavors of red and black fruit, including raspberry and plum. The acidity provides richness to the luscious fruit, giving way to a finish that is long and satisfying. This won best of show.
Jones of Washington 2015 Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $10: This bright, delicious example is loaded with aromas and flavors of peach, apple, passion fruit and lime, as well as notes of purple rose, honey and even a bit of pineapple. It balances a rich mouth feel with a steely finish. This won best white.
Jones of Washington 2015 Rosé of Syrah, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $14: The grapes for this superb example come from the cool Ancient Lakes region, and the result is a beautiful wine with aromas of dark cherry, red plum and ripe strawberry, followed by flavors of bright red fruit. It is bright and crisp, and a touch of sweetness adds impeccable balance. This won best rosé.
Rocky Pond Winery 2013 Late Harvest Riesling, Lake Chelan, $24: This luscious dessert wine uses Riesling with aromas and flavors of white blossoms, poached pear and honey. Alluring aromas of purple lavender provide a lovely layer of complexity, and all of the flavor and sweetness are kept in balance with remarkable acidity. This won best dessert.
Cairdeas Winery 2013 Tri, Yakima Valley, $36: This is a classic red Rhône blend with mourvèdre leading the way, followed by syrah and grenache. Aromas of coriander, orange zest and raspberry are followed by flavors of lovely dark red fruits and a certain dustiness that provides additional complexity. It’s all backed by perfectly balanced fruit and acidity. This won double gold and best of class.
Eagle Creek Winery 2014 Gewürtztraminer, Columbia Valley, $19: This superb white opens with gorgeous aromas of apple and rose petals, followed by flavors of honey, clove and white blossoms. There is a bit of sweetness, and the accompanying acidity expertly backs it up. This won double gold and best of class.
Cave B Estate Winery 2012 XXVII Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $48: This uses estate grapes in the Ancient Lakes, and it provides complex aromas of perfumy oak, ginger, violet and cherry, followed by flavors of sweet oak, blackberry, raspberry and cocoa powder. A juicy midpalate is backed by firm tannins. This won gold and best of class.
Lost River Winery 2012 Merlot, Columbia Valley, $25: This gorgeous Merlot offers aromas of honeycomb, black licorice, black cherry and minerality, followed by jammy and complex flavors of ripe dark fruit that is backed by elegant texture. It checks all the boxes that one would expect from a classic Washington Merlot. This won gold and best of class.
Rio Vista Wines 2015 Antoine Creek Vineyard Viognier, Columbia Valley, $25: It’s an elegant wine with aromas of tropical fruit, honey and grapefruit, followed by flavors of pineapple and orange. The rich midpalate is backed by bright acidity. This won gold and best of class.
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.