By Chuck Hill
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Wines of the Week Archive
Summertime and the living is easy… It’s a great time of year to enjoy white wines with delectable shellfish and finfish from our pristine Northwest waters. I’ve expanded my program for 2016, including more wine varieties and a wider selection of sea foods.
This week we enjoyed Kumamoto oysters and steamed mussels, paired with Sauvignon Blanc wines from the Northwest and around the world. Tasty Kumos and Mediterranean Mussels came from world famous Taylor Shellfish in south Puget Sound.
This superb wine from the warm 2015 vintage was a perfect pairing with both oysters and mussels. Aromas of citrus and mineral mingle with hints of lemon curd and melon, leading to flavors of gooseberry and pear on the palate.
This wine may be offered only to King Estate Tower Club members, but a small amount may be released to the public. Grapes came from Croft Vineyard, southwest of Salem, Oregon – a property well known for its Sauvignon Blanc. Look for aromas and flavors of green apple, grapefruit, fresh cut grass and flinty mineral.
Cadaretta Winery is part of Middleton Family Wines, founded by a Northwest family that began exporting forestry products from Washington State in 1898. Their winemaking endeavors began in California in the 1990s, and Cadaretta Winery was begun in Walla Walla in 2005. This blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon offers aromas of Key lime, fresh herbs and pineapple, followed by pear and tropical fruit flavors with a crisp finish of grapefruit and Granny Smith apple.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
The Horse Heaven Hills has become internationally famous for the fresh whites and vibrant red wines that have been coming from the area for several decades. Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Horse Heaven Vineyard was planted in the 1970s, making it one of the AVA’s oldest plantings. Racy citrus dominates both nose and palate with notes of herbs and mineral and delicate barrel character from sur lie aging.
The Hedges family was one of the pioneers of Red Mountain in Washington State and was the driving force to get the AVA international exposure. Family members run the winery including daughter Sarah Hedges Goedhart who is now the winemaker. This crisp and food-friendly Sauvignon Blanc is mellowed with a dollop of Chardonnay and a smidge of Marsanne. Look for grassy herbs, tropical fruits, mineral and lemon/pear custard.
Winemaker Michael Savage uses grapes from the west end of the Yakima Valley to craft his crisp and spicy Sauvignon Blanc. A mix of variety clones – including Sauvignon Musque – is whole-cluster pressed and fermented in a mix of stainless steel and neutral oak. Look for refreshing citrus and notes of grassy herbs and hints of baking spice.
Agate Ridge Vineyards
This Semillon-heavy blend with Sauvignon Blanc (65/35) is crafted from grapes grown at the Agate Ridge Vineyard in the Rogue River Valley east of Grant’s Pass, Oregon. The fruit is whole-cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel. Pair this wine with all types of seafood, enjoying its bright citrus and grassy aromas and flavors with notes of creamy pear and exotic figs and dates.
For this reserve wine, winemaker Keith Kenison held the juice in contact with the skins for 12 hours before pressing to extract flavor and build structure. Stainless steel fermentation was followed by minimal fining and filtration prior to bottling. Aromas and flavors of bright tropical fruits mingle with gooseberry and citrus to create a seafood-friendly wine with a long and complex finish.
Intuitive winemaker Tony Dollar named his winery after his childhood pet dog, Lobo, and the dramatic geography and geology of Eastern Washington. Tony and Diana Dollar created this Sauvignon Blanc from Yakima Valley grapes grown at Lonesome Springs and Airport Ranch vineyards. Look for bright citrus and grassy herb with complex notes of melon, mineral and earthy sur lie character from barrel aging.
Browne Family Vineyards
Winemaker John Freeman used fruit from Willard Farms to craft this wine by barrel fermenting it in neutral oak and aging for five months. The wine is rich and complex with aromas of Meyer lemon, mango and papaya leading to a flavorful palate adding gooseberry and mineral flavors.
This is the eleventh vintage of Woodward Canyon Sauvignon Blanc produced from their estate vineyard northwest of Lowden in the Walla Walla Valley. Four clones of Sauvignon Blanc were harvested and whole-cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel, then aged in neutral oak. Look for aromas and flavors of stone fruits, citrus and spice with hints of vanilla and mineral.
Wines from other areas:
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc really rings the bell with my seafood wine tasters for its clean, crisp flavors and intriguing aromas. Matua is always at the top of my list for bright aromas of gooseberry, herbs and pineapple, leading to refreshing flavors of grapefruit, gooseberry, tropical fruits and mint. It is a classic with half-shell oysters, steamed mussels and other light seafood selections.
This wine was just harvested months ago from the Awatere and Wairau Valleys in Marlborough, New Zealand. Each microclimate contributed different characters to the finished wine. From the Wairau Valley came ripe citrus and gooseberry, while the Awatere Valley added complex aromatics and flavors of lemongrass, fresh herbs and spicy pepper.
I jokingly referred to this wine as “Marlborough Light” since it offers the classic New Zealand aromas and flavors but in a slightly subdued style. Many wine lovers object to the forward “slap” of gooseberry, and this wine gives just a hint of that character. Enjoy this versatile wine with all types of seafood, lighter summer fare or just for sipping.
Matanzas Creek Winery
Matanzas Creek Winery has been producing Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc since 1977. Winemakers utilize 93% Sauvignon Blanc and 7% Semillon, fermenting in stainless steel (80%) and neutral oak barrels (20%). Aromas and flavors of grapefruit, white peach, herbs and honey crisp apple make this a favorite for steamed mussels, crab cakes and other seafood choices.
Murphy-Goode celebrates the hedonistic side of winemaking, seeking to craft wines that appeal to a broad spectrum of equally passionate consumers. The Fume Sauvignon Blanc offers tangerine and peach with tangy citrus and mellow vanilla – a great summer sipping wine or pair with light pastas or sea foods of all types.
Francois Lurton came from France to take advantage of the winegrowing potential of the many coastal valleys of Chile. Hacienda Araucano. The clone of Sauvignon Blanc planted in his vineyards originated in the Loire Valley of France – famous for Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. Look for tropical fruits and herbal aromas followed by flavors of mellow citrus, peach and mineral.