While our region’s red wines seem to draw the most critical acclaim, we Northwesterners know our whites are a well kept secret — and substantially less expensive.
Not only that, but our whites also are just as high in quality. After all, they’re grown in the same vineyards and tended by the same growers and then made into delicious wines for by the same winemakers.
Best of all, they make great summer sippers for our lighter summer meals or just because it’s always wine o’clock in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. With that in mind, here are some delicious examples we sampled recently. In a couple cases, a new vintage may have supplanted those listed. No worries. Most producers are remarkably consistent with their whites.
These wine reviews are the result of a blind tasting by a panel of Northwest wine professionals.
‘Outstanding’ wines were deemed by our judges to have superior characteristics and should be highly sought after. ‘Excellent’ rated wines are top-notch wines with particularly high qualities. ‘Recommended’ wines are delicious well-made wines with true varietal characteristics.Prices are suggested retail.
Jones of Washington, 2016 Pinot Gris, $14The folks at Jones of Washington seem to grow nothing but great grapes in the Columbia Basin, then turn them over to them over to one of our region’s most consistent winemakers, Victor Palencia. Using fruit from the Columbia Valley AVA, he made a wine redolent of lime zest, melon and honeysuckle with mouth-filling flavors of tropical fruit, orange creamsicle, stone fruit and a finale showing a bit of minerality. Sip it alone or with a snack of light cheeses, prosciutto-wrapped melon and a sampling of whatever fruit has just come into season.
Airfield Estates, 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, $15Using fruit from the Yakima Valley, the folks at Airfield Estates in Prosser will send Sauv Blanc lovers off on a flight of fancy with this one. It shows off aromas of grapefruit, gooseberry and cut grass, then more grapefruit and gooseberry, plus mango and lime in the mouth. Save a little of this one for the fall months when oysters on the half shell return to our menus, or sip it now with a light fish poached in dry white wine, garlic and lime juice and topped with a grind of pepper, lime zest and cilantro.
Lone Birch, 2016 Pinot Gris, $12Lone Birch, the second label for Airfield Estates in Prosser, is usually right on the heels of its elder kin in quality and sometimes just a step ahead. This bargain-priced Pinot Gris drew consistent ratings across our tasting panel for its gooseberry, lime and pear aromatics and its flavors of lemon, lime and guava with a touch of minerality in its finish. Lone Birch makes a great “house” wine that’s affordable and tasty.
Jones of Washington, 2016 Chardonnay, $15Generally made from Columbia Valley fruit grown not far from the famed river itself, Jones wines are remarkably consistent. This version opens with a bit of white floral aromas, then oak, green apple and vanilla, then adds more apple and pineapple on the palate before its lengthy finish. Pair it with almost anything pulled from salt or fresh water or teriyaki chicken fresh off the grill.
Lone Birch, 2016 Chardonnay, $12Aromas of vanilla, apple and lime kick this one, then it turns to more apple, lime and pineapple in the mouth with crisp acids to make it especially food-friendly. Our tasting panel especially loved its acidity, which leads to a long finish. Pair it with shrimp marinated a bit in garlic, black pepper, cilantro and lime juice just off the barbecue.
Jones of Washington 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, $15Smoke, lemon, jasmine and honeydew melon aromas lead off, with flavors of melon, pear, nectarine and lime leading to a long finish. This is one in a long line of well-made Sauvignon Blancs from Jones. Pair it with seafood or a light chicken dish.
Lumos Wine Co., 2017 Pinot Gris, $19Lumos, tucked away in the small town of Philomath, Ore., drew on fruit from Logsdon Ridge vineyard in the Willamette Valley to make a wine that displays aromas and flavors of lime and pear, plus a dash of stone fruit, and nice acidity that balances well with its touch of residual sugar. It makes a nice summer sipper or pair it with Asian fare.