July 09, 2009

Two whites from Washington

In the last year, I've discovered the wines of Washington state. Not literally, of course. Washington's long had a reputation for excellent wine. It's just that nothing much had really connected with me.

Part of that was that I didn't taste as much as I should. Part was that what I did taste never much excited me. And part is certainly that the wines are getting better and better. Mix that together and you're ripe for a sense of discovery when you finally get it that Washington state really does produce delicious wine.

Of course, Washington's best known for big red wines, something I'm not usually fond of. It stands to reason then that I'm more interested in things off the beaten path. Such as, white wines.

First, something fairly mainstream but delicious in the 2005 vintage. I'd tried the Ch. Ste. Michelle riesling collaboration with Ernest Loosen of Mosel wine fame, but I never thought much of it. A bottle of the 2005 Ch. Ste. Michelle Riesling Eroica the other night, however, was exceptional. Young and fresh looking with lightly sweet lemon cream and petrol aromas, it had such focused and clear flavors that I was taken aback. Could this be so good? I tried more and understood at last this wine's reputation. Not sugary, not so petrol as to be vulgar, not fat and wan in the mouth. This was excellent and something I wish I had a few more bottles of. This isn't a new release so it might be hard to find these days.

Then with dessert we had a half bottle of 2008 The Curtain Call Late Harvest Gewurztraminer. This wine comes from Trey Busch, formerly of Basel Cellars and now on his own under the Sleight of Hand label. What a terrific wine. Very pale in color, it smells pure, honied and varietal but not too much so. Sometime gewurz can be so floral and aromatic it lacks nuance. The flavors are nicely sweet but again not too much so, with pure gewurz flavors but just a hint of balancing bitterness that sometimes overwhelms this grape. Think the white pith of grapefruit. The finish is long and again pure. What a nice effort. I just bought this new release wine, so if you're interested, look for it locally. I imagine there isn't much, but it's worth a search.

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