2013 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
Red Mountain (WA)
Suggested retail: $45
2016 Sangiovese Rosé
Suggested Retail: $12
2013 HIP Merlot
Hedges Family Estate
Suggested Retail: $17.99*
Suggested Retail: $ 8
2013 Cabernet Sauvignon
Columbia Valley (Washington)
Suggested Retail: $14.99
Suggested Retail: $12
2012 Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot
Chateau Ste Michelle
Horse Heaven Hills (Washington)
Suggested Retail: $36
“Merlot is one of the many wine varieties that the State of Washington does well. Wine writer Dan Berger—California-based, but internationally known—had a recent column to that effect and we certainly concur. He suggested that quality Washington Merlot was undervalued. We agree with that opinion, too.
“The state’s wine industry has enjoyed robust growth in recent years—currently there are over 890 wineries and Chateau Ste Michelle is by far the most significant of these operations. They’ve pretty much been around since the beginning and have garnered a reputation for providing quality wines at all price points.
The Pike Brewing Company
Style: Blond, session-ale
Serving Style: 12 and 22-ounce bottles and kegs (our sample from draft)
Availability: Widely distributed in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest
Appearance: “Dark golden color tending toward copper or amber hue. Fluffy white head that dissipates fairly quickly.”
Aroma: “Mildly hoppy with maybe just a bit of pear and lemon zest.”
Taste: “Opens with inviting malt notes, followed closely by a full mouth of carbonation and hops (Centennial and Cascade). Finishes cleanly and crisply. A lighter summertime brew, but not insufficient at all. Just the right amount of hops elevates this ‘sessionable’ beer.”
Food Affinity: “Clean and crisp, Naughty Nellie would be a good companion with many foods. We'd suggest enjoying it with a Crab Louis.”
Reviewer Dan Clarke enjoyed this beer while checking out Washington Wine Country.
2013 Rosé of Sangiovese
Columbia Valley (Washington)
Suggested Retail: $14
“Pink in color—watermelon to coral in hue. Aromas of strawberries, raspberries and maybe a bit of honeysuckle. More strawberry and raspberry in the flavor with a nice roundness in the mouth. Sangiovese is popular grape variety for Northwest rosé winemakers. There’s lot of lively fruit and the good natural acidity of Sangiovese to balance the slight sweetness (measured at .8 residual sugar). An altogether pleasant rosé wine.”
Food Affinity: “Reviewer enjoyed the Maryhill Rosé of Sangiovese with grilled pork chops and sweet onions. This wine is delicate enough to accompany egg dishes for Easter brunch, but has enough substance to justify pairing with ham.”
2012 Red Mountain Lemberger
Red Mountain (Washington)
Suggested Retail: $15
“Lemberger has the reputation in the wine industry as being ‘a tough sell.’ That’s a shame, because it’s really a worthy option among red wines. Just as Zinfandel and Merlot are names of grape varieties, so, too, is Lemberger. It has no relationship to that pungent cheese bearing a similar identity, but somehow there’s a negative connection for the consumer. Lemberger is a variety known by other names, notably Blaufrȁnkisch in Austria and some eastern European countries. Wineries in New York state also produce this variety as does at least one California winery, Shooting Star, which markets it under the name ‘Blue Franc.’ "
For wine drinkers relatively unfamiliar with Washington wines, the name on this bottle may also conjure memories of an inexpensive wine popular in an earlier era. Those jugs bearing the Red Mountain brand were actually acceptable, low-end table wines from California’s San Joaquin Valley, but tended to be consumed in too-substantial quantities by college students, some of whom now believe that the product was ‘full of chemicals’ because of the hangovers they remember from the day after. The more plausible culprit was the quantity they consumed, given that Red Mountain’s price appeal to the college student budget. These days knowledgeable consumers recognize Red Mountain as the name of an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in southeastern Washington known for producing extremely high quality wines, particularly red ones.
“Kiona Vineyards has pioneer status in the Red Mountain AVA, having begun planting of vineyards there in 1975. They produce many other varieties more acceptable in the current market climate, but still make about 3,000 cases of Lemberger each year. Fans of this variety hope they never stop.
“Lemberger isn’t exactly like any other wine the reviewer has experienced. When he first tasted this variety about 25 years ago, he thought it was somewhat like a lighter Zinfandel . . . but not exactly. The 2012 Kiona Red Mountain Lemberger (their current release) had a hint of that Zinfandel personality, particularly in that bit of spice or black pepper on the finish. A closer analogy might be to a good Gamay, which, when grown in Beaujolais, is an attractive, lower-cost alternative to the Pinot Noirs of Burgundy. In both aroma and taste, this Kiona Lemberger first reminded us of just-baked blackberry or Boysenberry pie, but there are aspects of other fruit here, too--blueberries and cherries. Tannins are very gentle and sufficient acidity means it will pair well with a fairly wide variety of foods.”
Food Affinity: “Lighter treatments of pork and veal dishes with morel mushrooms. Good crackers and triple-cream cheeses. Baked eggplant served with a not-too-acidic tomato sauce. Ragout of mushrooms.”