Seven stunning white wines using Puget Sound grapes impress The Seattle Times’ reader wine-tasting panel with their alluring aromas and flavors.
WE ARE IN a time in which exploration of lesser-known wines is encouraged. And perhaps no Washington wines are further “out there” than the cool-climate varieties grown in the Puget Sound American Viticultural Area.
While siegerrebe, madeleine angevine and müller-thurgau don’t exactly roll off the tongue like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, these wines can be absolutely stunning. That’s what The Seattle Times’ reader wine-tasting panel discovered during our most recent event at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle College.
These wines are made in tiny amounts in such nontraditional wine regions as Friday Harbor, Bainbridge and Langley. In recent years, I have been absolutely charmed by these white wines, not only for their alluring aromas and flavors but also for their ability to pair with fresh regional cuisine — particularly seafood.
The three varieties we tasted do not have grand histories like classic wine grapes. In fact, all of these were created through European grape-breeding programs in the 19th and 20th centuries. But they grow beautifully in the cool Puget Sound region.
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And they are well worth seeking out. Most will be available only from the wineries.
Seven Puget Sound whites
These seven examples of wines using Puget Sound grapes were evaluated with The Seattle Times’ reader wine-tasting panel at the Northwest Wine Academy. They are presented here in the order they were tasted.
Bainbridge Vineyards 2014 siegerrebe, Puget Sound, $18: This is loaded with aromas and flavors of fresh tropical fruit, including pineapple, mango and lychee, and would pair beautifully with seared scallops topped with beurre blanc.
San Juan Vineyards 2014 siegerrebe, Puget Sound, $22: Aromas of orchard and tropical fruits give way to flavors of ripe pear and clove. It reveals a bit of sweetness on the midpalate and finish. Enjoy with clam chowder or crabcakes.
Whidbey Island Winery 2014 siegerrebe, Puget Sound, $17: This gorgeous siegerrebe from estate grapes is dry, crisp and highly aromatic — a great example of the potential of this variety. Pair with lightly spiced Thai cuisine.
Whidbey Island Winery 2014 madeleine angevine, Puget Sound, $17: Aromas and flavors of Asian pear, Granny Smith apple and saltwater taffy make this a perfect wine to pair with oysters.
San Juan Vineyards 2014 madeleine angevine, Puget Sound, $18: This is delicious, thanks to aromas of apple and fresh apricot, followed by flavors of Crenshaw melon, fresh herbs and a hint of lime.
Northwest Wine Academy 2015 müller-thurgau, Puget Sound, $15: Here is a bright, crisp, flavorful and complex wine with notes of passion fruit, white flowers and apple. It’s easy to imagine this with shellfish, salmon, baked chicken or garlic prawn pasta.
Bainbridge Vineyards 2014 müller-thurgau, Puget Sound, $18: Assertive aromas of clove, cardamom and pear are followed by crisp, luscious flavors of pink grapefruit, apple and ripe peach. Enjoy this versatile white wine with a wide array of seafood dishes.