2009 WA Wine Awards: Best of the Rest

From Winemaker to Watch to Best Emerging Varietals, we've got the best in Washington wines in 12 mor

Category: Eat + Drink Articles


Best Emerging Varietal
Originally a blending grape in the Bordeaux region of France and then a varietal in Argentina, this grape is cropping up in Washington because of its ability to grow well in the hot days and cool nights of eastern Washington. Malbec is primarily a moderate to dark, full-bodied wine with soft tannins and big fruit. Winemaker Anna Schafer of àMaurice Cellars in Walla Walla makes a delicious Malbec full of huckleberry, blackberry and plum from their emerging estate vineyard. Tildio Winery in Manson (near Lake Chelan) has a following for its deep, rich Malbec from the Stillwater Creek Vineyard, our 2008 Vineyard of the Year. Match these straightforward, fruity wines with beef short ribs or a grilled lamb chop and you’ll be a fan, too.

Best Washington Wine-focused Restaurant Wine List
Waterfront Seafood Grill
General manager Christian Sparkman, a winemaker himself (he owns Sparkman Cellars), has put together a wine program with a stable of 17 certified sommeliers to help you choose the perfect wine from a list that gives you a tour of some of the best wineries in Washington, the Northwest and abroad. Sparkman hosts a full schedule of wine dinners featuring some of the area’s best winemakers. To pair with chef Peter Levine’s wonderful seafood preparations, choose from about a dozen premium Washington wines by the glass, or a bottle from a list that features new wineries such as Woodinville Warehouse District’s Mark Ryan, Gorman, Des Voigne, Guardian and Efeste, as well as Yakima Valley and Walla Walla favorites such as Woodward Canyon. Waterfront, 2801 Alaskan Way Pier 70; 206.956.9171; waterfrontpier70.com

Best Alternative Closure
Syncline McKinley Springs Syrah
In 2007, Syncline won our “Best Wine with a Screwtop” award for sealing their stellar Viognier with a Stelvin closure. Now, they’ve discovered Vino-Lok, an elegant glass stopper with a sealing ring that is answering the concerns of those who don’t want to let go of the cork. This classy device keeps out microbes that can “cork” the wine, making it smell like wet cardboard. It is also easy to remove and replace tightly. Of course, the most important thing is the taste of the wine in the bottle, and we admire Syncline owners James and Poppie Mantone for protecting their delicious wines in such an innovative and elegant way. Lyle; 111 Balch Road, 509.365.4361; synclinewine.com

Best Destination Winery
Maryhill Winery
Maryhill Winery sits on the banks of the Columbia River, its vineyards stretching down to the edge of the steep cliffs of the Columbia Gorge near Goldendale. In summer, there’s no view like it; look out the tasting-room windows or sit beneath the vine-covered arbor on the wrap-around patio and enjoy a gorgeous view of Mount Hood and the surrounding hills. While these features, along with excellent wine, draw visitors, people also come for the summer concert series in the winery’s 4,000-seat amphitheater. Last summer’s performers included B.B. King and Crosby, Stills and Nash. What better way to spend a weekend? Goldendale; 9774 Highway 14; 877.627.9445; maryhillwinery.com

Best Winery Tasting Room
Kiona Vineyards and Winery
Kiona (Kigh-OH-na) Vineyards and Winery has been welcoming wine tasters to a small but friendly tasting room on Red Mountain near Prosser ever since owners John and Ann Williams bottled their first Lemberger and Chenin Blanc in 1980. But last year, they opened a slick new tasting room with a contemporary look and cozy