Washington is the winemaking Wild West. Grape growers are planting at higher elevations, resulting in stylistically different wines with more acidic verve. Winemakers are crafting orange wines, made from white wine grapes fermented on their skins. Clay amphorae are back in vogue as an aging vessel, as vintners seek the oxygenation of an oak barrel without the associated flavors. Here are five local releases that’ll stretch your idea of what a local bottle can be.
Savage Grace Orange Gewürztraminer Oak Ridge Vineyard Columbia Gorge 2019 $30
On the Nose: lychee, pink grapefruit, ginger.
On the Palate: bone-dry with rich flavors.
Why It’s Special: Orange wine is already niche. One made from gewürz is outright rare.
Cairdeas Alicante Bouschet Inland Desert Vineyard Yakima Valley 2018 $50
On the Nose: berry, licorice.
On the Palate: rich, velvety dark fruit flavors.
Why It’s Special: It’s the state’s first offering of varietal alicante bouschet.
Hoquetus Amphora Cabernet Franc Blue Mountain Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2019 $30
On the Nose: sliced green pepper, dried herb, cherry.
On the Palate: fresh fruit flavors with weight and depth.
Why It’s Special: This is a food friendly, early release, amphora aged cabernet franc.
Devison Malbec Southwind Vineyard Walla Walla Valley 2018 $49
On the Nose: purple flower, crushed rock, plum.
On the Palate: vibrant, lip-smacking flavors with tannic structure behind them.
Why It’s Special: It’s a rare example of varietally labeled malbec from Walla Walla, grown at high elevation.
Covington Franc Cabernet Franc Columbia Valley 2017 $37
On the Nose: flower, herb, cherry.
On the Palate: plump fruit flavors and a long finish.
Why It’s Special: This wine was fermented and aged in a clay amphora.