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2021 NCW Wine Awards | Double Gold Medal winners

Judging for the 2021 North Central Washington Wine Awards competition took place in Wenatchee at the end of May.

NCW Wine Awards_Logo.jpg

Thirty-nine wineries submitted a total of 241 entries this year, compared to 230 entries a year ago. When the judging was complete, the totals added up to 18 Double Gold, 49 Gold, 124 Silver and 40 Bronze medals. Ten wines did not earn a medal.

Generally, a Bronze rating from judges equates to “good,” a wine with a Silver rating is “outstanding,” and a Gold wine is considered “exceptional” by judges. To earn Double Gold status, all three judges on the panel must rate the wine as Gold.

Here are reviews for the Double Gold Medal-winning wines:

Cabernet Franc

Villa Monaco Winery 2016 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $26 (25 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: Michael James Monaco works with tiny lots and presents them in his downtown Leavenworth shop. This alluring Cabernet Franc is the product of a single barrel, and it reflects the attention paid to it by a doting winemaker. “I just fell in love with the nose,” remarked one judge in describing the presentation of black cherry, toasted coconut and barrel spice. Other panelists applauded the way those notes were integrated with the structure, which includes a bit of chocolate for an exquisite example of this often-overlooked Bordeaux variety.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

Tasting room is at Monaco’s Corner Store

703 Front St., Leavenworth

(509) 548-7216

Cabernet Sauvignon

Ancestry Cellars 2017 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $55 (191 cases)

Judges’ notes: Jason Morin has earned three Platinum medals from Wine Press Northwest magazine in the past two years. One of those was for his 2016 reserve Cab from Red Mountain, and he’s qualified his latest release from his reserve program for this fall’s 22nd Platinum Judging with this double gold effort. Once again, he invested in Rob and Lisa Schwager’s young Redpath Vineyard for the remarkable eight-barrel effort that opens with blackberry, lavender, cedar and tobacco leaf aromas. Inside, it’s well-structured and continues down the blackberry path with extravagant notes of mocha and vanilla bean, making for a beautiful finish. Suggested fare to pair includes heavy dishes such as a slab of prime rib or a sizzling porterhouse.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

50 Wapato Way, Manson

(509) 741-9006

13590 NE Village Square Drive #1035, Woodinville

(425) 435-6551

Cabernet Sauvignon

Archibald James Wine and Cider 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley, $32 (75 cases)

Judges’ notes: After earning degrees in wine chemistry and molecular biology at Oregon State University, Dr. Seth Cohen helped launch the winemaking program at Appalachian State before sinking roots in the Wenatchee Valley. His work with the early releases by this young Leavenworth craft beverage producer has attracted attention almost immediately, thanks to efforts such as these three barrels of Cab. The profile of blackberry, strawberry/rhubarb pie and black licorice is lush, approachable and complex.

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

617 Front St., Leavenworth

(509) 255-3796

Cabernet Sauvignon

Skagit Cellars 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $42 (96 cases)

Judges’ notes: Burgess Vineyard near Pasco has served as a valued source for boutique wineries since the 1980s, and Mark Hulst devoted four barrels of old vine Cab to three years of aging in his Mount Vernon cellar. That patience produced a wine loaded with notes of black fruit, cinnamon powder, anise, pencil shavings and terrific depth. Supple tannins and Baker’s chocolate make this a Cab of elegance that’s available at his tasting rooms on both sides of the Cascades — downtown La Conner near the Swinomish Channel and the north shore of Lake Chelan in Manson.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

67 Wapato Way, Manson

(509) 888-4574

106 S. 1st St., La Conner

(360) 708-2801

Chardonnay

Cave B Estate Winery 2020 Unoaked Chardonnay, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $19 (60 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: This showpiece winery overlooking the Columbia River upstream from the Vantage Bridge was ahead of the curve when it began crafting an unoaked Chardonnay more than a decade ago, and the Bryan family’s latest effort ranks among the best in the state. It’s remarkably fruit-forward with enticing notes of honeysuckle, Bosc pear, bee balm and Pink Lady apple with a lush and balanced structure that’s finished with a nibble of apple skin. One of the judges commented, “This is made by someone who knows how to make Chardonnay.” Suggested pairings include cheese made with sheep or goat’s milk.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

348 Silica Road NW, Quincy

(509) 785-3500

14356 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Redmond

(425) 949-7152

Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village

Gardens Way, 313 E. Columbia Drive #2, Kennewick

(509) 820-3710

Malbec

Horan Estates Winery 2018 Musicians Malbec, Columbia Valley, $28 (140 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: Certified sommelier Dennis Dobbs and wife Beth took over this multi-generation winery in 2012, and they continue to show a penchant for red Bordeaux varieties, including stunning Malbec that outshined the others in the category. The label references the fiddle playing of great-grandfather Mike Horan, and judges turned lyrical in their description of this 100% varietal wine that Argentina has helped make famous in the U.S. Notes of cassis, dark cherry, rose petal and cedar pick up plum jam and blackcurrant for a full midpalate. There’s the variety’s hallmark juiciness akin to cranberry sauce and nice lingering tannins that finish with a pinch of spice. Suggested pairings include cannelloni at Visconti’s with Italian sausage in a pomodoro sauce.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

15 Second St., Suite 101, Wenatchee

(509) 679-0554

Merlot

Tipsy Canyon Winery 2019 Merlot, Lake Chelan, $38 (114 cases)

Judges’ notes: The Garvins recently planted red Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Franc and Malbec across their Upper Joe Creek Road estate near Manson, but not Merlot. That component of their award-winning program hails from nearby Amos Rome Vineyard. Mark Garvin’s work with that site for Merlot earned a gold medal and a Platinum invitation last year, and this remarkably young release already is stellar. It’s loaded with red fruit of raspberry and red currant, joined by strawberry leaf, violets and cinnamon powder. A deft hand with French oak makes this quite approachable and beautiful, finished with a lick of caramel.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

270 Upper Joe Creek Road, Manson

(509) 741-5501

Other Red

Martin Scott Winery 2017 Montepulciano, Columbia Valley, $32 (65 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: Three times in the past decade Mike Scott has turned his estate-grown Montepulciano into a Platinum medal from Wine Press Northwest magazine, and he’s earned a shot at winning another Platinum for his 2017 bottling by receiving a double gold in this judging for Foothills Magazine. Named for the town in Tuscany, Montepulciano is a relative of Sangiovese, and Scott produces this in a more rounded and charming fashion. It’s full of dark cherries with barrel notes of chocolate and coconut shavings, backed by a creamy and velvety mouthfeel that makes for a lovely drink. Year after year, it’s one of the Northwest’s most fascinating and delicious red wines, and Visconti’s culinary director Daniel Carr will serve it with a ribeye alongside linguine in a pomodoro sauce and roasted potatoes.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3400 10th St. SE, East Wenatchee

(509) 885-5485

Red Blend

Benson Vineyards Estate Winery 2018 Anthem, Lake Chelan, $38 (400 cases)

Judges’ notes: This multi-generation showpiece on the north shore of Lake Chelan is the realized vision of Paul and Kathy Benson, and the hallmark of the family’s approach to this proprietary blend might be the marvelous mouthfeel and depth to the structure provided by the involvement of Syrah (25%) underneath Cabernet Sauvignon (44%) and Merlot (31%). It’s interesting to note that the Syrah is pulled from their reserve program. Layers of yummy fruit come immediately, ranging from dark cherry, plum, red currant and cola, and there’s a hedonistic aspect to the finish that includes a pinch of baking spices.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

754 Winesap Ave., Manson

(509) 687-0313, Ext. 106

Red Blend

Martin Scott Winery 2015 Founder’s Blend, Columbia Valley, $43 (45 cases)

Judges’ notes: One of Washington’s most picturesque and friendly tasting experiences can be found at Mike Scott’s winery adjacent to his Needlerock Vineyard overlooking the Columbia River in East Wenatchee. The Founder’s Blend is Scott’s most highly prized wine, the blend of a barrel of Petite Sirah and a barrel of Syrah, and a remarkable example of both Rhône varieties — particularly the former. It produces a dark wine filled with blackberry, pencil lead, Earl Grey tea, earthiness and meaty qualities. Leather, cigar box and cedar follow in the full-flavored drink that includes some brightness of blood orange.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3400 10th St. SE, East Wenatchee

(509) 885-5485

Red blend

Sigillo Cellars 2018 GSM, Columbia Valley, $36 (300 cases)

Judges’ notes: The Seal and Hussey families produce award-winning stand-alone bottlings of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Here is a blend of all three, led by Grenache, and it’s a fruit bomb in the glass. Rainier cherry, strawberry, raspberry leaf, dried rose petal and sandalwood funnel into an explosion of grape soda that finishes with black pepper. This marks the fourth time in the past six years of the North Central Washington judging that Sigillo has earned a double gold or a spot in the sweepstakes with its GSM.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

2037 W. Woodin Ave., Chelan

(509) 888-5713

8086 Railroad Ave., Snoqualmie

(425) 292-0754

Riesling

Ancestry Cellars 2018 Reminescence Riesling, Columbia Gorge, $22 (118 cases)

Judges’ notes: Two years ago, winemaker Jason Morin — a graduate of South Seattle College’s Northwest Wine Academy — earned a rare Double Platinum from Wine Press Northwest magazine for his 2017 Reminiscence Riesling. He’s looking to double-down on that this fall with this 2018 example. He wisely re-invested in fruit from lofty Underwood Mountain Vineyard near White Salmon, one of the Northwest’s premier spots for Riesling, and it’s an incredibly balanced expression with the noble grape of Germany. It’s loaded with stone fruit, river rock and a touch of cream soda on the midpalate for richness, and lovers of Riesling also will adore its tertiary touches of petrol, honey and ginger. One judge described it as “simply gorgeous.”

For current tasting room hours, call the winery or visit its website.

50 Wapato Way, Manson

(509) 741-9006

13590 NE Village Square Drive #1035, Woodinville

(425) 435-6551

Riesling

Stemilt Creek Winery 2019 Sweet Adelaide Riesling, Columbia Valley, $15 (293 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: One of the Columbia Basin’s most important growers of orchard fruit continues to raise the bar on its young winery, and this off-dry yet classically balanced Riesling by winemaker Seth Cohen is akin to a walk through an orchard. Notes of orange blossom, honeysuckle and stone fruit include a lick of spun sugar that leads to a finish of Red Vine licorice and orange marmalade. Its beautiful weight and lingering brightness still leave space for great minerality behind the flavors.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

110 N. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee

(509) 665-3485

Rosé

Bear Barton Vineyard 2019 Rosé, Columbia Valley, $34 (35 cases)

Judges’ notes: Two of the Washington wine industry’s most experienced and talented figures — winemaker Ray Sandidge and vineyard consultant Jerry Bookwalter — have combined to bring Greg Barton and Lauren Bear-Barton’s dream of high-elevation viticulture to life. Their young planting northwest of Burch Mountain tops out at 3,300 feet above sea level, making it perhaps the loftiest commercial vineyard in the Northwest. They harvested the Austrian red grape Zweigelt during the snowy first week of October and blended it with their other two cool-climate varieties — Agria and Grüner Veltliner. The resulting rosé fills the nose with nectarine, strawberry and hyacinth, and that fruit carries nicely through to the palate. The touch of sweet watermelon is cleansed by brilliant acidity.

Bear Barton Winery is building an onsite tasting room at its elevated vineyard, 9510 Plateau Road, Cashmere. For more information, call (248) 763-0204.

Rosé

Eagle Creek Winery 2020 Rosé de Syrah, Columbia Valley, $32 (110 cases)

Judges’ notes: East Coast restaurateur/sommelier Paul Sharpe is into his second decade working and making wine for Eagle Creek founder Ed Rutledge, and this rosé from Syrah ranked among the top wines of the judging. There’s a wonderful fragrance to this rosé, which seems loaded with tropical fruit akin to Juicy Fruit gum and rose petals. On the attack, think of Queen Anne cherries, honeydew melon and cantaloupe, backed by a touch of spritz, a light smack of Jolly Rancher green apple candy, a nibble of Pink Lady apple and lick of peach pit. “It’s a great wine to drink on a hot summer day,” noted one judge, and it’s available at the winery outside of Leavenworth as well as the d'Vinery tasting room in downtown Leavenworth.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

617-4b Front St., Leavenworth

(509) 888-0299

10037 Eagle Creek Road, Leavenworth

(509) 888-0299

Syrah

Tsillan Cellars 2018 Estate Reserve Syrah, Lake Chelan, $40 (406 cases)

Judges’ notes: Five times in the 22-year history of the Platinum Judging, Dr. Bob Jankelson’s showpiece Tsillan Cellars has stood alongside the best in the Northwest for work with Syrah. Twice, they’ve earned a rare Double Platinum, so it’s no surprise that winemaker Ray Sandidge earned a double gold in Wenatchee for this reserve Syrah from the pioneering planting above the south shore of Lake Chelan. This is plush throughout as dark plum and blackberry notes are capped by dark cocoa powder and anise. The tannins are beautifully integrated, leaving space to appreciate the underlying minerality that makes for an elegant, well-crafted wine.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

3875 Highway 97A, Chelan

(509) 682-9463

19255 Woodinville-Snohomish Road NE, #3, Woodinville

(425) 482-5976

Tempranillo

Cave B Estate Winery 2018 Tempranillo, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $33 (309 cases) – Best of Class

Judges’ notes: One of the world’s most widely planted red varieties, this gift from Spain is beginning to make delicious inroads across Washington state. And it has found a home in the Columbia Basin. Ripe cassis, plum and blackberry are the hallmarks of this remarkably layered example that includes secondary notes of sandalwood, leather and toasted oak. One judge described this as “an archetypal Tempranillo that isn’t from Spain.” Suggested pairings include cured meats or pork tenderloin marinated in garlic, smoked paprika and cumin with a plum reduction sauce.

For current tasting room hours call the winery or visit its website.

348 Silica Road NW, Quincy

(509) 785-3500

14356 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Redmond

(425) 949-7152

Columbia Gardens Urban Wine & Artisan Village

Gardens Way, 313 E. Columbia Drive #2, Kennewick

(509) 820-3710

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