In the US, Washington State is the new kid on the block. Washington's wine industry has grown significantly in the last 15 years, now second in overall volume, behind California and trailed by Oregon.
Washington built its reputation on the production of white varieties like Riesling, but the trend is changing, today 49% of its production is dedicated to reds.
Since the late nineties, Washington wine growers have expanded their repertoire of red wine grapes significantly. Classic Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec can be found, as well as Rhône varieties like Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. There are also significant plantings of Italian varieties like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera.
What does that mean for wine buyers? Unlike California that is known for Napa Cabernet and Oregon that has championed Pinot Noir, Washington offers up a vast array of wines to choose from. Often wineries will specialize in a particular wine style—like the production of Rhône-style blends or Bordeaux-style wines.
Washington produces world class wines. Overall, Washington reds can be characterized as being fruit-forward in expression, they are not as ripe nor as high in alcohol as many California wines, and they posses a degree of class and elegance that is reminiscent of Old World wines. For wine buyers, too, Washington's youthful industry is a good thing, as there are many fantastic values to be explored.Read more
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