The past few days have been a bit of a shock to the system. Back from two weeks on the shores of Orcas Island, where the weather was wet and the temperature rarely pushed past 70, to the desert heat of a Boise summer where the mercury barely drops below 70. Both Orcas and Lopez are a part of Washington's San Juan Island chain and wine-wise, they belong to the Puget Sound Appellation, though official status doesn't mean making wine is a sure thing. The Lopez Island vineyards were planted back in 1986 and have been organic from the beginning, but those cool summer temperatures prohibit the better known varietals from ripening. So in addition to sourcing fruit from Yakima, the winery sought out cool weather varieties to plant in their gravely loam soil. The result is a lineup of unique wines. Look for them next time you travel to Washington, or you can order them online. They are worth seeking out.
2006 Lopez Island Madeleine Angevine, $18
A grape that originated in the Anjou region of the Loire Valley in northern France, it produces a richly aromatic wine laced with apricot and nectarine along with a lightly herbal spice component. There are also touches of clover and rose hip. In the mouth, it's a nice combination of mango, peach, blood orange, sweet grapefruit and lime with a smooth finish that's marked by lemon zest and a racy hit of citrus and herb. It went well with the local Judd Cove oysters.
2006 Lopez Island Siegerrebe, $19
An early ripening hybrid created in Germany that's a cross between Madeleine Angevine and Gewurztraminer, it offers spicy, herbal aromas along with grapefruit and hints of fresh green pea. Finished just off dry (.75 percent residual sugar), the soft peach flavors are backed by spice, white pepper and lychee nut. Sweet melon balanced by crisp citrus comes through on the finish. Pair this one with spicy Asian cuisine and curries.
Lopez Island Raspberry Wine, $15 (half-bottle)
The fruit comes from the Broer's Family farm in the Snohomish Valley and like the grapes, they are organically grown. Heady ripe raspberry aromas mingle with touches of mocha. What this wine lacks in complexity, it more than makes up in the purity of fruit. It tastes like freshly picked berries with luscious fruit flavors caressing the palate from start to finish. Rich, ripe fruit is balanced by crisp acidity and the overall impression is more dry than sweet. Best served lightly chilled.