At this time, it's traditional to reflect on the year past. Though it's hard to narrow my favorite wines to three, what follows is a trio that was distinctive enough to stand out in my memory during the last year. That two are from Idaho might speak to a certain prejudice, but it's undeniable that our local wines are increasingly improving.
2013 Cinder Dry Viognier, $20
Idaho winemaker Melanie Krause has a way with this grape and her 2013 viognier is, to my taste, her best to date. This wine offers the honeysuckle and sweet peach aromas typical of the variety. Ripe peach carries through to the palate, which is balanced by crisp acidity. Mineral-laced lime comes through on the finish. This viognier pairs perfectly with everything from roast chicken to spicy Asian food.
2012 Donkey & Goat Five Thirteen Red Blend, $35
This wine opens with aromas of plum and berry. It's richly textured on the palate with a core of bright, food-friendly acidity. Ripe cherry and berry flavors are backed by bittersweet chocolate and creamy cappuccino, while silky smooth tannins coat the mouth. The finish is long and lovely in this California winery's striking homage to Chateauneuf du Pape.
2011 Williamson Vineyard Harvest Moon Red, $22
Idaho's Greg Koenig is crafting some of the best wines in the Northwest and Williamson Vineyard is growing some of its best fruit. Put them together and you get this world class Rhone-style blend. Hints of white pepper come through on the bright berry nose. That pepper component colors the palate, filled with ripe cherry and berry fruit.