When people’s thoughts turn to American wine regions, they usually think of Napa Valley and other California American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) such as Sonoma or Lodi. Outside California, other sites like Walla Walla in Washington and the Finger Lakes AVA of New York make the list.
I’m guessing that unless you’re an Idaho resident or a total wine nerd you probably haven’t heard of the Snake River Valley, which is Idaho’s first and only AVA.
As someone lucky enough to live (and drink!) in the great state of Idaho, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Idaho wine is kind of a big deal.
Why? Because the pieces that could motivate wine lovers enough to get the Gem State on the map are coming together right now. First come the growers, then the winemakers, then the ever-growing customer base. People start drinking, talking and writing. Awards and acclaim follow. This IS happening and it’s an exciting time!
So let’s talk about Idaho for a minute. The following is an excerpt from my blog post about terroir: “It’s in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s not a coastal state. We experience four full seasons. Weather in Idaho can be kind of weird, cloudy morning, sunny afternoon or vice versa. We can have warm days and cool nights. Summer months are H-O-T! Rain and snow levels tend to be moderate (mountains excluded). Huge swaths of the state are maintained as arable land to support numerous farming operations, while other geographic areas have been clearly marked by a history of volcanic activity. Lots of rivers and lakes can be found, as well as a vast flood plain.”
In other words it’s ideal for grape growing.
Last September Idaho held its 5th annual Idaho Wine Competition, held by Great Northwest Wine at Ste. Chapelle Winery in the heart of the Snake River Valley (to see a complete list of winners please go here.
I’d like to share a few of my favorites that claimed top awards.
Huston Vineyards 2012 Malbec
Winner Best Red and Best in Show. Huston Vineyards 2012 Malbec is 14.3% alcohol. Fruit, spice, and earth revealed on the nose. These transfer nicely on the palate with warm tannins and a spicy mouthfeel. Lingers on the tongue well after the swallow with a solid finish. An A wine (see how I rate wine here).
Coiled Wines 2013 Dry Riesling
Winner Best White Wine. Coiled 2012 is 13.1% alcohol by volume and has less than 1% residual sugars, making it dry by definition. It has floral fruity scents, particularly melon and citrus. That fruitiness translates to the flavor which is wonderfully tangy with just a bit of acidic bite. The strong finish clinches my A rating.
Sawtooth Estate Winery 2013 Classic Fly Series Cinsault Rose’
Winner Best Rosé. Sawtooth Cinsault Rose’ is 13.30% alcohol by volume, 95% Cinsault and 5% Muscat Blanc. This is a dry delightful Rosé with a sweet strawberry-peach smell and vague floral notes. Though it has definite fruit flavors, it is quite dry with a crisp mouthfeel and smooth finish, an A wine.
I hope this inspires you to buy Idaho next time you are pursuing the wine aisle!
*This article first appeared as a Guest Post for The Desert Wine Guy.