'People keep saying: “Washington is an up-and-coming wine region”. We are no longer up and coming; we’ve made it and we’re here to stay!’

It was a rousing statement by Quilceda Creek winemaker Alex Stewart at a seminar in Seattle, where some of Washington State’s best Cabernets had been pitted against the likes of Pauillac’s Château Pontet Canet and Napa’s Chateau Montelena in a blind tasting.

Stewart might have softened his words if the outcome had been different. But not only were the mature and recent vintages from Hedges Family Estate, Soos Creek, Leonetti Cellar and Quilceda Creek worthy enough to stand alongside ringers from Bordeaux and Napa – the regions Washington Cabernets are most compared to – in many cases the verdict from the room was that they were better.

The lie of the land

Washington is the second largest wine region in the US, with its 1,000 wineries producing 18 million cases a year from more than 70 grape varieties planted to 24,000ha of vines in 14 AVAs. A mouthful of stats, yes, but impressive – especially when you consider that less than 30 years ago there were just 19 wineries and so few hectares under vine that the grape growers’ association didn’t bother counting them.

The majority of Washington’s vineyards lie east of the Cascade Mountain Range, where its shadow results in a desert-like continental climate with just 200mm of rain a year. Soils are poor but water-retaining: a mix of alluvial silt, loess and gravel

Citiți o mostră, înregistrați-vă pentru a citi în continuare.

Mai multe de la Decanter

Decanter4 min citite
Not Standing Still
Few spirits match Scotch whisky’s heritage – distilleries have honed their craft over decades and, in some cases, centuries. Now, new whisky makers are springing up throughout Scotland, with the wee players forging a path that sets them apart from th
Decanter1 min cititeCookbooks, Food, & Wine
Amarone: A Tale Of Two Styles
Over time, from about the 1990s, two main styles of Amarone arose, following the example of Quintarelli and Dal Forno – two influential leading estates – which produced differently styled models of Valpolicella Classico and Valpolicella Orientale, re
Decanter9 min citite
Great Buys: Hungary Beyond Tokaj
• Hungarian Zsigmond Teleki helped save wine for the world in the 19th century by breeding the rootstock that enabled European grapevines to resist the destruction caused by the phylloxera bug • Two-thirds of Hungary’s vineyards grow on volcanic soil