Note to readers: We have two fairly low standards for our wine: it tastes good and gets us a buzz. We realize this is not necessarily the “right” way to view wine so we brought in expert Amy Dickson to give you the lowdown. You might see her popping up on the blog as a guest writer every once in a while!
Last week’s weather warmed so significantly and quickly, my palate skipped right over desiring a glass of rosé and straight to white. I decided to nip down to Pike Place Market to see what glass pours could quench my thirst without breaking the bank. I’ll need those extra pennies for true rosé season soon.
Here are my suggestions for five outstanding glasses of white wine at Pike Place Market, all under $10 a pour.
Le Pichet: Patrice Colin Blanc Vendômois, 2014
Coteaux du Vendomois, Loire, France, 12.5%, $7.50 per glass
At Le Pichet, the proprietors expect and encourage you to order a glass of wine with, well, everything. That’s why the daily menu includes 11 white glass pours under the $10 price point, with most hovering around $7.50. With a demi-pichet (a small jug of wine) holding two glasses for a dollar less, it’s easy to explore these food-friendly wines over lunch with a date.
After a stimulating flight of five delicious whites, I settled on this Chenin Blanc. Tart, lightly aromatic, and with a hint of both spice and minerality on the finish, this wine likes food and can pair with most menu items at Le Pichet. Go wild and order one of everything.
Tip From Behind the Bar: Nearly all wines on the menu are organic, sustainably grown, and are often women-owned wineries.
The Tasting Room: Naches Heights Vineyard, Pinot Gris, 2014
Naches Heights AVA, Washington, 13.8%, $7 per glass
The Tasting Room, hidden in Post Alley at the Market, specializes in serving some of Washington state’s hard-to-find artisan wines. With a substantial list offering drinkers anything from small taste flights to full bottles, it’s a great place to discover the 13 AVAs of Washington — especially on the patio when the sun is shining.
I worked my way through an appetizing flight of wines, but I had to say, the pinot gris was my favorite. The wine was star bright, clean, and of a strong character. I’ll be back to enjoy a chilled bottle on that patio as we ease into the summer months.
Tip From Behind the Bar: Wherever possible, the grapes at Naches Heights Vineyards are grown using organic or biodynamic practices. Grown in a high altitude volcanic soil vineyard, these grapes translate to a wine displaying citrus, honeysuckle, and pear notes. It hits on the front and mid palate, making it easy to drink with food or on its own.
Radiator Whiskey: Domaine Labbe, Vin de Savoie, 2012
Savoie, French Alps, 12%, $9 per glass
Who goes to a whiskey bar to order a glass of white wine? This lady right here. Located in the heart of Pike Place Market, Radiator Whiskey offers an extensive list of potent potables with a focus on brown water and barrel-aged cocktails. Don’t let that stop you oenophiles out there as I promise you can find a delicious glass of white.
Made from 100% Jacquère grapes, Vin de Savoie tends to be a fairly neutral mountain wine. However my glass was palate cleansing, cool, and showed dense minerality. We are talking like “licking wet stones in a rain storm.” This wine cuts through fat and that’s a great glass pour at a place that also serves a smoked half pig head. I am not saying to pair these two together, but if you need a refresher after a meal like that, Vin de Savoie is your friend. It was a good accompaniment to my dish of tater tots topped with gravy and egg.
Tip From Behind the Bar: On warm days they flip the windows open in a unique manner, spilling in sunshine. Wonderful for sipping white wine in warm weather.
Steelhead Diner: Parejas Cellars, Albarino, 2013
Dutchman Vineyards, Yakima, WA, 13%, $9 per glass
“Nothing south of Oregon — Nothing east of Idaho.” With a tagline like this, you know it’s PNW hyperlocal at Steelhead Diner. I was delighted to see eight glasses of white wine at the sub-$10 price point. I explored a chardonnay, a pinot gris, and a riesling before settling on the albarino.
This is a smooth, crisp, and very tart dry white wine. You’ll encounter scents of pear, apricot, and spice. It has a clean, long-lasting finish. This traditional Spanish/Portuguese varietal is doing well in Washington soil and is best friends with shellfish. Maybe give it a whirl with the Naughty Clams or Paella dish?
Tip From Behind the Bar: Steelhead’s menu (and wines) change all the time based on season and availability, so if you want to try this glass pour, scuttle on in.
Chocolate Box: Waitsburg Cellars, ‘Three’ White, 2013
Boushey Vineyards, Yakima, WA, 12%, $26 per bottle ($6.50 per glass)
Half a block off the main market drag is Chocolate Box, a seemingly twee chocolate shop selling truffles, chocolates (edible or sipping varieties), and a ton of wine. Yes, that’s right: WINE. The back end of the shop is part tasting bar / part bodega with one entire wall devoted to Northwest boutique wines. The friendly staff at Chocolate Box will even help you pair your wines to some of the delectable truffles found in the shop.
I put together a unique flight of Washington wines and after sipping through the varietals, I fell in love with the Waitsburg Cellars blend. Composed of 53% Grenache Blanc, 40% Marsanne, and 7% Picpoul, this is a new world wine coming from the Yakima AVA, but in an old world style. Slightly vegetal, this wine tastes of pink grapefruit pith and Meyer lemon. I agree with the winemakers that this wine has the grip and structure of a French blend and I would be interested in setting a bottle down for a year or two to see how it develops.
Then again, I might not be able to wait that long as summer seems to be knocking at our doors already.
Tip From Behind the Bar: They sell only by the taste or the bottle, but you’ll quickly see that a small taste will lead you to the right bottle in no time.
Do you have a favorite glass of white wine at the Market? Let us know and we’ll be happy to try it as well. Enjoy your spring and Salud!
Special thanks to Marcel at Le Pichet, Wendy at The Tasting Room, Sarah at Radiator Whiskey, Tony at Steelhead Diner, and Christopher at The Chocolate Box for their wealth of knowledge they lent to making this post possible.
Amy L. Dickson is a communications professional, freelance writer, and contributor to Rain or Shine Guides. She’s currently training at the NW Wine Academy for her Level 1 sommelier certification. Follow her at @amyldickson75