Sips

The winners

CANADIAN INVASION The consolidation of the world wine trade continues, with one of Washington's oldest family vineyard operations finally falling to the trend. Hogue Cellars, the third largest winemaker in the state, has been bought by Ontario-based Vincor International, which plans to combine Hogue operations with those of its California property, R.H. Phillips. Founded in 1982 by the two sons of a Prosser farmer, Hogue pioneered in the upscaling and marketing of Washington-grown wine, which until the late 1970s was known primarily as sugary, high-alcohol convenience-store plonk. Ironically, Hogue is by far the best-known brand of the new multinational. Vincor is Canada's biggest wine conglomerate and not, until recently at least, known for a product line aimed at discriminating drinkers, but the company says it plans to continue the Hogue mission—producing high-quality varietal wines at affordable prices—unchanged. The big winner in the transaction is Phillips, acquired by Vincor just a year ago. Hogue's deep national market penetration and first-rate distribution network will help the midprice Esparto, Calif., company to reach more customers outside its home market. AND THEY ARE... There were few surprises among the gold-medal winners at the annual Pacific Northwest Enological Society wine judging, held Aug. 8. Medals were handed out to just 13 of 200 offerings from 80 wineries in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia. The ESNW awards are not entirely representative because some wineries don't submit some of their wines and others choose not to take part at all. That said, among the winners (by grape variety) were: '98 cabernet sauvignons from Chateau Ste. Michelle (Cold Creek Vineyard) and Sandhill Winery; '99 chardonnays from Ste. Michelle (Cold Creek Vineyard again) and Columbia Crest Grand Estates; '99 merlots from L'Ecole no. 41 (Seven Hills Vineyard) and Reininger Winery; pinot noirs by Cooper Mountain ('98 Old Vines Estate Bottled) and '99 Rex Hills; and '99 syrah from Kestrel Vineyards of Yakima. Perhaps slightly surprising: The jury of five national experts found no rieslings worthy of more than a bronze medal, and only one pinot gris, in which Oregon leads the world, deserving of a gold: Firesteed Cellars '00 vintage. No "meritage" or other red-red blends rated the top award, and in the rapidly expanding dessert-wine category, only Yakima's Kiona took home a gold for its '00 chenin blanc ice wine. Sipped lately? E-mail us at sips@seattleweekly.com.

 
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