Melanie Krause, Cinder Wines use Riesling to top Idaho Wine Competition

By on September 20, 2017

Melanie Krause, who produced the best Riesling at the 2017 Cascadia International Wine Competition, followed that up at the 2017 Idaho Wine Competition, where her 2016 Off-Dry Riesling was voted best of show. (Photo courtesy of Cinder Wines)

CALDWELL, Idaho – An off-dry Riesling from one of the Pacific Northwest’s top winemakers won best of show Tuesday afternoon at the eighth annual Idaho Wine Competition.

Boise native Melanie Krause wowed the judges with her Cinder Wines 2016 Off-Dry Riesling. The graduate of Washington State University who trained and made wine at Chateau Ste. Michelle more than a decade ago said her participation in last year’s international Riesling conference staged by her former employer played a role.

“I think Riesling Rendezvous did help me improve the 2016 over the 2015 – not in one specific thing, like a particular wine or technique that I liked, but more in the sense that I was reminded of something I already known,” Krause wrote via text message. “That is, there are 1,000 ways to make good Riesling.

“Seeing the incredibly broad spectrum of delicious Rieslings helped me stop worrying about screwing up a variety that I don’t have that much experience with and instead just do what I thought was going to be the best technique for those grapes at that time,” she added.

Riesling, Rhône varieties shine in Gem State

Meredith Smith looks through Petite Sirah grapes at Sawtooth Estate Winery in Nampa, Idaho.

Meredith Smith, head winemaker for Sawtooth Estate Winery and Ste. Chapelle, looks through clusters of Petite Sirah grapes. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

Meredith Smith, another Boise native, produced two of the competition’s best wines. The Sawtooth Estate Winery 2015 Trout Trilogy Syrah, a $35 wine from the Snake River Valley, was voted the top red wine of the judging. And Smith also made the best Chardonnay as the Ste. Chapelle Winery 2016 Panoramic Idaho Block 16 Chardonnay ($20) is a product of her debut vintage as the winemaker for the state’s largest winery.

The judging of 152 Idaho wines staged inside the showpiece tasting gallery at Koenig Vineyards also reaffirmed Greg Koenig’s reputation as one of the Pacific Northwest’s top producers. Wines that Koenig made accounted for six gold medals – a third of those awarded in the competition – led by the unanimous double gold medal for the Koenig Vineyards 2014 Cuvée Amelia Reserve Syrah. The dean of Idaho winemakers also made the gold-medal winning 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2014 Single Vineyard Eagle Foothills District Merlot and the Bitner Vineyards 2016 Riesling.

Best rosé of the competition went to the Hat Ranch Winery 2016 Estate Rosé, a dry salmon-colored wine made by Tim Harless with Cabernet Franc from his young vineyard in the Sunnyslope Wine District.

The best sweet wine was the Camas Prairie 2016 Raspberry Mead, a wine made with Idaho honey and Idaho raspberries.

Arguably the best buy from the competition was the Indian Creek Farm Winery 2014 Star Garnet Red Blend, a $15 bottle of wine that earned a double gold medal and was voted as the best red blend of the judging.

Krause’s reputation for Riesling stretches beyond Idaho

Cinder Wines enologist Hailey Alexander, left, and Cinder co-owner/winemaker Melanie Krause pour wines from Idaho’s Snake River Valley at the grand tasting of 2016 Riesling Rendezvous at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Wash. (Photo by Eric Degerman/Great Northwest Wine)

Tuesday’s showing by Krause came as no surprise. Earlier this year, the Cinder 2016 Off-Dry Riesling earned a double gold and best of class at the Cascadia International Wine Competition. A year ago, her 2015 Off-Dry Riesling merited a double gold and best of class at the 2016 Idaho Wine Competition. Cinder’s brilliant expression with the noble grape of Germany was made last fall with Riesling from Bankhead Vineyard in Payette and Williamson Vineyard on the Sunnyslope.

“I picked the 2016 at lower Brix (21 percent to 23 percent sugar), even though I was already picking early,” Krause said. “The acid is really high and pH really low, so that really helps focus the finish. And I should give the vintage some credit as 2016 was amazing. The cool temperatures of the fall gave us great flavors without the high alcohol and loss of acidity that can be an issue in hotter years.”

Krause also makes the red wines for Huston Vineyards, and the Alger family’s 2014 Private Reserve Petite Sirah from the Snake River Valley earned a gold medal.

Interest among a handful of cider producers prompted the launch of an Idaho Cider Competition, which was won by the Meriwether Cider Co.’s Foothills Semi-Dry Hard Cider. Meriwether’s Blackberry Boom Hard Cider also received a gold medal. Both judgings were orchestrated by Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company based in Washington state, in cooperation with the Idaho Wine Commission.

Idaho wine industry impresses Master of Wine

Sheri Sauter Morano, who earned her Master of Wine in 2003 at the age of 28, judged the 2017 Idaho Wine Competition. (Photo by Richard Duval Images)

Judges this year included Sheri Sauter Morano, who carries the most prestigious title in the wine industry — Master of Wine. As an MW, Morano is in constant demand across the country as an expert, educator, consultant and judge.

“Overall, I was very impressed by the passion and commitment I see here in Idaho,” Morano said. “I think there is a lot of potential – and I think that Idaho should absolutely be on the radar of wine experts across the United States. I think Idaho should continue to focus on nurturing their vineyards – I think there are some elements of concentration and intensity in the wines that will only come with older vines and high quality work in the vineyards – and not worry too much about the idea of a signature grape variety.”

“I think that certain grape varieties will stand out over time, but that there is diversity within the different AVAs and terroirs that should be embraced and communicated to consumers,” Morano added. “I very much look forward to what the next 10 years will bring for Idaho.”

Other judges included Ilene Dudunake, owner of A New Vintage Wine Shop in Meridian; Jackie Elo, wine buyer at JW Thornton Wine Imports in Boise; Lane Hoss, vice president of marketing/wine buyer, Anthony’s Restaurants, Kirkland, Wash.; Karen McMillin, estates brand manager at Hayden Beverage/Young’s Market of Idaho, Boise; Samuel Paden, wine specialist, Whole Foods Market, Boise; Austin Drehmel, wine steward at Fred Meyer in Garden City; and Ken Robertson, columnist, Wine Press Northwest magazine, Kennewick, Wash.

2017 Idaho Wine Competition

The Cinder Wines 2016 Off-Dry Riesling won best of show at the 2017 Idaho Wine Competition. (Photo courtesy of the Idaho Wine Commission)

Best of show, best white, best of class

Cinder Wines 2016 Off-Dry Riesling, Snake River Valley $18

Best red, best of class

Sawtooth Estate Winery 2015 Trout Trilogy Syrah, Snake River Valley $35

Best rosé

Hat Ranch Winery 2016 Estate Dry Rosé, Snake River Valley $16

Best sweet wine

Camas Prairie Winery 2016 Raspberry Mead, Idaho $14

Double gold medal

Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2015 Carménère, Horse Heaven Hills $32
Indian Creek Winery 2014 Star Garnet Red Blend, Snake River Valley $15
Koenig Vineyards 2014 Cuveé Amelia Reserve Syrah, Snake River Valley $50

Gold, best of class

Ste. Chapelle Winery 2016 Panoramic Idaho Block 16 Chardonnay, Snake River Valley $20
3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2014 Single Vineyard Eagle Foothills District Merlot, Snake River Valley $40

Gold medal

Bitner Vineyards 2016 Riesling, Snake River Valley $17
Colter’s Creek Winery 2016 Juliaetta Rosé, Lewis-Clark Valley $18
Huston Vineyards 2014 Private Reserve Petite Sirah, Snake River Valley, $55
Huston Vineyards 2016 Chicken Dinner White Wine, Idaho $16
Indian Creek Winery 2016 White Iris Sweet Gewürztraminer, Snake River Valley $15
Koenig Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah, Snake River Valley $25
Koenig Vineyards 2014 Estate Vineyard Reserve 55% Petit Verdot 35% Cabernet Sauvignon 10% Merlot, Snake River Valley $30
Koenig Vineyards 2016 Dry Rosé, Snake River Valley $16
Telaya Wine Co. 2016 Grenache Blanc, Yakima Valley $25

Silver medal

Bitner Vineyards 2012 Shiraz 60% Cabernet Sauvignon 40%, Snake River Valley $29
Bitner Vineyards 2013 Menopause Merlot, Snake River Valley $35
Camas Prairie Winery 2016 Strawberry Mead, Idaho $14
Cinder Wines 2016 Chardonnay, Snake River Valley $18
Cinder Wines 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon 58% Merlot 23% Malbec 19%, Snake River Valley $29
Cinder Wines 2016 Dry Rosé, Snake River Valley $20
Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2015 Verhey Vineyard Malbec, Washington $28
Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2014 Selway Red Wine, Washington $45
Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2014 Coco’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Lewis-Clark Valley $42
Clearwater Canyon Cellars 2015 Merlot, Lewis-Clark Valley $25
Coiled Wines 2016 Rizza Sparkling Wine, Snake River Valley $28
Coiled Wines 2015 Black Mamba Red Wine, Snake River Valley $30
Coiled Wines 2015 Sidewinder, Snake River Valley $28
Coiled Wines 2016 Chardonnay, Snake River Valley
Colter’s Creek Winery 2015 Riesling, Lewis-Clark Valley $10
Colter’s Creek Winery 2016 Riesling, Lewis-Clark Valley $10
Colter’s Creek Winery 2015 Rocinante Estate Red Wine, Lewis-Clark Valley $35
Colter’s Creek Winery 2014 Koos•Koos•Kia Red Wine, Lewis-Clark Valley $25
Colter’s Creek Winery 2014 Cabernet Franc, Lewis-Clark Valley $28
Feathered Winds Wine 2015 Cabernet Franc, Snake River Valley
Hat Ranch Winery 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Snake River Valley $17
Hat Ranch Winery 2014 Hat Trick Red, Snake River Valley $27
Holesinsky Winery 2015 Blackout 21 August 2017 Red Wine, Snake River Valley $35
Huston Vineyards 2016 Riesling, Snake River Valley $19
Huston Vineyards 2016 Chicken Dinner Red, Snake River Valley $18
Huston Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley $32
Huston Vineyards 2016 Chicken Dinner Rosé Washington $19
Indian Creek Winery 2014 Touriga Naçional, Snake River Valley $29
Indian Creek Winery 2016 Moscato, Snake River Valley 15
Indian Creek Winery 2014 Merlot, Snake River Valley $18
Koenig Vineyards 2016 Viognier, Snake River Valley $16
Koenig Vineyards 2013 Riesling Ice Wine, Snake River Valley $20
Koenig Vineyards 2014 Hells Canyon Vineyard Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley $30
Laissez Faire 2016 Red Table Wine, Snake River Valley $16
Lindsay Creek Vineyards 2013 Irresponsibility Red Wine Washington $20
Pend d’Oreille Winery 2015 Chardonnay, Snake River Valley $16
Sawtooth Estate Winery 2016 Classic Fly Series Dry Riesling, Snake River Valley $18
Sawtooth Winery 2016 Classic Fly Series Chardonnay, Snake River Valley $25
Scoria Vineyards & Winery 2015 Dry Riesling, Snake River Valley $18
Ste. Chapelle Winery 2015 Panoramic Idaho Petit Verdot, Snake River Valley $22
Ste. Chapelle Winery 2015 Panoramic Idaho Malbec, Snake River Valley $27
Split Rail Winery 2015 The Horned Beast [Behemoth] Syrah-Grenache-Mourvèdre, Columbia Valley $35
Split Rail Winery 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley $28
Syringa Winery 2013 Malbec, Snake River Valley $24
Syringa Winery 2012 Tempranillo, Snake River Valley $24
Telaya Wine Co. 2015 Boushey Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Yakima Valley $35
3100 Cellars 2014 Whitewater Sparkling Wine, Snake River Valley $36
3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2016 Single Vineyard Pinot Gris, Eagle Foothills $18
3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2014 Single Vineyard Syrah, Eagle Foothills $40
3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2014 Single Vineyard Estate Eagle Foothills District Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley $32
3 Horse Ranch Vineyards 2014 Rollins Hills Vineyard Eagle Foothills District Cabernet Franc, Snake River Valley $35
Vine 46 2015 Sangiovese, Washington $30
Vine 46 2015 Syrah, Washington $26
Vine 46 2015 Latitude Red Wine, Washington $24
Vizcaya Winery 2016 Tempranillo Sonrojo Rosé, Snake River Valley $20

Bronze medal

Bitner Vineyards NV High Desert White, Snake River Valley $16
Bitner Vineyards 2014 Erletxe Tempranillo, Snake River Valley $35
Bitner Vineyards 2016 Las Tres Mujeres, Snake River Valley $20
Bitner Vineyards 2016 Reserve Chardonnay, Snake River Valley $24
Cinder Wines 2016 Dry Viognier, Snake River Valley $18
Cinder Wines 2016 Laissez Faire White, Snake River Valley $16
Cinder Wines 2015 Syrah, Snake River Valley $29
Cinder Wines 2015 Tempranillo 53% Idaho, 47% Washington $29
Cinder Wines 2016 Dried on the Vine Viognier, Snake River Valley $25
Coiled Wines 2016 Dry Riesling, Snake River Valley $19
Crossings Winery 2014 Sèmillon, Snake River Valley $17
Crossings Winery 2014 Mandeville Vineyard Cabernet Franc, Snake River Valley $19
Dude Dewald Cellars 2014 Barbera, Snake River Valley
Fujishin Family Cellars 2015 Tempranillo, Snake River Valley $25
Hat Ranch Winery 2014 Petit Verdot, Snake River Valley $30
Hat Ranch Winery 2014 Tempranillo, Snake River Valley $29
Hat Ranch Winery 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay, Snake River Valley $20
Holesinsky Vineyard & Winery 2016 Dellas Ghost Riesling, Snake River Valley $10
Indian Creek Winery 2014 Idaho Humane Society Schroeder My Best Friend Malbec, Snake River Valley $23
Indian Creek Winery 2014 Syrah, Snake River Valley $20
Indian Creek Winery 2016 Chardonnay, Snake River Valley $14
Indian Creek Winery 2016 Dry Rosé, Snake River Valley $16
Koenig Vineyards 2014 Three Vineyard Cuveé Syrah, Snake River Valley $25
Lindsay Creek Vineyards 2014 Riesling, Washington $15
Lindsay Creek Vineyards 2014 Merlot, Washington $22
Lost West Winery NV Old Shed White Wine, Snake River Valley $15
Parma Ridge Winery 2016 Parma Ridge Vineyards Estate Tre Bianchi, Snake River Valley $18
Parma Ridge Winery 2016 Fargo Farms Dry Riesling, Snake River Valley $17
Parma Ridge Winery 2016 Reinhart Riesling, Snake River Valley $20
Parma Ridge Winery 2016 Parma Ridge Vineyards Estate Avielle Rosé of Merlot, Snake River Valley $17
Potter Wines 2012 The Ambassador Red Wine Horse Heaven Hills $28
Sawtooth Estate Winery 2014 Trout Trilogy Grenache, Snake River Valley $40
Sawtooth Estate Winery 2016 Anniversary Chenin Blanc, Snake River Valley $22
Sawtooth Estate Winery 2015 Anniversary Red Blend, Snake River Valley $25
Scoria Vineyards & Winery 2014 Petit Verdot, Snake River Valley $32
Scoria Vineyards & Winery 2015 Chardonnay, Snake River Valley $22
Scoria Vineyards & Winery 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley $25
Ste. Chapelle Winery 2016 Special Harvest Riesling, Snake River Valley $12
Vale Wine Co. 2016 Viognier, Snake River Valley $18
Vine 46 2015 Petit Verdot, Washington $38
Vine 46 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington $32
Vizcaya Winery 2016 Pinot Gris, Snake River Valley $17
Williamson Orchards & Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Snake River Valley $25
Williamson Orchards & Vineyards 2016 Dry Riesling, Snake River Valley $11
Williamson Orchards & Vineyards 2016 Blossom Rosé of Sangiovese, Snake River Valley $16

Idaho Cider Competition

Best of show

Meriwether Cider Co. Foothills Semi-Dry Hard Cider, Idaho, $8

Gold medal

Meriwether Cider Co. Blackberry Boom Hard Cider, $10

Silver medal

Meriwether Cider Co. Peach Tree Tea Hard Cider, $8
Meriwether Cider Co. Strong Arm Semi-Sweet Hard Cider, $8
Meriwether Cider Co. Hop Shot Hard Cider, $8
Stack Rock Cidery at Peacefull Belly Farm Dry Creek Dry Hard Cider Idaho $7

Bronze medal

Longdrop Cider Co. Electric Cherry Hard Cider, $7
Stack Rock Cidery at Peacefull Belly Farm Hulls Gulch Dry Hopped Apple Wine, $7

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About Eric Degerman

Eric Degerman is the president and CEO of Great Northwest Wine. He is a journalist with more than 30 years of daily newspaper experience and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest with Andy Perdue and served as its managing editor for 15 years. He is a frequent wine judge along the West Coast and contributor to Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine, the region's longest-running golf publication.

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