Tinhorn Creek-Beautiful British Columbia Part 2

B.C. Wineries, Cab Franc, Pinot Gris, Wine No Comments

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 11.43.53 AMTinhorn Creek Vineyards, quite simply, is a must-stop destination for any visit to British Columbia wine country. September 23rd marked the 20th anniversary of Tinhorn Creek, which has grown from barrels of wine in the basement of a house to 150 acres of vines on a beautiful estate in Oliver Osoyoos wine country, in the south Okanagan’s “Golden Mile” region.

Over the years, Tinhorn Creek has also become known in Canada as one of the most progressive wineries, focusing on sustainability and being environmentally friendly.

This winery is the epitome of what we consider a top pick: Good juice, good people and good events such as concerts and winemaker dinners at their onsite restaurant, Miradoro.

Sandra Oldfield, co-owner, president, CEO, and the face and voice of Tinhorn Creek, has been active in the wine community on Twitter for years. She embodies the experience declared on their website:Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 11.11.39 AM

“We grow grapes and we make wine. There are many steps between the field and the bottle, but at the end of the day it’s about farming the land responsibly, having fun, and making wines to share with family and friends. Because that’s what we are: friends, family – and friends who become family.”

Sandra also was the winemaker until this year, when Andrew Windsor joined the team, after after spending the past eight years in wine regions of Australia, New Zealand and France.

The winemaking team works from vines on two very distinct parcels of land:

  • 50 acres at the Tinhorn Creek Vineyard on the west bench, which benefits from sunrise and morning light, and is perfect for Gewürztraminer and Muscat
  • 100 acres on the Black Sage bench of the Diamondback Vineyard across the valley, which soaks up the intense afternoon heat, and therefore works well for Cabernet Franc and Merlot

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 12.02.23 PMSo let’s talk about the wines, starting with Tinhorn Creek’s Cab Franc, surely the best in Canada. We’ve tasted two vintages and enjoy the rich flavors that exemplify the varietal characteristics. This is a fantastic food wine, particularly with hearty beef stew or prime rib.

Earlier this year, the B.C. Wine Appreciation Society held a blind tasting of eight B.C. Cab Francs against four from other wine regions of the world. Tinhorn Creek 2010 Oldfield Selection Cab Franc, the winery’s first reserve version, won by a wide margin.

Going back several years, our first taste of Tinhorn Creek wine was at Whistler, back in the late 1990s — a 1995 Pinot Gris that set the bar for all the Pinot Gris we tasted in the following years.

More recently, last month, we visited the vineyard and tasted the 2013 vintage, which is crisp, balanced and brimming with citrus, pear and apple aromas and flavors.

In the late summer heat, we were also wowed by the Oldfield Series 2013 2Bench White, a delightful blend of Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc that screams for seafood to pair with it.

Tinhorn Creek is also known for its Merlot; the 2012 vintage is not at all jammy, and has a bite at the front palate that will taste marvelous with steak.

And yes, most of us in the U.S. can enjoy Tinhorn Creek wines here too – Tinhorn Creek is one of eight B.C. VQA wineries that offer wine exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores in Washington and Oregon.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 12.17.56 PMIn addition, Tinhorn Creek now ships wines direct to consumer in 34 states.

Of course, it’s more fun to visit.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll see the newest member of the Tinhorn Creek family. Right after our visit ended, the winery became home to a new puppy, Sam.

How cute is he?

Yes, he’s grown a lot in the last two months, but he is still adorbs (a word that has never been used on this blog since it launched in 2007)!

According to Sandra, one of Sam’s favorite things to do is to nap on the cool tiles in the shower (without the water)!

So what are you waiting for?

Cheers!

Beautiful British Columbia-Part 1

B.C. Wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 6.48.00 PMEight B.C. VQA wines are now available exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores in Washington and Oregon, and we were invited to taste them at a special dinner last week at Dahlia Lounge.

Chef Brock Johnson and B.C. Chef Trevor Bird of Fable Restaurant in Vancouver (and Top Chef Canada) created west coast cuisine perfectly paired with the eight featured B.C. wines.

Coincidentally, this amazing evening came on the heels of a trip we took to parts of BC wine country in mid-September.

We will be writing in detail about both of those events in the future. In the meantime, we wanted to share the names of the wineries where we tasted some pretty good B.C. wine. I was born and raised in B.C., and I can truly say, “B.C. wine, you’ve come a long way, baby!”

Wines from these participating wineries are now available at Whole Foods:

  • Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
  • Nk’Mip Cellars
  • Tantalus Vineyards
  • St. Hubertus Estate Winery
  • Meyer Family Vineyards
  • Quails’ Gate Estate Winery
  • Black Hills Estate Winery
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

Additional BC wineries we visited in Osoyoos and Kelowna:

  • Fairview Cellars
  • Gehringer Brothers
  • Hester Creek

Stay tuned for more details in future blog posts. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit Beautiful British Columbia and its growing wine country.

Cheers!

Taste of Tulalip Nov. 14-15

Events, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 10.47.54 AMExcitement is growing for the sixth annual Taste of Tulalip, a major event that is widely recognized as one of the top Northwest foodie and wine “happenings.”

The superb reputation of Tulalip Resort Casino is underlined every year at this event, when its food and wine maestros — Executive Chef Perry Mascitti and his fabulous team of chefs, and Sommelier Tommy Thompson — unveil an explosion of flavors and aromas that merge into a premium, five-star experience.

This year, Food Network star Ming Tsai will prepare some signature dishes to complement pours at the Magnum party on Saturday Nov. 15, featuring  samples of limited and rare vintages from 21 elite wineries, including Chateau Cos d’Estournel, Krug Clos du Mesnil, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion, Harlan Estate, Penfolds Grange, Chateau Lynch-Bages, Verite “La Muse,” M. Chapoutier L’Ermitage  Blanc, and CIRQ Pinot Noir.

Here are highlights of the other events planned this year:

The weekend kicks-off with Friday night’s multi-course Celebration Dinner, paired with premium wines from around the globe: Schramsberg Vineyards, Alleromb, Kosta Browne, Leonetti Cellar, Rasa Vineyards, and Inniskillin. This year’s Featured Winemaker is Sean Boyd of Woodinville Wine Cellars.

Saturday is action-packed with wine and food demos, chef challenges, a wine seminar, Rock & Roll Challenge, the Magnum party and the Grand Taste, featuring more than 120 wineries from Washington, Oregon, California, New Zealand and Germany, along with a craft beer “pool garden.” Washington state wineries include the stellar Quilceda Creek and Figgins.

Saturday’s “All Access” ticket is priced at $350 per person; the Celebration Dinner tickets cost $195 and the Grand Taste tickets are $95.

More details and tickets are available at the Taste of Tulalip website. Mark your calendars for Nov. 14 & 15 — we hope to see you there!

Cheers!

Caymus 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, California wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 11.03.32 AMBring on a juicy steak and a glass of Caymus Vineyards 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and celebrate the vineyard’s 40th anniversary in style. If you love big, velvety, opulent Cabernets, this one is for you.

So smooth and silky, this Cab glides across your palate, showing off the near-perfect conditions for the 2012 vintage in Napa Valley.  You don’t have to think twice about why Wine Spectator named this beauty “Wine of the Year.”

A true palate-pleaser, this luscious red packs in a lot of ripe, rich flavors with a long finish.

According to owner and winemaker Chuck Wagner: “This wine exemplifies our style of Cabernet out of a great vintage – deep color, rich, concentrated and balanced. 2012 celebrates 40 years of producing our pride and joy, Caymus Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.”

We first tasted a sample given to us by the winery for a virtual tasting in June. We loved this stellar wine so much that we bought a few bottles a month later.

We are cellaring most of them for a couple of years, but this wine is already so stunning, we opened a bottle last weekend.

An additional highlight: The Caymus Vineyards 2012 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon features a special commemorative bottle and label.

Cheers!

 

 

Lauren Ashton Cellars

Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 2.49.52 PMLauren Ashton Cellars launched in Washington wine country in 2009, when Kit Singh, a dentist, decided to apply his knowledge of chemistry with his appreciation of wine and his training in viticulture and enology. Keeping it in the family, he named his winery after his two children and reflected his wife’s Estonian heritage by creating bottle labels with photos of her home country.

By late 2012, Lauren Ashton Cellars wines emerged on the Seattle wine scene, and by the following year, rave reviews started to come in.

Shortly after that, we too became quick fans of Kit’s handcrafted wines after stopping by the Lauren Ashton Cellars booth at numerous Washington wine events. The winery’s motto “True Washington Character” was indeed reflected in every sip we tasted.

No wonder why Robert Parker called the 2009 Cuvee Mirabelle “a perfect blend of juiciness and richness.” Closer to home, Washington wine experts and writers Sean Sullivan and Paul Gregutt described some of the Lauren Ashton wines as impressive and exceptional.

Our first experience was with the 2011 Columbia Valley Syrah, a robust, complex 100% Syrah that is smooth and rich. The tasting notes recommend that this full-bodied wine pairs “perfectly with garlicky lamb, sausages and grilled meats, alongside asparagus, mushrooms and potatoes.” (Sample provided by the winery)

The 2011 Red Mountain Reserve Syrah is even better. This silky, elegant wine is only available at the Lauren Ashton Cellars Tasting Studio in Woodinville. The recommended pairing is “roast pork accompanied by fresh fig skewers or grilled meats of all kinds.”

Kit also created a handful of 2011 Columbia Valley red blends, which we can’t wait to taste; we are also hoping to stop by the tasting studio soon to try the 2011 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, which received 94 points from the Wine Enthusiast.

The 2011 blends also generated high scores from the Wine Enthusiast: Cuvee Arlette (94 points), Cuvee Meline (92 points), Proprieter’s Cuvee (92 points) and Cuvee Mirabelle (91 points).

Notably, the 2009 vintage of two blends were sourced from Red Mountain and received even higher scores from Robert Parker: 2009 Proprietor’s Cuvee (95 points) and 2009 Cuvee Mirabelle (94 points).

The bottom line: We highly recommend stopping by Lauren Ashton Cellars Tasting Studio in Woodinville or finding out more about these impressive wines at their website.

Cheers!

Time to Party with Alexandria Nicole Cellars

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 4.25.58 PMWe’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the wonderful people at Alexandria Nicole Cellars know how to party! And even better, they know how to throw a great party too.

Every year, ANC holds a Harvest Party in the Vines for wine club members at their estate Destiny Ridge Vineyard.

Every year, the party is a resounding success.

This year’s Harvest Party is on Sept. 13 and will be a special celebration of the Decade of Destiny – ten years since ANC opened the doors to their first tasting room in Prosser.

At that time, they celebrated the wines created from grapes first planted in 1998 at Destiny Ridge. Now, 16 years later, and with a second tasting room in Woodinville, ANC produces 10,000 cases of wine with more than 23 varietals planted in 267 acres of vineyard.

And that’s where the Harvest Party takes place!

The fun begins and the wine starts to flow on buses that take you to the vineyard. No worries about finding a designated driver for this party.

When you arrive, there are pours of the most recent ANC wines, while you can watch or participate in hilarious activities such as a grape stomp, wine balloon toss and skeet shooting. The vineyard and production team also compete in a barrel-rolling contest, cheered on by their fans.

Then there is an amazing dinner of steak and jumbo prawns, followed by dancing to a live big band.

So bring your dancing shoes!

We’ve been wine club members since 2007, inspired by some fabulous wine during our first visit to their Prosser tasting room, and further nudged by a Seattle Times article written by Washington state wine expert Paul Gregutt, who rated the ANC wine club as number 1.

Over the years, we’ve written about ANC wine often. We’ve also been lucky enough to become friends with winery owners Jarrod (winemaker) and Ali Boyle.

What, you’re not a wine club member? It’s not too late to sign up and grab tickets to the Harvest Party and save a space on the buses, which leave from Tri-Cities, Yakima and Prosser. Don’t live in the area? No problem — the Richland Courtyard Marriott and the Yakima Hilton Garden Inn both have special offers for wine club members.

We hope to see you there.

Cheers!

 

Another Favorite Winery in McLaren Vale, Australia

Australian wineries, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 2.12.13 PMWhen we were in Australia in May, we received many recommendations to stop by Kay Brothers Amery Vineyards, the oldest McLaren Vale winery still in founding family hands.

We are so glad we followed that advice.

The Shiraz is spectacular, and the vineyards are steeped in history. Kay Brothers was established on February 2, 1891, and a diary has been kept every day since. This gives new meaning to the word “awesome.”

The diary pages meticulously describe the weather, the vintages and insights into the people, their lives and their hard work.

Equally as amazing were the wonderful people we met at Kay Brothers Cellar Door (the Australian term for “tasting room”). In particular, Michelle Taylor entertained us for an hour or more with stories and enthusiasm about the winery’s history and the wine region, as we savored some pretty magnificent pours of Kay Brothers wine. Wow.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 2.17.23 PMWe became fans of each wine we tasted at Kay Brothers Cellar Door. But our favorite, and the wine we brought home to Seattle, was the spectacular Kay Brothers 2011 Block 6 Shiraz, handpicked from 119-year-old vines.

Did we say wow?

Specifically, this stellar wine was sourced from vines that were planted on July 18, 1892. Known as one of the best Shiraz produced in McLaren Vale, Block 6 Shiraz is robust, rich, complex, structured, smooth and simply beautiful.

The outstanding 2011 vintage is the 27th release of this single vineyard wine, produced in the  tradition of open-top fermentation and basket-pressing used for more than a century.

We also were impressed with Kay Brothers 2011 Cuthbert CabernetIn wine country known worldwide for Shiraz, it was a breath of fresh air to experience a Cabernet Sauvignon of this quality. The Cabernet vines also go back more than a century but over the years, the grapes were mainly blended with Shiraz for full-bodied Australian Claret.

The 2011 is the fourth release of this commemorative wine honoring Cuthbert “Cud” Kay, who was responsible for the development of Cabs at Kay Brothers. (Only made in years when the grapes are deemed worthy, just four vintages have been made so far.) In the family tradition, this Cabernet is rich, vibrant and structured.

As you can see from the photo at the beginning of this post, Kay Brothers produces numerous other wines too, including Cabernet Merlot, the award-winning Mataro (Mouvedre) and Grenache.

If you travel to Australia, we highly recommend that you make a point of stopping by this outstanding cellar door. You can also buy Kay Brothers wines in the U.S. from distributor Quintessential Wines, and in Canada from Inland Trading

Cheers!

August Brings the Auction of Washington Wines

Events, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 4.56.32 PMOne of our favorite summer events is the Auction of Washington Winesa glamorous and fun weekend that benefits Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Washington Wine Education Foundation.

This August marks the 27th year of the event, which has raised more than $30 million since 1988. The weekend kicks off early with the Picnic & Barrel Auction at Chateau Ste. Michelle on Aug. 14, beginning at 4 p.m. We have attended the picnic for the last few years, and always have such a good time tasting the fine wines of Washington state, talking to winemakers and bidding on some futures.

2014 Barrel Auction participants include: Adams Bench, Andrew Will Winery, Avennia, Baer Winery, Boudreaux Cellars, Buty, Cadence, Double Canyon, Efeste, Fidelitas, Hedges Family Estate, Kevin White Winery, Result of a Crush, Reynvaan Family Vineyards, Sleight of Hand Cellars, Sparkman Cellars, Spring Valley Vineyard, Va Piano, Walla Walla Vintners, Woodward Canyon and others. More than 30 additional Washington wineries will also be pouring wine during the picnic.

And what would a picnic be without great bites? Chefs from the Tulalip Resort Casino will provide gourmet fare to pair with the wine, including tents devoted to cheese and a themed dessert station.

Other AWW weekend events:

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 5.00.43 PMWinemaker Dinner Series: Friday, August 15
In one evening, 10 dinners featuring winemakers will take place at private locations around the Puget Sound. Enjoy a gourmet meal created by a guest chef paired with fabulous Washington wine.

Columbia Winery Charity 10K Race and 5K Run/Walk: Sat. August 16
The Columbia Winery Charity 10K Race and 5K Run/Walk & Kids Dash (formerly the Covey Run) provides fun for the whole family through a scenic course through the heart of Woodinville wine country. The event will also feature food, beverages, kids’ activities, music and more.  

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 5.00.54 PMThe Wine Gala: Saturday, August 16, Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
A featured Washington State winemaker will be seated at every table.

  • Featured chefs include: Eric Triglas (Semiahomoo Resort), Josh Henderson (Hollywood Tavern), Jake Crenshaw (Olive Catering), Brett Teegardin (Purple Café and Wine Bar), Brian Scheehser (Trellis), Josh Sarich (Chateau Ste. Michelle), Janet Hedstrom (Chateau Ste. Michelle), Peter Birk (BOKA), Paul Duncan (Ray’s Boathouse), Roy Breiman (Copperleaf Restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge), Perry Mascitti (Tulalip Resort Casino), Nikol Nakamura (Tulalip Casino)

Tickets for all events are available at the Auction of Washington Wines website.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!

Double Canyon-New Winemaker, New Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 3.52.31 PMWe recently became big fans of Double Canyon, established just seven years ago in Horse Heaven Hills, and named for the two ravines that run through the property in central Washington state.

Double Canyon’s first wine, a 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Double Canyon Vineyard, was awarded 93 points from Wine Spectator.

Earlier this year, at Taste Washington, we named Double Canyon’s 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, from Phinny Hill Vineyard, in our top three favorite wines.

At that time, we met new winemaker Jason Ledbetter, who had just come to Double Canyon from Pine Ridge Vineyards, Trefethen Vineyards and Cakebread Cellars in Napa.

We could tell immediately that Jason had a passion for appellation-focused estate wine, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, which is Double Canyon’s focus. In the months since then, he has frequently referred to Horse Heaven Hills as “a special place” and a leading area to produce Cabernet in Washington state.

One week ago, Double Canyon released its 2012 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon. In Jason’s words, “Classic wines from this appellation are lauded for their exceptional balance and acidity, and this wine is no exception.”

We can attest to this, and we are sure that our appreciation of this wine will be echoed by those who taste it. Obviously the wine is young, just released last week. But yes, it definitely rocked with potential. And after decanting it for a couple of hours, it paired very nicely with BBQ steak.

From the tasting notes:

“Luminous and dark purple in hue, this wine delivers a rich fruit and floral fragrance accented by an exotic vanilla spice. The palate opens with soft, rich flavors of bright red plum and dried red cherry accented by black tea leaf and fresh vanilla bean. The texture is smooth and luscious, and the wine’s balance and mouthwatering acidity make for a classic Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet.”

This 2012 wine is sourced from grapes at three well-known vineyards. Almost a quarter comes from the winery’s estate Double Canyon Vineyard, with the remainder sourced from Phinny Hill Vineyard, which is located across from Double Canyon and owned by vineyard manager Will Beightol’s family, and Zephyr Ridge, which Beightol previously managed.

AVA: Horse Heaven Hills
Blend: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Syrah, 3% Malbec
SRP: $25
Released: July 2014
Production: 698 cases
Sample provided  by winery

We are looking forward to watching how Jason expands the Cabernet Sauvignon program at Double Canyon. And of course, we plan on tasting many more of his Double Canyon Cabs.

Cheers!

 

 

Don’t Miss Chateau St. Michelle’s Summer Concert Series

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Malbec, Merlot, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

There are still tickets left for some of the first-rate performers at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Summer Concert Series, at the scenic outdoor amphitheater on the beautiful winery grounds in Woodinville.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon or evening. And this week is supposed to be sunny and in the 80s, so you can’t miss!

Pretty surroundings, fine Chateau Ste. Michelle wine, summer weather and music for dancing = happy people!

We were fortunate to attend the John Legend “All of Me” concert on June 28 and had a fabulous time. His music was as phenomenal as expected, and he entertained a rapt audience with funny stories in addition to sultry tunes.

We paired his music with Chateau Ste. Michelle’s 2010 Artist Series Meritage, a layered rich blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc and 3% Malbec.

There are many more concerts to come this summer. While some concerts are already sold out, you can still find tickets for many performances.

  • July 16: Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
  • July 17: Replay America with The Go-Go’s, Patty Smyth and Scandal, Martha Davis and The Motels, Cutting Crew & Naked Eyes featuring Pete Byrne
  • July 18: Lyle Lovett & His Large Band
  • Sold Out: Goo Goo Dolls & Daughtry with special guest Plain White T‘s
  • July 26: Festival of Jazz with Manhattan Transfer, Spyro Gyra, Lee Ritenour & Dave Grusin and Jessy J
  • July 27: Chris Isaak
  • Aug. 1: Nickel Creek
  • Sold Out: ZZ Top and Jeff Beck
  • Gipsy King’s 25th Anniversary Tour
  • Sold Out: Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Aug. 24: Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus Featuring Buddy Guy
  • Sold Out: Boston
  • Sept. 12: An Evening with Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • Sept. 14: Crosby, Stills & Nash (their first night, Sept. 13, is sold out)

So don’t wait – have a look at the Concert Calendar, where you can also get your tickets right now.

Have questions? Check out the concert FAQ.

Thanks for inviting us to be your guests, Chateau Ste. Michelle. There are many reasons why your winery is considered one of Seattle’s top summer concert venues, and why this series has been a winner since it was first introduced in 1984.

Cheers!

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