Double Canyon-New Winemaker, New Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Washington wineries, Wine No Comments

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!

Mollydooker Wines-Part 2

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Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.27.49 AMAs promised in our previous blog post, Mollydooker-Part 1, we want to share information about Sparky and Sarah Marquis’ unique “Marquis Fruit Weight™,” along with other stories we heard from Sparky’s dad, Leigh Gawith, who is also the vineyard manager.

Sparky and Leigh are both pictured on the right in a photo we took during our visit.

To refresh your memory, we spent a few hours at Mollydooker’s Cellar Door in McLaren Vale, Australia last month; we had so much fun and learned so much that we are writing a second blog post about our experience.

Mollydooker: Some of the Story
Sparky and Sarah began making wine in the 1990s. By 2006, after both challenges and successes, the brand Mollydooker was born. Mollydooker is an affectionate Australian slang word for left-hander, because both of them are left-handed.

Three months later, The Wine Advocate chose Mollydooker’s Shiraz, The Boxer, as the Best Value Red Wine in the World. The Two Left Feet (a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) was second, and the Maitre D’ Cab came in fourth. The Violinist (Verdelho) was chosen as the Best Value White Wine in the World. All these wines sold out in nineteen days.

In August, Mollydooker’s Carnival of Love was awarded 99 points from The Wine Advocate, while their Enchanted Path received 96 points. They both sold out in five days.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.25.40 AMFollowing these wonderful events, Sarah and Sparky bought 114 acres of vineyards, a winery and property with stunning views on Seaview Ridge in McLaren Vale, 45 minutes outside of Adelaide.

Their motto is: “We make wines that make people go WOW, through attention to detail and commitment to excellence!” And if you read Mollydooker-Part 1, you’ll know we said WOW a lot while tasting their wines.

Note: This is only part of the Mollydooker story. You can read the entire story on their fun website.

So what makes Mollydooker wines unique? Read on!

Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme™ and the Marquis Fruit Weight™ Programme
The Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme™ is the result of an intensive collection of data and analysis, starting at bud burst in each vineyard and inspections twice weekly throughout the growing season. To produce the most intense fruit flavors, this program focuses on growing strong and healthy vines with a balanced canopy.

On our vineyard and winery tour last month, Leigh told us the programme is successful because they manipulate water levels to mimic the aging process. This means they can create balance in the vines during one year, instead of what usually takes ten. He pointed to neighbours’ surrounding vineyards to show us the difference in their appearance compared to Mollydooker’s because of this programme.

Leigh said the secret is allowing the soil to dry up, so the vines go into survival mode and put more flavour into the fruit. In turn, the amazing fruit flavour achieved in the vineyard is what creates the Marquis Fruit Weight™ in the wine.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.26.06 AM

Remember in Part 1, we talked about Mollydooker’s outstanding wine, Velvet Glove Shiraz? Well, Marquis Fruit Weight™ is the “velvet glove” sensation of fruit that sits on your tongue before the structure of the wine is exposed.

To get there, Leigh’s vineyard team measures the growth of the vines and reports on the fruit weight of the juice. The data is then fed into complex formulas, which results in precise watering recommendations for the next three days. And on it goes throughout the growing season.

Meanwhile, Sparky and Sarah taste and classify the grapes into fruit weights ranging from 65% to 95-100%. The higher the fruit weight, the more intense and rich are the flavors in the wine.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.26.24 AM These fruit weights determine the price of Mollydooker wines.

For example, their $25 wines (Boxer Shiraz) land at 65%-75% fruit weight; the $49 Blue Eyed Boy is 75% to 85%; the Carnival of Love costs $75 and is 85% to 95% fruit weight, and the $185 Velvet Glove is 95% – 100% fruit weight.

Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to meet Sarah when we were at Mollydooker’s Cellar Door. But we’ve seen interviews where she stated that she uses only two words to describe wine, so nobody has to remember all the flavour characters: - Yum or Yuck.

We are unanimous in our opinion: Mollydooker wines are most definitely YUM.

Cheers!

Mollydooker Wines-Part 1

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Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.31.02 AMOur visit to Mollydooker‘s Cellar Door highlighted our travels to McLaren Vale last month. A “cellar door” in Australia is the equivalent of a “tasting room” in the U.S. and Canada.

In just a couple of hours, we tasted some absolutely amazing wines; learned the Mollydooker story; were educated on the Marquis Fruit Weight™; heard amusing tales from Sparky Marquis and his dad, Leigh Gawith, who is also the vineyard manager; talked social media and cookie butter with Jen, Mollydooker’s Facebook and Twitter guru; chatted with Fran, our tour host; had a delicious meal of fresh garden produce; and searched for Bill, the resident Koala bear.

We never did see Bill, who hides high up in the trees surrounding the beautiful estate vineyards and only shows his adorable fuzzy face when he is in the mood and not sleeping.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.27.26 AMThe light lunch was delicious — garden-fresh produce, the best sourdough bread ever, slices of turkey, different cheeses, almonds, honey and other pairing delights.

But not surprisingly, the wines took center stage. Or should we say centre stage?

We were very fortunate to taste several wines, all Shiraz, that most definitely had that WOW factor.

We’re not alone in that belief. Mollydooker’s Velvet Glove was awarded 99 points, the Carnival of Love has twice been in the Wine Spectator’s Top Ten Wines in the World, the Blue Eyed Boy is featured in the Qantas President’s Lounge and the demand for The Boxer is massive.

We first tasted both the Carnival of Love and the Velvet Glove at the 2010 Wine Blogger Conference in Walla Walla. We were with a large group trying pours of numerous wines from various regions of the world, and our table was unanimous in declaring both of these rich, robust reds as the best of the day.

Four years later, we still feel the same way. But somehow, they taste even better in Australia!

Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy

Simply lovely. We brought a bottle of this Shiraz back to our hotel, where we savored every sip while enjoying the view from our balcony. The name Blue Eyed Boy is perfect, because of the blueberry flavors that explode in your mouth the minute you take a sip. (The winemaker says it reminds him of taking a bite from a blueberry muffin.) This is a rich, powerful wine with a silky texture and a very long finish.

Mollydooker Carnival of Love

Love is exactly what we feel about this wine. Full-bodied, complex, intense and elegant, Carnival of Love shares the same silkiness as other Mollydooker wines. And yes, we took some back to Seattle.

Mollydooker Velvet Glove

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.28.45 AMThis beauty is exemplified first by the black velvet label, and then by the velvety smooth taste on the palate. WOW doesn’t even seem adequate for one of our favorite wines in the world. Inky in color, complex, beautifully balanced, rich and luxurious, Velvet Glove has black fruit flavors layered with chocolate, mocha and spice. It’s impossible to just drink one glass.

Marquis Fruit Weight™

Owners Sparky and Sarah Marquis guarantee the quality of their wine by rating it on their unique Marquis Fruit Weight™, which is “the measure of how far back on your tongue the velvety sensation of fruit goes, before the prickly sensation of tannin is exposed.”

More details about fruit weight and the Mollydooker story will be highlighted in our next blog post, Mollydooker Wines-Part 2. We hope you come back to read more about our adventures at Mollydooker’s Cellar Door in McLaren Vale, Australia.

Cheers!

 

 

Franciscan Estate

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, California wineries, Merlot, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 1.54.44 PMSince 1975, Franciscan Estate has produced wine in the Napa Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon is king.

So we were delighted to receive samples of 2011 Franciscan Estate Cab and Merlot to taste.

2011 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Although 2011 was a challenging, cool growing season, the Franciscan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon offers beautiful aromas of red fruit and a silky mouthfeel. Comprised of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdot, 1% Syrah and 1% Cabernet Franc, this Bordeaux-style blend pairs well with hamburgers and other meat dishes.

While it is drinkable now, we recommend putting it down for a couple of years to further enhance the flavors. This is a good example of a quality Napa Cabernet Sauvignon with a $28 price point.

2011 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Merlot

Despite being produced in the challenging growing season of 2011, Franciscan Napa Valley Merlot shows richness, body and what the winemaker calls “generous shoulders.” A blend of 82% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec and 2% Syrah, this wine offers vibrant aromas and flavors, with soft tannins and supple texture.

This wine is approachable now or could be cellared for a couple more years. This is a good example of an everyday wine at $20.

Cheers!

Angel Vine Wine

Oregon wineries, Petite Sirah, Primitivo, Wine, Zinfandel Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 12.47.59 PMAngel Vine is an Oregon winery specializing in Washington Zinfandel and Primitivo, and to a lesser extent, Petite Sirah. The wine is made by Ed Fus in one of our favorite places in Oregon wine country, Carlton, but the grapes come from Washington state: Walla Walla Valley, Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope.

A year ago, we tasted pours of some Angel Vine at Carlton Cellars, where Ed makes the wine, so we were delighted when we received some sample wines to try this year. We agree with the branding note on the back of the bottles, the winery’s website, and Facebook and Twitter profiles: “Angel Vine is committed to producing premium Northwest Zinfandel and Primitivo wines that show character, individuality and spunk.”

 Angel Vine 2010 Petite Sirah (Wahluke Slope)

This big, bold red has a dark inky color, with a firm texture and mouthfeel and aromas and flavors of dark plum and blueberries. We paired it with spaghetti, with a rich tomato and meat sauce. However this wine would also work well with grilled or barbecued meats or spicy dishes. An excellent value, at $22

Angel Vine 2011 Zinfandel  (Horse Heaven Hills)

If you are a fan of Zinfandel, you must try this rich and robust wine. Comprised of 98% Zin and rounded out with 2% Petite Sirah, this wine offers bright flavors of raspberries, cherries and strawberries. Washington state wine expert Paul Gregutt wrote this in the Wine Enthusiast: “Angel Vine sources excellent fruit, and makes what is arguably the most hedonistic, California-style Zinfandel in the northwest.” Another excellent value at $19

Angel Vine 2010 Primitivo (Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope)

We love Primitivo, and this one hits the mark in both taste and value. From Coyote Canyon vineyard and Stonetree vineyard, the blended wine offers gorgeous and fragrant aromas of black cherry, raspberry and dark fruits; the wine is elegant, luscious and jammy. Another excellent value at $20

Cheers!

 

Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concert Series

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Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 2.32.41 PMThe first sign of summer, to us, isn’t the arrival of the magnificent cherry blossoms or the longer hours of daylight. Rather, it’s the   announcement of the first-rate performers at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Summer Concert Series.

We attend one of the concerts at the scenic outdoor amphitheater every year, and regardless of whom we see, we always have a fabulous time.

The 2014 lineup, which kicks off June 13, is even better than previous years. While some concerts are already sold out, you can still find tickets for many performances.

  • Allen Stone
  • Sarah McLachlan (sold out)
  • Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell
  • John Legend (sold out)
  • Steve Winwood
  • Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
  • Replay America with The Go-Go’s, Patty Smyth and Scandal, Martha Davis and The Motels, Cutting Crew & Naked Eyes featuring Pete Byrne
  • Lyle Lovett & His Large Band
  • Goo Goo Dolls & Daughtry with special guest Plain White T‘s (sold out)
  • Festival of Jazz with Manhattan Transfer, Spyro Gyra, Lee Ritenour & Dave Grusin and Jessy J
  • Chris Isaak
  • Nickel Creek
  • ZZ Top and Jeff Beck (sold out)
  • Gipsy King’s
  • Earth, Wind & Fire (sold out)
  • Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus Featuring Buddy Guy
  • Boston (sold out)
  • An Evening with Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • Crosby, Stills & Nash (tickets are still available for the second night, the first is sold out)

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

How can you miss? Beautiful grounds, fine Chateau Ste. Michelle wine, summer weather and music for dancing = happy people all around! There are many reasons why Chateau Ste. Michelle 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.

Have questions? Check out the concert FAQ.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon or evening.

Cheers!

What’s in Our Glasses Lately?

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Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.31.42 AMWe’ve had many reasons to celebrate in the last few months — birthdays, anniversaries and vacations — and what better time to pull out a bottle of fine Washington state wine from our cellar?

We also found some good-value reds lately — how can you miss at $14-$16 for Washington state juice?

So here is a mix of Washington state wine, at a wide range of prices — from $14-$75 — in alphabetical order. (Note: Some of these were small pours at the Woodinville Wine Country event, Reserve; others were bottles shared with friends.)

We hope you also have a chance to taste some of these beauties; if the above vintages are sold out, chances are the next ones are very drinkable too.

Special thanks to Angel Vine, Columbia Winery and McKinley Springs for the samples to taste.

Cheers!

Spring is in the Air at Six Seven Restaurant

Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.35.22 AM We can’t think of a better way to celebrate spring than having a five-star meal at the award-winning Six Seven Restaurant at The Edgewater, one of Seattle’s most stunning hotels.

Let us start out by saying run, don’t walk, to this gorgeous spot on the pier, where you will experience an explosion of tastes sure to please every palate.

The spring menu is as inspiring as the restaurant’s breath-taking views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, and the spectacular sunsets as well.

We were recently invited to join a group of food and wine bloggers who were lucky enough to sample delectable choices from Chef John Roberts’ new spring menufeaturing Northwest-inspired dishes crafted with the freshest and finest ingredients.

We also enjoyed the 2010 Baer Winery Ursa, a distinctive signature blend of 42% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and always a crowd-pleaser.

Here is the menu of the delicious dishes we were served.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.30.41 AM

Carpaccio of Beef (perfect appetizer, signaling what to expect in the next courses) with black truffle, shaved artichokes, baby arugula, parmesan and crisp capers

Caesar Salad (so unique) consisting of baby romaine hearts, boursin, spanish white anchovies, brioche, parmesan and creamy caesar dressing

Intermezzo (an incredible, refreshing palate cleanser) of Apple Ice and Apple Pucker

Seared Diver Scallops (amazing!) with cauliflower two ways, blistered green onions, cherry tomatoes and spanish salsa verde

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.31.11 AMRoasted Lamb Loin (melt-in-your-mouth flavors), with rosemary roasted vegetables, gnocchi, preserved lemon and mint lamb reduction — all of which was enhanced by the Ursa blend from Baer Winery

Chocolate Cake, beyond delicious

Not only do we recommend Six Seven as a must-visit (often) restaurant, but also we encourage you to stop by the luxury waterfront Edgewater Hotel where the restaurant is located.

The Edgewater is the only over-water and waterfront hotel in the Seattle area. Shortly after it was built, zoning changes prevented additional construction of further hotels on piers.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.28.50 AMIn its early years, many hotel rooms offered fishing poles, so guests could cast-off from their rooms’ windows. The Beatles stayed at The Edgewater in 1964, followed by the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

But back to the present – we highly recommend that Seattle residents and tourists alike stop by for a meal at Six Seven and a visit to the historic hotel.

We also want to thank Chef Roberts at Six Seven and Sarah Kiepe and her  Edgewater team for one of the tastiest and fun evenings we’ve had this spring.

Cheers!

Reserve – A limited amount of tickets left

Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 1.11.47 PMRun, don’t walk, to pick up tickets to the newest wine tasting event in the Seattle area, featuring two unique opportunities to experience the best wines in Woodinville – all rated above 90. And that’s why we say “Hurry!”

This stellar lineup will be poured on April 25 at Willows Lodge in Woodinville:

  • Reserve: Featuring more than 30 wineries pouring 90+ rated wines, this event starts at 7 p.m. and costs $90 per person.
  • North of 95: Wines rated at 95+ will be poured 30 minutes earlier, at 6:30 p.m. These VIP tickets also provide access to Reserve and cost $160 per person.

So who is pouring? Some of our favorites!

North of 95 wineries (in alphabetical order): Baer Winery, Betz Family Winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle, DeLille Cellars, Gorman Winery, EFESTE, Januik Winery, J. Bookwalter Wines, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Long Shadows and Mark Ryan Winery.

Reserve wineries (in alphabetical order): Ancestry Cellars, Auclair Winery, Brian Carter Cellars, Bunnell Family Cellars, Chandler Reach Winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Convergence Zone Cellars, EFESTE, Elevation Cellars, Gard Vintners, Goose Ridge, J. Bookwalter, Kaella, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Mark Ryan, Matthews, Michael Florentino Cellars, Obelisco, Novelty Hill, Page Cellars, Patterson Cellars, Pondera, Sparkman Cellars, William Church Winery and Woodinville Wine Cellars.

With this much good juice in the house, please consider booking a hotel room for the night. If not, make sure you have a designated driver, even if you sip ‘n spit or spill.

There are only a limited number of tickets left — you can purchase them through Brownpapertickets.com.

For more information, visit the Woodinville Wine Country website, where you can also find the full list of wineries.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!

 

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