BLT means much more than a meal

To most people, BLT is a tasty sandwich, packed full of bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. To New Yorkers, BLT is BLT Restaurants: BLT Steak, BLT Fish and BLT Prime–each is also known as a stellar and elegant “Bistro Laurent Tourondel,” named after Master Chef Laurent Tourondel.

So what, you may ask, does any of this have to do with Washington state wines?

A lot, as it turns out. BLT Restaurants’ signature wine is called BLT Barrel Select, and it is only available in $16.50 pours in New York City. Guess where it comes from? Washington state, of course. More precisely, from the fabulous Woodhouse Family Cellars in Woodinville, a quick 30-minute drive from Seattle. We had the good fortune to taste BLT Barrel Select on the weekend at a wine club release party and barbeque. The wine was superb, supple and structured.

BLT Barrel Select, a special label 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon from Rattlesnake Hills, was a collaboration between Washington’s Bijal Shah, owner of the successful Woodhouse Family Cellars and BLT wine director Fred Dexheimer. The BLT Barrel Select is 75 percent Cabernet and 25 percent Malbec and is perfectly suited for the bistro fare at BLT Restaurants. The bad news: it was only available for sale in Washington state on Saturday for members of Woodhouse Family Cellars’ wine club.

The good news is that Woodhouse Family Cellar has many, many other fantastic wines that are available at a number of restaurants and retail outlets. All five premium labels have developed a “cult wine” following: Darighe, Maghee, Dussek, Kennedy Shah, and Hudson-Shah. 

Darighe is an exquisite, high-end Bordeaux-style blend that is considered the flagship. The second label, a robust 100 percent Merlot called Maghee, is so outstanding that it sells out very quickly. Also know as a “Big Boy” Merlot, Maghee is our favorite Merlot in the world. The third label is Dussek, consisting of a sharp, supple Cab with an elegant finish and a strong, straightforward Syrah. The fourth label is called Kennedy Shah, named after the daughter of Bijal and his wife Sinead. Kennedy Shah includes seven varietals: a Red Mountain Merlot, a Cabernet, a Syrah, an Orange Muscat, a Tempranillo, a Petit Verdot and a white picnic blend.

Ah, the picnic blend. We’re not big fans of white wine, but we had heard so much about the 2004 Auntie Meredith’s Picnic Blend (shout-out to the Cellar Rat) that we had to taste it at the barbeque, too. The 2006 Auntie Meredith’s Picnic Blend is pale gold with blossom, pear, peach and honey flavors–comprised of 50 percent Chardonnay, 25 percent Chenin Blanc and 25 percent Viognier. We “non-white-wine drinkers” took home a bottle of Auntie Meredith’s to enjoy on a sunny summer day on the deck.

The flagship release of the fifth label, Hudson-Shah, is another “Big Boy” … it’s called the Big Boy Butterball Chardonnay.

We highly recommend that you taste some of these fantastic wines at Woodhouse Family Cellars. The tasting room has been described as “warehouse chic,” featuring golden chandeliers, a granite tasting bar and a Viking kitchen. Oh and by the way, Bijal makes a mean barbeque, too.

I’ll have more about Bijal’s growing wine business and fantastic wines another day. For now, I’ll leave you with Bijal’s explanation of why Washington wines are so spectacular — Washington state has old-world terroir and new world fruit.


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About Margot

Margot has been writing about wine since 1997 at KOIN-TV in Portland, Oregon; ten years later, she created this blog. Write for Wine focuses on the fine wines of Washington state, with occasional posts about other northwest wine regions (Oregon and B.C.), California, ANZ and Bordeaux. A former national journalist in Canada, Margot has been a Washington wine enthusiast since moving to Seattle in 1999. Her motto: “It’s wine o’clock somewhere.”