Kirkland Uncorked

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A couple of weeks ago, we attended Kirkland Uncorked. We were very disappointed. Maybe our expectations were too high because we had had such a great time at Washington Wine Highway a few weeks earlier. Regardless, we were not impressed. Here’s why: poor parking; canceled wine education seminars; limited retail supplies (good wine sold out quickly); and it was expensive. At Washington Wine Highway, one ticket meant one winery could pour from its best selections. (Yes, selections, plural.) At Kirkland Uncorked, one ticket translated into one pour, period.

We tasted some great wine there, though, so the day wasn’t a total loss. We enjoyed Five Star Cellars 2005 Syrah–a 100% Syrah that’s an old world blend with a full body and nice tannins. Try it with a big steak or with cheese on your deck this fall, or in front of your fireplace this winter. Another favorite was Maryhill Winery’s velvety-rich, signature Zinfandel, and its popular 2005 Winemaker’s Blend, a ruby red Bordeaux-style wine.

There were more good wines there that I’ll write about in another post. That reminds me:a wine enthusiast in New Brunswick asked me today if I found myself with more great wines than time to write about them. Write on!

Cheers!

What’s going on this weekend and next month

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What’s going on in Washington wine country?

 Saturday July 28:

  • Summer Wine Gala: Nine wineries and twelve chefs. Lush gardens and smooth jazz. Where? Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee from 5-8 p.m. $75 per person or $125 for couples. For more information, call: 509-663-3723.
  • Vino Bello: A wine tasting of Pinot Noirs from around the world. 4-7 p.m. $5 For more information, call 206-244-VINO
  • Des Voigne Cellars and Cuillin Hills Winery: An evening of wine tasting, appetizers and live music in support of Team “Lucky 13″ in its fundraising efforts for the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk. Tickets are $20. For more information, phone 425-415-8466. Thirty percent of the evening’s wine sales and 100% of the proceeds from all ticket sales will be donated to fundraising benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Friday Aug. 3 and Saturday Aug. 4:

Saturday Aug. 11:

  • South Seattle Artisan Wineries wine tastings: Aug. 11 is the second Saturday in the month, which means tastings from 1-5 p.m. at four wineries in Georgetown — including one of our favorites-Fall Line Winery. (You simply must try the 100% cab!) We also recently tasted some fine wines from the other three wineries: O-S Winery (formerly Owen-Sullivan), Cadence Winery and Nota Bene Cellars.
  • Columbia Winery is having its annual case sale. Stock your cellar from the more than 750 cases selected of cellar-aged older vintages. These wines are discounted for one day only. Case Sale opens to the public at 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • 3rd Annual FETCH! Wine Tasting Walkabout Fundraiser: A fun-filled afternoon (1-4 p.m.) with wine, food and, of course, dogs at Buchanan Vineyard in Langley on Whidbey Island. Five different wines will be showcased, along with gourmet cheeses, breads, nuts, chocolate and fruit. And there will be dog treats and water bowls for the pups. $20 per person in advance; $25 per person at the door. FETCH! is a not-for-profit organization “that is devoted to promoting safe responsible off-leash play time for dogs and their owners.”

Wednesday Aug. 15

  •  Join Columbia Winery‘s new Director of Winemaking, Kerry Norton at 6:30 p.m. at Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana for a winemaker dinner. Price: $45.00 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity) 600 Pine Street in Seattle. 206-264-0994

Thursday Aug. 16-Saturday Aug. 18:

Saturday Sept. 8:

If you have any events to include in the weeks ahead, please contact info@writeforwine.com.

Say what?

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I’ve received tons of e-mail since starting my blog about six weeks ago, but very few comments. I enjoy hearing from you, regardless of how you send your thoughts. But it would be nice, of course, to have more comments on this blog. (Ironically, I’ve been getting dozens of spams on my blog in the last two weeks for some reason, but not many comments from wine enthusiasts.)

 So, please review my previous posts and respond to them with your thoughts and ideas. Or comment on this post. Tell everyone what Washington wines you like … what wineries you like to visit and why … what wine events you have attended or like to attend … what wine bars you visit … and what topics you’d like me to write about more frequently.

I read all my e-mail and the comments on this blog — I look forward to hearing from you.

Cheers!

So much to say, so little time

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The last two weeks have been extremely hectic with a business trip to L.A. plus a looming work deadline. Somehow, we still found time to go to Kirkland Uncorked on July 15 (which was not a good experience, and no comparison to the wonderful Washington Wine Highway) and to the Vino Bello first anniversary party (which was full of good music, great wine tastings and good cheer) on July 21.

I’ll write more about both those events within the next week. In the meantime, stay tuned for my regular pre-weekend feature, “What’s Going On” in Washington state wine country.

Cheers!

What’s going on starting July 20

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What’s going on in Washington wine country?

Saturday July 21:

  • Come celebrate at Vino Bello‘s first anniversary party in Burien. Join Washington state’s 2007 Sommelier of the year, Dave Coyle, a Burien local. Enjoy the superb wines from   Fall Line Winery and other South Seattle Artisan Wineries. Traditional barbeque and live music of J.D. Hobson. $25. 636 SW 152nd Street, Burien, Washington, 206-244-VINO.
  • Silver Lake at Roza Hills -Zillah is having a beach party. The Bayou Boys play favorite oldies at 5 p.m. plus there’s a clam bake, burgers, hot dogs and of course, wine. (And there’s 25% off all “summer wines,” too.) When the sun sets, there’s an outdoor screening of the 1965 movie classic,  Beach Blanket Bingo.
  • Seattle-based cookbook author and Northwest food expert Cynthia Nims will be signing books from her Northwest Homegrown Cookbook Series at The Tasting Room at Pike Place Market in Seattle from 1 to 4 pm. For more information, call 206-770-WINE.

Sunday July 22:

  • Blending seminar with Brian Carter of Brian Carter Cellars: Renowned Washington winemaker Brian Carter is holding a blending seminar at the Purple Cafe in Woodinville. Classes are from 12-2 p.m. and the $25 cost includes the seminar, a flight of wine and “a small bite” that is paired with each wine in the flight.

Saturday Aug. 11:

  • South Seattle Artisan Wineries wine tastings: Aug. 11 is the second Saturday in the month, which means tastings from 1-5 p.m. at four wineries in Georgetown — including one of our favorites-Fall Line Winery. (You simply must try the cab!)
  • Columbia Winery is having its annual case sale. Stock your cellar from the more than 750 cases selected of cellar-aged older vintages. These wines are discounted for one day only. Case Sale opens to the public at 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Wednesday Aug. 15

  •  Join Columbia Winery‘s new Director of Winemaking, Kerry Norton at 6:30 p.m. at Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana for a winemaker dinner. Price: $45.00 per person (exclusive of tax and gratuity) 600 Pine Street in Seattle. 206-264-0994

Thursday Aug. 16-Saturday Aug. 18:

Saturday Sept. 8:

If you have any events to include in the weeks ahead, please contact info@writeforwine.com.

Be sure to find Lost River Winery

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If you’re ready for a good Syrah, look no further than Lost River Winery. We found Lost River 2005 Walla Walla Valley Syrah to be among the best in Washington state. As this Syrah decants, the fruit flavor comes out. But if you drink it right away, you’ll notice its dark, strong character of bitter chocolate and coffee. And at $23, you can’t miss with this Syrah.

We tasted the Syrah last night at Vino Bello, where Cellarmaster Liam Doyle told us about the philosophy of Lost River Winery: “Our wines have a stylistically restrained use of new oak–oak is the seasoning or spice and less of a dominating flavor.”

Indeed, the 2005 Walla Walla Valley Syrah–about 93% Syrah and 7-8% Cabernet Sauvignon–aged for 11 months in 100% French oak barrels, but only 25% were new barrels.

Another wine we enjoyed (particularly because it was a hot summer evening when we tasted it) was Lost River Winery 2006 Columbia Valley Pinot Gris, which was aged for four months in stainless steel to enhance its fruit flavor. This Pinot Gris exhibits aromas of citrus, pear and tropical fruits. The wine is crisp, cool and perfect to enjoy on the deck with cheese or seafood.

Lost River Winery is located in Winthrop. If you can’t get to the tasting room, don’t worry–Liam holds several tastings in the Seattle area each month, so look for details on my weekly post “What’s Going On.”

Lost Rivery Winery was established in 2002–which seemed fairly recent until Liam noted that at that time, there were 320 wineries in Washington state and now there are 500 wineries here!

Cheers!

What’s going on in the next few weeks?

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What’s going on in Washington wine country?

Friday July 13-Sunday July 15:

  •  Kirkland Uncorked: A festival of Washington wines, arts and food at Kirkland’s waterfront Marina Park. Sample five tastings from 17 Washington vineyards, souvenir tasting glasses (while supplies last) and food samples: $20 in advance; $25 at the door.
  • South Seattle Artisan Wineries wine tastings: July 14 is the second Saturday in the month, which means tastings from 1-5 p.m. at four wineries in Georgetown — including one of our favorites-Fall Line Winery. (You simply must try the cab!)
  • Lost River Winery tasting at Vino Bello in Burien on July 14.  $5 tasting fee. 636 SW 152nd Street, Burien, Washington, 206-244-VINO.
  • Winemakers Weekend at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla features Three Rivers and Walla Walla Vintners. The weekend packages start at $899. For more information, call 509-524-5110 or 866-826-9422 or e-mail wine@marcuswhitmanhotel.com
  • Covington Cellars is having a big release party. They’ll be releasing four new wines: 2006 Klipsun Vineyard Semillon, 2006 Viognier, 2004 Rough House Red and the 2005 Sangiovese.

Monday July 16:

  • Bergevin Lane’s Winemaker Dinner at Brix 25 in Gig Harbor. For more information, call 253-858-6626.

Tuesday July 17:

Thursday July 19:

  • Taste of the Nation in Seattle. This anniversary event will bring together Seattle’s best chefs, restaurateurs and wineries for one evening. General admission ticket holders will enjoy access to the event from 6 -9 p.m., free parking, musical entertainment and a commemorative 20th anniversary wine glass. Fisher Pavilion – Seattle Center. For tickets call 877.26.TASTE.

Sunday July 22:

  • Blending seminar with Brian Carter of Brian Carter Cellars: Renowned Washington winemaker Brian Carter is holding a blending seminar at the Purple Cafe in Woodinville. Classes are from 12-2 p.m. and the $25 cost includes the seminar, a flight of wine and “a small bite” that is paired with each wine in the flight.

Saturday Aug. 11:

  • South Seattle Artisan Wineries wine tastings: Aug. 11 is the second Saturday in the month, which means tastings from 1-5 p.m. at four wineries in Georgetown — including one of our favorites-Fall Line Winery. (You simply must try the cab!)

Thursday Aug. 16-Saturday Aug. 18:

Saturday Sept. 8:

If you have any events to include in the weeks ahead, please contact info@writeforwine.com.

Special thanks to The Cork Board team for giving me the idea to write about upcoming events — they do a fabulous weekly post called Cork Bits on Thursdays about weekend events in Napa Valley.

Wine Blogging Wednesday #35

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This is the second Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW) since I started this blog last month. My first WBS was perfect for a Washington state wine blog – the topic was Washington state Cabs. This month, WBW is about Spanish wine that costs about (give or take) $10. Not an easy task for someone who writes about Washington state wine!

But I love the idea of wine bloggers around the world writing on a set date about a specific type of wine, so I hope you understand why I am not writing about Washington state wine today. And  thanks to Michelle at My Wine Education who is hosting WBW this month. Stop by her blog to read everyone’s comments.

So let’s get to it.  I tried five Spanish wines between $15-$20 at a special tasting provided by Cavatappi Distribuzione, a wholesale wine distributor in Seattle: 2006 Lagar de Cervera Albarino; 2005 Balbas Tinto Roble; 2003 Casa de la Ermita Crianza; 2001 Valdelosfrailes Seleccionada Crianza; and 2005 Flor Del Montgo Old Vine Monastrell.

The only white wine, the 2006 Lagar de Cervera Albarino, is ideal to sip icy cold on a hot summer evening. According to Jeff from Cavatappi, this Albarino is one of the best in northwest Spain, where the rainy climate is similar to Washington state. The 2006 Lagar de Cervera Albarino “has been rated 90 or above by all the major wine publications,” said Jeff. This golden wine has an orchard fruit flavor with a spicy, long finish.

My favorite wine at the tasting was 2001 Valdelosfrailes Seleccionada Crianza–100% Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo) from Cigales in north-central Spain. This region has sandy, limestone soil and vastly different temperatures during the day and night, “allowing the vines to lie dormant during the night and to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients during the day.” The result is a complex wine that would nicely pair with either strong cheeses or lamb.

One final wine: I’m only going to mention Rioja because everyone knows Rioja and because my local grocery chain doesn’t have a great selection of Spanish wine. I tried Marques de Caceres 2003 Rioja Crianza Red, which has a bright ruby color and is very fruity with a smooth finish. It was pleasant for an affordable wine– it cost $11.99 on sale.

When I checked online, prices ranged from a low $8.99 to a high $15.99. An online review called it an elegant, outstanding wine, but I disagree. It was not even remotely as elegant as most Washington state wines.

See, I ended talking about Washington state wines after all! Cheers!

Fall Line and Januik Cabs

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I was glad to see that Fall Line Winery and Januik Winery were among those recognized last week by Gene at Seattle Wine Blog. Gene has been traveling around wine country for what seems like months — to Walla Walla, Sequim and San Francisco. You can read all about his adventures and his reviews on Seattle Wine Blog.  Gene is a wine writer, wine educator and former publisher of the Northwest Consumer’s Wine Guide and in my opinion, his blog is recommended reading.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Fall Line Winery’s 2004 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is my favorite wine right now. This wine is unique and spectacular — in fact, we enjoyed a bottle of it last night.  It’s a sophisticated blend of 100 percent Cab — in other words, it’s a blend of Cab grapes from three vineyards and well worth the $30 price point. I’ve also written about Winemaker Mike Januik at Novelty Hill Januik. At $40, the Januik 2004 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is also fabulous.

So a shout-out to Gene for recognizing these fine wineries, which I applaud too. Cheers!

Washington Merlots Win Again

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Merlot Madness!! Washington Merlots Were the Winners is the title of an article yesterday on Ken’s Wine Guide. (Ken is a new blogger friend of mine who also writes all about wines on his blog Boston Wine Buzz.) Ken and his KWG panel held a blind tasting of Merlots in June. There were so many Merlots on the list that they were divided into two groups based on price. On the high end, 13 wines were reviewed — and Washington’s own 2003 Reininger Merlot and 2004 J. Bookwalter Winery Merlot were the top two winners.

How did Ken’s tasting panel reach its decisions? Did any other Washington state wineries make the cut? Read the complete article to find out.

And while you’re there, have a look at all 113 Washington state wineries that are recommended by Ken’s Wine Guide. Not surprisingly, Quilceda Creek Vintners takes the top three spots in both quality and price.

Cheers to Ken, who appreciates Washington state wines!

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