Wine with Dinner (WWD) A new feature

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I’m starting a new feature in this blog called WWD, or Wine with Dinner. It’s a complete takeoff on a great idea from my friend Thad, blogger of Beyond the Bottle. Thad frequently writes about WIDWD or “What I drank with dinner” in his blog. I like his idea so much that I decided to start writing here about wines that we have with our dinner.

And, by the way, I totally agree with Thad’s choice today in his blog: Brian Carter Cellars 2004 Tuttorosso. In fact, regular readers of my blog might remember my recent post about how four wines by winemaker Brian Carter were described as “outstanding” by Robert Parker: the 2005 Oriana, 2003 Tuttorosso, 2003 L’Etalon and the winery’s flagship 2001 Solesce.

Hmmm, it’s almost dinner time now, so I think I’ll go open a bottle from Brian Carter Cellars to have with dinner tonight. Thanks for the idea, Thad!

Cheers!

Wine & Philosophy

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Fritz Allhoff, the author of a new book, called Wine & Philosophy: A Symposium of Thinking and Drinking, contacted me to see if I would be interested in a good read. Because this blog is typically about Washington state wine, I asked Fritz if his new book related to the topics and readers of it. 

His response — which worked for me — was this: “The book explores the philosophical dimensions of wine and wine drinking.  I would hope that everyone who is interested in wine would be interested in thinking more critically about it and the underlying history, philosophy, and so on.  People talk about some Washington wines in the book, but it’s certainly not a book about wine in Washington.”

Specifically, the book, a compilation of essays by philosophers, wine writers, and winemakers, was published today, Oct. 29. Chapters discuss the art and culture of wine, the beauty of wine, the metaphysics of wine, and the politics and economics of wine. Heady stuff, indeed.

Tom over at Fermentation wrote an eloquent blog post, noting that “The discussion of wine can, and I think should, lead us to deeper explorations not just of meaning, but explorations of the meaning of our own experience with life and people … This is one of those rare books that actually lead us down this path.”

I look forward to reading Wine & Philosophy. Will it make a good holiday gift for a wine enthusiast or philosopher on your list?

Cheers!

Washington Wine Alerts

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Back in June, Catie at Through the Walla Walla Grapevine was the first to welcome me to the world of Washington state wine blogs. At the time, she told me that she found out about my new blog about Washington state wine through a Google alert. Four months later, I finally got around to setting up my own Google alert for Washington wine. Wow — people are really talking about the fine wines in our state. I receive up to ten alerts each day to prove it. Brilliant!

For example, I discovered this interview with Paul Gregett, author of Washington Wines and Wineries: The Essential Guide. He shared some very interesting pearls of wisdom–in particular he noted that many more wines are being released at a young age these days for many reasons.
•  It’s very expensive for a winery to inventory wines.
•  Consumers seem to be more interested in fresh, fruity flavors than in the complexities of mature wines.
•  A lot of wines don’t improve with age.
•  Winemaking has changed so that wines are designed to be consumed young.
•  There is pressure from the wine press and trade to get new vintages out as soon as possible.

But have no fear, Gregett also said,  ”Many winemakers are crafting terrific red wines that are delicious upon release.”

Cheers! 

What’s going on …

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Thursday, Oct. 25

  • Book signing and live music with Paul Gregutt at The Tasting Room. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Paul will be signing his new book, “Washington Wines & Wineries: The Essential Guide.” Paul writes weekly wine columns for the Seattle Times, the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. 

  • Try some marvellous Merlots from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Portfolio Restaurant in West Seattle and enjoy the breathtaking view of Elliott Bay. Reservations required: 206-239-2363 ($12)

Friday, Oct. 26

  •  Second annual Wurst & Wine Festival at The Tasting Room from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. For $15, you can try world-famous links paired with wines. Space is limited, so call 206-770-9463 or e-mail jen@winesofwashington.com

Saturday, Oct. 27

  • Richard Corella from Chandler Reach Vineyards is back for a special wine tasting of his newest releases at Vino Bello. ($10)

  • If you’re near the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail in Zillah, don’t miss Hallowine, where chills and thrills await you from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, Nov. 8

  • Try some beautiful blends from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Portfolio Restaurant in West Seattle and enjoy the breathtaking view of Elliott Bay. Reservations required: 206-239-2363 ($12) 

Saturday, Nov. 10 and Sunday, Nov. 11

  • Taste of Red, Columbia Winery’s premier wine tasting and social event will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on both days. Taste an extensive collection of red wine, including wine pulled directly from the barrel. Samples of northwest food will also be available. Admission is $20 per person ($10 for Cellar Club members) and includes a logo tasting glass.

  • Learn how to make wreaths out of grapevines at Silver Lake Winery in Woodinville from noon to 4 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 13

Saturday, Nov. 17 and Sunday, Nov. 18

  •  Bottle Your Own Wine returns to Silver Lake Winery in Woodinville just in time for the holidays. Handcraft wine with your personalized label — you’ll get to bottle it, cork it, foil it and label it.
  • Grand Opening of Wilridge Vineyard Tasting Room near Yakima over Thanksgiving Weekend (November 23, 24 and 25). Be the first to visit Wilridge’s organic and biodynamic vineyard oasis and Tasting Room on the Naches Heights, five minutes west of Yakima.
  • At all three Silver Lake Winery locations — Woodinville, Leavenworth and Zillah — sample complimentary newly released wines served with snacks and special holiday pricing of your favorite wines.

Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2

  • Check out St. Nick’s Open House in Woodinville from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The wineries of Woodinville Wine Country open their doors for a single ticket price of $50. Some of the participating wineries are rarely open to the public, so don’t miss this opportunity! You’ll enjoy special tastings and specially prepared hors d’oeuvres to complement the wine. Check out Woodinville Wine Country’s Web site for a list of wineries and ticket information.

  •  Walla Walla Holiday Barrel Tasting is an annual event in the Walla Walla Valley. Winemakers will be on hand as more than 50 wineries open their barrel rooms. Each winery participates offers a variety of different features such as food, music, art exhibits, wine dinners, cooking demonstrations, poetry readings, and more.

Tuesday, Dec. 11

 Cheers!

Time to update our favorites!

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I have a Featured Picks page on my Web site, Write for Wine, that lists our favorite wines. I created the list at the same time that I created this wine blog in early June.

At that time, our favorite wines were:

    Brian Carter Cellars 1999 Solece: This Bordeaux-Style blend has complex aromas of blackberry, leather, toasted cedar and cassis with a long finish both supple and age-worthy.
    Forgeron 2002 Vinfinity: We had the pleasure of tasting this wine recently. Dark aromas and toast on the nose. Luscious flavors of Bing cherry, spice and dark chocolate nuances coat your palate in a silky embrace.
    Goose Ridge 2002 Vireo: This luscious red wine has notes of black cherry, licorice and cedar with hints of spice and a long, lingering finish.

It’s time to update the list. I don’t think I want to remove any of our favorites, although I might replace some with a newer vintage. But I’m sure I want to add some new ones from wineries in Woodinville to Walla Walla. What are your suggestions? C’mon, don’t just send me e-mail! Add your comments here and let’s have a conversation.

Cheers!

The Little Black Book

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Have you ever read The Little Black Book of Wine? I have perused many of its pages, but today was the first time that I specifically searched through the “Types of Grapes” section to see where Washington state varietals were listed.

According to the book, Washington wine country is known for these whites: Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Gewurztraminer. Washington state, according to the book, is not known for Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris, although our neighbors to the north, British Columbia, and our neighbors to the south, Oregon, are both listed as regions for those to dry whites. And although California and Oregon are both listed for Viognier, Washington state is not.

According to the book, Washington wine country is known for these reds: Merlot, Syrah and Cab Franc. What, only three reds in Washington state? Please! How can we not be listed for Cabernet Sauvignon? Or Sangiovese? Or Barbera? I have had excellent wines from all three varietals at numerous Washington state wineries.

Do these omissions surprise you? I look forward to your comments!

Cheers!

What’s going on …

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Thursday, Oct. 18

  •  Try some racy Rieslings from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Portfolio Restaurant in West Seattle and enjoy the breathtaking view of Elliott Bay. Reservations required: 206-239-2363 ($12)

Saturday, Oct. 20

  • From Vampire 7 to Deadly Zins, Vino Bello offers a special Halloween wine tasting. ($10)

Thursday, Oct. 25

  • Book signing and live music with Paul Gregutt at The Tasting Room. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Paul will be signing his new book, “Washington Wines & Wineries: The Essential Guide.” Paul writes weekly wine columns for the Seattle Times, the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. 

  • Try some marvellous Merlots from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Portfolio Restaurant in West Seattle and enjoy the breathtaking view of Elliott Bay. Reservations required: 206-239-2363 ($12)

Friday, Oct. 26

  •  Second annual Wurst & Wine Festival at The Tasting Room from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. For $15, you can try world-famous links paired with wines. Space is limited, so call 206-770-9463 or e-mail jen@winesofwashington.com

Saturday, Oct. 27

  • Richard Corella from Chandler Reach Vineyards is back for a special wine tasting of his newest releases at Vino Bello. ($10)

  • If you’re near the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail in Zillah, don’t miss Hallowine, where chills and thrills await you from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, Nov. 8

  • Try some beautiful blends from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Portfolio Restaurant in West Seattle and enjoy the breathtaking view of Elliott Bay. Reservations required: 206-239-2363 ($12) 

Saturday, Nov. 10 and Sunday, Nov. 11

  • Taste of Red, Columbia Winery’s premier wine tasting and social event will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on both days. Taste an extensive collection of red wine, including wine pulled directly from the barrel. Samples of northwest food will also be available. Admission is $20 per person ($10 for Cellar Club members) and includes a logo tasting glass.

  • Learn how to make wreaths out of grapevines at Silver Lake Winery in Woodinville from noon to 4 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 13

Saturday, Nov. 17 and Sunday, Nov. 18

  •  Bottle Your Own Wine returns to Silver Lake Winery in Woodinville just in time for the holidays. Handcraft wine with your personalized label — you’ll get to bottle it, cork it, foil it and label it.
  • Grand Opening of Wilridge Vineyard Tasting Room near Yakima over Thanksgiving Weekend (November 23, 24 and 25). Be the first to visit Wilridge’s organic and biodynamic vineyard oasis and Tasting Room on the Naches Heights, five minutes west of Yakima.
  • At all three Silver Lake Winery locations — Woodinville, Leavenworth and Zillah — sample complimentary newly released wines served with snacks and special holiday pricing of your favorite wines.

Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2

  • Check out St. Nick’s Open House in Woodinville from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The wineries of Woodinville Wine Country open their doors for a single ticket price of $50. Some of the participating wineries are rarely open to the public, so don’t miss this opportunity! You’ll enjoy special tastings and specially prepared hors d’oeuvres to complement the wine. Check out Woodinville Wine Country’s Web site for a list of wineries and ticket information.

  •  Walla Walla Holiday Barrel Tasting is an annual event in the Walla Walla Valley. Winemakers will be on hand as more than 50 wineries open their barrel rooms. Each winery participates offers a variety of different features such as food, music, art exhibits, wine dinners, cooking demonstrations, poetry readings, and more.

Tuesday, Dec. 11

Wild about Windy Point

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Somehow we missed Windy Point Vineyards during our two trips to the Yakima Valley this year. We will not miss it the next time — for a number of reasons. First and most importantly, we recently tasted and enjoyed some of their red wines at Vino Bello, and we want to go to the vineyard for more. (Disclosure: My wine writing business, Write for Wine, just started to do some writing for Vino Bello.)

Second, Windy Point Marketing Manager Mike Libbee painted an enticing picture of the amazing tasting room overlooking breathtaking views of the Yakima Valley. Third, Mike told us about Mississippi sawback turtles that are being raised at the vineyard. And the turtles recently had babies! Fourth, Windy Point owners Mike and Liz Stepniewski like to cook, so they designed a professional kitchen as the centerpiece of the tasting room. (Their Web site offers recipes to go with many of their wines.) See the tasting room, views and turtles in these photos on Windy Point’s Web site.

So back to the wine … we liked all four reds that we tasted but, in our opinion, two wines stood above the others: 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2004 !Exclamation Point!, one of the winery’s best-sellers. The 2004 !Exclamation Point! is a rich blend of 60% Cab Franc and 40% Merlot, combining old world structure with new world fruit. The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, which received an “Excellent!” in Wine Press Northwest, was my favorite with its elegant, smooth flavors and earthiness.

Windy Point owners Mike and Liz also have fun with naming their wines — including Windy Point’s 2004 !Exclamation Point!, 2003 Three Points (48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 10% Syrah) and a specialty blend called Windy Point’s Pointless! We’re looking forward to tasting more of them.

Cheers!

Washington Wines — only the good stuff!

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Some people have recently asked me why I only write positive comments in my blog about Washington state wine. Surely, they say, there must be some wines in Washington state that aren’t so great. Of course there are. I found a few recently in Yakima that had 15% alcohol. I chose not to write about them.

Why not? Because I’m not a critic. I’m not a wine reviewer. I simply like to share my thoughts about what I consider good wine. And Washington state produces a bounty of good wine.

I don’t mind being called a cheerleader for Washington state wines. There is a lot to cheer about!

Cheers!

What’s going on …

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Saturday, Oct. 13

  • Let Vino Bello bring you some California sunshine with a wine tasting of hip California wines. Try the latest cool wines from California wine country and mellow out to live country music of Charlie Spring. ($10)

  • An Evening of Bubbles at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar on Fourth Ave. in Seattle: A four-course dinner paired with different champagnes. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. and costs $100 per person. For reservations: 206-838-3853.

 Monday, Oct. 15

  • The Mac is back at The Tasting Room in Post Alley in Seattle! Taste some wonderful wine pairings with mac-n-cheese every Monday, from 5 p.m. until the mac-n-cheese runs out. You can even order a mac-n-cheese wine flight.

Thursday, Oct. 18

  •  Try some racy Rieslings from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Portfolio Restaurant in West Seattle and enjoy the breathtaking view of Elliott Bay. Reservations required: 206-239-2363 ($12)

Saturday, Oct. 20

  • From Vampire 7 to Deadly Zins, Vino Bello offers a special Halloween wine tasting. ($10)

Thursday, Oct. 25

  • Book signing and live music with Paul Gregutt at The Tasting Room. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Paul will be signing his new book, “Washington Wines & Wineries: The Essential Guide.” Paul writes weekly wine columns for the Seattle Times, the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. 

  • Try some marvellous Merlots from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Portfolio Restaurant in West Seattle and enjoy the breathtaking view of Elliott Bay. Reservations required: 206-239-2363 ($12)

Friday, Oct. 26

  •  Second annual Wurst & Wine Festival at The Tasting Room from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. For $15, you can try world-famous links paired with wines. Space is limited, so call 206-770-9463 or e-mail jen@winesofwashington.com

Saturday, Oct. 27

  • Richard Corella from Chandler Reach Vineyards is back for a special wine tasting of his newest releases at Vino Bello. ($10)

  • If you’re near the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail in Zillah, don’t miss Hallowine, where chills and thrills await you from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, Nov. 8

  • Try some beautiful blends from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Portfolio Restaurant in West Seattle and enjoy the breathtaking view of Elliott Bay. Reservations required: 206-239-2363 ($12) 

Saturday, Nov. 10 and Sunday, Nov. 11

  • Taste of Red, Columbia Winery’s premier wine tasting and social event will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on both days. Taste an extensive collection of red wine, including wine pulled directly from the barrel. Samples of northwest food will also be available. Admission is $20 per person ($10 for Cellar Club members) and includes a logo tasting glass.

  • Learn how to make wreaths out of grapevines at Silver Lake Winery in Woodinville from noon to 4 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 13

Saturday, Nov. 17 and Sunday, Nov. 18

  •  Bottle Your Own Wine returns to Silver Lake Winery in Woodinville just in time for the holidays. Handcraft wine with your personalized label — you’ll get to bottle it, cork it, foil it and label it.
  • Grand Opening of Wilridge Vineyard Tasting Room near Yakima over Thanksgiving Weekend (November 23, 24 and 25). Be the first to visit Wilridge’s organic and biodynamic vineyard oasis and Tasting Room on the Naches Heights, five minutes west of Yakima.
  • At all three Silver Lake Winery locations — Woodinville, Leavenworth and Zillah — sample complimentary newly released wines served with snacks and special holiday pricing of your favorite wines.

Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2

  • Check out St. Nick’s Open House in Woodinville from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The wineries of Woodinville Wine Country open their doors for a single ticket price of $50. Some of the participating wineries are rarely open to the public, so don’t miss this opportunity! You’ll enjoy special tastings and specially prepared hors d’oeuvres to complement the wine. Check out Woodinville Wine Country’s Web site for a list of wineries and ticket information.

  •  Walla Walla Holiday Barrel Tasting is an annual event in the Walla Walla Valley. Winemakers will be on hand as more than 50 wineries open their barrel rooms. Each winery participates offers a variety of different features such as food, music, art exhibits, wine dinners, cooking demonstrations, poetry readings, and more.

Tuesday, Dec. 11

 

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