Bits from Prosser, Yakima and Woodinville: Part 1

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We have been so busy tasting wine in the last couple of weeks that there hasn’t been time to write about it! Here is Part One of some notes about a few amazing Washington wineries that we visited recently. In alphabetical order:

Airfield Estates: It was our first visit to this Prosser winery and I can guarantee we will go back. Owner Mark Miller, who was entertaining, informative and passionate about his business, gave us a preview of the new releases, and we loved them all: 2007 Bombshell Red, 2007 Spitfire and 2007 Mustang, plus a Tempranillo that most definitely has kick! We also appreciated the winery tour and Mark’s stories about the photos in the Officers Club.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars: As members of this winery’s wine club, we frequently visit the Woodinville tasting room, but it’s always a treat when we can also stop by the unique tasting room in Prosser. The new releases, which we first tried at a Woodinville party the previous week, 2006 Syrah and 2005 Rock Star Red, were amazing, and a special blend for “wine club members only” knocked our socks off. (OK, it was 85 degrees and I wasn’t wearing socks. But you get the picture.)

Desert Wind Winery: We had never been to this Prosser winery either, but are we ever glad we did. The wines were rich and complex, and we spent way too much time in one of the most fabulous gift shops we’ve seen in a winery tasting room!

Gilbert Cellars: The new Yakima tasting room, which opened in August, seems more like a wine bar. It was hopping at all hours of the day and night for the entire weekend. And we just have to say that Gilbert’s new releases are even better than the last ones.

Come back later this week for Part Two of our recent experiences in Prosser, Yakima and Woodinville.

Cheers!

Coming soon

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The last two weeks have been action-packed with visits to wineries in Prosser, Yakima and Woodinville. Be sure to come back later in the week to hear about our experiences. In the meantime, mark your calendars for two great release parties coming soon to Woodinville!

On Oct. 4, JM Cellars will be releasing four wines: 2007 Chardonnay, 2007 Late Harvest Semillon, 2006 Red Mountain Merlot and 2006 Columbia Valley Cuvée.

On Oct. 4 and Oct. 5, Mark Ryan Winery will be releasing three 2006 Red Mountain blends: Dead Horse, Long Haul and Water Witch.

The wines from both JM Cellars and Mark Ryan sell out quickly, which is why we pre-ordered! So place your order soon or you might miss out on some quality wine!

We hope to see you at the parties.

Cheers!

Lipstick on a Pig Wines

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Yes, it’s true. The expression “Lipstick on a Pig,” which has recently risen from occasional use to the subject of political debate, has gone one step further. From chatter at the water cooler to the wine cooler, people are talking about ”Lipstick on a Pig” wines.

There are four varietals of the wine and each one is available with a red or blue label. The wine will be released on Oct. 1, about a month before the U.S. election, so it’s promoted as a way for wine enthusiasts to “vote” their opinions with their palate.

I first read about this new form of a public opinion poll on Twitter, and now you can read the details in the blog Must Love Wine. I know this post does not fall under my usual topic of Washington state wine or northwest wine. But I just had to share this with you!

Cheers!

Alexandria Nicole Cellars Scores Again!

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We attended a wine club release party last weekend at Alexandria Nicole Cellar’s new tasting room in Woodinville, and it was one of the best events they’ve had there yet! The music by Butch Harrison and his band was amazing — the absolute best version of Van Morrison’s Moondance that I have ever heard. The chicken with tzadziki and mini-cheeseburgers were scrumptious. The atmosphere was fun — and Jarrod Boyle, winemaker extraordinaire, his charming wife Ali (aka Alexandria Nicole), his wonderful, warm mom Vida (head of the wine club) and Kathy, the hard-working, entertaining wine club manager (in the Woodinville tasting room) kept the party hopping. (Maybe we’ll meet Jarrod’s dad when we’re in Prosser this weekend.)

But the real star of the party was, of course, the wine. There were three releases — each with Jarrod’s unique footprint. The 2006 Rock Star Red is an elegant, smooth and distinctive wine that showcases the winery’s Destiny Ridge Estate Vineyard. Rock Star Red is a bold blend of co-fermented Syrah, Viognier and Grenache. The 2005 Syrah is an Estate wine that is rich and velvety, sourced from four distinct vineyard blocks at Destiny Ridge. And if you prefer white wine, the 2007 Reserve Viognier is crisp and clean, with layers of character.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars just closed their wine club at 1000 members and renamed it “Club 1000.” However, notably, they are taking names on a waiting list, plus they have a new wine club opening soon.

And in case you missed it, we are heading to the Yakima/Prosser area for a brief visit to some of our favorite wineries in that region. So come back to the Write for Wine blog in the near future to hear about our trip!

Cheers!

Recognition for The Local Vine

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In an article called The Hot Ten: Raising the Wine Bar, Bon Appetit Magazine names Seattle’s The Local Vine as number five in its list of top ten wine bars in the United States! Congratulations to Sarah Munson and Allison Nelson, who have created a comfortable place to relax with wine and food. I’ve done just that myself on quite a few occasions and always had fun.

The four wine bars ahead of The Local Vine on the list include Terroir in New York, Bar Bambino in San Francisco, Top Fir in Atlanta and Tria Cafe in Philadelphia. According to the magazine, these wine bars (and five others in Washington, D.C., Honolulu, L.A., Houston and Cincinnati) were chosen because they are “defined by eclectic lists, first-rate food, and owners who want to please (not intimidate) the clientele—make drinking wine more fun.”

Bon Appetit describes The Local Vine as “a wine bar masquerading as a coffee shop.” Experience it yourself — check out The Local Vine on 2nd Avenue next time you’re near Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood.

Cheers!

A New Fave: William Church

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A few months ago, my wine-expert nephew Mathew from Vancouver visited us, so of course we took him to Woodinville. He came with us to our usual haunts but when we went to an exclusive wine party, he headed out with his friends for pours at other tasting rooms.

We met up again later that evening, where he opened a William Church 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was awesome. But when we returned to Woodinville a couple of weeks later (and again and again after that), William Church was not open. Unfortunately, many tasting rooms are closed on Sundays, which is the day we’re usually able to go there.

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago, when my wine-expert sister (mother of my wine-expert nephew) asked me if I left her “an incredible bottle of wine from William Church” while she was in Spain. Sadly, the answer was no. It must have been her son, my nephew.

All this to say that I became even more bound and determined to get to the William Church tasting room in Woodinville. And finally we were successful over Labor Day weekend! We were not disappointed. The wine was fantastic, assistant wine maker Marcus Rafanelli was friendly and duly proud of the wines, and we were happy to take some wine home with us.

We will be going back soon too because we were invited to a release party for the 2006 William Church Syrah (just named in the top 100 wines in Seattle Metropolitan) and 2006 William Church Malbec on Sept. 12 and 13.

These wines are winning rave reviews! And I couldn’t agree more.

Cheers!

100 Best Wines of the Northwest

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Seattle Metropolitan magazine’s latest issue features “100 Best Wines of the Northwest” on the cover. The list contains some surprises by writers/tasters Condé Cox and Jessica Voelker. For example, 2005 Woodward Canyon Old Vines Cab ($79) has the top spot (congratulations!) while 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon ($115) comes in at #12 .

But there are other choices that were comfortably predictable. The top ten list includes two favorites from Leonetti: 2006 Columbia Valley Merlot ($65) at #4 and 2005 Walla Walla Reserve blend ($125) at #7. Others in the top ten include 2005 DeLille Chaleur Estates Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot ($72) at #5 and 2005 Betz Pere de Famille blend ($55) at #9.  All three wineries placed more than once in the Top 100 list, also no surprise.

And one of our favorite wineries in Oregon, Domaine Drouhin, came in at #18 for its 2005 Lauréne Pinot Noir ($65) and at #67 for its 2006 Oregon Estate Pinot Noir ($45).

It was nice to see 2006 Guardian Cellars Gun Metal blend at #25 — we just picked up a couple of bottles a few weeks ago. And we welcomed the addition of Fall Line’s 2005 Horse Heaven Hills Red Blend at #82. Brian Carter Cellars hit the list for our favorite 2005 Solece at #51, along with 2005 Byzance at #68 and 2005 Tuttorosso blend at #92.

Other favorites: #31 was 2005 Otis Kenyon Syrah while 2004 Goose Ridge Sol Duc Meritage came in at #61, 2005 Nota Bene Cellars Syrah at #74, 2006 William Church Jennifer Syrah (which will be released very soon) at #76, and 2005 Arlington Road Monolith at #80.

But we were disappointed that Woodhouse Family Cellars didn’t enough recognition. Yes, it was listed for its fine 2005 Hudson Shah Viognier at #96. But what about the Woodhouse flagship wine, Darighe? I’m surprised that didn’t show up high on the list, let alone be omitted altogether.

Other favorites of ours are also missing (Alexandria Nicole, Nicholas Cole, Page, to name a few) but some did make the cut (Di Stefano, Buty, Erath, Zerba among others).

For the complete list of 100, you’ll have to get an issue of the magazine. Not only is the list a good read (even if I don’t agree with all of it) but there also is some cool wine photography by Jim Henkins.

Cheers!