What is Our Destiny?

As 2008 winds down, our destiny comes from Alexandria Nicole Cellars. That would be 2006 Destiny, a premium blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (66%), Merlot (14%), Cab Franc (11%), Petit Verdot (6%) and Malbec (3%).

Winemaker Jarrod Boyle produced only 225 bottles of this amazing blend of grapes from Destiny Ridge Vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills. And, in recognition of the skills needed to plant, harvest and sort the grapes, each bottle honors the vineyard crew with the signature of their foreman, Jose Luis Yanez.

This honor is made with the typical class we have come to know in both Jarrod and his wife Ali. In the last couple of years, we’ve been fortunate to get to know them, along with Vida and Kathy from the wine club and tasting rooms in Woodinville and Prosser.

So here’s to Destiny!


Here’s to Fine Wine in 2009!

Happy 2009 to my family, friends and regular readers of this blog — I wish you all a year full of good health and much fine wine! What are you drinking to bring in the new year?

For us, it’s the luscious 2002 Darighe Proprietor’s Blend from Woodhouse Family Cellars. This is an exquisite old-world wine with a Washington finesse. With its deep garnet hue, this is a fine Bordeaux-style blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 13% Malbec and 13% Petit Verdot.

According to the tasting notes: “On the nose, the new French oak imparts rich spicy notes of vanilla, clove, nutmeg, anise and cedar, which support a complex fruit core of ripe plums, black cherries, cassis, minerals and wet earth. On the palate, the wine enters round and sweet, quickly broadening to incorporate the ripe fruit flavors of plums, black cherries, earth, cassis and vanilla, as well as the dense tannic structure that is a hallmark of Darighe. The fruit flavors and spiced vanilla notes mingle in the lengthy finish.

Happy New Year!


Washington Wine Auction Next Month

I’m finally catching up on my email and noticed that January 24 is the date set for the eighth annual Washington wine auction and gala, called A Celebration of Washington Wines.

Chateau Ste. Michelle will host the black-tie event, which benefits the Viticulture and Enology program at Washington State University. According to the Tri-City Herald, money from the last two events helped create an endowment for a chair of the WSU program: “Thomas Henick-Kling, an internationally known enologist, will start the position in February and will be based at WSU Tri-Cities in Richland.”

In addition to a gourmet dinner and a variety of wines, the gala includes a reception and auction for items such as etched magnums, library wines and much more.

For more information – and it’s a great way to support the state’s wine industry — visit the website, A Celebration of Washington Wines.


Sip of Snoqualmie

There’s a great new Washington wine event happening in March called Sip of Snoqualmie! Presented by the Snoqualmie Casino, the event will benefit Encompass, an organization with programs that “encompass the family support needs of an entire community.” 

The event on March 14, 2009, includes a showcase of Washington wines, an opportunity to speak to representatives from local wineries across the state, delicious appetizers from the casino, a silent auction and — my favorite — a wine cellar raffle. The cost is $50, and all proceeds will benefit Encompass.

A select number of VIP tickets ($150) will also be available for “the ultimate wine tasting and educational experience.” What that means: a sit-down, educational food pairing and tasting with Cabernets from around the world. After a two-hour private tasting, VIPs will join the other wine enthusiasts at the main event.

I’ll update this post when the list of participating wineries is available.

So think about this — support a good cause and taste great Washington wine while visiting the area’s newest casino. I hope to see you there!


Excellent Efeste

We heard the buzz about Efeste Wines for months but could never organize our schedule with their openings in Woodinville. So I am delighted to tell you that Efeste’s tasting room is now open every weekend — Fridays through Sundays — from noon to 4 p.m.

As mentioned in a previous blog post, we stopped by on St. Nick’s weekend earlier this month and met Brennon Leighton, winemaker extraordinaire, along with owners Kevin and Angie Taylor, who are very passionate about their wines.

Now, as much as I rave about Washington wines, I do not call all winemakers “extraordinaire.” If you try Brennon’s wines, you will understand. His wines are most excellent — he is creating some softer wines with native fermentation, and they really are unique. And what a mouthfeel!

For example, “Jolie Bouche,” which appropriately means “pretty mouth” in French, is the name of Brennon’s 2006 Syrah, expected to be released in March. We pre-ordered it after barrel-tasting the 2007 Jolie Bouche, which was such a winner!  We would have taken a bottle (or two) home with us then and there, if we could have.

Other Efeste wines that we enjoyed: 2005 Ceidleigh Syrah (pronounced kay-lee), which is dense, lush and elegant and 2005 Final-Final — it’s the last or final blend that Efeste makes. Chris Upchurch of DeLille Cellars, known for his bold reds, consulted on the creation of both these two big reds.

If you haven’t stopped by Efeste, I recommend that you make it a priority in the future!

And in case you’re wondering, their website explains the cool name — Efeste, pronounced F-S-T, is an acronym for Daniel & Helen Ferrelli – Patrick Smith – and Kevin & Angela Taylor, the winery founders.


Vote for Your Favorite Washington State Wine

What are your favorite Washington wines? Sean over at Washington Wine Report is taking a survey, so check out his blog post and mark your faves for 2008. And let me know on this blog too!

There are so many wonderful wines in this state that I couldn’t submit all of them to the survey. Indeed, I actually listed 12 before realizing that Sean only wanted us to list our top five. Ooops! Here are the first 12 Washington wines that came to my mind:

2003 Darighe, Woodhouse Family Cellars
2004 Dussek Cab Sauv, Woodhouse Family Cellars
2005 Estate Cabernet Sauv, Gilbert Cellars
2006 “Jolie Bouche” Syrah, Efeste Wines
2006 Destiny, Alexandria Nicole Cellars
2005 Limited Edition Cab Sauv, Page Cellars
2005 Tre Fanciulli, JM Cellars
2006 Cab Sauv, Columbia Valley, Fall Line Winery
2006 Bishop’s Blend, William Church Winery
2006 Black Tongue Syrah, Stevens Winery
2003 Vinfinity, Forgeron Cellars
2004 Camille, Nicholas Cole Cellars

I wrote down the names of wines as I thought of them — and as it turns out, not surprisingly, most of the wines were poured recently at St. Nick’s in Woodinville. (Although I still missed Guardian Cellars, Mark Ryan, DeLille, DiStefano, and many others!) 

And I wonder if the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman will complain to this Washington Wine Wench for not choosing enough Walla Walla wines. (Now that’s a lot of W’s!)

Anyway …. please tell me your favorite Washington wines in 2008 — and be sure to stop by the Washington Wine Report and submit your entries there too.


Fall Line Still a Fave

Fall Line Winery in Seattle has always been a favorite of ours; regular readers of this blog have seen several raves about Fall Line and winemaker Tim Sorenson! So I am always pleased to read about others who feel the same way.

For example, here’s a recent post on Cellar Tracker about 2004 Fall Line Horse Heaven Hills Red by a taster named greenblanket:

“Once again I find this wine to carry an elegant balance between ripe Washington fruit and fine tannin and acidity. The handsome boysenberry and currant fruit is becoming more and more accented by spice and herb. … Tim Sorenson is one of the most talented (and affordable) producers of Bordeaux blends in Washington.”

The 2004 vintage is sold out, but try the 2005 release, which is even better!

Hmmmm, maybe we’ll open a bottle tonight!

By the way, Fall Line and other wineries that are part of South Seattle Artisan Wines (SSAW) are open for tasting this Saturday, December 13, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Fall Line will be pouring back-to-back vintages, 2005 and 2006, of their three wines.


Amazing Woodinville Wines

What a great time we had at St. Nick’s weekend in Woodinville. We spent a lot of time visiting wineries that we hadn’t visited before. And we also were fortunate to experience some barrel tastings of new releases. I plan to write a lot about this in the coming days. But first, I wanted to give an immediate overview. Here are my top-line notes.

1. Props to Woodinville Wine Country for once again organizing an event that lets people experience the amazing wines of Woodinville. There are more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms, just 30 minutes from Seattle. And this event lets everyone visit wineries that aren’t always open to the public, in addition to old favorites.

2. Keep your eyes/ears open for new releases from Efeste Cellars. I plan to write more about this winery in the near future. For now, I will just say that Estefe winemaker Brennon Leighton is doing some native fermentation, which results in awesome, softer wines. We’ve already pre-ordered 2006 Jolie Bouche Syrah, which is coming out in a few months. We barrel-tasted the 2007 release and wow, what a winner! And I love the name, which translates from French to “pretty mouth.” We also met the friendly and knowledgeable owners of Efeste, Kevin and Angie Taylor, so come back soon for more details.

3.  William Church Winery also has some great new releases. It was great, as always, to see owners Rod and Leslie, along with their welcoming assistant winemaker, Marcus Rafanelli. We pre-ordered  2006 Bishop’s Blend and barrel-tasted an incredible new blend called La Rochelle — another winner, which will be released in 2010. (I hope I have the name right – it was near the end of a wine-intense day!)

4. We also enjoyed meeting the winemaker at Stevens Winery, Tim Stevens and his wife Paige. Tim had some great stories to share, which I’ll also write about in the future. And I now see why readers of this blog recommended that we try Stevens wines. Tim was pouring 2006 Stevens Merlot and 2006 Stevens Black Tongue Syrah, and they were both awesome. And then there’s Tim’s incredible art, which is both at the tasting room and on the wine labels.

5. Gordon Rawson at Chatter Creek poured some very balanced, fruit-forward wines for us, and told us some interesting history about the Washington state wine industry. Our favorite wines there were Chatter Creek Grenache 2007 and Blend 105 2005.

6. As always, we had a special time at Woodhouse Family Cellars, where you can find a wonderful holiday blend that will brighten up any party. Woodhouse has so many excellent wines, that it is a must-stop tasting room on any trip to Woodinville. There’s also a case sale going on right now too, which is perfect for entertaining this season. And we met the engaging Auntie Meredith, whose name graces the label of the Kennedy Shah Auntie Meredith’s Picnic Blend, which is one of our summer drinks of choice on the deck.

7.  Alexandria Nicole Cellars always holds a good party, in addition to offering some of the best wines in Washington state, and tasting room manager Kathie Statler added her own unique verbal twists to the pours yesterday. It was great fun! And I’d be remiss to not mention the clever marketing tactic — an announcement about the Dec. 13th release of their excellent 2006 Destiny wine was prominently placed in the restroom!

8.  It was wonderful to see Rothelle Page at Page Cellars again too — although we have yet to meet her Canadian husband, whom I’m looking forward to trading stories with from the homeland. But we can say this — their house band, “Nice Legs” (as in wine legs) rocked the house! Son Brett Cummings wailed that saxaphone, and we just hated to leave. We also had an opportunity to taste the 2005 Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon, which was just released on Friday. Magnificent! You’ll find more about Page Cellars’ 2005 Preface and 2005 Libra in future blog posts. Every year, these three wines have been on our list of favorites.

9. I hate to end on a sad note, but we were so sorry to hear that Arlington Road closed its doors yesterday. We are big fans of Arlington Road’s 2005 and 2006 Monolith and it was heart-breaking to hear the news. We wish the best of luck to Ken Nydam and Robin Rutz in their future endeavors.

Thanks to the wine makers and tasting room managers and welcoming people in the Woodinville wine industry! And please come back often to read more about our experiences at St. Nick’s weekend. And if you didn’t get a chance to go, do not miss Passport in April.


Big Washington Wine Weekend

The Washington Wine Wench reminds everyone that this weekend is major in Washington wine country! As mentioned earlier, the annual St. Nick’s weekend is in Woodinville on Saturday and Sunday. It’s one of our favorite wine events of the year because we can visit our favorites plust lots of wineries that are rarely or never open to the public.

Participating wineries include: Adams Bench, Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Anton Ville, Arlington Road Cellars, Brian Carter Cellars, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery, Covington Cellars, Cuillin Hills Winery, Des Voignes Cellars, Di Stefano Winery, Edmonds Winery, Efeste Wine Cellars, Hestia Cellars, Hollywood Hill Vineyards, Januik Winery, J. Bookwalter Winery, Matthews Estate, Northwest Totem Cellars, Novelty Hill Winery, Page Cellars, Red Sky Winery, Ross Andrew Winery, Silver Lake Winery, Sparkman Cellars, Stevens Winery, William Church Winery, Woodhouse Family Cellars, Woodinville Wine Cellars and XSV Wines.

Meanwhile, it’s also a big weekend in Walla Walla. From Thursday through Sunday, more than 80 wineries are  celebrating harvest with special barrel tastings, food, music and good cheer. Find out details at the Walla Walla Wine News website.

Information about St. Nicks can be found at Woodinville Wine Country’s web site. Note: Sunday-only tickets are sold out.


Thanks for Great Washington State Wine

Better late than never, it’s time to share the glorious Washington state wines we enjoyed over the Thanksgiving weekend. Where to start?

On Thanksgiving Eve — that would be the night before Thanksgiving — we celebrated the start of the excellent long weekend with two of our favorite Merlots, both from Woodhouse Family Cellars: 2005 Kennedy Shah Merlot and 2004 Maghee Cellars Merlot. They’re very different, particularly in side-by-side tastings: the Kennedy Shah Merlot is medium weight “with raspberries, blueberries, smoky earth and spice on the nose and palate,” while the Maghee is more robust with “succulent rich black cherry fruit, full round soft mouth filling tannins and a smooth lingering finish.” We love them both!

On Thanksgiving Day, we began with Gilbert Cellars 2006 Estate Claret and then moved to Gilbert’s 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The Claret is a smooth blend of Bordeaux varieties from Washington state’s Wahluke slopes. The Cab is juicy, aromatic and rich.  Both wines enhanced the appetizers, delicious turkey and side dishes that were too many to name here!

The day after Thanksgiving, we were blessed with a visit from my father who lives in Vancouver (B.C.) Although he hasn’t quite developed the palate of my sister, my nephew, Dave or me, he still enjoyed the pre-dinner Three Rivers 2005 Meritage Red — possibly because this fine blend contains 12% Petit Verdot. With dinner, we sipped on another bottle of Gilbert Cellars 2005 Estate Cab, which we highly recommend.

We took a night off to recuperate from all the great food and wine, but on Sunday night we toasted the wonderful weekend with a glass of Saviah Cellars 2006 Jack. This Merlot, blended with 6% Cab Sauv, 4% Cab Franc and 2% Syrah, was Dave’s drink of choice when we were regulars at Vino Bello.  We haven’t been able to get there lately unfortunately, but we’ll be sure to stop by again to see Michele and the gang before the year is up.

Wow, think about that – with Thanksgiving behind us, it’s almost time for the holidays and 2009!