Want to Know More About Washington Wine?

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Taste Washington is the place to be this weekend to both learn about and taste the amazing wines that are produced in our great state. Most people have heard the buzz about the annual Grand Tasting Event, where you can choose pours from more than 200 wineries and tasty treats from 60 restaurants (on Sunday at Qwest Field Event Center). But Saturday is the day to go for seminars that are both educational and fun.

The seminars look so interesting that it’s difficult to choose which ones to attend! From 10:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., here is a sampling of seminars at Bell Harbor International Conference Center:

  • Common Ground – A look at Klipsun Vineyard, one of Washington’s most established vineyards – including a taste of what everyone is talking about.
  • Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs’ Best New Washington Wines
  • Le Value Challenge
  • Party Like It’s 1999!
  • What Does Puget Sound Like?
  • All in the Family (Family-owned wineries)
  • Common Ground – Champoux Vineyard
  • The Other Cabernet (Cab Franc)
  • Winery-less Wines (wines produced in industrial parks, old airplane hangars and firehouses)
  • Which One’s Washington?

See what I mean? It’s hard to choose! I want to attend all, but some of them are in the same time slots. For the full schedule, check out the Taste Washington website or join TW’s group on Facebook.

Other links: Seminar Registration and Ticketmaster

Hope to see you there!
Cheers!

Coming soon …

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Events, big and small, are coming up soon to the Seattle area! Tomorrow night, William Church is pouring at the new wine bar in Renton, Vino at the Landing. On Saturday, Efeste – soon to be featured in a major local publication – is holding a release party in Woodinville.

And then some big events are happening in the first half of April.

April 4 & 5: Taste Washington

April 18 & 19: Passport to Woodinville

We very well might be at all of them — hope to see you too!

Cheers!

Big Papa Rides Again!

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Now that I’ve caught your attention, mark your calendars immediately for a visit to Efeste Winery on Saturday (March 28), when 2006 Big Papa rides again (in other words, the 2006 vintage will be released). We had a taste yesterday and this big red velvety wine is definitely worth a trip to Woodinville. In addition to Big Papa, Efeste is releasing 2008 Evergreen Riesling and 2008 Feral Sauvignon Blanc. The March 28th party is from 12-5 p.m. and admission is free for everyone.

Named for the family patriarch (of course!), Big Papa is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from two of the oldest vineyards in Washington state, Kiona Estate (50%) on Red Mountain and Sagemoor (33%) on the banks of the Columbia River — their vines are more than 35 years old. The remainder of the grapes (17%) were harvested from Ceil du Cheval on Red Mountain.

I’ll blog more about the two white wines after the release on the weekend. We were only tasting reds yesterday, which means we also had another pour of Efeste’s magnificent Syrahs, 2006 Jolie Bouche and 2006 Ceidleigh. There were four of us – Dave, of course, and two friends from Canada/England, Kate and Peter – and two preferred Jolie Bouche and two preferred Ceidleigh. Once again, my initial assessment was confirmed – both wines are winners.

Also a winner is winemaker Brennon Leighton. Rumor is that this little Write for Wine blog from the Washington Wine Wench isn’t the only one to recognize his talents. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see lots more well-deserved attention given to Brennon and Efeste in the future!

Cheers!

Double Flight of Airfield Estates

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You know you’re living the good life when you experience a double flight from Airfield Estates! Last weekend, our evening started at Vino Bello, our favorite wine bar in Burien, where Airfield Estates was holding a tasting. And then later that same evening, at Sip of Snoqualmie, Airfield was pouring 2007 Bombshell Red. Actually, it was more like a triple play than a double flight, because we started out the weekend with a bottle of Bombshell Red from our cellar.

Our enjoyment of Airfield Estates goes back to last fall, when we had a wonderful visit and tour with owner Mark Miller at the winery in Prosser. At Vino Bello, we met his friendly son Marcus, the winemaker who is both knowledgeable and fun. Marcus poured several of his wines – our favorites were the 2007 Mustang and the 2007 Tempranillo.

If you’re near Prosser, we highly recommend that you stop at Airfield Estates’ unique tasting room.

But if you’re closer to Burien, keep your eye on Vino Bello. Michele always has her hand on the pulse of Washington state wines and her Saturday tasting events are usually a fun-filled experience. This Saturday, one of favorite Seattle-area winemakers, Tim Sorenson from Fall Line Winery, will be pouring at Vino Bello, along with Jim Musielwicz of SodoVino Winery.

Cheers!

Success: Sip of Snoqualmie

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Sip of Snoqualmie was a resounding success. As regular readers would expect, we loved the smooth 2004 Dussek from Woodhouse Family Cellars and the 2005 Syrah from Alexandria Nicole Cellars. In the category of “wines that are new to me,” the best wine of the night was Chandler Reach Vineyards 2004 Estate Parris Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

This Chandler Reach Cab isn’t released yet, so don’t go rushing out to find it. But put it on your wish list – you won’t regret it. With its distinct aromas, this intense wine is already elegant and rich. I can’t wait to try it again when we head to eastern Washington in a few months.

Another new-to-me winery is Hightower Cellars, which will be another must-stop in eastern Washington. Hightower’s 2006 Merlot, their signature wine, is just simply lovely. In addition to its fine structure, I suspect I liked it so much because of the addition of 9% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cab Franc.

Now don’t get me wrong — there were many other wines that we enjoyed at Sip of Snoqualmie and I will write about many of them in more detail in the weeks to come.

I also must mention the tasty appetizers, with a special shout out to Steve’s”Hot” Smoked Cheese & Salmon from Kauzlarich Products. The cheese is hot-smoked in an all western cedar smokehouse, and it was absolutely the best ever – smooth, creamy and oh-so smokey – and it paired marvellously with some of those luscious wines. And the salmon was fresh, moist and oh-so tasty – it comes from the mouth of the Campbell River, in my home province of British Columbia.

So cheers to the more than than 30 wineries in Washington that were represented at the fundraising event at the luxurious Snoqualmie Casino. The VIP afternoon tasting sold out in advance and the evening tasting sold out at the door. Proceeds directly support Encompass, an organization for children and families in the Snoqualmie Valley.

Cheers!

Spicy Syrah at 3 Cellars: JM, Alexandria Nicole, Page

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If you’re looking for a robust, spicy Washington Syrah, there are three wineries in Woodinville which have recent releases to taste. JM Cellars 2006 Syrah ($27),  Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2006 Block 17 Syrah ($42)  and Page Cellars 2006 Lick My Lips Syrah ($27).

JM Cellars 2006 Syrah is full of spice and dark fruit flavors, co-fermented with a touch of Viognier at harvest. Alexandria Nicole Cellars Block 17 Syrah just won a gold medal at The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines in the world. We savored a bottle of it last week with dinner. It was amazing and is now one of our favorite ANC wines. And Page Cellars Lick My Lips Syrah was a gold medal winner at the 2009 Hilton Head Wine Fest.

Don’t misunderstand – there are many other Washington state Syrahs that are excellent. These are three of them that we recently tasted and loved.

Next time you’re in Woodinville, give them a taste!

Cheers!

Sip of Snoqualmie Saturday!

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Hard to believe, but the event I’ve been writing about for months is almost here – Sip of Snoqualmie at the Snoqualmie Casino is Saturday March 14.

Thirty-two wineries will be pouring at the Washington wine fundraising event. Here are my previous posts for all the details:

You can tell I’m looking forward to this event, eh? We hope to see you there!

Cheers!

Do Not Miss Taste Washington!

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Every year, Washington wine enthusiasts celebrate spring at a very special event called Taste Washington, where you can sample tastes from more than 200 Washington state wineries and 60 restaurants. It’s a two-day extravaganza that should not be missed!

First, I recommend you get tickets now at Ticketmaster for the Grand Tasting on April 5 at Qwest Field Event Center. Second, I suggest that you take a couple of  minutes to check out the seminars on April 4. These seminars are fun in addition to being educational.

I wish I hadn’t missed them last year, but I was out of town. Shortly after the 2008 Taste Washington event, I read a blog post by my colleague Thad in Beyond the Bottle, and then became determined to attend at least some of the seminars this year.

“In previous years, I had only attended the Sunday tasting event, never realizing how much I was missing by not going to the Saturday seminars. Seminars are one of the best ways to taste wine and learn more about the people and places behind each glass in front of you.” – Beyond the Bottle, April 7, 2008

You do not have to be a well-versed wine enthusiast to enjoy the seminars. They are a great opportunity for novices to learn more about Washington wine and mingle with the who’s who of Washington wine makers and others in our great industry.

And speaking of which, I would be remiss if I didn’t note the spectacular news that Washington now is home to 602 wineries! That’s almost double the number since I started writing about Washington state wine, and almost a 300-percent increase in the last decade.

Hope to see you at Taste Washington!
Cheers!

Darighe Please, Every Vintage

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We opened a bottle of Darighe 2002 Proprietor’s Blend from Woodhouse Family Cellars with dinner the other night and wow, do we love this wine. Let us count the ways:

This high-end flagship Bordeaux blend is simply spectacular. And it’s also still available, along with the amazing 2001 vintage. But the Darighe 2000, 1999 and 1998 are sold out. Whatever the year, this is one special wine.

So here’s a toast to winemaker Tom Campbell!

Cheers!

William Church 2006 Bishop’s Blend

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If you’re looking for a value red blend that’s a super Washington wine, stop by William Church Winery and pick up a bottle of 2006 Bishop’s Blend. At a $19 price point, it’s a winner!

But you’ll have to wait until Saturday March 7, when it’s released at the Woodinville tasting room from noon to 5 p.m. Trust me, it will be worth the trip from the Seattle area.

Leslie and Rod of William Church can’t wait to release this all-occasion red wine “that is truly a labor of love as we blended and blended until we got it just right.  Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon it also contains Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Syrah and Sangiovese. See what we mean! Layers of rich fruit create an exceptionally complex wine priced for the times at only $19/bottle.”

We first tasted this fine wine at St. Nick’s weekend and recently picked up a pre-release (or two). It paired very well with London Broil – and it also paired nicely on another evening with some sharp cheese.

We hope to see you at the winery on March 7.

Cheers!