A Word about the Washington Wine Wench

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I am not a wine critic. I am not a wine journalist. (I used to be a political journalist, many moons ago, but that’s another story.) I am a wine enthusiast. And I am a supporter of Washington state wine.

Why did I choose this route? When I really like a certain wine, I like to tell people about it. They might want to try it; they might not. But if I taste a wine that I don’t particularly like, it does not mean that others will have the same reaction.

Every palate is different. So I choose not to write about wines I don’t like. And I never lack for things to write about because Washington state offers so many fine wines. (And I’ll soon be writing about some wonderful wines that we tasted yesterday at Passport to Woodinville.)

And now you know what drives the Washington Wine Wench and Write for Wine.

Cheers!

JM Cellars’ John Bigelow

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One of the highlights of Taste Washington a couple of weeks ago was finally meeting John Bigelow, the winemaker at one of our favorite Woodinville wineries, JM Cellars. John and his wife Peggy are co-owners of this family winery, located in the so-called Hollywood area of Woodinville.

Regular readers know that we’ve always said there are three things that draw us to wineries – great wine, great people and great events. JM Cellars has them all.

For a couple of years now, we’ve loved wine from JM Cellars — Tre Fanciulli, Cuvee and Bramble Bump Red, to name just a few. We also have attended many wonderful release parties at the tasting room. In fact, we first heard about JM Cellars at another winery where other people were raving about JM’s Saturday tastings.

And Paige and Lisa in the tasting room are definitely great people! They’ve welcomed us with open arms (literally!) whenever we’ve visited and we adore them. But in all this time, we never had an opportunity to chat with the winemaker himself.

We had heard the stories – John was a successful executive in the software industry and a wine enthusiast, when he decided to shift gears and study the technology of winemaking. In 1999, he made 350 cases of Tre Fanciulli, which became the flagship wine to launch JM Cellars.

We drank a bottle of 2006 Tre a couple of nights ago and it was even better than the 2005 vintage, which generated 93 points from Wine Enthusiast. Tre, as you might expect from the name, is a blend of three varietals — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. But the wine also is named after the three sons of John and Peggy. It truly is a family-operated winery.

So it was a delight to finally meet John at Taste Washington and hear first-hand about his passion for the grape. After the event, he wrote me a note to thank me — not just for my blog posts about JM Cellars, but about my support for Washington state wines in general. Now that’s a class act!

Cheers!

Passport Weekend in Woodinville This Weekend

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If you love Washington state wine, or if you’ve always wanted to know more about the 40+ wineries near Seattle, this weekend’s event, Passport to Woodinville, is the place to be.

But this hot event is sold out, so if you haven’t already purchased tickets, sadly, you’re out of luck.

If you did purchase tickets, here is where you can pick up your passport and tasting glass. Don’t forget to bring your ticket confirmation information with you.

We’re going on Sunday – hope to see you at one of the many wonderful Woodinville wineries. And don’t forget to bring a designated driver!

Cheers!

So Many Great Washington Wines

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The Grand Tasting at Taste Washington last weekend was phenomenal fun and educational too. We enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones; tasting long-standing favorite wines and new ones too. There are so many wonderful Washington state wines – I wish I had time to write about all of them.

Unfortunately I don’t right now, so today’s post — the first of several about Taste Washington, highlights the wineries that I’ve rarely, if ever, written about because I don’t have an opportunity to taste their wines very often.

And, as always, we had fun chatting with our friends from Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Efeste, JM Cellars, William Church, Woodhouse Family Cellars, Darby Winery, Fall Line, Page Cellars, Airfield Estates, Mark Ryan, Guardian Cellars, Gorman, Hightower and Hard Row to Hoe.

If I missed anyone – please remember I have many notes from Taste Washington – expect to hear much more in the weeks ahead.  And if I missed you at the Grand Tasting, it’s probably because there were 3,500 people there — just slightly down from the previous year, which isn’t bad given the state of the economy. We love our Washington state wines!

Cheers!

Coming Soon: Two Spires @ William Church Winery

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Before I head off to Taste Washington, I have a quick rave about a new wine coming from William Church Winery – 2 Spires. If you like blends, you will absolutely want to add this one to your cellar. Wow! 2 Spires is a blend of 63% Syrah and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon that is a tribute to the talents of winemaker Rod Balsley and assistant winemaker Marcus Rafanelli.

Unfortunately, we have to wait for its November release. But we have the 2006 Bishop’s Blend to keep us happy until then. This vintage of Bishop’s Blend is made up of six different varietals — 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot, 9% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 4% Syrah and 4% Sangiovese. It’s our favorite blend at $19 a bottle.

But we still can’t wait for 2 Spires. We know that it will meet the goal of William Church: “Wines that are approachable and delicious upon release but will also express themselves well over time.”

Cheers!

Walla Walla Wine Weekend

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Look what I discovered when I was cleaning out my email box – a contest to win a free weekend getaway to Walla Walla. Contest entries will be accpted until April 17, so there still is time to enter.

Called My Walla Walla Weekend, the contest invites visitors to share their favorite memories or surprises from their last trip to Walla Walla. Four winners will be rewarded with a weekend trip for two and behind-the-scenese passes to special events. Winners will be announced in May.

I’d enter, but I tend to tell my special stories in this blog. It’s also fun to talk about how the Washington Wine Wench from Write for Wine waxed about a Walla Walla Weekend.

Cheers!

Congratulations Brennon Leighton & Efeste Wines

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I’ve written many posts about the wonderful wines created by winemaker Brennon Leighton and the great winery where he does it – Efeste Wines. So I was not surprised – but I was certainly delighted – to see that Seattle Magazine’s latest issue hails Brennon Leighton as Winemaker to Watch and Efeste Wines as the Best New Winery.

In the last six months, we joined Efeste’s Inner Circle wine club and visited the tasting room in Woodinville many times. We’ve shared some good stories with Brennon, along with Efeste owners Daniel Ferrelli, Patrick Smith and Kevin and Angie Taylor- who make up the “F-S-T” (after the first letters of their last names) in Efeste Wines. We’ve always said that we join wine clubs for three reasons — great wines, good people and fun events — and Efeste has all of them and then some.

So please join me in congratulating Brennon, Daniel, Kevin, Angie, Patrick, Mary and all the good folks at Efeste Wines! And if you haven’t visited their tasting room yet, make sure it’s a must-stop place the next time you go wine tasting in Woodinville.

Cheers!

Wine-alicious Weekend!

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This weekend, Taste Washington returns to Seattle and it’s the buzz of Facebook and Twitter already. Taste Washington’s exciting seminars start tomorrow, followed by the Grand Tasting on Sunday.

And it’s even bigger than ever – more than 225 are now pouring more than 900 wines that will be paired with sampe dishes from 60 restaurants. This is Seattle’s premier wine event of the year, and I can’t wait!

Frequently, seminars sound stuffy, but the ones at Taste Washington include sommeliers in a blind taste-off and celebrity chefs preparing tasty dishes. For more details — specific seminars, hours, locations and where to buy tickets — see my earlier blog post.

Hope to see you at this Wine-alicious Weekend.

Cheers!