Thanks, Bob, for the Introduction to Watermill!

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When we go to Walla Walla in June, one of the wineries we want to visit is Watermill. Established in 2005, the winery is actually located in Milton Freewater, Oregon, 10 miles from downtown Walla Walla. Earlier this month, Wine Press Northwest named Watermill Winery the “Oregon Winery to Watch.”

In fact, Watermill Winery has won so many awards that I can’t believe I hadn’t tasted their wines until a few weeks ago, when wine enthusiast Bob Silver introduced me to Watermill’s superb 2006 Syrah. I never hesitate to try what Bob suggests, because he was the one who introduced me to Nicholas Cole Cellars and Otis Kenyon wines a few years ago, and I quickly became a fan of both of them. So when Bob pulled out a bottle of Watermill 2006 Syrah, my expectations were high.

The wine did not disappoint! Released in 2007, this $24 bottle of Syrah received 93 points (and Best Buy) from Wine & Spirits, 90 points from Wine Enthusiast and a gold medal at 2009 Northwest Wine Summit. This little beauty boasts Syrah’s signature combination of spice and smoke, but its “happy” flavors exceed the traditional. From the tasting notes:

Aged completely in French oak barrels, this treat will give its imbibers a cornucopia of happy flavors — spicy floral overtones peppered with lilacs, anise and a fragrant smokiness. Once drenched in such zesty deliciousness, won’t your palate be surprised by the silky embrace of this wine’s finish?

Only 292 cases were produced – I hope some are left by the time we get to the Walla Walla area by June!

Thanks, Bob, for the introduction to Watermill!

Cheers!

Taste Washington Grand Tasting Today!

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Today is the biggest and best wine event in the Seattle area, Taste Washington. The Grand Tasting is held from 4 to 7 p.m. at Qwest Field Event Center, where you have the opportunity to taste up to three wines from more than 200 wineries and about 75 restaurants will be providing their favorite mouth-watering appetizers for you to sample.

So get your tickets, arrange for a designated driver or public transportation, and be prepared to taste and learn about Washington wines. The Washington Wine Commission aptly calls this event “the ultimate wine experience.”

Cheers!

So what if Valentine’s Day is over?

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It’s March and the holidays, including Valentine’s Day, are behind us. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still look for perfect gifts for other occasions for the wine drinker(s) in your life.

We recently discovered True Fabrications, which offers a large variety of wine accessories and gifts. And while I don’t often write about wine products, this is an exception because True Fabrications, located in Seattle, has close ties to the Washington state wine industry.

In the name of full disclosure, the company sent me samples to check out. I am under no obligation to write about them. But some of these gifts are so fantastic, I had to tell you about them!

My favorite is a wine box that I’ve coveted since I saw it a couple of years ago at Vino Bello in Burien.

WineBoxes_HeaderCalled a “Treasure Chest Double Wine Box,” this distinct box with brass accents keeps two bottles secure with faux leather straps. It really accents the wine-drinking area of our house and adds an old-world charm to our collection. And it’s a reasonably priced $19.89. The wine box also comes in single-bottle and six-bottle versions, in addition to a slightly different box with a treasure map cover.

Other True Fabrications items for wine enthusiasts include a vacuum pump wine preserver, a dual-blade foil cutter, wine glass charms, wine aerators, colorful wine bags and totes, cork screws and much more. I could spend hours looking at many cool items – hundreds of them - on the True Fabrications website.

And the company is Washington born-and-bred. Want to know more? The Puget Sound Business Journal featured the owners in August, 2009: “With absolutely no vintner experience, three college buddies have grown True Fabrications … By last year [2008], sales had increased to $5 million. Its 10,000 customers range from independent wine stores to grocery stores like QFC and Safeway, and even a salon and a sausage company in Oregon.”

So next time you’re looking for a gift for a wine enthusiast – or maybe you simply want a treat for yourself – visit the website for True Fabrications.

Cheers!

A New Find: Ross Andrew Winery

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We’ve heard the buzz about Ross Andrew wines for a few months and recently headed out to Woodinville to taste for ourselves. With just one visit to the tasting room near the Hollywood School House, we became fans.

The reason is simple – Ross poured four of his wines and we recommend all of them. I can’t remember the last time that happened.

2008 Meadow: This is Ross Andrew’s second vintage of Meadow Oregon White, which offers aromatics, flavors, balance and an excellent price point of $16. We bought some and paired it at home with lemon chicken, which was amazing. The wine is dominantly Pinot Blanc, with a splash of Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Interestingly, Pinot Blanc and the other white wines in this blend are not usually on our preferred list, so we were surprised at how much we enjoyed this crisp white wine. Meadow will definitely be one of our favorite spring and summer pours on the deck.

2006 Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon: This silky and soft wine blends 35% Syrah and 65% Cabernet Sauv. Lately, quite a few Woodinville wineries are blending wine from those two varietals, but this one stands above many of them. ($25 per bottle)

2005 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: If you like powerful Cabs, head over to Ross Andrew’s tasting room and check out this big boy. It is ready to drink now but has a structure to age gracefully through 2014. The fruit comes from three different vineyards in two Columbia Valley appelations, Red Mountain and Horse Heaven Hills. ($32)

2007 Boushey Vineyard Syrah: With fruit from the famed Boushey Vineyard, this Syrah is heaven in a glass. With the trademark Syrah spice and smokiness, Ross Andrew’s 2007 Syrah is also sleek and elegant, with the signature earthiness from Boushey Vineyard. ($28)

The next time you’re tasting in Woodinville, be sure to stop by Ross Andrew’s tasting room. I know we’re going back!

Cheers!

Do Not Miss Taste Washington!

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If you live in the Seattle area and enjoy wine, but you only want to go to one wine event in the year, Taste Washington is it. If you know a bit about wine but want to know more, Taste Washington is the place to go. Or if you want to know why Washington state is becoming known worldwide as the producer of some incredible wine, get your tickets now to Taste Washington.

My wise Twitter friend Yashar, the sommelier at Seastar Restaurant and RawBar, recently described Taste Washington as “the Super Bowl of Washington wine events.” I have to agree. We went last year and can’t wait to go again.

On Saturday (March 27), there are seven seminars featuring winemakers, vineyard owners and wine media. They all sound so interesting that I haven’t yet decided which ones to attend. For example, Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery and Dick Boushey, owner/grower of Yakima Valley’s famed Boushey Vineyards, will take an in-depth look at the vineyard – and provide you with a chance to taste wines from its grapes. Meanwhile, Seattle’s well-known Chef Tom Douglas heads a food and wine pairing seminar. And then there’s a panel called “The Legend of Quilceda Creek” – one of the biggest names in Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s also a game-show-like atmosphere at a seminar where the audience participates in a blind tasting and tries to guess which wines are from Washington state. And my friend Sean Sullivan, of Washington Wine Report, is a panelist for a seminar on Washington’s “Mighty Malbecs” – a grape that’s recently become a rising star in Washington.

The seminars are being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Bell Harbor Conference Center. I wish I could attend all of them!

The next day, Sunday March 28, features the Grand Tasting from 4 to 7 p.m. at Qwest Field Event Center. The tickets cost $75 – but think of it this way: for a special occasion, you might buy a good bottle or two of wine for $75. At Taste Washington, for $75 you have the opportunity to taste up to three wines from more than 200 wineries. And that’s not all – about 75 restaurants will be providing their favorite mouth-watering appetizers for you to sample.

So get your tickets, arrange for a designated driver or public transportation, and be prepared to taste and learn about Washington wines next weekend. The Washington Wine Commission aptly calls this event “the ultimate wine experience.”

Cheers!

Coming Soon

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From Sip of Snoqualmie (tonight) to Taste Washington (March 27-28), we have a queue full of topics to write about in the next couple of weeks. Here is the list:

Recently enjoyed wines:

Wonderful wine gifts:

  • True Fabrications, a local company, makes some fabulous wine accessories for you and for gifts. They’re based in Seattle and have close ties to the Washington wine industry.

Events:

Blog posts will be written over the next couple of weeks, so please stop by to read and find out about Washington wine experiences.

Cheers!

Have a Sip (or two) at Sip Wine Bar

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I had a wonderful time recently at Sip Wine Bar and Restaurant in Seattle.

  • Great company: My long-lost friend Susan from Wines Northwest, whom I had only seen once since 1997 when I used to write about wine for KOIN-TV’s website in Portland.
  • Great wine flight: Awesome 06 Fidelitas Cab (Washington) recommended by Diva Tink on Twitter, along with an 07 Zinfandel from Ridge Lytton Springs (Sonoma) and an amazing 06 Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz from McLaren Vale in South Australia. To my surprise, the Mollydooker Shiraz knocked my socks off because I typically prefer Washington state Syrahs over the Australian varieties.
  • Great food – Oh my, Ginger soup and Ahi poke – both were beyond delicious.
  • Great service – Virginia was one of the best servers I’ve experienced in a long time. She knows her wines and answered every question we had (there were lots!), plus she was more than attentive, friendly as could be, and fun, too.
  • Great atmosphere – Sip offers comfortable leather chairs, a relaxed wine bar and an ambiance that makes me want to go back.

Hope to see you there – and thank you Susan for recommending Sip Wine Bar and Restaurant in Seattle!

Cheers!