Where’s Write for Wine?

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The best way to find me over the next few days is on Twitter – @writeforwine - because I’ll be at the 3rd annual North American Wine Blogger Conference. You can follow the conference happenings at #wbc10 on Twitter too.

That’s what I did last year at this time – followed the Twitter conversations – and that’s when I vowed to be there in person this year. So here I am in Walla Walla – the first time the Wine Blogger Conference is being held outside of California.

I hope to hear from you on Twitter!                                                                                                   

         Cheers! Cheers to old friends and new! And cheers to Washington wine!

My first WBC is just days away!

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We’ll soon be joining 300 other bloggers in Walla Walla for the third annual Wine Blogger Conference (#WBC10 on Twitter). 2010 marks the first time this major event is being held outside of California wine country.

And we can’t wait for more of the wine blogging community to be awed by the fabulous juice that Washington state is creating these days!

I wasn’t able to attend previous conferences, but if the wicked fun stories I heard are even remotely true, it’s going to be a blast. But the conference also provides a unique opportunity to learn more about our wonderful Washington wine country, and includes winery tours, panel discussions, academic breakout sessions and a keynote by Lettie Teague, wine columnist for The Wall Street Journal. There’s even a “Walla Walla Walkabout” to explore many of the tasting rooms in the city.

We also will be able to finally meet many colleagues – people I’ve chatted with on Twitter or Facebook for years. And I’ll be able to meet wine bloggers who won the WBC-or-Bust contest, for which I was a judge. I also was one of the judges for the 2010 Wine Blog Awards, which will be announced at WBC10, and I’m excited to find out who won! There are some extremely talented and knowledgeable wine bloggers in this country.

Note: There is time scheduled at the conference to blog, but I suspect I’ll be mainly posting on Twitter and spending the rest of the blogging time talking to colleagues face-to-face. I’ll blog about the experience when I get back to Seattle instead. So if you don’t see live updates from the conference, you’ll know why. And you can always find me on Twitter @writeforwine during the conference, with the hashtag #WBC10.

WBC, here we come! We’re looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones, networking and sharing our common interests.

And it sounds like it’s wine o’clock all day every day. Wow!

Cheers!

Two Cuvees for One

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In a few days, we’re going back to Cave B Estate Winery at SageCliffe as part of the WBC-or-Bust Contest. (No, I wasn’t a contest winner; I was one of the judges.) In advance of the trip, we recently enjoyed a bottle of Cave B’s 2006 Cuvee du Soleil.

We first tasted Cuvee du Soleil two years ago, when we stayed at the breathtaking Cave B Inn, located at the Columbia River and 1-90. At that time, Alfredo “Freddy” Arredondo had just been Head Winemaker for one year, creating wines from some of the oldest vineyards in Washington state. We were smitten – with the wine, with the beautiful surroundings and with Cave B’s dog of the same name, Cuvee – a beautiful, friendly Black Lab.

One night, Cuvee followed us to our cabin, walked right in and immediately plopped herself down on the rug in front of the fireplace. Sensing she found dog lovers (we have three adorable Cavalier King Charles and also had a wonderful Black Lab at the time), she wouldn’t leave – and at some point in the middle of the night even jumped onto the bed to sleep.

But I digress. We recently received a free sample of Cave B’s signature 2006 Cuvee du Soleil, a jammy and rich blend of Cab Sauvignon (44%), Cab Franc (31%) and Merlot (25%). If you read this blog on a regular basis, you’ll know my palate prefers Bordeaux blends, so of course 2006 Cuvee du Soleil was a winner – full-bodied and well-balanced.

The 2006 vintage was released almost a year ago, so the aromas and flavors have really opened up since it won a Silver at the 2009 Seattle Wine Awards. 

We weren’t able to meet Freddy when he was in Seattle a couple of months ago, so we didn’t get a chance to taste his just-released 2008 Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Tempranillo. The 2008 vintage was the first vintage that Freddy produced completely on his own, so we are really looking forward to our visit in a few days.

Cheers!

We Want to Visit Maryhill Winery!

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We’ve never been to Maryhill Winery, but we understand why Wine Press Northwest named it 2009 “Washington Winery of the Year.” In 10 short years, Maryhill grew from a 4,300-case production to more than 80,000 cases.

Their family-owned business, located on the Washington-Oregon border, is considered a destination winery, with a 3,000-square-foot tasting room, breathtaking views of the Columbia Gorge, facilities for weddings and events, and a summer concert series in a 4,000-seat outdoor amphitheater. Of course we want to visit!

And then there’s the wine. Maryhill produces 23 varietals and 28 award-winning wines. So when we were offered a free sample of 2008 Winemaker’s Red to taste, of course we said “yes, thanks.”

This year’s Winemaker’s Red is a blend of 40% Cab Sauv, 30% Merlot, 20% Syrah and 10% Cab Franc. With aromas of dark cherry and caramel, this wine has flavors of cranberry, chocolate and a bit of coffee. We liked it today – the Cab Franc added a special touch that appeals to both our palates – but we recommend cellaring it for a year or two.

With a price point of $14.00, Maryhill’s 2008 Winemaker’s Red is definitely worth a purchase. Previous vintages generated numerous awards, and we expect that the 2008 blend will follow suit.

Cheers!

Revisiting Willamette Valley Vineyards

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Regular readers of this blog know that I first started writing about wine when we lived in Portland more than 10 years ago. At that time, Willamette Valley Vineyards, named one of America’s great Pinot Noir producers by Wine Enthusiast, was one of our favorite Oregon wineries.

Fast-forward a decade, and I was delighted to discover that Willamette Valley Vineyards started following @WriteforWine on Twitter. In addition, the winery decided to send me some free samples of their latest vintages to taste.

So, on one of the few sunny spring weekends in Seattle, we popped the cork on Willamette Valley Vineyards 2008 Pinot Gris and sat on our deck to taste it. If Pinot Gris is your summer wine of choice, this one should be high on your list – it’s clean, crisp and refreshing, yet rich, with aromas of pear and flavors of green apple and citrus. 

We paired the chilled Pinot Gris with giant prawns, but this white wine also would go well with salmon, cheese or chicken. Not surprisingly, it won Gold in January at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition – the largest wine competition in the U.S.

About a week later, we decided to open a Willamette Valley Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir from Tualatin Estate Vineyard. This velvety wine evoked memories of our wonderful days in Silverton, Oregon, with our special dogs Sam and Shadow; when our back yard edged Silver Creek and we enjoyed tasty barbeques with WVV pinot noir.

Tualatin Estate is one of the oldest and widely respected vinyards in the Willamette Valley. The WVV 2007 Pinot Noir from Tualatin Estate Vineyard has a bit of everything – it is rich, elegant, bold and warm, with beautiful fruit flavors melting into spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.

We had a wonderful reunion with wines from Willamette Valley Vineyards, and we look forward to stopping by next time we visit our neighbors to the south.

Cheers!