Taste Washington:The Super Bowl of WA Wine Events

If you only go to one wine event this year, make it Taste Washington. Last year my friend Yashar, the sommelier at Seastar Restaurant and RawBar, described it as “the Super Bowl of Washington wine events.” It’s a great description for the country’s largest single-region wine and food event.

Returning for its 14th year, Taste Washington weekend kicks off on March 26, with seminars featuring wine experts from The Washington Post, NBC’s Today show, Sunset Magazine, Travel + Leisure and more.

March 27 features the Grand Tasting at Qwest Field Event Center, where more than 200 Washington State wineries and leading restaurants offer new releases and samples. You can see the full list, and find ticket information at the Taste Washington website.

I’ll write more about this exciting weekend in future posts. In the meantime, I highly recommend that you get your tickets, arrange for a designated driver or public transportation, and be prepared to taste and learn about wonderful Washington wines.

The Washington Wine Commission aptly calls this event “the ultimate wine experience.”

We hope to see you there!


Big Sip Oregon

If you’re thinking about a trip to Portland in the near future, mark your calendars for March 5 for Big Sip Oregon. This event is created by E2C Productions, the producers of the popular Northwest Food and Wine Festival, Monterey Wine Festival and the West Coast Chowder Contest.

The wines being poured at Big Sip Oregon are not usually available in stores. Better yet, this event promises great wines at a huge value.

“With value and economics’ in mind this event is filled with great wines for anyone who is interested to find the absolute best wine values, a sure hit with the wide variety of wine aficionados in the region,” E2C announced. “The concept is simple, great quality for the best price. Hand-selected wines will be featured that would generally not be available to purchase in stores, making it an irresistible gathering … for the avid wine buyers.”

The event also features wine education, live music and some tasty food. For full details, including the lineup of participating wineries, time and tickets, visit the Big Sip Oregon website.


Darby’s Award-Winning Wines

We’ve been fans of Darby Winery from the beginning. In fact, I wrote a blog post about Darby Winery in September, 2007, when Darby English first opened the doors to a tasting room he shared with Alexandria Nicole Cellars in the Wine Warehouse in Woodinville.

At the time, I noted that his 2005 Destiny Ridge Syrah was “made for my palate.”

As the word spread about his awesome wines, Darby moved to his own tasting room in the warehouse; it was packed every time we visited. Last July, Wine Spectator gave his 2006 Dark Side Syrah 92 points. The next month, Darby moved again, this time to a new building in the Hollywood Schoolhouse area of Woodinville.

Darby wines get even better with each year: 2006 Chaos, 91 points Wine Spectator; 2007 Aunt Lee Syrah, 93 points Wine Spectator;  2007 Dark Side Syrah, 91 points Wine Enthusiast and 90 points Wine Spectator; 2007 The Swagger Reserve Cab, 92 points Wine Enthusiast, 90 points Wine Spectator; and 2009 Le Deuce Viognier/Roussanne blend, 92 points Wine Enthusiast. That’s an amazing list!

If you prefer full-bodied reds, as we do, you must try 2007 Dark Side Syrah. This is one big, meaty, tasty wine. I suspect its name comes from its dark, inky color.

We also recently shared a bottle of 2007 Chaos, a smooth blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 12% Cab Franc and 8% Petit Verdot. This luscious wine made me think of cherries, berries and a wee bit of plum.

And we enjoyed 2008 Purple Haze, a rich blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Malbec, 10% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc from four vineyards (Conner Lee, Sheridan, Stonetree and Boushey).

The next vintage, Darby’s 2009 Purple Haze, will be released Feb. 12. Darby also tells me that 2008 Aunt Lee Syrah and 2008 Flip Side, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, will be released two weeks later, on Feb. 25.

And there’s more – in mid-March, Darby’s new label, Live Wire, will launch. According to Darby, all the red wines will  cost $25-28, while the price point for whites will be $18.  There will be limited quantities of a 2008 Cab Franc, Syrah, a Bordeaux blend, a Rose’ and a Viognier/Marsanne blend.

We’ll be back soon, and suggest you stop by Darby’s tasting room too!