East to the Other Washington

Sauvignon Blanc, Wine Comments Off

I heart Hyatt hotels. A few weeks ago, I wrote about wine at my go-to hotel in my home town, Hyatt Vancouver. Then last week, we tasted wine in an amazing experience at the Grand Hyatt Washington D.C.

In fact, a funny thing happened on the way to the Grand Hyatt D.C. And it demonstrates the potential and the power of social media.

Shortly after arriving at the hotel, I received a message from Front Desk Agent Emanuel Lessey. He told me that he recently received an email from his sister with a link to my blog post about wine at the Hyatt Vancouver.

Emanuel has a sharp eye, in addition to a savvy business sense. And he gets social media.

He recognized my name on the his hotel’s guest list, and called to ask if we would be interested in a flight of local wine in Cure Bar & Bistro on the hotel’s main floor.

No surprise to you, I’m sure – the answer was yes, please.

Cure is a great, casual restaurant and bar that spans four floors, with high ceilings, an open fireplace, and stone and oak walls. The artisan cheese selection is almost as extensive as the wine list. We were treated to three wines from Barboursville Vineyards in Virginia, home to an incredible story as well as captivating wines.

Barboursville is located on the plantation of former Governor James Barbour, whose mansion was designed in 1814 by Thomas Jefferson, who also had a lifelong passion for fine wine. As it turns out, Jefferson envisioned a vineyard at this beautiful location, which finally happened more than 150 years later: in 1976, Gianni Zonin — 6th generation heir to a family wine enterprise active since 1821 in the Veneto — acquired the plantation.

Fast forward to April, 2012, when we enjoyed Barboursville Vintage Rose’, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay at Cure at the Grand Hyatt D.C., thanks to Emanuel Lessey.

The city had been hit with an unexpected heat wave, with 90 degrees that day, so we welcomed the cool Rose’ blend of Nebbiolo, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Merlot.

The Sauvignon Blanc was also refreshing, with aromas and flavors of grapefruit for me, although Dave got more of the tangerine and kiwi.

And if you prefer steel-barrel aging for a crisp Chardonnay, this one from Barboursville is for you.

Harun, who poured for us at Cure, was as knowledgeable about local wines as he was friendly. And a visit to our table by Cure’s popular and creative general manager, Ken Hood, added more insight into the wine list and the care given by everyone we met who worked at the Grand Hyatt D.C.

And then Emanuel took customer service one step further – by surprising me on my birthday, with a card from everyone at the front desk. Somehow, he found out that my birthday was taking place during our D.C. visit, and he helped make that day even more special.

So please join us in giving a round of applause to Emanuel and his sister, along with special cheer to Ken, Harun, the front desk staff and others at the Grand Hyatt D.C. We will return!

Cheers!

 

 


Onward to Oregon

Barbera, Wine 1 Comment

My last post was about wine from the north side of Washington state’s border; now we go south to Oregon. Actually, we’ll be traveling to Oregon wine country in August for the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference, so this post is a prelude to some of the fine wines we will be writing about in a few months.

Cana’s Feast Winery is located in Carlton, Oregon, and to our surprise – and delight – produces an excellent Barbera, one of Dave’s favorite varietals.

Although the wine was produced in Oregon, this fourth vintage of Cana’s Feast Barbera 2009 is the first to be made exclusively from Coyote Canyon Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills region of Washington state.

After a few sips, we were not surprised to find out that Cana’s Feast ’09 Barbera won gold at the Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition. A soft elegant red with rich fruit flavors, this lovely 100% Barbera paired well with our dinner of grilled halibut. Next time, we’ll serve it with Dave’s excellent spaghetti.

And yes, there will be a next time. Rich red in color, with a smooth finish, this ’09 Barbera showcases Washington state wine with an Italian flair. We’re looking forward to tasting many other Italian and Bordeaux varietals from Cana’s Feast.

(Full disclosure: This was a free wine sample from Cana’s Feast. As per our wine sample policy, we only write about wines that we like.)

Cheers!

 

Back to B.C.

Cab Franc, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine Comments Off

Regular readers of Write for Wine know that I live in Seattle but I’m from Vancouver, and I occasionally write about B.C. wines. This is one of those occasions.

On two recent visits to my hometown, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver and experienced two delightful B.C. reds – to my admitted surprise, considering that B.C. is known mainly for its fine whites.

First, 2008 Burrowing Owl Merlot: This rich wine was drinking nicely a couple of months ago, with aromas of dark cherry and cassis particularly noticeable. It was the best B.C. merlot I’ve tasted and equals some of our favorite Washington state merlots, hands down. Not surprisingly, it won a bronze at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition 2011.

In fact, I was so pleased to find a fabulous B.C. red, that I’d like to try Burrowing Owl’s Cab Franc one of these days. And it just so happens that their 08 Cab Franc won gold at the same SF International Wine Competition.

We are heading to B.C.’s wine country in 2013 for the Wine Bloggers Conference, but if we get to Oliver before hand, Burrowing Owl is definitely on our must-see list. More than a winery, Burrowing Owl offers a restaurant and accommodations, overlooking 140 acres of picturesque vineyard. The “Guest House” contains 10 spacious rooms with fireplaces and private decks.

The second B.C. red that I tasted at Vancouver Hyatt a few weeks later came from Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Vineyard. Jackson-Triggs, the most-awarded winery in Canada, is well-known for its Niagara (Ontario) wine.

But its award-winning merlots and cabernet sauvignons are made with grapes from B.C.’s Okanagan region, also near Oliver.

We tasted the latest release, a 2009 Black Series Merlot (formerly Proprietors’ Reserve), which was velvety smooth and silky at the same time. This wine is so new that it hasn’t been entered into international wine competitions yet, but my bet is on awards in the future.

If you’re looking for recommendations about B.C. whites, Washington wine expert Paul Gregutt gives full marks to “gems such as Sperling Old Vine riesling, Le Vieux Pin sauvignon blanc and Poplar Grove pinot gris.”

Cheers!

Washington Wine Fun Facts

Events, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

The Washington Wine Commission released fun facts about Washington wine at Taste Washington again this year, and we thought it would be fun to compare this year to last year’s facts:

 

Washington state is the second-largest premium wine producer in the United States (after California).

  • YES in 2011 and 2012

There are 730 wineries in Washington state and 350+ grape growers.

  • In 2011, there were 700+ wineries & 350+ grape growers

More than 30 varietals are produced in Washington state.

  • In 2011, more than 60 (Interesting reversal!)

The leading white varietals produced in Washington state are Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Semillon and Chenin Blanc.

  • Same order in both 2011 and 2012

The leading red varietals produced in Washington state are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cab Franc, Malbec, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir and Lemberger.

  • Same order in both 2011 and 2012

The ratio of white-to-red wine is 55% white to 45% red.

  • In 2011, the ratio was 54% white to 46% red.

The average hours of summer sunlight in Washington state: 17.4 hours per day, about two hours more than California’s prime growing region

  • Surprising to many, the answer is YES in both years.

The annual rainfall is eight inches in eastern Washington (our state’s major grape growing region) and 48 inches in western Washington.

  • YES in both years

We hope you enjoyed these factoids as much as we did!
Cheers!

 

Another wonderful time at Taste Washington

Wine Comments Off

For years, we’ve said if you only go to one Washington state wine event each year, Taste Washington is it. This year was no exception. We had a lovely day sipping our way through some of the best wines that Washington state has to offer. (We also spilled a lot, which is quite acceptable, along with spitting, at wine tastings.)

Every wine we tasted was a stand-out. But two were stellar to our palates: 09 Cabernet Franc from Barrister Winery and 07 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Boudreaux Cellars.

The other stand-outs were:

And while all the food we tasted was delicious too, the winner (in our opinion) was Tulalip’s fried chocolate bread pudding with a bourbon carmel-vanilla milkshake. Sigh.

Cheers to the Washington Wine Commission and cheers to Washington state’s 730+ wineries!