Random Thoughts from Taste Washington-Part 1

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Washington state produces excellent wine. Period.

That is our main takeaway from Taste Washington, held March 23-24 in Seattle.

That is certainly not a new or revolutionary thought on Write for Wine. We were major advocates of Washington wine for years before this blog was created in 2007. But, frankly, the winemakers and vineyard producers just keep getting better and better with each passing year.

First, kudos to Washington Wine Commission for creating such an organized event at the massive exhibition hall at Centurylink Field. Year after year — for 16 years, to be precise — this well-oiled machine produces a crowd-pleaser that introduces newcomers to the best wine and food in the state and also provides new experiences to annual attendees.

Taste Washington is an incredible taste sensation, with pours from more than 225 Washington wineries and bites created by 68 local restaurants. There were so many standouts; here is the first part of our random thoughts from the Super Bowl of Washington wine events.

Best surprise – an outstanding Obelisco 2012 Red Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, created by winemaker Kevin Correll from Barrage Cellars in conjunction with Doug Long from Obelisco. We are headed to the Obelisco tasting room in Woodinville to buy some of this amazing summer sipper before it sells out!

Ditto for Doug’s superlative 2010 Nefer 111, which demonstrates how incredibly well Washington grapes can be transformed with a Napa Valley style. This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain fruit sourced at Obelisco Estate Vineyard. We don’t frequently purchase 3-bottle sets, but we are going to make an exception for this stellar wine.

And speaking of Barrage, the 2008 Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon is drinking really well right now! We loved it when it was first released, and now, simply wow.

Still on the Cab Sauv track, we were fortunate to taste Gorman Winery‘s 2009 Albatross Red Mountain, a powerful blend of 80% Cab Sauv and 20% Petit Verdot, which received 94 points from Wine Enthusiast. This one is a beauty, which we’re also going to buy before all of it gets snapped up!

With a Parker rating of 92 points, the Adams Bench 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon V is a polished vibrant red that we are pleased to add to our list of favorites. It was recommended to us by William Church winemaker Rod Balsley, whose 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon has been winning awards all over the place!

By the way, Rod’s William Church 2010 Cab Sauv has just been released, and we can’t wait to taste it. This standout Cab is the winner of the 2013 Golden Grape Best Cabernet Award, judged by the winemakers of Woodinville, which is pretty impressive.

Somehow, we missed Barrister‘s 2010 Cabernet Franc, which has been a favorite in past vintages. But we tasted the delightful full-bodied “Burning Desire” Estate Cab Franc from Hard Row to Hoe, which is consistently fabulous year after year.

We also missed pours from Forgeron CellarsFidelitas and Gilbert Cellars – but we know from past experience that wines from all three typically rock!

There were so many random thoughts from Taste Washington, this blog post will continue – come back soon to read about the rest of our favorite pours and bites at this Super Bowl of wine events.

Did you go to Taste Washington 2013? What were your standouts?

Cheers!

 

 

Washington Wine Fun Facts 2013

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Every year, The Washington Wine Commission releases fun facts about Washington wine at Taste Washington, and we thought it would be fun to compare this year to previous years:

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

  • YES in 2011, 2012 and 2013

FACT: There are 750 wineries in Washington state and 350+ grape growers.

  • In 2012, there were 730 wineries & 350+ grape growers.
  • In 2011, there were 700+ wineries & 350+ grape growers.

FACT: More than 30 varietals are produced in Washington state.

  • The same was true in 2012. In 2011, more than 60
  • Editor’s note: Interesting reversal!

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

  • YES in 2011, 2012 and 2013

FACT: The leading red varietals produced in Washington state are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cab Francv and Malbec.

  • In 2011 and 2012, three additional leading red varietals were listed: Sangiovese, Pinot Noir and Lemberger.

FACT: The ratio of white-to-red wine is 50.3% white to 49.7% red.

  • In 2012, the ratio was 55% white to 45% red.
  • In 2011, the ratio was 54% white to 46% red.
  • Editor’s note: Very noteworthy to see how the ratio has evened out over the years.

Additional information in 2013:

  • Wine Production: 12 million cases
  • Record Harvest: 2012 with 188,000 tons
  • Estimated winery sales: $437.64 million
  • Estimated retail & restaurant sales: $135.782 million
  • Estimated distributor sales: $37.34 million
  • Full-time equivalent wine-related jobs: 30,000 in Washington state; 70,000 nationwide
  • Wine-related wages paid: $1.5 billion in Washington state; $2.8 billion nationwide
  • Total economic impact on Washington state: $8.6 billion
  • Total economic impact on U.S. economy: $14.9 billion

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

 

The Super Bowl of Washington Wine

Events, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Taste Washington, the Super Bowl for the Washington state wine industry, kicks off March 23-24 with something for every wine enthusiast. It’s also a perfect place for newbies to learn, without fear, about the wonderful world of wine, Washington style. And then there’s the food.

Specifically, Taste Washington features more than 225 Washington wineries and 68 local restaurants.

No wonder that the Washington Wine Commission and Visit Seattle, annual producers of the event, promote it this way: “Taste Washington. Drink. Eat. Learn.” Indeed, Taste Washington is billboarded as “the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event.”

The weekend begins with Saturday seminars to educate your palate. The wine will also be flowing at these educational experiences:

  • Introduction to the World of Wine
  • Cure What Ales Ya!
  • RIEDEL Glass Tasting
  • Washington vs. The World!
  • All Mixed Up – The Art of Blending
  • Yakima Valley 30th Anniversary
  • Join the Cider Revolution

Sunday features the Grand Tasting. Like any Super Bowl, you need to plan to stay ahead of the game. It’s easy – you can download a copy of the event program and start planning which wineries and restaurants to visit.

We organize our tasting route in advance every year. One year, we decided to only taste pours from wineries or wines that we had never before experienced. Another year, we decided to only drink Cab Francs.

Here is more information to help organize your weekend: Participating wineries | Vineyards |Restaurants | Hotels | Exhibitors | Tickets |

There are various price tiers for the event, which is being held at the CenturyLink Field Event Center:

VIP Tickets – One day $145, two days, $185; For this price, your receive one extra hour to enjoy Taste Washington before the crowds arrive; access to the Barrel Room, an exclusive VIP lounge presented by Tulalip Resort Casino; VIP swag bag and special giveaways each day during the VIP hour.

General Admission — One day $80; two days, $125

Seminars — Held over two days, these range in price from $25-$75 dollars

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!

 

Rules for Attending a Wine Festival

Events, Wine Comments Off

We’ve headed into the season of major wine events, so it was particularly timely to receive an email from Hedges Family Estate titled, “Rules for Attending a Wine Festival.”

Not only was it timely, the words rang true according to several winemakers we’ve talked to over the years.

It’s also pretty funny.

So props to Hedges Family Estate – enjoy!

 

Rules for Attending a Wine Festival

by Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain, WA

  • Don’t tether your wine glass to your neck.
  • Don’t pinch your fingers and say, “Just a little.”  Dump it if you don’t want to finish it, but I’m going to pour as much as I damn well please.
  • Don’t violently lift your glass mid-pour and say, “That’s enough.”  Same deal as above.
  • Don’t say, “Give me the biggest thing you have.”  This isn’t NASCAR.
  • Let “smooth” take the day off from your vocabulary… the whole day.
  • Don’t shove.  I mean… really.
  • Don’t say you hate Merlot. We all saw Sideways. Guess what: Miles didn’t want to drink Merlot because it reminded him of his ex-wife. That bottle he drank in the end—his most precious bottle—had a ton of Merlot in it.
  • Don’t tell every winemaker about the winery that was down the street while you lived in Lodi.
  • Don’t ask how the wine scored… ever.
  • Do wear a “Wine’er, Dine’er, 69’er T-shirt.
  • If you are going to wear one of the those little food trays that has a cutout for your glass, you better be damn sure you are cool enough to wear it.  Note: no one is that cool.
  • Over-buff late thirties guy: Don’t try to impress your date by contradicting me.  You’re going to fail.  Yeah, try me.
  • Don’t lick your glass… pig.
  • Don’t talk about your sulfite allergy.  There is a good chance you have no idea what you’re talking about.
  • Don’t dump into the water pitcher.  And always look before you drink out of it.
  • Practice spitting at home; it will come in handy.
  • Don’t talk about the legs after you swirl the glass.  Here’s a tip: the legs don’t matter.
  • Don’t take your heels off and puke in the lobby.
  • Don’t ask what the most expensive wine on the table is.
  • Keep the rim of your glass food free.
  • If you proclaim that you don’t like white or rose, we will make fun of you when you walk away.
  • NO Perfume!  And go light on the lipstick, honey.

Do you have any tips or rules to add?

Cheers!

March is Washington Wine Month

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

In our family, every month is Washington Wine Month, but the official celebration occurs in this state every March.

That’s when you will find great deals at wineries, wine shops, big grocery stores and many restaurants. For example, some promotions include discounts on full or half cases of Washington state wine, purchase discounts off any bottle or Washington wine or in-store free wine tastings.

For specifics, have a look at the Washington Wine Month Calendar.

One that caught our eye is a 20%-off promotion for Northwest Totem Cellars at Wine World on March 16th. And thanks Wine World, for quoting this blog in your promotion!

As for us, we celebrate by telling anyone who will listen about the great juice Washington state wineries produce.

Whether you like big, bold reds (like us), crispy Sauvignon Blanc, rich Viognier or buttery Chardonnay, you can find the best right in your own backyard, so to speak, from Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Cascade Valley, Woodinville and many more.

We recently tasted these Washington wine gems:

Do you see a trend here? We heart Cabs!

And these are just some of the amazing wines you can find from Washington state. We encourage you to do so!

Happy Washington Wine Month!

Cheers!