Delicious Darighe

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 12.53.56 PMAs March (the official Washington Wine Month) comes to an end, we decided to open one of the first bottles of wine that we tasted when we moved here: Darighe from The Woodhouse Wine Estates.

The 2008 vintage is as lovely as the first we tried – 2001 Darighe.

2008 Darighe is an excellent, traditional, old-world, left-bank Bordeaux blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 11% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot, sourced from Columbia Valley grapes.

A silver medal winner at the annual Savor Northwest Wine Competition, 2008 Darighe has a magnificent mouthfeel and a lengthy finish.

The bottle is heavy glass, as substantive as the juice inside.

Like its predecessors, the 2008 features a dense tannic structure that is a hallmark of Darighe.

According to the tasting notes:

“Darighe is ruby in color with the delicate, yet complicated scent of violet, mocha, smoke, truffle, blackberry, cassis and an array of spices. It is soft, refined and elegant with a persistent finish.”

In our opinion, these words best describe 2008 Darighe: Classic, stellar, beautiful, robust, rich and soft velvet.

We have recommended Darighe since we first experienced the 2001 vintage; the 2008 continues that tradition. If your palate prefers big reds, you will love 2008 Darighe.



Darighe time

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It’s almost Darighe time and the excitement is mounting in Washington state! Woodhouse Family Cellars is releasing the 2002 vintage of its flagship Darighe label, and if you have $45 to spend on a bottle of exquisite red wine, send in your pre-order now. (Cases can be purchased at a 15% discount.) Pre-orders will be taken until Sept. 30. Then the price goes back to $50 for a bottle and $540 for a case. The wine will be available for pick up and shipping in late November.

The 2002 Darighe, with its deep garnet hue, is a traditional old-world wine, a Bordeaux-style blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 13% Malbec and 13% Petit Verdot.

According to the tasting notes: “On the nose, the new French oak imparts rich spicy notes of vanilla, clove, nutmeg, anise and cedar, which support a complex fruit core of ripe plums, black cherries, cassis, minerals and wet earth. On the palate, the wine enters round and sweet, quickly broadening to incorporate the ripe fruit flavors of plums, black cherries, earth, cassis and vanilla, as well as the dense tannic structure that is a hallmark of Darighe. The fruit flavors and spiced vanilla notes mingle in the lengthy finish.

Owner Bijal Shah gave us a little preview when we were at a tasting at Woodhouse Family Cellars about a month ago, and I must say 2002 Darighe is going to be as highly coveted as its predecessor, 2001 Darighe.

Darighe Please, Every Vintage

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We opened a bottle of Darighe 2002 Proprietor’s Blend from Woodhouse Family Cellars with dinner the other night and wow, do we love this wine. Let us count the ways:

This high-end flagship Bordeaux blend is simply spectacular. And it’s also still available, along with the amazing 2001 vintage. But the Darighe 2000, 1999 and 1998 are sold out. Whatever the year, this is one special wine.

So here’s a toast to winemaker Tom Campbell!


Darighe Delicious

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We have never consumed a magnum of wine as quickly as Darighe 2002 Propietor’s Blend from Woodhouse Family Cellars. Don’t get me wrong — we slowly savored each sip as we relaxed on a lovely Friday evening a couple of weeks ago. As light turned to dusk, we continued to drink Darighe 2002 until long after the sky became dotted with stars.

I wrote and raved about Darighe 2002 when we first tasted it almost a year ago. It’s even better now! With its deep garnet hue, this tradional Bordeaux-style wine blends 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 13% Malbec and 13% Petit Verdot.

And for the first time, you can purchase a 3-bottle Darighe wood box vertical set (2000 – 2001 – 2002). My prediction is that you’ll covet it!


Here’s to Fine Wine in 2009!

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Happy 2009 to my family, friends and regular readers of this blog — I wish you all a year full of good health and much fine wine! What are you drinking to bring in the new year?

For us, it’s the luscious 2002 Darighe Proprietor’s Blend from Woodhouse Family Cellars. This is an exquisite old-world wine with a Washington finesse. With its deep garnet hue, this is a fine Bordeaux-style blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 13% Malbec and 13% Petit Verdot.

According to the tasting notes: “On the nose, the new French oak imparts rich spicy notes of vanilla, clove, nutmeg, anise and cedar, which support a complex fruit core of ripe plums, black cherries, cassis, minerals and wet earth. On the palate, the wine enters round and sweet, quickly broadening to incorporate the ripe fruit flavors of plums, black cherries, earth, cassis and vanilla, as well as the dense tannic structure that is a hallmark of Darighe. The fruit flavors and spiced vanilla notes mingle in the lengthy finish.

Happy New Year!


BLT means much more than a meal

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To most people, BLT is a tasty sandwich, packed full of bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. To New Yorkers, BLT is BLT Restaurants: BLT Steak, BLT Fish and BLT Prime–each is also known as a stellar and elegant “Bistro Laurent Tourondel,” named after Master Chef Laurent Tourondel.

So what, you may ask, does any of this have to do with Washington state wines?

A lot, as it turns out. BLT Restaurants’ signature wine is called BLT Barrel Select, and it is only available in $16.50 pours in New York City. Guess where it comes from? Washington state, of course. More precisely, from the fabulous Woodhouse Family Cellars in Woodinville, a quick 30-minute drive from Seattle. We had the good fortune to taste BLT Barrel Select on the weekend at a wine club release party and barbeque. The wine was superb, supple and structured.

BLT Barrel Select, a special label 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon from Rattlesnake Hills, was a collaboration between Washington’s Bijal Shah, owner of the successful Woodhouse Family Cellars and BLT wine director Fred Dexheimer. The BLT Barrel Select is 75 percent Cabernet and 25 percent Malbec and is perfectly suited for the bistro fare at BLT Restaurants. The bad news: it was only available for sale in Washington state on Saturday for members of Woodhouse Family Cellars’ wine club.

The good news is that Woodhouse Family Cellar has many, many other fantastic wines that are available at a number of restaurants and retail outlets. All five premium labels have developed a “cult wine” following: Darighe, Maghee, Dussek, Kennedy Shah, and Hudson-Shah. 

Darighe is an exquisite, high-end Bordeaux-style blend that is considered the flagship. The second label, a robust 100 percent Merlot called Maghee, is so outstanding that it sells out very quickly. Also know as a “Big Boy” Merlot, Maghee is our favorite Merlot in the world. The third label is Dussek, consisting of a sharp, supple Cab with an elegant finish and a strong, straightforward Syrah. The fourth label is called Kennedy Shah, named after the daughter of Bijal and his wife Sinead. Kennedy Shah includes seven varietals: a Red Mountain Merlot, a Cabernet, a Syrah, an Orange Muscat, a Tempranillo, a Petit Verdot and a white picnic blend.

Ah, the picnic blend. We’re not big fans of white wine, but we had heard so much about the 2004 Auntie Meredith’s Picnic Blend (shout-out to the Cellar Rat) that we had to taste it at the barbeque, too. The 2006 Auntie Meredith’s Picnic Blend is pale gold with blossom, pear, peach and honey flavors–comprised of 50 percent Chardonnay, 25 percent Chenin Blanc and 25 percent Viognier. We “non-white-wine drinkers” took home a bottle of Auntie Meredith’s to enjoy on a sunny summer day on the deck.

The flagship release of the fifth label, Hudson-Shah, is another “Big Boy” … it’s called the Big Boy Butterball Chardonnay.

We highly recommend that you taste some of these fantastic wines at Woodhouse Family Cellars. The tasting room has been described as “warehouse chic,” featuring golden chandeliers, a granite tasting bar and a Viking kitchen. Oh and by the way, Bijal makes a mean barbeque, too.

I’ll have more about Bijal’s growing wine business and fantastic wines another day. For now, I’ll leave you with Bijal’s explanation of why Washington wines are so spectacular — Washington state has old-world terroir and new world fruit.


Vote for Your Favorite Washington State Wine

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What are your favorite Washington wines? Sean over at Washington Wine Report is taking a survey, so check out his blog post and mark your faves for 2008. And let me know on this blog too!

There are so many wonderful wines in this state that I couldn’t submit all of them to the survey. Indeed, I actually listed 12 before realizing that Sean only wanted us to list our top five. Ooops! Here are the first 12 Washington wines that came to my mind:

2003 Darighe, Woodhouse Family Cellars
2004 Dussek Cab Sauv, Woodhouse Family Cellars
2005 Estate Cabernet Sauv, Gilbert Cellars
2006 “Jolie Bouche” Syrah, Efeste Wines
2006 Destiny, Alexandria Nicole Cellars
2005 Limited Edition Cab Sauv, Page Cellars
2005 Tre Fanciulli, JM Cellars
2006 Cab Sauv, Columbia Valley, Fall Line Winery
2006 Bishop’s Blend, William Church Winery
2006 Black Tongue Syrah, Stevens Winery
2003 Vinfinity, Forgeron Cellars
2004 Camille, Nicholas Cole Cellars

I wrote down the names of wines as I thought of them — and as it turns out, not surprisingly, most of the wines were poured recently at St. Nick’s in Woodinville. (Although I still missed Guardian Cellars, Mark Ryan, DeLille, DiStefano, and many others!) 

And I wonder if the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman will complain to this Washington Wine Wench for not choosing enough Walla Walla wines. (Now that’s a lot of W’s!)

Anyway …. please tell me your favorite Washington wines in 2008 — and be sure to stop by the Washington Wine Report and submit your entries there too.


Wine for Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s time to decide what to take out of the cellar for the celebration. We’re not big white wine drinkers, so that narrows down the field a wee bit. But which reds to drink? Our favorite Cabs these days are the 2005 Estate Cab Sauv from Gilbert Cellars and 2004 Dussek Cab Sauv from Woodhouse Family Cellars. We also love Woodhouse’s Darighe.

But the choice isn’t that easy — we recently adored 2005 Preface and 2005 Libra from Page Cellars and then there’s the 2005 Estate Cab from Alexandria Nicole Cellars. And what about the robust Syrahs and the smooth red blends offered in Washington state? Our cellar is also stacked with wines from JM Cellars, Airfield Estates, Fall Line, Dunham Cellars, William Church, Windy Point, Desert Wind, Forgeron Cellars, Sparkman Cellars, Mark Ryan and Guardian Cellars.

Help! What are you drinking with Thanksgiving dinner? Please let us know!


Play it Again in 2010

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Regular readers of this blog know that Dave and I have three criteria for what we think makes a Washington state winery special: fine wine, great people and terrific events. And we’ve been fortunate to find a few wineries that exceeded our expectations and whose owners, winemakers and staff have become our friends. It is these wineries and people to whom we tip our hats and say play it again in 2010!

Special thanks to (in alphabetical order):

  • Airfield Estates: We were delighted to hear that our friends at Airfield Estates in Prosser are opening a tasting room in Woodinville in 2010, so that more people can experience their wine. Winemaker Marcus Miller, his father/owner/grape grower Mike Miller, and assistant general manager Amy Sonnichsen were wonderful hosts on our visits to the winery. Mike heralded us with incredible stories about the airport hangar and its history, while Marcus and Amy enthusiastically took us behind the scenes during crush. We’re big fans of their Bombshell Red and the Aviator, to name just a couple.
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars: Mr. Big Petite Sirah is a favorite in our house, and there are a dozen other beyond-excellent ANC wines too! Don’t just take our word for it – ANC won KING TV’s Best Winery in Western Washington and many other awards in 2009. A special shoutout to Jarrod and Ali Boyle and the wonderful people, such as Kathie Statler, in the tasting rooms in both Prosser and Woodinville. And props to the ANC wine club, Vida Johansen and her crew, for the incredible club parties and special features that members enjoy.
  • Efeste: Our hardest decision at Efeste is whether we prefer Jolie Bouche or Ceidleigh, because both Syrahs are so luscious. And then there’s Big Papa and Feral and the list goes on. In addition, Efeste throws such terrific events that we actually faced rush-hour traffic from Seattle to Woodinville to attend one of their week-night parties. Everyone associated with Efeste is so much fun – from Brennon Leighton (winemaker) to all the owners — Daniel and Helen Ferrelli, Kevin and Angie Taylor and Patrick Smith.
  • Gilbert Cellars: We first met Sean Gilbert at an event called Sexy Syrah at Salty’s a couple of years ago. His winery – and his wines – have exploded since then. Gilbert Cab and Cab Francs are definite must-haves for our special dinners. Gilbert Cellars tasting room is also a wine bar and a must-stop for us in Yakima and/or on the way to Prosser and Walla Walla. Sean and his promotion/sales manager Anders Zwartjes have shared stories and glasses with us in the last couple of years – and we look forward to more.
  • JM Cellars: We’ve been fans of Tre Fanciulli and Bramble Bump Red for a few years now. But in 2009, we also fell in love with JM’s Sauvignon Blanc – an amazing feat since we rarely drank white wine before we discovered this beauty.  And while we’re just getting to know John and Peggy Bigelow, we’ve been big fans of Paige and Lisa in the tasting room as long as we can remember. Beyond fans, we consider them friends.
  • Page Cellars: Rothelle Page has been warm and welcoming to us from the first day we met her, and her winemaker husband Jim has created some unique wines that we love including Red Zepplin Cab Franc and Preface Cab Sauvignon. Plus their band, Nice Legs (as in wine legs), rocks the house at events and features son Brett Cummings on saxaphone. 
  • William Church Winery: From an amazing Malbec to some incredible blends, we always have a bottle of William Church on hand in our house. Owners Leslie and Rod Balsley are truly a delight – a combination of talent, fun and smarts. They’re also winning the hearts and minds of local bloggers, holding tweetups and blogger gatherings with barrel tastings and syrah meatballs to line up for! Winemaker Rod, along with assistant winemaker Marcus Rafanelli, create exceptional wines and with Leslie, turn their events into a wonderful experience.
  • Woodhouse Family Cellars: From Bijal and Sinead Shah to winemakers Tom Campbell and Jean-Claude Beck, we’ve always been made to feel like part of the Woodhouse family. We’re huge fans of Dussek Cab, which is also a favorite of my sister in Vancouver. And then there’s the velvety Darighe – we’re hoarding vintages of this opulent wine!

We also want to say Happy New Year to our new friends at Goosecross Cellars, David and Colleen Topper. We spent hours talking to them about wine and social media when we were in Napa Valley last May – and we know we’d see them frequently if we lived closer. David and Colleen are fantastic – and their wines, made by Geoff Gorsuch, frequently grace our table. We opened their rich Cab Franc over the holidays and started our New Year’s Eve celebration with their artisan AEROS. A visit to their Napa winery is an experience we recommend to anyone headed that way in 2010.

So Dave and I thank all of you for sharing your wines and your stories with us. We lift our glasses to you – Happy New Year … and play it again in 2010!


Washington Wine Month-Our Faves

Barbera, Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Syrah, Tempranillo, Washington wineries, Wine, Zinfandel Comments Off

We love Washington state wine. So to us, every month is Washington Wine Month. But there is an official month to celebrate this state’s amazing wines – March — and it comes with its own website and promotions from participating wine shops, tasting rooms, restaurants and hotels.

In honor of Washington Wine Month, here is a list of some of our favorite reds (in alphabetical order).

  • 21 Grams 2008 Red Blend
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2008 Destiny Bordeaux Blend; 2007 Mr. Big Petit Sirah; 2009 Petite Verdot
  • Barrage Cellars 2007 Outcast Cabernet Franc; 2007 Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon; 2008 Secret Weapon Cab Sauv
  • Cooper Wine Company 2007 L’Inizio; 2007 Cooper Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla
  • Darby 2009 Dark Side Syrah; 2008 Chaos
  • DiStefano 2007 Sogno Cabernet Franc Reserve; 2005 Sogno Cab Franc
  • EFESTE 2008 Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon; 2009 Jolie Bouche Syrah; 2008 Ceidleigh Syrah
  • Fall Line 2009 El Otro Yakima Valley Tempranillo;  2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Fidelitas 2007 and 2008 Champoux Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon; 2008 Red Mountain Red Wine
  • Fielding Hills 2008, 2007 and 2005 Cabernet Franc
  • Forgeron Cellars 2006 Zinfandel; 2003 Vinfinity
  • Gilbert Cellars 2007 Cabernet Franc; 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Gorman Winery 2009 Evil Twin Syrah-Cab blend; 2008 Bully Cabernet Sauvignon (blended with Petit Verdot)
  • Hard Row to Hoe 2008 Burning Desire Estate Cabernet Franc; 2008 Pinot Noir
  • Heaven’s Cave 2009 Two Degrees Barbera; 2005 Angel’s Blend.
  • JM Cellars 2009 Boushey Vineyard Syrah; 2009 Tre; 2009 Margaret’s Vineyard Estate Red
  • L’Ecole 41 2008 Apogee Pepper Bridge; 2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; 2001 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Northwest Totem Cellars 2008 Qo-ne’ Cab Franc blend; 2006 Cab Franc
  • Otis Kenyon 2008 Syrah
  • Ross Andrews 2006 Syrah-Cab blend
  • Va Piano 2008 Walla Walla Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Vin du Lac 2007 Barrel Select Cab Franc
  • Walla Walla Vintners 2008 Columbia Valley Cab Franc
  • Watermill Winery 2007 Estate Cab Franc
  • Waters 2009 Forgotten Hills Syrah
  • The Woodhouse Wine Estates 2006 and 2004 Dussek Cabernet Sauvignon; every vintage of Darighe
  • Woodward Canyon 2009 and 2007 “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon; 2003 Charbonneau
  • William Church 2009 and 2008 Bishop’s Blend; 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • We are really looking forward to tasting new releases from these wineries and trying pours from wineries that are new to us too at Taste Washington, the Super Bowl of wine events, March 31-April 1.

    We hope to see you there!


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