We’ve been fans of William Church Winery since March, 2008, when our wine-expert nephew, Mathew, came to visit us with a bottle of their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon.
It was awesome, so we made a point to visit their tasting room in Woodinville’s winery warehouse district — William Church was one of the eight original warehouse wineries.
Unfortunately, this was not an easy feat at the time because they were only open on Saturdays.
But that situation didn’t last long; soon the tasting room was open more frequently, and then three years later, in July 2011, William Church opened their second tasting room in Woodinville’s Hollywood Schoolhouse wine area.
Fast forward to today, and we’re extremely happy to say that William Church Winery is one of Washington state’s success stories.
We recently visited their Schoolhouse tasting room, which is open every day (and until 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), and it was thriving; packed with people cheerfully drinking some amazing juice.
This was the first time in a couple of years that we tasted their entire lineup, and wow! Winemaker (and co-owner) Rod Balsley has always produced quality wines, but these days, that quality has risen to a new level.
Rod currently produces seven award-winning wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, Viognier and three blends: 2Spires, Bishop’s Blend and Sur La Mer.
We love all of them because they are solid, stand-alone sippers and also phenomenal when paired well with food.
2013 Viognier: This flagship wine has always been one of Washington state’s best examples of Viognier. Somehow, this Viognier is both rich and fresh, and understandably named one of Seattle Metropolitan‘s Top Washington Wines Under $25.
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon: We brought this wine home to pair with a good meal — perhaps a juicy steak or a savory roast over the holidays. As mentioned, we’ve loved this classic Cab Sauv since the 2005 vintage, and it just keeps getting better and better.
2012 Syrah: Another perennial favorite, this Syrah is rich and full-bodied, and tastes the way a good Syrah should: balanced, with smoke and spice, and simply delicious. We first wrote about the 2006 Syrah, which was named in the Top 100 wines in Seattle Metropolitan.
2011 2Spires: William Church was one of the first Washington wineries to produce a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon (two wines=two spires). In the 2011 vintage, the blend is 63% Syrah and 37% Cab. Think big, bold and beautiful, and a double-gold winner at the Seattle Wine Awards.
2012 Bishop’s Blend: This full-bodied, robust wine blends 55% Cab Sauv, 20% Merlot, 15% Malbec and 10% Petit Verdot. It’s a steal at $25.
2011 Sur La Mer: This Merlot-based wine has all five Bordeaux varietals in the blend. A newer wine in the lineup — 2007 was the first vintage of this classic blend — Sur La Mer is named after the seaport city in France where co-owner Leslie Balsley was born.
Unfortunately for us, the 2011 Malbec is sold out — not surprisingly, since Seattle Met
called this double-gold award winning wine a “textbook example of Washington Malbec.” We first tasted the 2006 vintage, and before we knew it, William Church Malbec was recognized as the best in the state.
We encourage you to try some or all of these wines, and you’ll understand why they are award-winning. They also make great gifts for the wine enthusiasts in your life, for the hostess at your holiday parties or to serve guests in your home.
December 2, 2008
Better late than never, it’s time to share the glorious Washington state wines we enjoyed over the Thanksgiving weekend. Where to start?
On Thanksgiving Eve — that would be the night before Thanksgiving — we celebrated the start of the excellent long weekend with two of our favorite Merlots, both from Woodhouse Family Cellars: 2005 Kennedy Shah Merlot and 2004 Maghee Cellars Merlot. They’re very different, particularly in side-by-side tastings: the Kennedy Shah Merlot is medium weight “with raspberries, blueberries, smoky earth and spice on the nose and palate,” while the Maghee is more robust with “succulent rich black cherry fruit, full round soft mouth filling tannins and a smooth lingering finish.” We love them both!
On Thanksgiving Day, we began with Gilbert Cellars 2006 Estate Claret and then moved to Gilbert’s 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The Claret is a smooth blend of Bordeaux varieties from Washington state’s Wahluke slopes. The Cab is juicy, aromatic and rich. Both wines enhanced the appetizers, delicious turkey and side dishes that were too many to name here!
The day after Thanksgiving, we were blessed with a visit from my father who lives in Vancouver (B.C.) Although he hasn’t quite developed the palate of my sister, my nephew, Dave or me, he still enjoyed the pre-dinner Three Rivers 2005 Meritage Red – possibly because this fine blend contains 12% Petit Verdot. With dinner, we sipped on another bottle of Gilbert Cellars 2005 Estate Cab, which we highly recommend.
We took a night off to recuperate from all the great food and wine, but on Sunday night we toasted the wonderful weekend with a glass of Saviah Cellars 2006 Jack. This Merlot, blended with 6% Cab Sauv, 4% Cab Franc and 2% Syrah, was Dave’s drink of choice when we were regulars at Vino Bello. We haven’t been able to get there lately unfortunately, but we’ll be sure to stop by again to see Michele and the gang before the year is up.
Wow, think about that – with Thanksgiving behind us, it’s almost time for the holidays and 2009!
September 7, 2009
The Write for Wine blog unexpectedly took a holiday over the Labor Day weekend, but we’re back! And it’s all thanks to Louis!
The “holiday” began after we read a CNET article: “WordPress blogs falling prey to worm … The worm does not affect the current version 2.8.4 and the one prior to it. And it only affects people who host their own WordPress blog.”
We host our own WordPress blog but it’s not on the current version, so our immediate reaction was to upgrade to version 2.8.4. Makes sense, eh? You’d think, except our manual upgrade didn’t quite work and the blog site went down, down, down – and remained in that dark state for two days. Two l-o-n-g days.
But then my wonderful nephew Louis came to the rescue – and voila, Write for Wine is back in business! We can’t find enough words to thank Louis, who along with the lovely Karyne, became new parents a mere one week ago when my beautiful great-niece Lyv was born in Montreal. Felicitations et merci beaucoup!
December 31, 2007
One of the highlights of St. Nick’s weekend earlier this month was finally visiting Mark Ryan Winery’s tasting room and having an opportunity to chat with the winemaker himself. We have tried frequently in the past to stop by the Woodinville tasting room, but it’s not always open. All I can say is it was worth the wait!
First, we tasted a barrel sample of the new 2006 Wild Eyed Syrah from Red Mountain. This powerhouse red rocked! According to the tasting notes, “Deeply colored, dense and rich, the wine exudes black plum and berries with notes of chocolate, smoke and bacon.” We wanted to take some of it home, but its release date isn’t until March. Instead, we lapped up the most delicious meatballs in the world! (Yes, in true Woodinville wine weekend style, some of the wineries went all out with excellent selections of appetizers to taste along with the wine.)
Mark Ryan himself is frequently called Woodinville’s rising star, but he’s as down to earth as he looks in photos on his Web site. I talked to him about his fabulous wines and his new venture, Guardian Cellars, with Jerry Reiner.
Back in November, we first tried Mark Ryan’s 2005 Dead Horse when my nephew Mathew, with his excellent palate, ordered a bottle with a lucious dinner at Daniel’s Broiler in Bellevue. We also read rave reviews of 2005 The Dissident. (Who wouldn’t love a wine with a name like that?) So it was no surprise that we bought a couple of bottles of those two wines to take home with us.
And we’ll be in line in March for the new 2006 Wild Eyed Syrah, most definitely!
November 11, 2007
We discovered Alexandria Nicole Cellars when the winery opened a Woodinville tasting room a few months ago. On our next trip to eastern Washington, we stopped by the Prosser tasting room; spent some time in the beautiful “Members Only” room; tasted some great new releases; and better yet, met winemaker Jarrod and his wife Alexandria, for whom the fine wines are named.
A couple of weeks ago, my nephew Mathew–an excellent wine tasting companion–came from Vancouver (B.C., my hometown) to visit, so we decided to tour our favorite tasting rooms in Woodinville. Of course, we stopped by to visit the good folks at Alexandria Nicole again.
During those three trips in two months, we tasted many of Jarrod’s wines. And of course, we brought some home to the dinner table. So, it stands to reason that the wine with dinner (WWD) recently was Alexandria Nicole’s 2004 Quarry Butte–a blend from Destiny Ridge Vineyards and Horse Heaven Hills.
The winery’s estate vineyard, Destiny Ridge, used to be called Quarry Butte. It’s located on the bluffs of Horse Heaven Hills and was slated to become a rock quarry. I, for one, am glad those plans were derailed.
2004 Quarry Butte is a Bordeaux-style blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 6% Cab Franc, 6% Syrah and 1% Malbec. It is smooth and rich, with berry flavors and a balanced structure. We had it with dinner the night before our second trip to the Woodinville tasting room, where we found out that it is now sold out!
The 2005 Quarry Butte was just released on the day of our visit–it’s a different blend of 48% Cab, 38% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 4% Syrah and 3% Cab Franc. We preferred the 2004 vintage, but you can’t go wrong with the 2005 Quarry Butte either.
This time, we took home something different–Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2004 Estate Cabernet. It is loaded with flavors and when we have it with dinner, I’ll tell you more.
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