Summer Sippers and BBQ Reds

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 12.37.47 PMSummer make us think of white wine on the deck or patio. But let’s not forget about robust reds to accompany tasty BBQs during the warm weather! Here are some good-value whites to sip with a summer salad or seafood such as prawns, scallops, sushi, crab or halibut, and some good-value reds for your BBQ. And there are also some bonus wines that are a bit pricier, and also work as a celebratory toast to Independence Day with friends.


Summer Sipper Whites

  • 2014 Kenwood Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($13): Fruit from 28 vineyards went into this crisp summer sipper, and the result is a balance of citrus and tropical flavors plus some grassy characteristics and minerality.
  • Louis Jadot Macon-Villages 2014 ($15): This is a Chardonnay that is clean rather than oaky, with apple and citrus aromas, mineral notes and fresh fruit on the palate.
  • Santa Cristina 2015 Cipresseto Toscana ($14): If you like your rosé dry, try this one, with notes of jasmine and raspberry.
  • Santa Cristina 2015 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie ($12): Refreshing with aromas of tropical fruit and orange flowers, we will be sipping on this during lazy afternoons on the lake.
  • Drumheller Columbia Valley Chardonnay ($12): Smoky mineral notes on the palate make this a summer pleaser from a new label from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates — “a more restrained, yet elegant version of Washington’s expressive fruit.”

 Bonus Whites: These whites are a slice of heaven on a warm evening by the lake, by the pool, on the deck or the patio.

Efeste 2014 Feral Sauvignon Blanc ($20): This beauty of a Sauv Blanc brought us back to drinking whites in 2009 after years of reds only. Feral, with native yeast fermentation, is a wild and lively wine with intense minerality and the perfect amount of citrus to keep us sipping on the deck until the sun goes down.

JM Cellars 2015 Sauvignon Blanc ($25): We first tasted this amazing white wine in 2009, shortly after we tried Feral for the first time. JM’s Sauv Blanc was fermented in 100% stainless steel, features both tropical and citrusy flavors, and is a refreshing favorite every summer.

Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014 ($28): This Napa wine shows aromas of pear, lychee, citrus zest and almonds, with a full range of flavors. We particularly like the citrus zest, which sets this apart from many Chardonnays that we’ve tasted.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 5.45.41 PMBBQ Reds: 

  • Double Barrel Shiraz ($20):
    The rich Australian Shiraz was aged in Scotch whiskey barrels to provide complex, well-developed characteristics.
  • Drumheller 2014 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($12): A distinct Washington wine, we noted the delicate flavors and texture, with a silky finish.
  • Drumheller 2014 Columbia Valley Merlot ($12): Another distinct Drumheller red, this merlot has lively aromas of blueberry and spice, with hints of cocoa and a soft texture.

 Bonus Reds: These rich reds pair well with BBQ meat dishes, at a summer party or as a stand-alone wine by a beach bonfire.

Résonance Pinot Noir Résonance Vineyard 2013 ($65) – From the  Yamhill-Carlton AVA within Oregon’s Willamette Valley, this lovely wine is a produced by winemaker Jacques Lardière, and is  Louis Jadot’s first project outside of France.

2013 Jack London Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($35)
This beauty will pair perfectly with BBQ steaks in the summer (and also roast beef in the winter). This is our kind of cab – full-bodied, rich, robust, well-structured and elegant.

2012 Ferrari-Carano Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley ($65)
With such a beautiful nose, lovely aromas and concentrated fruit, this Reserve Cab is simply delicious.

Any of these wines would add to your July 4 celebrations too!

Of note, all of these wines except Efeste and JM Cellars were samples provided by the wineries. Thank you!

Cheers to the long lazy days of summer BBQ’s and sipping wine outside.
Margot and Dave

Coming Soon! Seattle Wine & Food Experience

You’d better move quickly – tickets are now on sale for the Seattle Wine and Food Experience at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. If you like good wine, beer and food, mark your calendars for this delicious experience on Feb. 23, from 1-5 p.m.

New this year is a VIP experience,which includes a one-hour early entry, an event tote bag, wine glass and tasting plate, plus an opportunity to win a variety of wine-related prizes.

This year’s featured region is Woodinville Wine Country, with pours from many excellent wineries, including Alexandria Nicole Cellars,  Lauren AshtonObelisco and The Woodhouse Wine Estates. Other Washington AVAs are represented by Double Canyon, Kiona and Red Mountain AVA Alliance, among others.

Some of our Oregon favorites — Seven of HeartsKing Estate and Willamette Valley Vineyards — will be be pouring, along with wineries from California, Idaho, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Argentina.

You can find a full list of wineries that will be pouring, along with beer and ciderspirits, and coffeein addition to information about numerous restaurants serving gourmet bites, at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience websiteTickets are $55.

It’s important to note – this is the sixth annual SWFE, which is testimony to the reputation and following that this event, with its explosion of tastes, has generated in Seattle. 

So run, don’t walk to get your tickets! We hope to see you there.


Wines for Thanksgiving

Wondering what wines to share over the Thanksgiving holidays? A special bottle to take to a family dinner or an evening with good friends? Here is our list of current favorite red wines of different vintages.

But first, a note: We strongly believe that people should drink whatever varieties of wine they want, red or white. Our preference for Thanksgiving happens to be robust red wines – some with a bit of funk, such as 2009 Reynvaan In the Rocks Syrah, and some that are rich and smooth, such as 2009 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon.

In addition to those two beauties, here are the wines (in alphabetical order) that we recommend for Thanksgiving – all are from Washington state unless otherwise noted as from Oregon.

What’s on your list of Thanksgiving wines?



What’s in Our Glasses Lately?

In the past couple of weeks, we have particularly enjoyed three bottles of red wine — two from Washington state and one from Carlton, Oregon.

2008 Barrage Cellars Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon

We’ve enjoyed Barrage Cellars 2009 and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignons and Cabernet Francs frequently this year, but on Friday night, we decided to dip into our cellar for this 2008 beauty.

Oh my, it is drinking well. We savoured every sip. The 08 Double Barrel is 100% Cab Sauv sourced from three excellent Washington state vineyards: Destiny Ridge, Red Willow and Sheridan. This is one big, beautiful and bold Cabernet. From winemaker Kevin Correll’s tasting notes:

A deep purple color reminiscent of a new world Syrah, but with that first taste there is no mistaking that this is a huge Cabernet Sauvignon. Flavors explode on the palette with complex layers of big red fruit, anise, tobacco and some graphite followed by huge. Fine grain tannins that are well integrated, but suited for aging.

2008 Northwest Totem Cellars Qo-ne

Another stellar Washington wine from our cellar, Qo-ne has long been one of our favorites from Northwest Totem Cellars. The 2008 blends Cab Franc (60%) with Cab Sauv (29%) along with 9% Syrah and 2% Petit Verdot to round off the distinct flavors.

Qo-ne means “friend” in Haida, the language of the First Nation by the same name in British Columbia. This wine has a special meaning for me, because I worked for the Haida years before I met Mike Sheridan, winemaker for Northwest Totem Cellars. Here are Mike’s tasting notes:

Rich with aromas of blackberry, vanilla, coffee and nicco wafers, this wine is well balanced with notes of chocolate and black cherry finishing with a hint of that signature Cab Franc white pepper on the finish.

2010 Troon Vineyard Cabernet Franc Reserve

We wish we had purchased more than a couple of bottles of this gem of a Cab Franc during our recent visit to Carlton, Oregon. This rich, structured wine consists of 80% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Troon was recently named “One of the Top Ten Hottest Wine Brands” in the U.S. by Wine Business Monthly.

I know it’s early to think about Thanksgiving, but this Cab Franc will be on our list. Here are tasting notes from  owner and vintner Chris Martin:

Our effort is characterized by aromas of fresh mint and loam, with a structured, yet elegant finish. It is, as are all our reserve wines, unfined and unfiltered to perserve its body and integrity.

We recommend all three wines, if you like robust reds.


What’s in Our Glass?

Summertime means warm, lazy evenings on the deck and tasty weekend BBQs. And what better accompaniment than a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a medium-bodied Pinot Noir or a robust Cabernet Sauvignon?

Yes, those have been in our glasses so far this summer – refreshing whites with prawns or humus on the deck, medium-bodied reds with unique, flavorful salads, and big and beautiful reds with hamburgers or on occasion, steaks.

Here are the wines in our glasses — at home or in tasting rooms — that we’ve loved in the past couple of months.

What’s in your glass this summer?



A Long Weekend in Carlton Wine Country

Carlton Wine Country in Oregon is a perfect getaway from Seattle, not only because of its close proximity but also because of the friendly people, the warm hospitality and naturally, the fine wine.

We recently spent a long weekend in Carlton at the beautiful Lobenhaus Bed & Breakfast, where eight other visitors, also from the Seattle area, shared stories of their positive experiences in the region. Each group had a list of wineries to visit, and we all compared notes as we dug into the absolutely delicious and plentiful breakfast served each morning by our delightful hosts, Shari and Joe Lobenstein.

In addition to Lobenhaus, here is our list of favorite places (in no particular order) to visit in Carlton Wine Country.

Seven of Hearts: Our first stop on Friday afternoon was to visit with Rachel Go and winemaker Byron Dooley <pictured above>, who showed us his amazing lineup of 30 wines in the 2012 vintage and 21 wines in 2011 – several of which we tasted, loved and brought home.

Carlton Cellars: We spent an hour on Saturday chatting with winemaker Dave Grooters <pictured right>, listening to his entertaining stories and trying several outstanding wines, ranging from crisp summer sippers, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, to several tasty Pinot Noirs.

K&M Winery: We had so much fun with Ken Morrison and Mauro Hernandez <pictured left>, who poured classic Pinots such as NV Pinot Noir Oveja, 08 Pinto Nori, 09 Pinot Noir Reserve and 2010 Pinot Noir Cuvee. (And that cheese spread throughout the tasting room – what a treat.)

Ken Wright Cellars: From a 2011 Pinot Blanc to a 2007 Pinot Noir, Ken Wright’s wine showcased the stunning grapes that put Oregon on the map.

Noble Pig: What we love about this tasting room is that each flight of wine is accompanied by unusual pairings. For example, it’s a unique experience to taste lemon oil shots (last visit) or orange oil shots (this time) right after a sip of white wine.

Barking Frog Winery: Known for bold, full-bodied reds, we particularly enjoyed the two Barberas and the 2009 Pinot Noir Bailey, which won a double gold at the 2013 Oregon Wine Awards.

Troon Vineyard: After so many pours of Oregon Pinots, Chelsea Janzen showed us a nice change of pace at this laughingly described “anti-Pinot” winery. Their fabulous big reds include a stellar 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, a 2010 Old Vine Meritage and a 2011 Zinfandel. Troon was recently named “One of the Top Ten Hottest Wine Brands” in the US by Wine Business Monthly.

We really experienced the Carlton wine country spirit at each of these wineries, but a trip to Carlton is never complete without a stop to see Lynette Shaw and Amy Wilder <pictured right> at Republic of Jam.

These two incredible women run their store like a jam tasting room with flights of jam paired with tasty treats. Here’s an example: Boysenberry Orange Teriyaki Chicken.

Wow, what an explosion of flavors at Republic of Jam! We tried so many, but my favorite was Blueberry Lemon while Dave preferred Cranberry Raspberry.

We intend to write more posts about our experiences in Carlton wine country. Until then, check out the websites in this post and think about planning your own visit soon.