Another Successful Taste Washington

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville No Comments

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 12.02.07 PMEvery year, we find more things to rave about Washington state wine, celebrated in all its glory last week at Taste Washington.

Taste Washington is the country’s largest single-region wine and food event, which we like to describe as ”the Super Bowl of Washington state wine events.”

More than 200 wineries poured at Century Link Field, 70 restaurants shared tasty bites, and there were all kinds of ways to discover more about the state’s wine industry.

Our plan this year was to visit friends at wineries we know well and try some new wines. We decided to only taste red wines this year, because there were so very many wines to sample.

These our the highlights of our experience:

Top three favorite new (to us) wines, with brief descriptors

  • Walla Walla Vintners 2012 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley – Sassy, stunning, stellar, superlative
  • Double Canyon 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills — Velvety, vibrant, vivacious, victorious
  • Boudreaux Cellars 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon — Lovely, luscious, luxurious, luxe

Other favorites (in alphabetical order)

Longtime favorites (in alphabetical order)

Best bites (there were so many, but we only sampled a few)

Congratulations and thank you to the Washington Wine Commission and Visit Seattle for a such an excellent event and experience.

Cheers!

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.

Cheers!

 

Taste Washington: The Super Bowl of Wine Events

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 12.02.23 PMMarch is officially Washington Wine Month, although we celebrate the state’s fabulous juice every month.

The March festivities culminate on March 29-30 at Taste Washington, the country’s largest single-region wine and food event. That’s just one of the reasons we call it ”the Super Bowl of Washington state wine events.”

More than 200 wineries will be pouring at Century Link Field, 70 restaurants will be preparing tasty bites, and you can discover more about Washington wine at special seminars about the state’s wine industry, in addition to learning about wine-and-food pairings, wine blending and cooking with wine.

We highly recommend that you develop a plan for Taste Washington’s Grand Tasting before you enter the doors. Because once there, you will be hit with an explosion of taste potentials — and it can be overwhelming.

For example, one year we decided to only taste wines made from Cabernet Franc, as a standalone varietal. Another year, we decided to visit booths of some of our tried and favorite wineries plus five new ones.

Below is our initial list of the winery booths that we hope to visit this year. We will narrow the list down before the event, where we will taste at some booths and just stop by to say hello at others. And chances are something will catch our eye occasionally as we walk through the aisles, and we’ll make an on-the-spot decision to deviate from the list.

Note: We recommend tasting and spitting wine (or pouring it into the buckets at each booth) at this major event, but if you think you might want more than a sip or two, many hotels in the area are offering special weekend packages. Otherwise, be sure to have a designated driver, or take cabs or local transit home.

Of the 200 wineries pouring at Taste Washington, here is our long list of 35 of our favorites (in alphabetical order):

  1. Alexandria Nicole Cellars
  2. Amavi Cellars
  3. Andrew Will
  4. Avennia
  5. Barrister Winery
  6. Bartholomew Winery
  7. Betz Family Winery
  8. Boudreaux Cellars
  9. Buty Winery
  10. Charles Smith Wines/K Vintners
  11. Cooper Wine Company
  12. Double Canyon
  13. Doubleback
  14. Dunham Cellars
  15. EFESTE
  16. Fall Line Winery
  17. Fidelitas
  18. FIGGINS
  19. Force Majeure Vineyards
  20. Forgeron Cellars
  21. Gilbert Cellars
  22. Gorman Winery
  23. Guardian Cellars
  24. JM Cellars
  25. L’Ecole No 41
  26. Lauren Ashton Cellars
  27. Long Shadows Vintners
  28. Matthews & Tenor Wines
  29. Obelisco Estate Wines
  30. Sinclair Estate VIneyards
  31. Sleight of Hand Cellars
  32. Sparkman Cellars
  33. Va Piano Vineyards
  34. Walla Walla Vintners
  35. Woodward Canyon

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!

 

Efeste – True Love on Valentine’s Day

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

On Valentine’s Day, I fell in love with Big Papa all over again and developed a new crush on Nana. Thankfully, Dave feels the same way.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 4.58.43 PMOf course, we’re referring to Efeste‘s 2010 Big Papa Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon and 2010 Nana, a three-vineyard and three-varietal blend, both made by winemaker extraordinaire Brennon Leighton. (Current Efeste winemaker Peter Devision has some magic up his sleeve too.)

2010 Big Papa Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon

This robust 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was drinking well in August 2013, when we last tasted it. Six months later, on Valentine’s Day, Big Papa demonstrated further why Wine Advocate bestowed Efeste with 94 points for this beauty and Wine Enthusiast just named it a Cellar Selection with 92 points.

Brennon used his signature minimalist approach with native fermentation, which resulted in a big, bold, complex and balanced wine, made from grapes sourced from mature vines in five of the state’s best vineyards: Klipsun, Bacchus, Sagemoor, Kiona and Red Willow.

We’ve been a fan of Big Papa since 2009, and I can guarantee that we will continue to advocate buying it year after year. It’s true love.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 5.18.33 PM2010 Nana Right Bank Bordeaux Blend

This is the only time I’ve written about Nana, but only because this is the first vintage. Elegant, refined, robust, strong yet supple, Nana showcases all the classic characteristics of a stellar Bordeaux blend from the Right Bank.

The mouthfeel is amazing, likely because my palate favors Cab Franc and Cab Sauv, both plentiful in this fine wine: 18% Stone Tree Cabernet Franc, 18% Angela’s Vineyard (Efeste’s Estate) Cabernet Franc and 18% Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with 46% Red Willow Merlot.

Brennon also fermented this wine with indigenous yeast, which encourages more complexity and produces fuller, richer wines than those inoculated with commercial yeast.

We are new fans of this new wine, and I can guarantee that we will be buying more of this vintage, and in the years to come.

Both wines combine elegant aromas and flavors, ripe tannins and bright, juicy acidity, and are drinkable for another 10 years.

Now to see if we have the patience to cellar them instead of popping the cork in the near future.

Cheers!

Facts about Washington Wine

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.31.42 AMEvery year around this time, we love to share facts about the wonderful wine industry in Washington state.

We hope you enjoy the 2014 version, courtesy of the Washington State Wine Commission.

Note: The average amount of summer sunshine in Washington state, compared to California, might surprise you!

Scroll down for details.

 

Facts about the Washington State Wine Industry

National rank: Second- largest premium wine producer in the United States

Number of wineries: 750+

Winery growth:

  • 1981 – 19 wineries
  • 1996 – 80 wineries
  • 1997 – 101 wineries
  • 1998 – 129 wineries
  • 1999 – 160 wineries
  • 2000 – 163 wineries
  • 2001 – 170 wineries
  • 2002 – 208 wineries
  • 2003 – 240 wineries
  • 2004 – 300 wineries
  • 2005 – 360 wineries
  • 2006 – 460 wineries
  • 2007 – 540 wineries
  • 2008 – 580 wineries
  • 2009 – 650 wineries
  • 2010 – 700 wineries
  • 2011 – 740 wineries
  • 2012 – 760 wineries
  • 2013 – 780 wineries

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.59.19 PM Number of wine grape growers: 350+

Appellations:
Thirteen American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), as recognized and defined by the United States Treasury Department; Alcohol & Tobacco Taxes & Trade Bureau.

  • Yakima Valley – 1983
  • Walla Walla Valley – 1984
  • Columbia Valley – 1984
  • Puget Sound – 1995
  • Red Mountain – 2001
  • Columbia Gorge – 2004
  • Horse Heaven Hills – 2005
  • Wahluke Slope – 2006
  • Rattlesnake Hills – 2006
  • Snipes Mountain – 2009
  • Lake Chelan – 2009
  • Naches Heights – 2011
  • Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley – 2012

Varieties produced: 30+ varietals

Leading white varietals:

  • Riesling
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Viognier
  • Semillon
  • Chenin Blanc

Leading red varietals:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Syrah
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Malbec
  • Pinot Noir
  • Sangiovese
  • Lemberger

Ratio of white to red:
55% white to 45% red

Wine production:
12-million cases

Wine grape acreage:
43,000+ acres

Estimated Direct Revenue:
Winery Revenue = $1 billion; Wine Related Tourism = $1.06 billion

Full-time equivalent wine-related jobs:
27,455 in Washington, 68,719 nationwide*

Average hours of summer sunlight:
16 hours per day, about 1 more hour than California’s prime growing region

Annual rainfall:
Eight inches (20.32 cm) in Eastern Washington (the major grape growing region) 48 inches (121.92 cm) in Western Washington

Wine production growth

  • 1981 – 2.0 million gallons (7.5 m liters)
  • 1996 – 5.3 million gallons (19.9 m liters)
  • 1997 – 9.6 million gallons (36.3 m liters)
  • 1998 – 10.9 million gallons (41.5 m liters)
  • 1999 – 10.0 million gallons (38.0 m liters)
  • 2000 – 14.0 million gallons (52.7 m liters)
  • 2001 – 15.5 million gallons (58.5 m liters)
  • 2002 – 17.7 million gallons (67.3 m liters)
  • 2003 – 17.3 million gallons (65.5 m liters)
  • 2004 – 16.5 million gallons (62.9 m liters)
  • 2005 – 19.0 million gallons (72.0 m liters)
  • 2006 – 20.0 million gallons (75.8 m liters)
  • 2007 – 20.0 million gallons (75.8 m liters)
  • 2008 – 21.4 million gallons (81 m liters)
  • 2009 – 25 million gallons (94.6 m liters)
  • 2010 – 20.1 million gallons (76.1 m liters)

*figures from the 2012 Economic Impact Study by Stonebridge Research

Cheers!

 

 

 

Get Ready for Washington Wine Month!

Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 12.02.23 PMAs far as we’re concerned, every month is Washington wine month, because we are major supporters of our state’s abundance of good juice.

From Woodinville to Walla Walla, vineyards (where it all begins) and wineries come together to produce exceptional wines to please every palate.

But March is officially Washington Wine Month, so please celebrate with us. If you haven’t joined the parade yet, now is a perfect time.

In addition to celebrating our state’s award-winning wine, the Washington Wine Commission offers March promotions at participating restaurants, wine shops, winery tasting rooms and even some hotels. The Commission’s website provides a calendar to see what is going on any day of the month.

The festivities culminate in what we call “the Super Bowl of Washington state wine events,” Taste Washington on March 29-30. (And you know how well the real one turned out! Go Hawks!)

Taste Washington is the country’s largest single-region wine and food event. More than 200 wineries will be pouring at Century Link Field, 70 restaurants will be preparing tasty bites, and you can learn more about Washington wine at special seminars about the state’s one industry, wine-and-food pairings, wine blending and cooking with wine.

It is important to note that we recommend tasting and spitting wine during your time at this major event, but if you think you might want more than a sip or two, many hotels in the area are offering special weekend packages.

We’ll be writing more about Taste Washington in the weeks ahead but until then, stop by some of the 750+ wineries in our state and celebrate Washington Wine Month.

Cheers!

 

Washington State Barbera

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Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.59.19 PM Relatively speaking, Barbera is a newer grape in Washington state, often found near the cool growing climate of the Columbia Valley, in Horse Heaven Hills and Walla Walla.

Its native home is in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy; the grape arrived in California in the 19th century.

When crafted by experienced winemakers, Barbera somehow tastes both rich and light-bodied, with flavors of dark cherry, strawberries, plums, blackberries, vanilla and anise.

With low tannins, high acidity and juicy flavors, Barbera is a food-friendly palate-pleaser, particularly when paired with turkey, grilled chicken, pizza or spaghetti with meatballs. Or for something simple, try it with rich blue cheese or Reggiano Parmigiano. Delicious!

We have found a few excellent Barberas in Washington state:

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.59.02 PM

Unfortunately, many of these are now sold out, so please let us know if you’ve found an excellent Washington state Barbera.

Cheers!

Windy Point-Beauty & Value

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.50.22 AMWhen you drive between Seattle and Prosser or Walla Walla, be sure to stop at Windy Point Vineyards for a pour of some excellent value wines in a beautiful tasting room. Or if you’re looking for something different to do over a weekend, it’s worth the trip to Windy Point.

With stunning architecture and beautiful views of Yakima Valley, the well-designed tasting room is airy and comfortable, with a professional kitchen as the centerpiece.

Outside, you are surrounded by gently rolling hills, a small waterfall and a pond. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see some Mississippi sawbuck turtles raised at the vineyards.

And talk about value – our favorite Windy Point reds are priced between $17-$23, and we always seem to go home with a case. You can purchase the wine outside the tasting room but it’s much more fun to visit.

Here are the wines we enjoyed:

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.48.51 AM2007 Pointless Red ($17): A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot, Pointless is known for its four “E”s: estate-grown, economical, easy-drinking and “endlessly pleasing.”

2005 Cab Franc ($18): This vintage was awarded a platinum by Wine Press Northwest and a gold medal at the Washington State Wine Competition; the more recent 2006 Cab Franc ($20) won a silver medal at the Washington State Wine Competition.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($20): Showing excellent potential, this Cab was just released. We were big fans of the 2004 Cab, so we’re cellaring the more recent vintage for a couple of years.

2007 !Exclamation Point! ($21): Windy Point’s signature wine is a rich blend of 60% Cab Franc and 40% Merlot, one of the winery’s best-sellers, a two-time gold medal winner and “best in show” at the Washington State Wine Competition.

2008 Moot Point ($23): This is an elegant Bordeaux-style blend at such a low price point: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% CabFranc and a splash of Malbec.

While some of these wines were lovely to drink on their own or with almonds and cheese, they also pair well with different foods. On the Windy Point website, you can find recipes, such as  Apple Wood Smoked Pork Loin Sandwich, Seared Halibut, Braised Colorado Lamb Shank or Wine Infused Beef Flank Steak with Savory Mushroom Napoleon, Crispy Root Vegetable Cakes & Red Wine Cream Sauce.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Coming Soon! Seattle Wine & Food Experience

California wineries, Carlton Wine Country, Events, Oregon wineries, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville 1 Comment

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.

Cheers!

Four Great Wines from Guardian Cellars

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 4.05.31 PMWe have been fans of Guardian Cellars since first tasting the heavenly 2004 Gun Metal, the winery’s flagship Bordeaux blend. We happily joined the crowds at the 2007 opening of the winery’s tasting room in Woodinville.

Since the beginning, owner and winemaker Jerry Riener has maintained a policy: to cellar each premium red at least one year before release, something not common in new world winemaking styles.

The result is beauty in a glass.

From three wines and 300 cases in those early days, Riener increased production to nine wines and about 5,000 cases in 2013.

We visited the Guardian Cellars tasting room over the holidays and were not surprised to find out that the 2010 Gun Metal sold out shortly after its release. But we were delighted to find three more beautiful reds:

2011 Chalk Line is a scrumptious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, rounded off with a splash of Malbec, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. Jerry describes this sixth vintage as “a bona fide buffet of delicious grapes” and we couldn’t agree more.

2010 The Alibi is a stellar blend of Red Mountain fruit — 54% Cab Sauv, 31% Merlot and 15% Cab Franc from three vineyards, Obelisco, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun. The Alibi is absolutely gorgeous in its third vintage, in our humble opinion.

In its fifth vintage, the 2010 The Rookie is 100% Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, blended from grapes grown at Obelisco, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun vineyards. The Rookie was aged for 21 months in 100% new French oak, and 17 months in the bottle, before being released a couple of months ago and is, simply, amazing.

Next time you’re in the Woodinville wine warehouse district during a weekend, be sure to stop Guardian Cellars and try these wines for yourself.

Cheers!

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