Tickets on Sale March 28 for Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concerts

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 6.34.20 PMYou always know spring is in the air when Chateau Ste. Michelle starts selling tickets to its amazing Summer Concert Series. This year’s lineup of renowned musicians continues the annual tradition of excellence experienced by concert-goers.

We have gone every year, and tickets to many of the concerts sell out quickly. So believe us when we say run, don’t walk, to get your tickets at the wine shop at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville or through Ticketmaster. Tickets go on sale Saturday, March 28 at 10 a.m.

The 2015 lineup offers 25 concerts — pop, jazz, rock and blues — from June 13 through September 12 at the beautiful winery’s amphitheatre:  Garrison Keillor, Smash Mouth, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Tonic, Chicago, Gregg Allman, Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett & His Large Band, Harry Connick, Jr., John Fogerty, Chris Botti, Bob James, Earl Klugh, Morgan James, Taj Mahal, Blind Boys of Alabama, Charlie Musselwhite, Doug MacLeod, Jackson Browne, Brit Floyd, Steve Miller Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Chris Isaak, Gipsy Kings, Randy Newman, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and Mark Knopfler.

For details, have a look at the concert calendar; you can also find answers to any questions you might have about how to prepare for, and what to expect from, a concert outdoors.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 6.34.08 PMAll shows feature general festival seating on the lawn, as well as reserved seating. And as a special bonus, the wine shop is open so you can purchase wine and picnic items to enjoy during the concert. You can also bring your own picnic baskets and non-alcoholic beverages.

So what are you waiting for? It’s a wonderful way to spend a lazy summer evening of music and wine in a beautiful location.

In addition, net proceeds help fund Chateau Ste. Michelle’s charitable contributions program, which supports a broad range of non-profit organizations.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Three Classics from The Woodhouse Wine Estates

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 1.34.11 PMWe have now opened and tasted two of the wines from The Woodhouse Wine Estates mentioned in our March 8th post, and one other wine recently released by the winery.

We were not surprised to discover that Woodhouse wines continue to drink well and provide an experience, whether paired with food, or paired with good friends.

One of many reasons that Woodhouse is unique: they release wines a bit later than most, so the wines have time to rest, integrate, and express their fullest flavor complexities, similar to many well-respected wineries in Europe.

And we have never forgotten that back in 2007, Woodhouse co-owners Bijal and Sinead Shah told us that Washington wines are so spectacular because Washington state has old-world terroir and new world fruit. This holds true today.

2010 Dussek Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($36)
This elegant, big and bold beauty has 8% Cabernet Franc, which adds both a subtly and an “oomph”  to the Cab Sauv. From the first sip, it was apparent why the 2010 Dussek won Best of Class Gold at  Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SFWE) Wine Awards. As with previous vintages, this rich wine has a long finish, and would pair well with a big juicy rare steak.

2012 Kennedy Shah Syrah Reserve, Yakima Valley ($42)
This is 100% Syrah goodness, an earthy, robust wine that reminded us of the best of both Washington state and Napa Syrahs we’ve tasted in the past. This Syrah was a perfect complement to Dave’s famous spaghetti and meatballs, but it could also be paired with lamb, stew or grilled meat.

2010 Kennedy Shah Cabernet Franc Reserve, Columbia Valley ($45)
At SWFE, a silver medal was given to the 2010 Kennedy Shah Cab Franc, which contains 2% Cab Sauv. But at the San Diego International Wine Competition, this luscious Cab Franc took home the gold. Complex and smooth, you can take this bottle to a special dinner party or enjoy it at home with a steak over a charcoal barbecue or even with Copper River salmon – it’s almost that time of year again.

Note: These wines were provided by the winery as samples.

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

Previous post on March 8, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.16.18 AM

We’ve been fans of the old-world style wines at The Woodhouse Wine Estates for ten years, well before this blog was created in 2007. So we were delighted to hear that two of our favorite wines in their stellar line-up recently won recognition from the Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SFWE) Wine Awards.

Both Darighe 2010, a velvety Bordeaux blend, and Dussek 2010, an elegant big and bold Cabernet Sauvignon, won Best of Class Gold, making Woodhouse the only winery to win two of these coveted SWFE awards. In addition, Woodhouse’s 2010 Maghee Merlot won Gold and 2010 Cabernet Franc won Silver.

We first fell in love with Darighe’s 2001 vintage, and have included it in our favorites ever since. Dussek Cab was top of our list for its 2004 and 2006 vintages, and we are pleased to see the recent 2010 winning top honors.

For a blast from the past, check out our blog post, Darighe Time, in August 2007 when we wrote about how the 2002 Darighe was going to be as highly coveted as the 2001. Fast forward almost eight years, and the rich Bordeaux blend is still bringing home the gold!

We’re also happy that Maghee Merlot won Gold as well – this is the wine that first brought us to the Woodhouse tasting room in Woodinville because we read somewhere the Maghee was a “big boy” Merlot, which appealed to us because we prefer big robust reds to any other wine.

And while we haven’t yet tasted the Silver-winning Cabernet Franc, stay tuned – we will be tasting it in the months ahead and expect to be adding it to our favorite Cab Franc list.

We strongly recommend that you visit The Woodhouse Wine Estates warehouse-chic tasting room in Woodinville — either now, during Washington Wine Month, or any time you are looking for a good Washington wine to savor.

Last, but not least, congratulations to excellent Woodhouse winemaker, Jean Claude Beck and winery owners, Bijal and Sinead Shah.

Cheers!

Margot and Dave

And the winner is … ANC Wines

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 2.34.37 PMJarrod Boyle of Alexandria Nicole Cellars is continuing his winning streak with a number of recent accolades for several of his stellar wines.

Knowing Jarrod, he would also credit Jose Yanez, the excellent foreman at Destiny Ridge Estate Vineyard, assistant winemaker Matt Dodson, and Jarrod’s amazing wife, co-owner and marketing manager, Ali Boyle.

And last, but definitely not least, Jarrod would point to Mother Nature.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 2.35.57 PMTwenty-three varietals are planted at Destiny Ridge, and the belief at ANC is that quality starts in the vineyard.

The winery’s motto is “approachable elegance” — and judging by the recent awards, and dozens and dozens of previous ones, Jarrod and his team are definitely succeeding.

Here are the most recent awards:

  • 2014 “Crawford” Viognier, Best of Class and Double Gold, Savor NW Awards
  • 2014 Shepherds Mark, Gold, Savor NW Awards
  • 2013 Jet Black Syrah, Best of Class and Gold, Seattle Wine and Food Experience
  • 2013 Shepherds Mark, Gold, Seattle Wine and Food Experience
  • Beverage Tasting Institute Ratings
    • 2012 “Gravity” Merlot, 92 points and Cellar Selection
    • 2012 “Little Big Man” Petit Verdot, 92 points and Cellar Selection
    • 2011 “Alderdale” Cabernet Sauvignon, 92 points
    • 2012 Quarry Butte, 91 points
    • 2014 A squared Pinot Gris, Best Buy

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 2.35.44 PMThe outstanding wines are what brought us to Alexandria Nicole Cellars almost 10 years ago. But the warmth of the ANC team and the winery’s fabulous events played a big role too.

Over the years, we have had the pleasure and honor of becoming friends with Jarrod and Ali, and we are so excited for their new venture, The Estate on Destiny Ridge – a breathtaking, luxurious and private venue for entertaining in the middle of wine country.

We also can’t wait for their glamping season to start up again this summer.

Congratulations to Jarrod, Ali and the ANC team on the latest accolades.

Stop by and see them at Taste Washington, or at their tasting rooms in Woodinville and Prosser.

Cheers!

Margot and Dave

 

The Woodhouse Wine Estates

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.16.18 AMWe’ve been fans of the old-world style wines at The Woodhouse Wine Estates for ten years, well before this blog was created in 2007. So we were delighted to hear that two of our favorite wines in their stellar line-up recently won recognition from the Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SFWE) Wine Awards.

Both Darighe 2010, a velvety Bordeaux blend, and Dussek 2010, an elegant big and bold Cabernet Sauvignon, won Best of Class Gold, making Woodhouse the only winery to win two of these coveted SWFE awards. In addition, Woodhouse’s 2010 Maghee Merlot won Gold and 2010 Cabernet Franc won Silver.

We first fell in love with Darighe’s 2001 vintage, and have included it in our favorites ever since. Dussek Cab was top of our list for its 2004 and 2006 vintages, and we are pleased to see the recent 2010 winning top honors.

For a blast from the past, check out our blog post, Darighe Time, in August 2007 when we wrote about how the 2002 Darighe was going to be as highly coveted as the 2001. Fast forward almost eight years, and the rich Bordeaux blend is still bringing home the gold!

We’re also happy that Maghee Merlot won Gold as well – this is the wine that first brought us to the Woodhouse tasting room in Woodinville because we read somewhere the Maghee was a “big boy” Merlot, which appealed to us because we prefer big robust reds to any other wine.

And while we haven’t yet tasted the Silver-winning Cabernet Franc, stay tuned – we will be tasting it in the months ahead and expect to be adding it to our favorite Cab Franc list.

We strongly recommend that you visit The Woodhouse Wine Estates warehouse-chic tasting room in Woodinville — either now, during Washington Wine Month, or any time you are looking for a good Washington wine to savor.

Last, but not least, congratulations to excellent Woodhouse winemaker, Jean Claude Beck and winery owners, Bijal and Sinead Shah.

Cheers!

Margot and Dave

UPDATE on Taste Washington & Washington Wine Month

Taste WA 2015Welcome to March, Taste Washington Wine Month, an annual celebration of the excellent juice made in this fine state.

The entire month is full of special deals and promotions by restaurants, wineries, hotels and retailers to honor more than 850 wineries in our exciting Washington state industry.

For example, discounts, flights and bonus pours of Washington state wines will be offered at many local wineries and tasting rooms across the state. Winemaker dinners will take place at various restaurants. There is a full calendar of Wine Month activities available, so you can plan ahead.

The momentum builds until the end of the month when the Super Bowl of wine events in Seattle, Taste Washington, is held on March 26-29 — the largest single-region wine and food event in the U.S.

New this year is Taste Washington on the Farm, a series of lunches on local farms, so you can meet the talented people who grow and produce northwest gourmet products. The lunches take place on March 27, right before Taste Washington’s Grand Tasting on March 29.

Three lunch experiences are available:

  • Cheese bliss at Kurtwood Farms on Vashon Island
  • Exploring the lush Snohomish Valley at Willie Greens Organic
  • A Deep Dive into Oyster Growing at Taylor Shellfish on Samish Bay

Tickets are $165 per person and include transportation by Evergreen Escapes. For more details about the lunch experiences and tickets, visit Taste Washington on the Farm.

Other events featuring more than 225 Washington state wineries and more than 70 northwest restaurants add up to make Taste Washington a special four-day happening that you don’t want to miss:

  • March 26: VIP Red & White party is held on the Seattle waterfront, where exclusive pours come from magnums of 90+ point Washington wines.
  • March 27: The New Vintage offers a fantastic opportunity to interact with premier winemakers in a boutique downtown setting, sip great wine, eat gourmet bites and dance the night away.
  • March 28 & 29: Educational Seminars are led by top national wine personalities and sommeliers about topics that showcase various aspects of Washington wine, as well as wine and food pairing demonstrations by renowned chefs.
  • March 29: The Grand Tasting, the Super Bowl of wine events, which is so big that we highly recommend developing a plan before you enter the doors.

We recommend planning ahead for the Grand Tasting 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.

We also 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, there are hotels nearby. Otherwise, be sure to have a designated driver, or take cabs or local transit home.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Taste Washington Adds Farm-to-Table Experience

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 12.02.07 PMThe Super Bowl of wine events in Seattle, Taste Washington, is even bigger and better this year. The largest single-region wine and food event in the U.S. is adding a new hands-on dining experience featuring the farm-to-table concept.

Known as Taste Washington on the Farm, this series of lunches takes place on local farms, so you can meet the talented people who grow and produce northwest gourmet products. The lunches take place on March 27, right before Taste Washington’s Grand Tasting on March 29.

Three lunch experiences are available:

  • Cheese bliss at Kurtwood Farms on Vashon Island
  • Exploring the lush Snohomish Valley at Willie Greens Organic
  • A Deep Dive into Oyster Growing at Taylor Shellfish on Samish Bay

Tickets are $165 per person and include transportation by Evergreen Escapes. For more details about the lunch experiences and tickets, visit Taste Washington on the Farm.

Other events featuring more than 225 Washington state wineries and more than 70 northwest restaurants add up to make March 26-29 a special four-day happening that you don’t want to miss:

  • March 26: VIP Red & White party is held on the Seattle waterfront, where exclusive pours come from magnums of 90+ point Washington wines.
  • March 27: The New Vintage offers a fantastic opportunity to interact with premier winemakers in a boutique downtown setting, sip great wine, eat gourmet bites and dance the night away.
  • March 28 & 29: Educational Seminars are led by top national wine personalities and sommeliers about topics that showcase various aspects of Washington wine, as well as wine and food pairing demonstrations by renowned chefs.
  • March 29: The Grand Tasting, the Super Bowl of wine events, which is so big that we highly recommend developing a plan 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.

We also 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, there are hotels nearby. Otherwise, be sure to have a designated driver, or take cabs or local transit home.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

There’s nothing like a stellar Cab Franc from Washington State

Cab FrancOne of our favorite wines is Cabernet Franc, which is one of the main varieties in Bordeaux blends.

Many people don’t realize that Cab Franc is one of the genetic parents to Cabernet Sauvignon; the other is Sauvignon Blanc. In addition to Washington state, you can find it planted in California and in the Bordeaux and Loire regions in France.

Cab Franc is typically used as a blending wine to add more complexity to the robust Cabernet Sauvignon or more structure to the softer Merlot. But Cab Franc is also created as a single-varietal wine; in other words, a stand-alone wine.

When blended, it adds both a subtly and an “oomph” to Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties. But on its own, quite simply, Cabernet Franc is amazing.

Cab Franc is known for its complex aromas of cherry and berry, with notes of herbs, spices, chocolate, cedar, and even violets. Frequently wine enthusiasts describe the nose as a peppery perfume.

The hot climate in Walla Walla and Yakima Valley is perfectly suited to ripen the Cab Franc fruit. Wineries in Lake Chelan have also produced some fine vintages.

We’ve enjoyed many excellent stand-alone Washington state Cab Francs over the years, including a beautiful Matthews Estate 2003 Conner Lee Cab Franc, an elegant 2004 from Corliss Estates, a robust 2012 Outcast from Barrage Cellars, and a rich 2012 Cooper Estate Red Mountain Cabernet Franc.

Here are some other Washington state wineries that, in our opinion, produce the Cab Franc grape as a shining single-varietal wine.

What Cab Francs do you like best from Washington state? Please share your favorites with us!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Columbia Crest Reserve Wines

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 2.26.30 PM

We recently sampled three red wines from the Columbia Crest Reserve program — a layered red blend and two robust Cab Sauvs — all of which we recommend if you like your wine big and smooth.

These wines were free samples provided by Columbia Crest, which is located in Horse Heaven Hills, next to the Columbia River in eastern Washington. After tasting them, we can say that we would buy all three, particularly the Reserve Cab from Red Mountain — it speaks to our palate!

Columbia Crest 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain
This big Cab received 91 points from Wine Spectator a couple of months ago, and if you like your Cabs chewy and juicy, this one is for you. Layered and dense, it has a mouthfeel that is classic Red Mountain. $38, 300 cases produced

Columbia Crest 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley
Also receiving 91 points from Wine Spectator, this is one smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, true to its varietal character. Textured, big and bold, this wine pairs well with a big juicy steak. $45, 6,700 cases produced

Columbia Crest 2011 Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Wine Columbia Valley
Regular readers of this blog know we are big fans of good Bordeaux blends, and this one fits the bill. Spice and earthy notes flow into layers of flavor and texture in this blend of 68% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12% Cab Franc. $35, 4,990 cases produced

Any of these three wines would pair nicely with Valentine’s Day and chocolates!

Cheers,

Margot and Dave

Go Hawks and Go Quarry Butte

 

QB Seahawks!Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks and their NFC Championship win – wow, what a nail biter.

And three cheers to Quarry Butte from Alexandria Nicole Cellars, which was our drink of choice during the Hawks’ playoff games to the Super Bowl in 2014, and through their run to the Super Bowl this season.

During Sunday’s intense game against the Packers, we opened two bottles, counting on our lucky Quarry Butte to keep us cheering while the dogs, wearing their Seahawks bandanas, barked at the TV!

Seahwaks2

 

What a comeback! Seattle, Washington state and the 12th Man everywhere went crazy! So did our #12thDogs!

Up next the Super Bowl – Go Hawks! We will continue our superstitious tradition of drinking Quarry Butte throughout the big game!

We have been fans of Quarry Butte since 2007, when we first tasted the 2004 and 2005 vintages. And the current 2011 vintage pairs well with Hawks wins, just like the 2010 vintage did last year.

Here’s hoping for another Super Bowl win!

Cheers!

Here is the post we wrote after last year’s big win:

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks and their Super Bowl win! What an exciting time to be a Seahawks fan/12th Man.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 2.11.33 PMWhat was in our glasses during the game? Quarry Butte from Alexandria Nicole Cellars!

The 2010 vintage — a  double gold winner at Seattle Wine Awards — is  a beautiful blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 12% Syrah, 9% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.

At $25, it’s a perfect showcase for ANC’s theme of “Approachable Elegance.”

We have been fans of Quarry Butte since 2007, when we first tasted the 2004 and 2005 vintages.

More recently, we opened a bottle of 2010 Quarry Butte during the Jan. 19 game between the Seahawks and 49ers, and the Hawks won. Being superstitious, it seemed fitting to also open a bottle during the Super Bowl. The Hawks won!

Go HAWKS!

We also heard that the recently released 2011 Quarry Butte is a winner!

Regardless of vintage, Quarry Butte has always been a complex wine with bold flavors. It drinks well with a rich steak or a robust beef stew.

But best of all, it drinks well with a winning Seahawks team!

Go Seahawks!

Go Quarry Butte!

Cheers!

Seattle Wine and Food Experience

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 6.41.50 AMThere are handful of annual wine events in the Seattle area that we think are “must-go-to” good times. Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE) is one of them. It’s a super popular event, so we suggest that you run, don’t walk, to get tickets for this wine and food extravaganza on Feb. 22 at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.

As in previous years, this event showcases wine, food, beer, cider and spirits, starting with a tour of the wine world right at home in Woodinville wine country. Seriously, what’s not to love?

In addition to a long list of Washington wineries, SWFE also showcases wine from Oregon, California, Idaho, Argentina, France, Italy, Portugal, Israel and Uruguay.

You’ll even find beer, cider, vodka, rum, gin and bourbon. And don’t forget Top Pot Doughnut and Coffee Bar.

Gourmet bites will be prepared by Northwest chefs, and “featured experiences” include the Les Dames d’Escofier Alley’s culinary products, food and beverages.

And this year, a new stellar event has been added to the already fantastic lineup: a Saturday night kick-off event hosted by Seattle magazine. POP! Bubbles & Seafood will feature Northwest seafood from many of Seattle’s best restaurants and Champagne, sparkling wine, cider and beer.

Both events benefit Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle, a non-profit organization of women leaders in food, beverage and hospitality, focusing on raising funds for scholarships for women in the culinary, beverage, and hospitality industries, and also supports community outreach programs and sustainable-agriculture projects based in Washington state.

SWFE Details:

  • POP! Seafood & Bubbles: Saturday, Feb. 21, 6 – 9 p.m.
  • Grand Tasting: Sunday, Feb.22;  VIP: 12 – 5 p.m.; General Admission: 1 – 5 p.m.
  • Location: Seattle Center Exhibition Hall (300 Mercer Street, Seattle
  • Prices:
    • SWFE BIG: $125 (tickets to POP! and SWFE VIP)
    • SWFE VIP: $70 (early entrance, custom tote bag, special VIP area
    • SWFE General Admission: $55
    • POP! Bubbles & Seafood only: $65

We hope to see you there!

Cheers, and Happy New Year!
Margot and Dave