What’s in our glasses, recently?

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In the dark, damp winter months, it’s all about the reds. But with a spate of warm weather in Seattle in the last few weeks, out pop the whites too! Here is a list of red, white and rosé wines that have recently graced our glasses.

2011 JM Cellars Bramble Bump White: A blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvingon Blanc and a touch of Semillon, winemaker John Bigelow calls this crisp beauty a “Conundrum.” Not surprisingly, the 2010 vintage was named “Editor’s Choice” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. We enjoyed this refreshing summer sipper with prawns on the deck.

2011 Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc: We first tasted this bright wine on a recent trip to Carmel for my birthday. There are some fine wines being crafted in the Carmel Valley, and this one was one of our favorites because it shows classic Sauv Blanc characteristics.

2012 Obelisco Red Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé: This amazing summer sipper was jointly created by winemakers Doug Long from Obelisco and Kevin Correll from Barrage Cellars. You will find it to be unlike anything you’ve ever expected or experienced in a Rosé. Unfortunately, only a small quantity was produced, so we recommend you head to Woodinville to pick up some quickly.

2010 L’Ecole 41 Candy Mountain Vineyard Red Wine: L’Ecole released this red blend as part of their 30th Anniversary celebration. Candy Mountain is adjacent to our favorite Red Mountain; this seductive wine — a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Merlot —  is just one of many reasons why L’Ecole has been named “Winery of the Year” for 11 consecutive years by Wine & Spirits.

2010 William Church Cabernet Sauvignon: This standout wine has what we like to call the WOW factor. But don’t just take our word for it! The winemakers of Woodinville judged this beauty as the winner of the 2013 Golden Grape Best Cabernet Award. Very impressive!

2009 Alexandria Nicole Cellars Destiny: When I walk into ANC’s Woodinville tasting room, they know to bring out this luscious blend. That’s because year after year, it’s been at top of my list of stellar ANC wines – and it’s a long list! Winemaker Jarrod Boyle calls Destiny “voluptuous” – and for good reason. This vintage is Cab-Sauv based (67%), with equal parts Cab Franc and Merlot (10% each), plus 8% Malbec, and rounded out by a touch of Petit Verdot and Carmenere.

2010 Forgeron Cellars Zinfandel: On Facebook, I used the term “beauty in a glass” to describe both ANC’s Destiny and Forgeron’s Zinfandel. We have not tasted a Washington state Zin that comes even close to Marie Eve Gilla’s creation, which blends 77% Zinfandel and 23% Primitivo. This is one powerful wine that cried out to be paired with Dave’s zesty spaghetti. Delicious!

We recommend all of these seven wines — the whites and Rosé in warm weather, and the three reds with BBQ burgers or steak.

Cheers!

 

 

Random Thoughts from Taste Washington-Part 2

Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Sauvignon Blanc, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

This is a continuation of our random thoughts from Taste Washington, held March 23-24 in Seattle. To start at the beginning, please read Part 1 first.

Another perennial favorite, 2010 Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon, from Betz Family Winery, continues to showcase how this grape shines in Washington state.

Smart thinking from Col Solare — at their booth, they offered an educational (and tasty) experience of how wine develops over the years, with a side-by-side tasting of the 2007 and the 2003 vintages.

Somehow, we were lucky enough to taste Cooper Wine Company‘s stellar 2008 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon. This standout wine wasn’t on the tasting list provided when we arrived at the event.

Thank you to all our friends who poured us a little-extra-special something from under the table!

Speaking of friends, Bob Silver noted in his blog WA|Wine|PR that the Double Canyon 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was “the favorite wine that I met at 2013 Taste Washington.” He described it as “Big honkin’ fruit from Horse Heaven Hills, wonderful structure and balance” – so you know we’ll be checking this wine out in the near future. Our palates are similar to Bob’s – he’s never steered us wrong with his many recommendations over the years.

Efeste‘s 2009 Big Papa is drinking so well right now that we need to get to Woodinville to pick up more, stat! Just one taste underlined why Washington wine expert Paul Gregutt described this beauty as capturing the best of Washington in a single bottle.

As expected, we enjoyed JM Cellars’ 2010 Longevity and 2010 Tre. We can’t wait until May, when John Bigelow’s 2012 Red Mountain Sauvignon Blanc is released. We savored a pour at Taste Washington, and indeed, this wine demonstrates the true characteristics of the grape. A perfect summer sipper on the deck!

Another favorite was Sparkman Cellars 2010 Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon, also sourced from Red Mountain. I adored Sparky’s tasting notes: “Will develop for many years and last well past the end of the world.”

There were so many more wineries that we did not have the time (or fortitude) to visit! And then there was the food!

The standout restaurant booths that we visited were Anthony’s Pier 66Murray’s CheeseIvar’sRelish Burger BarRN74Sullivan’s SteakhouseThe Capital GrilleSweet TreatsThe Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company and every restaurant from Tulalip.

Did you go to Taste Washington 2013? What were your standouts?

Cheers!

 

 

Random Thoughts from Taste Washington-Part 1

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Washington state produces excellent wine. Period.

That is our main takeaway from Taste Washington, held March 23-24 in Seattle.

That is certainly not a new or revolutionary thought on Write for Wine. We were major advocates of Washington wine for years before this blog was created in 2007. But, frankly, the winemakers and vineyard producers just keep getting better and better with each passing year.

First, kudos to Washington Wine Commission for creating such an organized event at the massive exhibition hall at Centurylink Field. Year after year — for 16 years, to be precise — this well-oiled machine produces a crowd-pleaser that introduces newcomers to the best wine and food in the state and also provides new experiences to annual attendees.

Taste Washington is an incredible taste sensation, with pours from more than 225 Washington wineries and bites created by 68 local restaurants. There were so many standouts; here is the first part of our random thoughts from the Super Bowl of Washington wine events.

Best surprise – an outstanding Obelisco 2012 Red Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, created by winemaker Kevin Correll from Barrage Cellars in conjunction with Doug Long from Obelisco. We are headed to the Obelisco tasting room in Woodinville to buy some of this amazing summer sipper before it sells out!

Ditto for Doug’s superlative 2010 Nefer 111, which demonstrates how incredibly well Washington grapes can be transformed with a Napa Valley style. This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain fruit sourced at Obelisco Estate Vineyard. We don’t frequently purchase 3-bottle sets, but we are going to make an exception for this stellar wine.

And speaking of Barrage, the 2008 Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon is drinking really well right now! We loved it when it was first released, and now, simply wow.

Still on the Cab Sauv track, we were fortunate to taste Gorman Winery‘s 2009 Albatross Red Mountain, a powerful blend of 80% Cab Sauv and 20% Petit Verdot, which received 94 points from Wine Enthusiast. This one is a beauty, which we’re also going to buy before all of it gets snapped up!

With a Parker rating of 92 points, the Adams Bench 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon V is a polished vibrant red that we are pleased to add to our list of favorites. It was recommended to us by William Church winemaker Rod Balsley, whose 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon has been winning awards all over the place!

By the way, Rod’s William Church 2010 Cab Sauv has just been released, and we can’t wait to taste it. This standout Cab is the winner of the 2013 Golden Grape Best Cabernet Award, judged by the winemakers of Woodinville, which is pretty impressive.

Somehow, we missed Barrister‘s 2010 Cabernet Franc, which has been a favorite in past vintages. But we tasted the delightful full-bodied “Burning Desire” Estate Cab Franc from Hard Row to Hoe, which is consistently fabulous year after year.

We also missed pours from Forgeron CellarsFidelitas and Gilbert Cellars – but we know from past experience that wines from all three typically rock!

There were so many random thoughts from Taste Washington, this blog post will continue – come back soon to read about the rest of our favorite pours and bites at this Super Bowl of wine events.

Did you go to Taste Washington 2013? What were your standouts?

Cheers!

 

 

Washington Wine Fun Facts 2013

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Every year, The Washington Wine Commission releases fun facts about Washington wine at Taste Washington, and we thought it would be fun to compare this year to previous years:

FACT: Washington state is the second-largest premium wine producer in the United States (after California).

  • YES in 2011, 2012 and 2013

FACT: There are 750 wineries in Washington state and 350+ grape growers.

  • In 2012, there were 730 wineries & 350+ grape growers.
  • In 2011, there were 700+ wineries & 350+ grape growers.

FACT: More than 30 varietals are produced in Washington state.

  • The same was true in 2012. In 2011, more than 60
  • Editor’s note: Interesting reversal!

FACT: The leading white varietals produced in Washington state are Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Semillon and Chenin Blanc.

  • YES in 2011, 2012 and 2013

FACT: The leading red varietals produced in Washington state are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cab Francv and Malbec.

  • In 2011 and 2012, three additional leading red varietals were listed: Sangiovese, Pinot Noir and Lemberger.

FACT: The ratio of white-to-red wine is 50.3% white to 49.7% red.

  • In 2012, the ratio was 55% white to 45% red.
  • In 2011, the ratio was 54% white to 46% red.
  • Editor’s note: Very noteworthy to see how the ratio has evened out over the years.

Additional information in 2013:

  • Wine Production: 12 million cases
  • Record Harvest: 2012 with 188,000 tons
  • Estimated winery sales: $437.64 million
  • Estimated retail & restaurant sales: $135.782 million
  • Estimated distributor sales: $37.34 million
  • Full-time equivalent wine-related jobs: 30,000 in Washington state; 70,000 nationwide
  • Wine-related wages paid: $1.5 billion in Washington state; $2.8 billion nationwide
  • Total economic impact on Washington state: $8.6 billion
  • Total economic impact on U.S. economy: $14.9 billion

We hope you enjoyed these factoids as much as we did!
Cheers!

 

The Super Bowl of Washington Wine

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Taste Washington, the Super Bowl for the Washington state wine industry, kicks off March 23-24 with something for every wine enthusiast. It’s also a perfect place for newbies to learn, without fear, about the wonderful world of wine, Washington style. And then there’s the food.

Specifically, Taste Washington features more than 225 Washington wineries and 68 local restaurants.

No wonder that the Washington Wine Commission and Visit Seattle, annual producers of the event, promote it this way: “Taste Washington. Drink. Eat. Learn.” Indeed, Taste Washington is billboarded as “the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event.”

The weekend begins with Saturday seminars to educate your palate. The wine will also be flowing at these educational experiences:

  • Introduction to the World of Wine
  • Cure What Ales Ya!
  • RIEDEL Glass Tasting
  • Washington vs. The World!
  • All Mixed Up – The Art of Blending
  • Yakima Valley 30th Anniversary
  • Join the Cider Revolution

Sunday features the Grand Tasting. Like any Super Bowl, you need to plan to stay ahead of the game. It’s easy – you can download a copy of the event program and start planning which wineries and restaurants to visit.

We organize our tasting route in advance every year. One year, we decided to only taste pours from wineries or wines that we had never before experienced. Another year, we decided to only drink Cab Francs.

Here is more information to help organize your weekend: Participating wineries | Vineyards |Restaurants | Hotels | Exhibitors | Tickets |

There are various price tiers for the event, which is being held at the CenturyLink Field Event Center:

VIP Tickets – One day $145, two days, $185; For this price, your receive one extra hour to enjoy Taste Washington before the crowds arrive; access to the Barrel Room, an exclusive VIP lounge presented by Tulalip Resort Casino; VIP swag bag and special giveaways each day during the VIP hour.

General Admission — One day $80; two days, $125

Seminars — Held over two days, these range in price from $25-$75 dollars

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!

 

March is Washington Wine Month

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

In our family, every month is Washington Wine Month, but the official celebration occurs in this state every March.

That’s when you will find great deals at wineries, wine shops, big grocery stores and many restaurants. For example, some promotions include discounts on full or half cases of Washington state wine, purchase discounts off any bottle or Washington wine or in-store free wine tastings.

For specifics, have a look at the Washington Wine Month Calendar.

One that caught our eye is a 20%-off promotion for Northwest Totem Cellars at Wine World on March 16th. And thanks Wine World, for quoting this blog in your promotion!

As for us, we celebrate by telling anyone who will listen about the great juice Washington state wineries produce.

Whether you like big, bold reds (like us), crispy Sauvignon Blanc, rich Viognier or buttery Chardonnay, you can find the best right in your own backyard, so to speak, from Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Cascade Valley, Woodinville and many more.

We recently tasted these Washington wine gems:

Do you see a trend here? We heart Cabs!

And these are just some of the amazing wines you can find from Washington state. We encourage you to do so!

Happy Washington Wine Month!

Cheers!

 

New Tastes

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, California wineries, Merlot, Syrah, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

We recently tasted some good juice from two family operated wineries that are new to us – one from Washington state and one from California.

Starting close to home, we tried three wines from Two Mountain Winery in Rattlesnake Hills in Washington state’s Yakima Valley.

All three of these award-winning wines show great potential, and are vibrant, balanced and approachable.

Two Mountain 2009 Syrah won a gold medal at the 2013 World Wine Championships, a silver medal at the prestigious 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a gold medal at the San Antonio Wine Competition.

Two Mountain 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Merlot both took silver at the San Antonio competition.

We will definitely visit the winery on our next trip to Yakima Valley – it sounds like the type of total wine experience that we enjoy so much;  just read the reviews on Yelp, and you’ll want to go too.

***

The other new wines that we tasted recently are from Trione Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma County. As mentioned in an earlier post, we received a sample pack of six small bottles to try. Our favorites were three reds — 2008 Russian River Syrah, 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Alexander Valley Red.

All three were big, lush and fruit-forward.

To our surprise, Trione’s Syrah is one of the best we’ve tasted from California. We typically prefer the smoky, peppery Syrahs from Washington state, but this Russian RIver beauty is intense, velvety and drinking very well.

But our favorite was the ’07 Alexander Red. The nose, with distinct whiffs of dark chocolate, is magnificent; the full-bodied, classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet and Merlot left us wanting more.

***

Full disclosure: These wines were all free samples, given with the understanding that we only write about the wines we enjoy. See our sample policy for further details.

Cheers!

 

 

January is Barrage Month

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Halfway through January, we discovered it’s all about Barrage, baby! Barrage Cellars, that is.

Let me explain why.

In November, we stopped by (with our dog, Sir Winston) at the Barrage Cellars tasting room in Woodinville’s Wine Warehouse district, and fell in love all over again with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc created by winemaker Kevin Correll.

We had a great time tasting some fine juice and catching up with Kevin and Rebecca, and walked away with quite a few bottles of more than one vintage of Barrage Cellars Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon and Outcast Cab Franc.

As a result, January has become Barrage Month at our house, as we opened some of the bottles. It is hard to cellar these very drinkable wines.

We are captivated with 2007 Double Barrel and the 2009 Outcast is simply superlative. These two wines are our favorite varietals these days, and Barrage Cellars is high on our list of must-haves.

This is not surprising — Barrage Cellars Outcast has made our list of favorite Cab Francs more than once — just try searching Write for Wine for Barrage Cellars. And it’s not just us – Seattle Magazine voted 2007 Outcast the best Cab Franc in Washington state in 2011, and Seattle Wine Awards gave Outcast a silver medal the same year.

But let me tell you, Kevin’s wines simply get better and better with each vintage. Every time we think we’ve tasted his best yet, he surprises us the following year with better yet.

Like many winemakers in Washington state, Kevin started making wine as a hobby in his garage; from there, he moved his craft to the barn. Put the two words barn and garage together – Bar+rage – and voila, Barrage Cellars was born.

But unlike many winemakers who blend different grapes together into one wine, Kevin prefers to blend wine with the same grape from different vineyards.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to stop by Barrage Cellars in Woodinville for Kevin’s red and white wines, make a point of it. You won’t be disappointed.

Sir Winston wants to go back too because Kevin and Rebecca love puppy dogs!

Cheers!

Nothing says the holidays like Chester Kidder!

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

What better way to bring in the holiday week than with a glass (or two) of 2008 Chester Kidder Red from Long Shadows?

This beauty, created by winemaker Gilles Nicault, paired beautifully with spiced flank steak, as Dave and I toasted some rare time off together at the same time.

Released in September, we found ’08 Chester Kidder Red to be inky in color, balanced, silky and a rich blend of 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Syrah, 6% Petit Verdot and 4% Cabernet Franc.

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar gave 92 points to Chester Kidder Red with this description:

“Bright, deep ruby-red. Expressive nose offers currant, cherry cola, graphite and dark chocolate. Silky, sexy and intense, with firm, vibrant cabernet fruit complicated by licorice and spices. Finishes lively and very long, with sweet tannins and solid structure from the cabernet, some of which spent up to 40 days on its skins.”

Long Shadows is a collection of small production wineries, which brings together internationally acclaimed winemakers to showcase the superb grapes grown in Washington State’s Columbia Valley.

Gilles represents France; specifically, he made wine in the regions of Cote Du Rhone, Provence and Champagne, before moving to Washington state.

Prior to joining Allan Shoup’s state-of-the-art winemaking team, he was head of enology and production at Woodward Canyon.

We first met Gilles after he joined Long Shadows, when he and his wife, Marie-Eve Gilla — an excellent winemaker in her own right at Forgeron Cellarsheld a joint winemakers dinner at the Space Needle a few years back. They’ve both since become good friends – and we wish them, and you, a happy holiday season.

And thank you, Long Shadows, for sending us samples of your most-excellent Washington state wines.

Cheers!

A Wonderful Week of Wine

Cab Franc, Syrah, Viognier, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

What a week it’s been. A very busy time. But a wonderful week of wine, at that.

Those who follow Write for Wine on Facebook might have noticed near-daily updates on what’s been in our glass this week.

In case you missed it, here is the list.

We recommend some of these wines for special occasions and some, well, just because.

Hopefully next week, I’ll have more time to write a longer post about some new wines we’ve tasted recently.

In the meantime, if you’re on Facebook, please stop by the Write for Wine page and say hi. Or like it, if you wish!

Cheers!

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