Big Papa, Big Red Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

It’s no secret that over the years, we’ve become friends with the wonderful folks at Efeste. And it’s also not a secret that we love Efeste wines.

So when we opened a bottle of 2010 Big Papa Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon the other night, we raised a glass to both fine Washington wine and friendship:

– to Brennon Leighton, who made the rich, complex 100% Cab Sauv

– to Daniel and Helen Ferrelli, Patrick Smith, and Kevin and Angie Taylor, the dedicated, passionate owners of Efeste (pronounced F-S-T for the first initials of their last names)

– and to Peter Devison, who joined the team as winemaker last year

We have many favorite Efeste wines, ranging from a superb Syrah, Jolie Bouche, to a crisp Feral Sauvignon Blanc, a perennial summertime winner.

But Big Papa has always topped the list — in 2011, I called the 2007 Big Papa a “Must-Have Cabernet Sauvignon” in my article, Must-Have Bottles of Wine in Seattlelite Magazine.

The 2010 vintage is no exception.

This is one beautiful wine. We first started drinking Big Papa with the 2005 vintage, and it’s won awards and/or recognition every year.

For example, 2010 Big Papa Cab Sauv earned 94 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate in June, naming it a Cellar Selection with this description:

“It’s vivid and textural, with terrific acidity, backbone, and length.”

Brennon used his signature minimalist approach with native fermentation, which encourages more complexity and produces fuller, richer wines than those inoculated with commercial yeast. The grapes were sourced from mature vines in five vineyards.

Although just released this year, Big Papa is already drinkable, and will continue to shine  until 2025.

We doubt it will be around that long though, so we recommend you buy it at the Woodinville winery or online soon!

Cheers!

L’Ecole 41 Scores Again: Estate Cab Franc

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

We’ve been fans of L’Ecole No. 41 premium wines for decades. As the third-oldest winery in Washington state, L’Ecole No. 41 has been making consistently good wine since long before the state became home to more than 700 wineries.

Making good wine consistently, year over year, is a major feat.

L’Ecole 41 produces wine in the cellars of the historic Frenchtown School in Lowden, Washington, just outside Walla Walla. L’Ecole is French for school, and we first visited the winery in the turn-of-the-century schoolhouse — with original chalkboards, light fixtures and fir floors – in April 2007.

A few months later, this blog was born and one of our first posts, titled Who knew that “back to school” could be so much fun?, described a L’Ecole tasting at Vino Bello.

We have reveled in L’Ecole’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Apogee and Perigee blends for many vintages. You can tell by our blog post, written after a vertical tasting in 2010:

“What an experience tasting side-by-side verticals of these Bordeaux-style blends - the ’99, ’03 and ’07 Apogee from Pepper Bridge Vineyard and the ’03 and ’07 Estate Perigee from Seven Hills Vineyard. Apogee was rich, bold and earthy, while Perigee was elegant and complex. Comparing them over time sent me to Bordeaux heaven!”

Now we are adding L’Ecole’s Estate Cabernet Franc to our list of favorites.

The 2010 Estate Cabernet Franc, Seven Hills Vineyard, is one of L’Ecole’s exclusive bottlings. From time to time, with the right conditions, L’Ecole produces a limited amount of unique wines focusing on a specific block of fruit or a unique vineyard blend.  These wines are limited in quantity, a few hundred cases or less, and are typically available exclusively from the winery.

We opened a bottle (okay, let’s be honest, two bottles) on Friday night, and wow – L’Ecole’s 2010 Estate Cab Franc is one big, bold and beautiful red wine. From the winemaker and owner, Marty Clubb:

“Our Block 8 Cabernet Franc (planted 1997) from Seven Hills Vineyard historically played a blending role in our Estate Perigee and Estate Merlot. However with vines maturing, we had sufficient production to produce in addition, a small specialty bottling of this varietal beginning in 2006. In 14th leaf with this vintage, this robustly balanced and integrated wine shows a rich concentration of complex flavors that demanded to be bottled on its own.”

The acclaimed Seven Hills Vineyard, located in the south central portion of the Walla Walla Valley appellation, is co-owned by L’Ecole,  Leonetti Cellars and Pepper Bridge Winery. Approximately one-third of L’Ecole’s red wine production comes from Seven Hills, which was originally planted in 1981 and expanded to more than 230 acres.

There is still some of this luscious Cab Franc available on L’Ecole’s website – so what are you waiting for?

Cheers!

Picnic & Barrel Auction

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

August brings one of our favorite summer wine events — the Auction of Washington Wines and its Picnic & Barrel Auction on the scenic grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery.

On Aug. 15, more than 100 creative Washington state winemakers will be on hand, along with the talented chefs from Tulalip Resort, to provide fine wines and tasty treats. Talk about a gourmet picnic!

Notably, the largest and most prestigious selection of limited production bottles will be sold to the highest bidder, with proceeds going to Seattle Children’s Hospital and Washington State University’s Viticulture and Enology Program.

As you wander through the beautiful lawns, winemakers will be pouring their recent releases and more than happy to chat about Washington wine. So this is truly an event for both experienced wine enthusiasts and novices alike.

And if you want more tastes, barrel samples of yet-to-be-bottled wines are also available at the Barrel Auction. When you find one you like, place your bid on a case. The top-five highest bids for each winery will take home a medal, and be the first to receive the wine when it is released.

We love the Picnic & Barrel Auction because we can chat with our winemaker friends and make new ones. We can learn about the latest vintage, experience pours from many different wine regions, and feast on amazing appetizers such as “Rare Beef Tenderloin Lollipop with Roquefort Hazelnut Crust.”

At the Auction of Washington Wines website, you’ll find a full list of wineries participating in the auction, wineries pouring to guests, and the samples on the restaurant menus, along with an easy way to purchase tickets to an afternoon of fun and worthy causes.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!

What’s in Our Glass?

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, California wineries, Carlton Wine Country, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville, Zinfandel Comments Off

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?

Cheers!

 

Time to Enjoy the Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concert Series

Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

You know it’s truly summer when Chateau Ste. Michelle is alive with the sound of music. We attend one of the concerts at the scenic outdoor amphitheater every year, and regardless of whom we see, we have a fabulous time.

How can you miss? Beautiful grounds, fine wine, summer weather and music for dancing!

This year, we saw Pat Benetar and Berlin, featuring original lead singer, Terri Nunn. We were asked not to take photos out of respect for the artists, so you can’t see them on stage here. But believe us, the stage was jamming and the place was hopping.

Concert-goers came early (the gates open two hours in advance) to enjoy the warm temperatures and picnic on the grass – we saw everything from fried chicken and potato salad to delicious-looking cheese plates. Some people brought their own food, while others purchased food from vendors in the amphitheater.

And of course, many of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s popular wines were omnipresent — and oh so tasty.

Once the music started, most people were on their feet, particularly during Berlin’s chart-breaking song “Take My Breath Away” from the 1986 movie “Top Gun,” and Pat Benetar’s signature “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.”

But frankly, even if the music isn’t your favorite, this concert series is a win. What’s not to like about sunshine, gorgeous grounds, fine wine and happy people?

So if you haven’t bought tickets yet, have a look at the concert calendar and go for it! Still to come: a range of pop, jazz, rock and blues through Aug. 25, including Gipsy Kings, Gladys Night & the O’Jays, Lyle Lovett, Chris Isaak and more.

Have questions? Check out the concert FAQ.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon or evening.

Cheers!

Seattle Wine Awards

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We all know that Washington state makes some fabulous wine, and is the second largest producer in the country, after California. There is so much good juice in this state, it’s often difficult to pick the best of the best – we have so many favorites.

So when the prestigious Seattle Wine Awards are announced, we always have pride – and fun – looking at the list. The tasting panel included Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine, Professors of Viticulture & Enology, Wine Journalists, Wine Directors, Corporate Buyers and Wine Shop Proprietors.

We’ve tried many of these wines, but not all of them.  How many have you tasted? Congratulations to the Double Gold winners, listed here in alphabetical order:

Double Gold

  • 37 Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington
  • Airfield Estates Winery 2011 Sweet Riesling, Yakima Valley
  • Airfield Estates Winery 2009 Merlot, Yakima Valley
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2012 Crawford Viognier, Columbia Valley
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2012 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Shepard’s Mark, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2010 Destiny Ridge Vineyard Quarry Butte, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Amavi Cellars 2010 Les Collines Syrah, Walla Walla Valley
  • Amavi Cellars 2011 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley
  • Ambassador Vineyard 2010 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
  • Angel Vine 2010 The Hellion, Columbia Valley
  • Angel Vine 2010 Alder Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel, Washington
  • Apex Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2010 Dionysus, Columbia Valley
  • Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2010 Dionysus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Array Cellars 2011 Chardonnay Dijon Clone, Yakima Valley
  • Barili Cellars 2010 Double Barrel Red, Rattlesnake Hills
  • Barons V Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Bartholomew Winery 2012 Uplands Vineyard Aligote, Snipes Mountain
  • Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2010 Wild Child Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2010 Princess Syrah, Walla Walla Valley
  • Blooms Winery on Whidbey 2010 Poetic, Columbia Valley
  • Blooms Winery on Whidbey 2012 Blush, Rattlesnake Hills
  • Brian Carter Cellars 2011 Oriana, Columbia Valley
  • Brian Carter Cellars 2010 Opulento, Yakima Valley
  • Bunchgrass Winery 2009 Triolet, Walla Walla Valley
  • Bunnell Family Cellar 2008 Vif, Columbia Valley
  • Bunnell Family Cellar 2009 Malbec, Wahluke Slope
  • Bunnell Family Cellar 2008 Boushey-McPherson Syrah, Yakima Valley
  • Cadaretta 2011 sbs, Columbia Valley
  • Cairdeas Winery 2012 Sparkling Viognier, Columbia Valley
  • Cairdeas Winery 2012 Reserve Nellie Mae, Columbia Valley
  • Camaraderie Cellars 2009 Grâce, Columbia Valley
  • Camaraderie Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Caprio Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
  • Castillo De Feliciana 2012 Vino Verano, Columbia Valley
  • Cave B Estate Winery 2010 Cuvée du Soleil, Columbia Valley
  • Cave B Estate Winery 2010 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Cave B Estate Winery 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley
  • Cave B Estate Winery 2010 XXV Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Celaeno Winery 2008 Both Barrels Minick Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle 2011 Ethos Late Harvest Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle 2011 Eroica Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle 2009 Ethos Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Claar Cellars 2010 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
  • College Cellars 2012 Stan Clarke Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Ice Wine, Walla Walla Valley
  • College Cellars 2012 Mourvedre Rosé, Walla Walla Valley
  • College Cellars 2012 Stan Clarke Vineyard Semillon, Walla Walla Valley
  • College Cellars 2012 Stan Clarke Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Walla Walla Valley
  • College Cellars 2012 Scholarship White, Walla Walla Valley
  • College Cellars 2012 Muscat Ottonel, Walla Walla Valley
  • Columbia Crest 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Columbia Crest 2010 H3 Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Convergence Zone Cellars 2010 Squall Line, Red Mountain
  • Corvus Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
  • Cougar Crest Estate Winery 2008 Cougar Hills Vineyard Anniversary Cuvée, Walla Walla Valley
  • Cougar Crest Estate Winery 2008 Cougar Hills Vineyard Merlot, Walla Walla Valley
  • Coyote Canyon Winery 2010 Primitivo, Horse Heaven Hills
  • DaMa Wines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • DaMa Wines 2009 Syrah, Columbia Valley
  • Davenport Cellars 2009 Continuity, Columbia Valley
  • Davenport Cellars 2009 Merlot, Rattlesnake Hills
  • DeLille Cellars 2010 Harrison Hill, Snipes Mountain
  • DeLille Cellars 2010 D2, Yakima Valley
  • DeLille Cellars 2010 Doyenne Signature Syrah, Yakima Valley
  • Desert Wind Winery 2010 Merlot, Wahluke Slope
  • Desert Wind Winery 2011 Sangiovese, Wahluke Slope
  • Dineen Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley
  • DiStefano Winery 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley
  • Double Canyon 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Dubindil Winery 2010 Syrah, Columbia Valley
  • Dunham Cellars 2011 Lewis Estate Vineyard Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Dunham Cellars 2008 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Dusted Valley Vintners 2010 Rachis Syrah, Columbia Valley
  • Dusted Valley Vintners 2010 BFM, Wahluke Slope
  • Dusted Valley Vintners 2011 Mourvedre, Wahluke Slope
  • Eaglemount Winery & Cider 2008 Eaglemount Red, Wahluke Slope
  • Efeste 2010 Final Final, Columbia Valley
  • Efeste 2010 Ceidleigh Syrah, Red Mountain
  • Elevation Cellars 2009 Jammin’, Columbia Valley
  • Elevation Cellars 2010 Stone Tree Vineyard Black Peak Tempranillo, Wahluke Slope
  • Eleven Winery 2010 Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Eleven Winery 2010 Sweet Sarah, Washington
  • Ellanelle Wine Co. 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
  • Fidelitas Wines 2010 Optu Red, Red Mountain
  • Fidelitas Wines 2010 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
  • Finnriver NV Spirited Apple Wine, Washington
  • Five Star Cellars 2007 Stellar, Walla Walla Valley
  • Five Star Cellars 2010 Malbec, Walla Walla Valley
  • Fort Walla Walla Cellars 2009 Treaty, Walla Walla Valley
  • Foundry Vineyards 2009 Artisan Cab, Columbia Valley
  • Gamache Vintners 2010 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley
  • Gamache Vintners 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Gard Vintners 2011 Grand Klasse Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley
  • Gecko Cellars 2012 Rosé of Barbera, Wahluke Slope
  • Gifford Hirlinger 2009 Estate Malbec, Walla Walla Valley
  • Gifford Hirlinger 2009 Estate Merlot, Walla Walla Valley
  • Ginkgo Forest Winery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope
  • Goose Ridge Estate Winery 2010 Riesling Ice Wine, Columbia Valley
  • Goose Ridge Estate Winery 2011 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley
  • Goose Ridge Estate Winery 2011 Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley
  • Goose Ridge Estate Winery 2010 First Flight, Columbia Valley
  • Gordon Family Estate 2009 SIX, Columbia Valley
  • Gordon Family Estate 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards 2011 Semillon, Columbia Valley
  • Helix by Reininger 2010 Phinny Hill Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Hightower Cellars 2012 Murray Rosé, Red Mountain
  • Hogue Cellars 2011 Late Harvest Riesling, Yakima Valley
  • Hyatt Vineyards 2010 Gorilla Zinfandel, Rattlesnake Hills
  • J & J Vintners 2011 First Release Riesling, Yakima Valley
  • Januik Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • JM Cellars 2010 Longevity, Columbia Valley
  • JM Cellars 2010 Boushey Vineyard Syrah, Yakima Valley
  • Jones of Washington 2012 Rosé of Syrah, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley
  • Jones of Washington 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley
  • Jones of Washington 2012 Riesling, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley
  • Kestrel Vintners 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley
  • Kestrel Vintners 2009 Rapter Red, Yakima Valley
  • Kestrel Vintners 2008 Malbec, Yakima Valley
  • Kestrel Vintners 2008 Old Vine Merlot, Yakima Valley
  • Kiona Vineyards Winery 2011 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley
  • Kiona Vineyards Winery 2011 Chenin Blanc Ice Wine, Red Mountain
  • Kitzke Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Knight Hill Winery 2010 Rook’s Red, Wahluke Slope
  • Kontos Cellars 2010 Stonetree Vineyard LVLL Malbec, Wahluke Slope
  • Kontos Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
  • Kontos Cellars 2010 Les Collines Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla Valley
  • Kontos Cellars 2010 Boushey Vineyard Tate Syrah, Yakima Valley
  • Kyra Wines 2012 Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley
  • L’Ecole No. 41 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • L’Ecole No. 41 2010 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Lake Chelan Winery 2010 Malbec, Columbia Valley
  • Leone Italian Cellars 2009 Nebbiolo, Columbia Valley
  • Long Shadows Vintners 2010 Poet’s Leap Botrytis Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Long Shadows Vintners 2009 Saggi, Columbia Valley
  • Long Shadows Vintners 2009 Sequel Syrah, Columbia Valley
  • Lookout Point Winery 2010 Malbec, Rattlesnake Hills
  • Lookout Point Winery NV Two Coyotes, Rattlesnake Hills
  • Lookout Point Winery 2011 Grenache, Rattlesnake Hills
  • Lopez Island Vineyard & Winery 2011 Sangiovese, Yakima Valley
  • Lost River Winery 2009 Cedarosa, Columbia Valley
  • Market Vineyards 2009 Arbitrage Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Market Vineyards 2009 Derivative Red, Columbia Valley
  • Martinez & Martinez 2011 Selina Mechelle Orange Muscat, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Proprietor’s Reserve Sangiovese, Columbia Valley
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Proprietor’s Reserve Zinfandel, Columbia Valley
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Proprietor’s Reserve Mourvedre , Rattlesnake Hills
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Proprietor’s Reserve Primitivo, Wahluke Slope
  • Maryhill Winery 2011 Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Serendipity, Columbia Valley
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Zinfandel, Columbia Valley
  • Maryhill Winery 2010 Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon , Wahluke Slope
  • Matthews Estate 2010 Blackboard Red, Columbia Valley
  • Mellisoni Vineyards 2012 180 Degrees, Lake Chelan
  • Mellisoni Vineyards 2012 Pinot Grigio, Lake Chelan
  • Mellisoni Vineyards 2012 45 Degrees, Lake Chelan
  • Mellisoni Vineyards 2010 Syrah, Lake Chelan
  • Mercer Canyons 2011 Riesling, Yakima Valley
  • Milbrandt Vineyards 2010 Series Tempranillo, Wahluke Slope
  • Milbrandt Vineyards 2010 Traditions Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Milbrandt Vineyards 2011 Brothers Blend, Columbia Valley
  • Milbrandt Vineyards 2011 The Estates Viognier, Wahluke Slope
  • Milbrandt Vineyards 2010 The Estates Merlot, Wahluke Slope
  • Mosquito Fleet Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
  • Naches Heights Vineyards 2012 Riesling, Naches Heights
  • Naches Heights Vineyards 2012 Can-Can, Yakima Valley
  • Naches Heights Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley
  • Naches Heights Vineyards 2010 Mourvedre, Yakima Valley
  • Neufeld 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley
  • Newhouse Family Vineyards 2009 Vestige, Snipes Mountain
  • Northwest Cellars 2011 Sonatina, Columbia Valley
  • Northwest Cellars 2011 Viognier, Snipes Mountain
  • Northwest Totem Cellars 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley
  • Northwest Wine Academy 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Northwest Wine Academy 2011 Mourvedre, Columbia Valley
  • Northwest Wine Academy 2011 Late Harvest Viognier, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Nota Bene Cellars 2010 Syrah, Columbia Valley
  • Obelisco Estate 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
  • Obelisco Estate 2010 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
  • Obelisco Estate 2010 111 Nefer Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
  • Obelisco Estate 2010 Les Gosses Vineyard Syrah, Washington
  • Palouse Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc, Rattlesnake Hills
  • Patterson Cellars 2011 Late Harvest Roussanne, Columbia Valley
  • Patterson Cellars 2012 Mélange Blanc, Columbia Valley
  • Patterson Cellars 2011 Malbec, Yakima Valley
  • Pepper Bridge Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
  • Pleasant Hill Cellars 2011 La Grande Affaire, Columbia Valley
  • Pleasant Hill Cellars 2010 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley
  • Plumb Cellars 2009 Damn Straight, Columbia Valley
  • Pondera 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Proper Wines 2010 Syrah Estate, Walla Walla Valley
  • Reininger Winery 2009 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley
  • Revelry Vintners 2010 Cabernet Franc, Wahluke Slope
  • Rio Vista Wines 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Robert Karl Cellars 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Robert Karl Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Robert Ramsay Cellars 2010 Par La Mer Red, Columbia Valley
  • Rock Meadow Cellars 2010 Syrah, Columbia Valley
  • Rolling Bay Winery 2010 Upland Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Snipes Mountain
  • Ross Andrew 2009 Boushey Vineyard Syrah, Yakima Valley
  • Ryan Patrick Vineyard 2011 Ryan’s Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Saint Laurent Estate Winery 2008 La Boheme, Wahluke Slope
  • San Juan Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Franc, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Seven Bridges Winery 2009 Les Collines Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
  • Seven of Hearts 2011 Hellsgate Vineyard Chateau Figareaux, Washington
  • Silvara Vineyards 2010 Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Silver Bell Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
  • Silver Lake Winery 2011 Roza Riesling, Rattlesnake Hills
  • Skylite Cellars 2009 Syrah, Columbia Valley
  • Skylite Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
  • Skylite Cellars 2009 Soirée, Walla Walla Valley
  • Smasne Cellars 2009 Three Vineyard Reserve, Columbia Valley
  • Smasne Cellars 2010 Lawrence Vineyard Block #3 Syrah, , Columbia Valley
  • Smasne Cellars 2010 Upland Vineyard Ice Wine, Snipes Mountain
  • Smasne Cellars 2010 Upland Vineyard Ancient Rocks Red, Snipes Mountain
  • Smasne Cellars 2010 Upland Vineyard Mourvedre, Snipes Mountain
  • Snoqualmie Winery 2012 ECO Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Snoqualmie Winery 2012 Winemaker’s Select Riesling, Columbia Valley
  • Sol Stone 2011 Viognier, Yakima Valley
  • Sovereign Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
  • Spring Valley Vineyard 2010 Nina Lee Syrah, Walla Walla Valley
  • Stottle Winery 2011 Elerding Vineyard Viognier, Washington
  • Stottle Winery 2008 Elerding Vineyard Nebbiolo, Washington
  • SuLei Cellars 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley
  • Tapteil Vineyard Winery 2010 Spilya Vineyard Syrah, Washington
  • Tenor Wines 2010 Two-of-Two, Columbia Valley
  • Tenor Wines 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley
  • Tero Estates 2009 Windrow, Walla Walla Valley
  • Terra Blanca Winery 2008 Arch Terrace Cabernet Franc, Red Mountain
  • Terra Blanca Winery 2008 Signature Series Red Blend, Red Mountain
  • Tertulia Cellars NV Late Harvest Semillon, Columbia Valley
  • Thurston Wolfe Winery 2011 Zephyr Ridge Vineyard Howling Wolfe Zinfandel, Horse Heaven Hills
  • Thurston Wolfe Winery 2010 Lonesome Spring Vineyard Touriga Nacional Port, Columbia Valley
  • Thurston Wolfe Winery 2012 PGV, Columbia Valley
  • Thurston Wolfe Winery 2010 Dr. Wolfe’s Family Red, Washington
  • Tildio Winery 2010 Malbec, Columbia Valley
  • Tranche Cellars 2010 Slice of Pape Blanc, Columbia Valley
  • Treveri Cellars NV Muller-Thurgau, Columbia Valley
  • Treveri Cellars NV Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, Columbia Valley
  • Tsillan Cellars 2011 Estate Sempre Amore, Lake Chelan
  • Tsillan Cellars 2010 Estate Sangiovese, Lake Chelan
  • Tsillan Cellars 2010 Estate Syrah, Lake Chelan
  • Tulpen Cellars 2009 Merlot, Columbia Valley
  • Two Mountain Winery 2008 Copeland Vineyard Brothers No. 3, Rattlesnake Hills
  • Va Piano Vineyards 2009 Syrah, Columbia Valley
  • Veranda Beach Cellars 2012 Regatta Rosé, Washington
  • Veranda Beach Cellars 2012 Lakehouse Riesling, Washington
  • Walla Walla Vintners 2010 Syrah, Walla Walla Valley
  • Watermill Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley
  • Westport Winery 2011 Airport Vineyard Fleur de Lis Pinot Gris, Washington
  • William Church Winery 2012 Viognier, Columbia Valley
  • William Church Winery 2010 2 Spires, Columbia Valley
  • William Church Winery 2010 Syrah, Columbia Valley
  • Willow Crest Winery 2011 Riesling, Yakima Valley
  • Wineglass Cellars 2007 Rich Harvest, Yakima Valley
  • Woodinville Wine Cellars 2009 Indomitable, Columbia Valley
  • Woodinville Wine Cellars 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

For the list of the winners in all the categories, see the Seattle Wine Awards website.

Cheers!

 

Mike Dunham, R.I.P.

Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Washington state’s wine industry lost a great man last week — Mike Dunham, 69, co-owner of Dunham Cellars, passed away May 18 after a four-year battle with kidney cancer.

In 1995, Mike and his son Eric created one of the most respected wineries in Walla Walla and in the state. Mike was the general manager, a businessman and loved by many people.

He will be remembered fondly and deeply by so many, including Trey Busch, one of the first employees at Dunham Cellars, and now owner and winemaker of Sleight of Hand Cellars in Walla Walla.

Trey posted this photo of Mike on Facebook, and kindly agreed to let me repost it here. Thank you, Trey.

We were fortunate to share a table with Mike and his wife, Joanne a couple of years ago at the Washington Wines Festival at Waterfront Seafood Grill in Seattle. As I wrote then:

We also talked about their winery in the remodeled World War II-era airplane hangar in Walla Walla, and we shared many, many tales of all of our dogs. The two of them had us laughing throughout the delicious dinner and prestigious auction. We had met Mike and Joanne briefly at their winery and at several wine events in the last 10 years or so. But we never had the luxury of time to talk to them at length, particularly over good food and delicious wine …

… We’ve always said that Washington wine is about so much more than the juice itself - it’s about the people, the stories and the spirit. Mike and Joanne Dunham, and their award-winning wines, exemplify the passion of the wine industry in this state.

We experienced great sadness to learn of Mike’s passing last weekend. He will be remembered for his graciousness, his humor, his smarts and his love for his family. He will be missed by so many who were fortunate enough to know him.

Mike is survived by his loving wife, Joanne, his son, Eric, and daughters Katy Dunham in Colorado and Michelle Sikma in Alaska.

R.I.P. Mike. We lift a glass of Dunham Cellars wine in your honor.

Cheers!

 

What’s in our glasses, recently?

California wineries, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

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

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

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!

 

 

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