An Evening with the Grape Killers

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Six of seven Woodinville wineries that make up the Grape Killers generated lots of fans and fun at their annual “Holiday in the ‘Hood” wine tasting event last night in Woodinville’s Wine Warehouse District.

Winemakers, and friends, from Gorman Winery (Chris Gorman), Mark Ryan Winery (Mark Ryan McNeilly), Darby Winery (Darby English), Guardian Cellars (Jerry Riener), Baer Winery (Lisa Baer) and Sparkman Cellars  (Chris Sparkman) offered some amazing wines, appetizers and good cheer. Perfect example? Chris Sparkman appeared dressed as Elvis. (Photo courtesy of our friend Taryn Miller)

Not surprisingly, we enjoyed all the wines we tasted at Grape Killers Holiday in the ‘Hood party. But these were our favorites:

  • Gorman Winery 2008 Bully Cabernet Sauvignon (blended with Petit Verdot), Red Mountain
  • Sparkman Cellars 2009 Kingpin Old Vine Cab (blended with Petit Verdot), Red Mountain
  • Darby Winery 2009 Dark Side Syrah (100% Syrah), Yakima Valley
  • Baer Winery 2009 Arctos, a Cabernet-driven blend, Columbia Valley
  • Guardian Cellars 2008 The Rookie Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain
  • Mark Ryan Winery 2009 Dead Horse Red, Bordeaux blend, Red Mountain

Do you sense a trend here? Indeed, our palates prefer Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends, and as Dave said, “I never met a grape from Red Mountain that I didn’t like.”

You could tell the six winemakers (plus Tim Stevens of Stevens Winery who couldn’t participate this time) are pals who hang out together in their spare time. Their camaraderie was evident at each of their tasting rooms. This was a night full of smiles and laughter!

And to top off the good fun, a portion of all wine sales will benefit Woodinville’s Homeward Pet Adoption Shelter.

If you didn’t make it to the Grape Killers event last night, be sure to stop by these wineries in the future. They make good juice!

Cheers!

Love Tempranillo? Head to Fall Line in Seattle Now!

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Tempranillo, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Fall Line Winery just released one of the best Washington state Tempranillos we have ever tasted.

This 2009 Yakima Valley Tempranillo is a new addition to Fall Line’s lineup, appropriately called El Otro (“The Other One”) because it’s a departure from the other red wines beautifully crafted by Tim Sorenson.

El Otro is 100% Tempranillo planted specially for Fall Line at Boushey Vineyard; it’s also 100% drinkable now. Believe me, this dark ruby wine has the WOW factor – it is silky, structured and so layered, I actually said “wow” when I tasted it. Seriously.

Wine Advocate awarded it 92 points last month: “Spice box, cedar, rose petal, and black cherry aromas set the stage for a lingering, already complex, lengthy offering that is a fine example of the potential for Tempranillo in eastern Washington. Drink this outstanding wine from 2012 to 2021.”

Only 166 cases were made, with a low price point of $25 for a wine this elegant. So if you are a big fan of Tempranillo, head to Fall Line soon, because this beauty will sell out quickly.

While you’re there, try some of Fall Line’s other red wines too. We’ve been fans of Tim’s wine for years – my first post about Fall Line was on June 9, 2007, just six days after I started this blog (and when people still referred to “the blogosphere”)!

I fell in love with his 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon — 100% Cab sourced from Boushey Vineyards in Yakima Valley, Artz Vineyards in Red Mountain, and Destiny Ridge Vineyards in Horse Heaven Hills. To my surprise, the next vintage was even better, as I wrote on Feb. 18, 2008: Fall Line Does It Again.

Fast forward to November 2011, and I am once again applauding Fall Line’s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Not surprisingly, this enticing wine was also awarded 92 points from Wine Advocate last month: “A hint of mint, exotic spices, incense, violets, and assorted black fruits lead to a firm, sweetly-fruited, elegant offering. This well-balanced, lengthy effort will benefit from another 2-3 years of cellaring and will be at its best from 2013 to 2024.”

Fall Line’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo are joined by four unique blends - Yakima Valley Boushey Vineyard Bordeaux-style blend (91 points), Red Mountain Artz Bordeaux-style blend (90 points), Yakima Valley Exhibition Red, and Yakima Valley Red Willow Bordeaux-style blend – to round out the 2009 lineup.

You can taste Fall Line wines and join Tim at West Seattle Cellars on Dec. 3 or at his Georgetown winery for a holiday tasting on Dec. 10. More details are available on the Fall Line website.

Once you sip these fantastic-value reds (and find out their price points), you likely will want to buy some for your holiday dinner or to take with you to a special holiday party.

Cheers!

Tweets from Taste of Tulalip

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Wine Comments Off

We had an exceptional time at Taste of Tulalip, where we were guests of the Tulalip Resort. In the next couple of weeks, I plan to write a full blog post about our two days there – from the Celebratory dinner to the Magnum Party of elite wines and the Grand Tasting. Until then, here is a sample of some of my tweets live from Taste of Tulalip.

Friday Night Celebratory Dinner

Saturday Magnum Party

Grand Tasting

As you can see, there was an explosion of tastes and flavors at Taste of Tulalip. The resort is beautiful and the staff superb. Special thanks to Allan, Norma, Cheryl Kyle, Chef Perry Mascitti and his fabulous team, Sommelier Tommy Thompson, and Lisa Severn.

We will be back!

Cheers!

 

A Slice of Heaven (Heaven’s Cave)

Barbera, Bordeaux Blend, Wine Comments Off

We tasted a slice of heaven this weekend – two very different but noteworthy wines from Heaven’s Cave Cellars in Prosser: 2009 Two Degrees Barbera and 2005 Angel’s Blend.

Both of us appreciated both wines, but my preference was the Angel’s Blend, and Dave’s was the Barbera. Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised at that – my palate adores Bordeaux blends, while Dave searches high and low for a solid Barbera – not as easy to find in Washington state.

The 2005 Angel’s Blend combines 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 12% Malbec, 3% Cab Franc and just a touch of Petit Verdot to round things off. This robust, full-bodied red stands beautifully on its own, but also pairs well with hamburgers, steaks, lamb and teriyaki beef. The grapes are sourced from Destiny Ridge Estate Vineyard, owned by Jarrod and Ali Boyle of Alexandria Nicole Cellars.

The 2009 Two Degrees Barbera was sourced from vines at Alder Ridge. Unlike its light-bodied Italian counterparts, this 100% Barbera is a warm, earthy, well-balanced wine that is also rich and smooth. Again, it’s good enough to drink on its own, but it pairs very well with pizza, pasta and chicken parmesan, or even lamb or turkey.

In addition, 100% of the profit from the sale of Two Degrees Barbera goes to the Make The DASH Count Foundation, dedicated to delevoping the next generation of community leaders and benefitting at-risk youth. The foundation was created in 2003 by Hope Moore, proprietor of Heaven’s Cave.

The DASH refers to the little horizontal line on our gravestones; the one between the date we are born and the date we pass away. The DASH represents everything in between and how we chose to live it.”

As fall sets in and the weather turns colder, sipping on either one of these reds in front of a toasty fire is a great way to spend the evening.

Cheers!

It’s a Perfect Time to Visit Swiftwater Cellars

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Merlot, Syrah, Wine Comments Off

The summer tourists have gone home and the skiiers are waiting for the season to kick off, so now is the time to visit Swiftwater Cellars, a destination within a destination at Suncadia Resort - a one-hour drive from Seattle in the heart of the Cascade Mountains.

We visited a couple of months ago, and it was gorgeous – mountain views, a 360-degree bar, a two-story stone fireplace, a shop with unique gifts and collectibles, and Swiftwater Cellars premium wine – what’s not to like? If you’re lucky, owners Don and Lori Watts, both consummate storytellers, will regale you with anecdotes about their lives and about the former Roslyn Coal Mine No. 9 that the winery sits atop.

And let’s not forget the wine! Veteran winemakers Tony Rynders and Linda Trotta create a number of outstanding wines with fruit sourced from a selection of vineyards in Washington and Oregon. The Watts family also owns Zephyr Ridge in Horse Heaven Hills.

Not surprisingly to regular readers of this blog, my favorite was Swiftwater’s Proprietary Red – a beautiful Bordeaux blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cab Franc, 16% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot and 10% Syrah. But full props also go to Swiftwater’s Syrah and Pinot Noir (sourced from Willamette Valley).

We also enjoyed some white wines from their second label, Number 9, naturally named after the coal mine. At the moment, Switfwater Cellars produces a total of 2,500 cases of wine, with plans to double that in the future.

But Swiftwater Cellars is more than fine wine – the Fireside Lounge offers an all-day menu and The Hoist House dinner menu has many mouth-watering choices.

And there are frequent events; for example, this weekend you’ll find live music and “Experience the Crush.”

Did I mention this destination winery would also be an awesome location for a wedding or holiday party?

Whether you’re looking for a day-trip, a wonderful weekend or a unique place to hold an event, we recommend checking out Swiftwater Cellars. We plan on going back!

Cheers!

Vars & Sundry

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine, Zinfandel Comments Off

“Vars & Sundry” is an old wire service term that refers to various and sundry news stories that don’t necessarily fit in with other stories. So it seemed a fitting title for this blog post, which is about a number of wine samples that were sent to us from different wineries. They come from Washington state, of course, British Columbia, California and New Zealand.

L’Ecole No. 41 2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Regular readers know that L’Ecole 41 is one of our favorite wineries in Washington state, and this rich, layered Cab Sauv exemplifies why. This is a classic  — 100% Cabernet Sauvignon blended from several premium vineyards into one fine juice, sip after sip.

This robust red is showcased beautifully by the new elegant label unveiled by L’Ecole 41 earlier this year. If you missed the story about the new label, be sure to read it – and you’ll understand how this wonderful Walla Walla winery has grown from a small family-run favorite to one known as an enduring, sophisticated creator of quality wine. ($29)

Gnekow Family Winery 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel Reserve, Lodi:  Located about an hour from Napa Valley, Gnekow prides itself on producing wines that showcase the grapes from the region. This 05 Zin is drinking nicely, a mellow but jammy wine with structure and the complexity that comes from old vines. ($25)

Mission Hill Five Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Merlot Bin 88: This beautiful winery in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia is a pioneer in Canada’s wine industry. This is a medium-bodied, everyday wine that could be paired nicely with any red meat dish. ($17)

Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010: We loved this refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with prawns on the deck during the warm weather. Bursting with grapefruit and citrus flavors, we were not surprised to discover it won gold at the International Wine Show in 2010. ($14)

Thanks for the samples! Cheers!

Dunham Cellars

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Syrah, Wine Comments Off

We recently had the fortune to sit at a dinner table with Mike and Joanne Dunham of Dunham Cellars. We were at the 20th annual Washington Wines Festival at Waterfront Seafood Grill in Seattle, and we couldn’t have asked for more delightful company.

Mike and Joanne are so down-to-earth and so much fun, with so many stories to tell. We talked about wine, of course – Dunham Cellars wines and other Washington wines that we tasted at the festival. And we jokingly tried to identify some of the more obscure ingredients in the many tasty courses that were placed in front of us.

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 enjoyed Dunham Cellars wines for years – my first blog post about their Three Legged Red blend was in 2007 – a price-friendly wine packed with flavors and named after their wonderful dog, Port.

We met Port when we first stopped by the Dunham Cellars tasting room – he was as adorable as his photo on the wine bottle. When he passed away in 2008, I wrote a tribute.

Since then, we’ve sipped several vintages of Dunham Cellars Trutina, a delightful blend of Cab Sauv, Syrah, Merlot and Cab Franc, and we love 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon XII, which received a 93 rating from Wine Spectator.

We haven’t yet tasted 2007 Pursued by Bear Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a creative collaboration by their winemaker son, Eric Dunham and actor Kyle MacLachlan of Desperate Housewives. And we’re looking forward to trying the recently released 2007 Cab and Syrah from Lewis Vineyard.

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.

Cheers!

Glorious Cabernet Franc

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine 2 Comments

Cab FrancOne of my favorite wines is Cabernet Franc, which is one of the main varieties in Bordeaux blends. Cab Franc is typically used as a blending wine to add more complexity to Cabernet Sauvignon or more structure to Merlot.

But Cab Franc is also created as a single-varietal wine; in other words, a stand-alone wine. And one of the best we’ve tasted recently was a 2004 Cab Franc from Corliss Estates in Walla Walla.

This beauty was elegant and balanced, with a complex bouquet of cherry, spice, cassis, pepper and cocoa. We found it so rich that it was excellent without food. However, parmesan cheese went well with it, and later, we paired it nicely with a slow-cooked savory stew.

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

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 glorious.

Corliss 2004 Columbia Valley Cab Franc is a prime example.

Cheers!

Second Tasting Room for William Church Winery

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Viognier, Wine 2 Comments

Regular readers know that we have long been fans of William Church Winery, and its owners Rod and Leslie Balsley.

I first wrote about William Church 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon in March 2008. Since then, I’ve frequently written about Rod, Leslie and assistant winemaker, Marcus Rafanelli, and raved about many of their wines, from Bishop’s Blend to Two Spires to Sur La Mer, and from Viognier to Malbec to Syrah.

So you can imagine our delight to hear that William Church is opening a second tasting room on July 16. Now we – and you - can enjoy William Church wines in the Hollywood School area of Woodinville, in addition to their existing location in the wine warehouse district.

The grand opening of the new tasting room –  located right next to Purple Cafe — is from noon to 6 p.m. on July 16. And, in addition to Leslie, Rod and Marcus, another good friend has joined the wonderful William Church team – Cheryl Cardwell is the new tasting room manager. How cool is that?

We will definitely be there to celebrate with all of them – and we hope to see you there too.

Cheers!

Happy Canada Day, Happy 4th of July!

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Counoise, Malbec, Marsanne, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Primitivo, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Viognier, Wine, Zinfandel Comments Off

What a great weekend – Friday is Canada Day and Monday is the Fourth of July! And the weather is sunny, which means wine on the deck and BBQ’ing.

First, Dave and I wish all our Canadian family and friends a Happy Canada Day today. Tonight, we shall sip on both white and red wine (the colour of the flag) in your honour.

Then on Monday, we wish all our American family and friends a wonderful Fourth of July. In your honor, we plan to start with white wine on the deck, moving to a robust red later with some blue steak (the color of the flag).

What wines will you be drinking this holiday weekend on both sides of the border? Sauv Blanc, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Marsanne, Riesling, Chard? Cabernet, Cab Franc, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel, Primitivo, Counoise or perhaps a nice Bordeaux blend? Let us know in the comments below.

We hope your holiday is wonderful and safe.

Cheers!

Margot & Dave

« Previous Entries Next Entries »