Ferrari-Carano Virtual Tasting; plus Winemaker Dinner Soon at Semiahmoo Resort

FCWineWe recently had an opportunity to taste three wines from Ferrari-Carano: 2014 Fumé Blanc, 2013 Merlot and 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The virtual tasting was timely because the Sonoma winery will soon be part of the popular Winemaker Series at the near-by and breathtakingly beautiful Semiahmoo Resort here in northwest Washington state, near the Canadian border.

We are hoping to attend the Winemaker Dinner at Semiahmoo on June 16, so we were delighted when Ferrari-Carano coincidentally invited us to a virtual tasting for wine writers, and sent us samples of these three wines.

2014 Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc Sonoma County ($14)
Hello summer! This crisp, refreshing Fumé Blanc blends Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River Valleys. The wine has aromas and flavors of peach, pear and ripe fruit. Enjoy it on the patio or deck on a warm summer day, or pair it with spicy dishes, sushi, seafood, chicken or even a simple salad.

2013 Ferrari-Carano Merlot Sonoma County ($25)
This is a lovely Merlot, rich and fleshy, yet velvety, complex and well-balanced, with a soft, elegant finish. This easy-drinking wine will go well with Italian dishes, roasted chicken, steaks or pretty much any red meat course.

2012 Ferrari-Carano Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley ($65)
Cabernet is King in our family, so this big beauty is our favorite in a very good lineup. With such a beautiful nose, lovely aromas and concentrated fruit, this Reserve Cab is simply delicious. Try it with BBQ steaks, lamb, pork or strong cheese such Cambozola triple cream blue cheese or sharp cheddar. And check out this winery recipe for Gorgonzola, Walnut and Cabernet Spread. Wow!

The Winemaker Dinner at Semiahmoo will feature Ferrari-Carano wines paired with a mouth-watering meal created by the resort’s Executive Chef Bruno. Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 12.45.13 PMThis is a perfect opportunity for wine lovers and foodies in Seattle, Vancouver and well, everywhere, to come to Semiahmoo Resort for relaxation in a scenic location, excellent wine and a delicious dinner. For those of us fortunate to live near Semiahmoo Resort, what a fantastic way to spend the evening!

Of note, the wines at the dinner might be different than the ones listed above. More details about the Winemaker Dinner will be posted here soon. We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Kenwood Vineyards

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 4.44.59 PMIf you haven’t tasted wine from Kenwood Vineyards in awhile, it’s time to rediscover it.

Kenwood Vineyards is one of the pioneers of premium wine in Sonoma, part of the wine region’s landscape since 1970. The winery is now undergoing a renaissance with a focus on small-lot winemaking and a new look.

We recently attended an online tasting with Pat Henderson, who has been a winemaker at Kenwood Vineyards since 2003, and became chief winemaker last year. Ahead of the tasting, we received four wines in a gorgeous wooden box. The bottles had a a new look and modern labels.

2014 Kenwood Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($12.99)
Fruit from 28 vineyards went into this crisp summer sipper, and the result is a balance of citrus and tropical flavors plus some grassy characteristics and minerality. We will definitely be buying bottles of this Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy on our deck on the lake.

2014 Kenwood Vineyards Six Ridges Russian River Chardonnay ($21.99)
If you like your Chardonnays rich and creamy, this one is for you. Flavors of apple, peach, vanilla and spice combine in a chilled glass that will pair well with seafood or chicken.

Kenwood Zin2013 Kenwood Six Ridges Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($31.99)
Zin lovers take note! This is big, bold, beautiful and well-balanced. And somehow it is both silky and zesty at the same time, too. It will pair nicely with spicy foods but also is strong enough to stand alone without food; to simply share a bottle with friends or enjoy at a party.

2013 Jack London Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($35)
This beauty will pair perfectly with BBQ steaks in the summer and roast beef in the winter. This is our kind of cab – full-bodied, rich, robust, well-structured and elegant.

The samples were provided by Kenwood Vineyards, which, in the name of full disclosure, is a Pernod Ricard brand and a client at the PR agency where I (Margot) work. However, I attended the tasting as a wine blogger and adhered to Write for Wine’s sample policy. If I did’t like the wines, I simply would not write about them. Word.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Wow! Wine in Whiskey Barrels from Jacob’s Creek

Jacob's-Creek-Double-Barrel-Shiraz-with-ShadowIf you’ve been looking for something different in your wine glass, look no further. Jacob’s Creek offers its Double Barrel line of wines that were matured in traditional toasted wine barrels and then finished in whiskey barrels for a unique mouthfeel. These Australian beauties have layers of complexity and integrated tannins, and they are smooth and smoky.

Wow. Aging wine in whiskey barrels? Brilliant!

How did we find them? We were fortunate to join a Jacob’s Creek tasting of a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Shiraz — before and after they were finished in aged whiskey barrels.

The difference was amazing, dramatic and very positive — the “after” wines were rounder, smoother, richer and elegant. The wines did not taste like whiskey, but expressed the character and nuances of the whiskey barrel on the palate.

Jacob’s Creek Chief Winemaker Ben Bryant said: “Our vision for this project was to create something truly innovative and extraordinary. After much experimentation, we can confidently say that we have crafted something special and unique.”

We agree.

“We wanted the flavor of the wine to predominate, yet there had to be a noticeable impact from the use of the whisky barrels,” he said. “So we chose parcels of wine that were particularly ripe, from premium growing regions, and with such intense fruit flavor and big tannins that they would benefit from the second barrel treatment.”

Cabernet Sauvignon is king to our palates when it comes to Washington state and California wine. But in Australia, Shiraz wins every time.

Double Barrel Shiraz (Barossa, Australia) – $19.99
The rich Shiraz was aged in Scotch whiskey barrels to provide complex, well-developed characteristics. Winemaker tasting notes:
Lifted licorice spice aroma with dark plum and toasty notes; on the palate, complex and smooth with layers of rich plum, fruitcake and dark chocolate notes.

Jacob's-Creek-Double-Barrel-Cabernet-Sauvignon-with-ShadowDouble Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra, Australia) – $19.99
Cabernet Sauvignon was finished in aged Irish whiskey barrels to smooth the flavor and add incredible richness through the full length of the palate. Winemaker tasting notes:
Cassis aromas with mint, dark olive and caramel notes; on the palate, rich flavor consisting of black fruit and herbal notes with soft tannins.

The double barrel wines were released in Australia late in 2014 and have been very popular in that country. Jacob’s Creek is now introducing them to U.S. markets.

Samples were provided by Jacob’s Creek and Pernod Ricard USA. But we’ll be buying some bottles and introducing them to our friends.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

What’s in Our Glasses?

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 3.40.36 PMWe’ve had many reasons to celebrate in recent weeks — birthdays, anniversaries and vacations. What better times to pull out a bottle of fine Washington state and/or California wine from our collection?

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For example, on our anniversary we enjoyed two Washington state beauties, Obelisco 2012 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon and Force Majeure 2010 Collaboration V, Estate Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

Yes, these are definitely special-occasion wines.

In the last few months, we also opened some good-value reds — how can you miss at $15?

So here are some of the wines in our glasses lately — at a wide range of prices, from $15-$70 — in alphabetical order. Some of these were small pours at wine events; others were glasses at restaurants or bottles shared with friends.

Note: Sometimes you can find lower prices at Costco, through wine apps or wine stores.

  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2012 Destiny, $48
  • Ambassador 2012 Plenipotentiary Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
  • Avennia 2010 Sestina, $50
  • Bartholomew Primitivo 2013, $24
  • Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon, $15
  • Corliss 2012 Secret Squirrel Cabernet Sauvignon, $25
  • Decoy 2013 Red Wine, $24
  • Des Voigne 2012 The Duke Zinfandel, $30
  • Double Canyon 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $65
  • Eagle Eye 2007 Proprietary Red Limited Edition Heritage, $50
  • Efeste 2010 Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon, $54
  • Force Majeure 2010 Estate Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, $65
  • Guardian Cellars 2012 The Wanted, $37
  • Lauren Ashton 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
  • Mercer Estates 2011 Ode to Brothers GSM, $42
  • Michael David 2013 Petite Petit, $17
  • Oak Ridge 2013 OZV Zin, $14
  • Obelisco 2012 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon, $70
  • Seghesio 2014 Sonoma Zinfandel, $26
  • Seven Falls 2013 Jones Vineyard Zinfandel, $40
  • Stags’ Leap 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $50
  • William Church Winery 2010 Bishop’s Blend, $22
  • The Woodhouse Wine Estates 2012 Darighe, $65

We hope you also have a chance to taste some of these delicious wines; if the above vintages are sold out, chances are the next ones are very drinkable too.

Special thanks to Lauren Ashton, Double Canyon and Oak Ridge for the samples to taste.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Once Again, the Fantastic Lauren Ashton Cellars

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 4.17.09 PMWe have been fans of Lauren Ashton Cellars since late 2012, when we met winemaker and owner Kit Singh at numerous Washington wine events and tasted his stunning wines.

The winery’s motto “True Washington Character” was indeed noticeable in every sip we tasted at that time and continues to be the case today.

For example, the recently released Lauren Ashton 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is impressive and exceptional. Not surprisingly, the fruit was sourced from the magnificent Red Mountain AVA, and the result showcases the region’s stony minerality.

This is a luxurious, classic, structured Cabernet that reflects the characteristics of the grape — 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Ambassador Vineyard and Quintessence Vineyard. (Sample provided by Lauren Ashton Cellars.)

Kit’s tasting notes: “Our Cabernet Sauvignon from the Red Mountain AVA is rich and full-bodied, with an elegant tannin structure. It opens with aromas of black cherry, blackberry and ripe plum, and is followed by hints of spiciness and minerality. Pair with gorgonzola, red meat and lamb, or enjoy on its own.”

As with any new release, the wine is still young, but very approachable with a bit of decanting. According to Kit, it has “great aging potential.”

Our first Lauren Ashton Cellars experience was with the 2011 Columbia Valley Syrah, a robust, complex 100% Syrah that was smooth and rich. The 2011 Red Mountain Reserve Syrah was even better, silky and elegant.

We also loved two blends from Columbia Valley, which are still available in limited quantities at the winery’s Woodinville tasting room: 2009 Proprietor’s Cuvée and 2009 Cuvée Arlene.

The bottom line: We highly recommend stopping by Lauren Ashton Cellars Tasting Studio in Woodinville or finding out more about these notable wines at their website.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Second Tasting Room for Obelisco Estate

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.33.17 PMIf you haven’t visited Obelisco‘s new, second tasting room in the Hollywood schoolhouse area of Woodinville, what are you waiting for? This is an opportunity to taste magnificent wine, kick back and enjoy good conversation in a relaxing environment. On weekends, you just might find live music, too.

Obelisco is one of our favorite wineries in Washington state. Winemaker Doug Long is as friendly as he is talented, creative and dedicated. He came here from Napa, where he started his first winery, David Arthur, which was named “Winery of the Decade” by Wine Spectator in 2000. The 1997 vintage scored 99 points.

Once here, he planted a vineyard in the incredible Red Mountain AVA in 2004. And then he applied his Napa Valley winemaking skills to Washington state grapes.

While Doug has received dozens of awards for many of Obelisco’s wines, from Syrahs to Malbecs, our favorites are his Cab-based productions — Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Electrum, Nefer and a refreshing Cabernet Rose’.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 5.30.09 PMAnd now you can experience these beauties in a comfy, cozy, conversation-friendly tasting room in the schoolhouse area, in addition to the original Obelisco tasting room in the Woodinville wine warehouse.

Shortly before the grand opening, we spent about an hour in the new location, chatting with Doug and manager Ken Abbott, tasting through the lineup and enjoying the ambiance — it was hard to leave!

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Obelisco’s second tasting room is located at 14525 148th Ave NE, suite 121 in the Apple Farm Village of Woodinville, near Otis Kenyon and Lauren Ashton and across the street from Alexandria Nicole Cellars.

The original tasting room at the Woodinville wine warehouse is located at 19495 144th Ave NE, suite B-220 in Woodinville.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Our Faves from Seattle Wine and Food Experience

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 6.41.50 AMWe had a wonderful time at the Grand Tasting at Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE) — great wine, tasty bites and good conversations. If you missed it this year, be sure to mark your calendar now to check it out in 2017!

Below is the list of our favorite wines we tasted at SWFE, but the ones we took home were Ambassador Wines Plenipotentiary 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bartholomew Winery’s Primitivo 2013 and Des Voigne Cellars 2012 The Duke Zinfandel.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.44.57 AMOf the wineries that were new on our list, Ambassador Wines was our favorite. Plenipotentiary Cab Sauv is a rich, robust delight from Red Mountain; according to the tasting notes: “Deep dark chocolate cherry, blackberry jam, toast and finishes off with vanilla sweetness and spice. The mouth explodes with dark fruit flavors, a rich and full mid-palate and a nice lingering vanilla, blackberry and spice finish. The tannins meld nicely with the acid and to create a nice enticing finish begging you to take another sip.” We are looking forward to visiting their tasting room in Woodinville to try some of their other wines.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.43.18 AMHere is the list of our other favorites that we tasted at SWFE (in alphabetical order):

  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 Jet Black Syrah (new release)
  • Brian Carter Cellars 2010 Solesce
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Tenet The Pundit Syrah
  • Double Canyon 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Guardian Cellars 2013 Chalk Line
  • Mercer Estates 2011 Ode to Brothers GSM
  • Three Rivers Winery 2013 River’s Red Wine (a unique blend of Sangiovese, Malbec, Syrah, Merlot and Cab Sauv)
  • Watermill Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc
  • Wilridge Winery 2013 Estate Melange Noir Red Blend (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cab Sauv, Malbec and Petit Verdot)
  • The Woodhouse Wine Estates 2012 Darighe

We also enjoyed some tasty treats from these restaurants: Duke’s Seafood and Chowder House, Anthony’s Budd’s Broiler, Chinoise Cafe, The Kitchen by Delicatus, Macrina Bakery and Delicious Health Cultered Cashew Cremes.

We can sum up our experience at SWFE in one word: Delicious!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Seattle Wine and Food Experience Wine Awards

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 6.41.50 AMThe results of the third annual Wine Awards have been announced by the Seattle Wine and Food Experience in conjunction with their weekend of events Feb. 20-21.

More than 200 wines from Washington, Oregon, California and international regions were judged by a panel of experts who tasted and reviewed the wines under blind conditions, not knowing the producers, region of origin or prices.

Of the 204 wines submitted, 130 were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals. Top honors went to:

  • Best of Show: Piper Heidsieck Brut, NV Champagne
  • Best Red Wine: Garnet Pinot Noir 2013, Monterey County, California
  • Best White Wine: Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling 2014, Columbia Valley, Washington
  • Best of Class:
    • Ambassador Wines of Washington Estate Envoy 2012, Red Mountain, Washington
    • Arbor Crest Cellars Dionysus Meritage 2012, Columbia Valley, Washington
    • Bogle Vineyards Merlot 2013, California
    • Serra Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Applegate Valley, Oregon
    • Terra Blanca Winery & Vineyards Signature series Block 8 Syrah 2010, Red Mountain, Washington
    • Wilridge Winery Malbec 2013, Yakima Valley, Washington

A full list of awards can be viewed at Seattle Wine and Food ExperienceThis year’s judges’ panel, led by northwest-based wine journalists Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman, were Doug Charles, Lane Hoss, Rebecca Murphy, Chris Nishiwaki, Tim O’Brien, April Reddout, Yashar Shayan, Dawn Smith and Mark Takagi. You can read more about the judges and their credentials at Seattle Wine and Food Experience.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Vivino’s 2016 Wine Style Awards

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 4.01.47 PMVivino, our favorite wine app, recently released its 2016 Wine Style Awards, which “recognize the best wines on the planet in over 100 categories, from Argentinian Malbec to Bordeaux Red to Californian Chardonnay and everything in between.”

The awards were given out to the top-rated wines, as determined by Vivino’s 13-million users and their millions of wine ratings. To make the list, a wine had to generate more than 50 ratings in 2015.

Since our wine of choice typically comes from Washington state, we decided to focus on the wineries that won the style awards for our state’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blend and Merlot.

We are delighted to see that many of our favorite wineries made the list — congratulations to all!

Cabernet Sauvignon ($15-$220)
1. Quilceda Creek 2010
2. Woodward Canyon Artist Series #21 2012
3. Chateau Ste. Michelle Limited Release Druthers 2011
4. Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Reserve 2011
5. Lower East 2012
6. Canvasback 2012
7. Gravel Bar 2013
8. Seven Falls 2012
9. Tamarack 2012
10. Columbia Crest 2009

Red Blend ($22-$88)
1. Figgins Estate Red 2011
2. DeLille D2 2012
3. Col Solare 2009
4. Sheridan Vineyard L’Orage 2012
5. Quilceda Creek CVR Red 2011
6. Efeste, Final Final 2011
7. Mark Ryan The Chief Board Track Racer 2012
8. Gilbert, Left Bank Red 2012
9. Spring Valley Vineyards, Uriah Red, 2012
10. Hedges Family Estate, 2011

Merlot ($11-$34)
1. Northstar 2010
2. Seven Falls 2011
3. Canoe Ridge The Expedition 2012
4. L’Ecole No. 4 2011
5. Skyfall 2012
6. Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek 2011
7. Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells 2012
8. 14 Hands 2010
9. Stimson Estate 2011
10. Chateau Ste. Michelle 2011
Congratulations again!

For the winners in all wine styles in many more regions around the world, here is the full list of Vivino’s 2016 Wine Style Awards.

For more on Vivino, please see our previous blog post.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Cabernet Classic in Bellevue

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 3.41.10 PMAttention Cabernet lovers! The sixth annual Cabernet Classic, presented by Seattle Uncorked, will be held on Saturday Feb. 6 at the new Porsche Bellevue dealership — the first time this prestigious event has been held in Bellevue.

This is a perfect time to experience some of Washington state’s finest Cabs from 28 exclusive wineries. Current releases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab-based blends will be poured as well as library selections. Light appetizers will be served by Bin On The Lake.

The special evening is from 6-9 p.m. The cost is $100, with net proceeds going to Talk It Up TV & The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Complimentary valet parking will be provided by Butler Valet.

Cabernet is King in our household, and if it is in yours too, this is one event you won’t want to miss.

Tickets are available from Stranger Tickets.

Here are the featured wineries:
Alleromb
Ambassador Vineyard
Betz Family Winery
Bunnell Family Cellar
Corliss/Tranche
Cote Bonnevile
DeLille Cellars
Dunham Cellars
Efeste
Fidelitas
Figgins Estate
Five Star Cellars
Hedges Family Estates
J.Bookwalter Winery
L’Ecole No. 41
Mullan Road
Obelisco Estate
Pepper Bridge Winery
Reininger Winery
Smasne Cellars
Sparkman Cellars
Upchurch Vineyard
Va Piano Vineyards
Walla Walla Vintners
Waters Winery
Woodward Canyon

Cheers!
Margot and Dave