Bellingham Grape and Gourmet

Grape & GourmetThe 12th annual Bellingham Grape and Gourmet is less than a month away, and we are really looking forward to attending. This year, the event will be held at Silver Reef Casino on Nov. 1. 

The evening of “sensational wines and exquisite food” is hosted by Bellingham Bay Rotary Club.

The event is also a fundraiser — all proceeds will be donated to local non-profits.

Almost 40 Washington and Oregon wineries will be pouring — including our friends at William Church, Forgeron Cellars, L’Ecole 41, Walla Walla Vintners, Dunham Cellars, Airfield Estates and Hightower. Wines range from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Viognier to Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir. And there’s more, including both white and red blends.

If you find a wine that’s a real palate pleaser, you can purchase it at a 20% discount right on site. You can also sample tasty bites from local restaurants, including one of our favorites, The Steakhouse at Silver Reef Casino.

Last week, we were fortunate to be invited to a pre-tasting, hosted by BB Rotary Club event organizer Bryant Engebretson and his wife Hillary. Our two favorites were William Church Winery’s 2 Spires and Walla Walla Vintners Cuvee, but we know there will be more to add to that list on Nov. 1 at Bellingham Grape and Gourmet.

Grape & Gourmet 1So what are you waiting for – get your tickets now!

Sunday, Nov. 1 at Silver Reef Casino, 5:00 – 8:30 p.m.

VIP Tickets ($100) give you early admission at 5 p.m., which means 90 minutes without the crowds!

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for regular admission ($80).

We hope to see you there!

Margot and Dave


Seven Washington Cabs

We had a limited amount of time to visit wineries in Woodinville this past weekend before heading to a Jackson Browne concert, part of Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concert Series.

We knew we wanted some classic Washington state Cabernet Sauvignon, and we knew we only had a couple of hours to taste. So we found the most recent vintages of three of our favorite Cabs and one Cab-based blend. And we tasted one new Cab that will be released in the near future.

Here is the list:

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  • 2011 Efeste Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2012 Guardian The Wanted Cab-based blend (38% Cab Sauv, 38% Cab Franc, 24% Merlot)
  • 2012 William Church Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2011 Obelisco Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2012 Fidelitas Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon


All five wines are big, bold and beautiful – it will be a tough choice to decide which one to pair with a big juicy BBQ steak.

We also recently stocked up on our favorite wine to pair with Seahawks football – 2012 Alexandria Nicole Cellars Quarry Butte (52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 8% Syrah, 6% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot).

And by the way, the Jackson Browne concert was fantastic, and paired well with 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon.

Margot and Dave

Taste of Tulalip – Beautiful Wine Enhanced by Beautiful Art

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 12.25.27 PMOne of our favorite wine events in Washington state, Taste of Tulalip, is still a few months down the road, but the collaboration of wine and art is well underway.

For the 7th annual Taste of Tulalip, Tulalip Resort Casino‘s talented wine expert, Tommy Thompson, and the event’s 2015 honorary winemaker, Kerry Shiels of Côte Bonneville, have created a unique blend of wine sourced from DuBrul Vineyard grapes — 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.

Côte Bonneville is known for wines that are “age worthy and food friendly.” And we can’t wait to taste this special wine, particularly because both of our palates favor Cab-based Bordeaux blends.

As you can see in the photo, the artwork for the 7th annual Taste of Tulalip commemorative wine bottle and plate is a beautiful expression of the Tulalip culture. Mike Gobin, honored artist, explained his inspiration:

“My father’s Indian name means ‘Man soars with Eagles’ and my twin sister loved hummingbirds, and her Indian name means ‘Aunty to all’. They have both gone to be with our lord and the design depicts my father embracing my twin sister in heaven and is entitled ‘A father’s heavenly embrace’. The salmon represents our Tribal People: ‘People of the Salmon.'”

The 2015 Taste of Tulalip takes place November 13-14. This exclusive wine, in the breathtaking commemorative bottle, will be introduced during the November 13th “Celebration Dinner.” It will be available for purchase in the event’s wine shop during the festival weekend.

Tickets will go on sale in August, so mark it on your calendar now – tickets go quickly to this fantastic weekend event.

We hope to see you there!

Margot and Dave


Passing Time Winery’s Inaugural Release

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 12.44.32 PMPassing Time Winery was launched last June by Dan Marino and Damon Huard, two former National Football League quarterbacks and teammates with the Miami Dolphins. If you’re skeptical about the kind of wine NFL stars can make, think again.

We were delighted to pass the time with a couple of glasses of their first release, Passing Time 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Horse Heaven Hills.

This is not surprising to those of us who are fans of winemaker Chris Peterson, whom we first met when he co-founded Avennia with Marty Taucher in 2010. Chris is widely considered as one of the hottest winemakers in Washington state, and was named “Winemaker to Watch” by Seattle Magazine in 2013.

This inaugural Passing Time wine blends 86% Cabernet Sauvignon from Discovery Vineyard with 9% Klipsun Merlot and 5% Champoux Cabernet Franc. It shows a balance of fruit and mineral elements, with a beautiful mouthfeel and a chewy finish; this is an elegant, complex and expressive Cabernet that showcases the unique character of the grape in Washington state.

From Chris’s tasting notes: “This wine is opaque purple-black out to the rim, with beautiful, complex aromas of black cherry, cassis, vanilla, toast, fresh-cut violets, cedar, and hints of bergamot. The mouth feel is palate-coating, yet light on its feet with dark red fruits, vanilla bean, flowers, and balanced acidity to give lift and brightness. The well-structured finish is long and complex, promising a long life in the cellar.”

We encourage Cabernet lovers to keep their eyes on Passing Time winery, which plans to produce three Cabernets: from Horse Heaven, Red Mountain and Walla Walla. Rumor has it that they are already fantastic in the barrel.

AVA: Horse Heaven Hills
Blend: 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
SRP: $75
Cases: 500
Sample provided  by winery

Margot & Dave

Pair this 14 Hands wine with the Kentucky Derby

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 12.04.35 PM14 Hands Winery created a special wine to commemorate its continued partnership with the Kentucky Derby® on May 2 — but this tasty red blend from the Columbia Valley is a good value wine to drink even after the 141st ‘Run for the Roses™ is over.

The 14 Hands 2012 Kentucky Derby Red is a blend of 62% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Syrah, and showcases the juicy fruit character in grapes from Washington state.

At $12 bottle, you can’t go wrong! But be sure to buy it soon, since it’s a limited release and has already sold out at the winery. You can still find it in wine and/or grocery stores.

“Our goal when crafting this unique wine was to capture the fun yet sophisticated essence of the Kentucky Derby,” said 14 Hands winemaker Keith Kenison. “What makes this red blend so unique are the layers and structure you’ll discover with each sip, from dark fruit flavors to light touches of white pepper. We are always striving to make a style of wine that everyone can enjoy, and we think the Kentucky Derby Red Blend is perfect for those who want to take a taste of the Derby home with them.”

14 Hands kicked off Derby week at the sixth annual Taste of Derby™ yesterday (April 30). Several 14 Hands wines will also be featured on Kentucky Oaks day, today (May 1), and during Kentucky Derby day itself, tomorrow (May 2).

In other winery news, 14 Hands recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its winery and tasting room in Prosser and was named “Hot Brand for 2014” by Impact for the seventh consecutive year. Special kudos to 14 Hands for being the list’s sole winner that wasn’t from California.

Thanks to 14 Hands for the sample of 2012 Kentucky Derby Red.

Margot and Dave





And the winner is … ANC Wines

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the most recent awards:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Margot and Dave


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Margot and Dave

Hope Family Wines

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.24.06 PMHope Family Wines is a pioneer in Paso Robles wine country, established 30 years ago and still family-owned and operated.

Five brands are in their barrels and bottles, three of which we experienced recently during a Twitter tasting sponsored by the winery and Boston Wine Expo.

2013 Liberty School Merlot, $16
This medium-bodied wine is ruby in color, and packed with flavors. Dense and earthy with blackberries, blueberries and plum, with a hint of dark chocolate and spice, this is one good-value, good-tasting Merlot. Try pairing it with pizza or burgers.

Troublemaker Blend 8, $20
Troublemaker is a Rhone-style blend that is distinctly Paso: 46% Syrah, 14% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre, 25% Zinfandel and 5% Petite Sirah. Think of it as GSM with a kick. Most of the wine comes from the 2013 vintage, but a mix of 2012 and 2011 brings a multi-vintage complexity that is unique. Fruit-forward characteristics make it pop; we’d say it’s trouble in glass!

2012 Treana Red, $45
While we enjoyed the first two wines, our favorite is Treana, the flagship and benchmark blend of Hope Family Wines since 1996. Of course we liked it best — it’s Cab-based (70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah) and has a velvety mouthfeel. Bold, rich and spicy, this beauty will definitely pair well with Valentine’s Day.

Special thanks to our hosts, who gave us free samples so we could participate in the Twitter tasting.


Margot and Dave

Don’t Miss Chateau St. Michelle’s Summer Concert Series

There are still tickets left for some of the first-rate performers at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Summer Concert Series, at the scenic outdoor amphitheater on the beautiful winery grounds in Woodinville.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon or evening. And this week is supposed to be sunny and in the 80s, so you can’t miss!

Pretty surroundings, fine Chateau Ste. Michelle wine, summer weather and music for dancing = happy people!

We were fortunate to attend the John Legend “All of Me” concert on June 28 and had a fabulous time. His music was as phenomenal as expected, and he entertained a rapt audience with funny stories in addition to sultry tunes.

We paired his music with Chateau Ste. Michelle’s 2010 Artist Series Meritage, a layered rich blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Cab Franc and 3% Malbec.

There are many more concerts to come this summer. While some concerts are already sold out, you can still find tickets for many performances.

  • July 16: Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
  • July 17: Replay America with The Go-Go’s, Patty Smyth and Scandal, Martha Davis and The Motels, Cutting Crew & Naked Eyes featuring Pete Byrne
  • July 18: Lyle Lovett & His Large Band
  • Sold Out: Goo Goo Dolls & Daughtry with special guest Plain White T‘s
  • July 26: Festival of Jazz with Manhattan Transfer, Spyro Gyra, Lee Ritenour & Dave Grusin and Jessy J
  • July 27: Chris Isaak
  • Aug. 1: Nickel Creek
  • Sold Out: ZZ Top and Jeff Beck
  • Gipsy King’s 25th Anniversary Tour
  • Sold Out: Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Aug. 24: Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus Featuring Buddy Guy
  • Sold Out: Boston
  • Sept. 12: An Evening with Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • Sept. 14: Crosby, Stills & Nash (their first night, Sept. 13, is sold out)

So don’t wait – have a look at the Concert Calendar, where you can also get your tickets right now.

Have questions? Check out the concert FAQ.

Thanks for inviting us to be your guests, Chateau Ste. Michelle. There are many reasons why your winery is considered one of Seattle’s top summer concert venues, and why this series has been a winner since it was first introduced in 1984.


Franciscan Estate

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 1.54.44 PMSince 1975, Franciscan Estate has produced wine in the Napa Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon is king.

So we were delighted to receive samples of 2011 Franciscan Estate Cab and Merlot to taste.

2011 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Although 2011 was a challenging, cool growing season, the Franciscan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon offers beautiful aromas of red fruit and a silky mouthfeel. Comprised of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdot, 1% Syrah and 1% Cabernet Franc, this Bordeaux-style blend pairs well with hamburgers and other meat dishes.

While it is drinkable now, we recommend putting it down for a couple of years to further enhance the flavors. This is a good example of a quality Napa Cabernet Sauvignon with a $28 price point.

2011 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Merlot

Despite being produced in the challenging growing season of 2011, Franciscan Napa Valley Merlot shows richness, body and what the winemaker calls “generous shoulders.” A blend of 82% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec and 2% Syrah, this wine offers vibrant aromas and flavors, with soft tannins and supple texture.

This wine is approachable now or could be cellared for a couple more years. This is a good example of an everyday wine at $20.