Mollydooker Wines-Part 1

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.31.02 AMOur visit to Mollydooker‘s Cellar Door highlighted our travels to McLaren Vale last month. A “cellar door” in Australia is the equivalent of a “tasting room” in the U.S. and Canada.

In just a couple of hours, we tasted some absolutely amazing wines; learned the Mollydooker story; were educated on the Marquis Fruit Weight™; heard amusing tales from Sparky Marquis and his dad, Leigh Gawith, who is also the vineyard manager; talked social media and cookie butter with Jen, Mollydooker’s Facebook and Twitter guru; chatted with Fran, our tour host; had a delicious meal of fresh garden produce; and searched for Bill, the resident Koala bear.

We never did see Bill, who hides high up in the trees surrounding the beautiful estate vineyards and only shows his adorable fuzzy face when he is in the mood and not sleeping.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.27.26 AMThe light lunch was delicious — garden-fresh produce, the best sourdough bread ever, slices of turkey, different cheeses, almonds, honey and other pairing delights.

But not surprisingly, the wines took center stage. Or should we say centre stage?

We were very fortunate to taste several wines, all Shiraz, that most definitely had that WOW factor.

We’re not alone in that belief. Mollydooker’s Velvet Glove was awarded 99 points, the Carnival of Love has twice been in the Wine Spectator’s Top Ten Wines in the World, the Blue Eyed Boy is featured in the Qantas President’s Lounge and the demand for The Boxer is massive.

We first tasted both the Carnival of Love and the Velvet Glove at the 2010 Wine Blogger Conference in Walla Walla. We were with a large group trying pours of numerous wines from various regions of the world, and our table was unanimous in declaring both of these rich, robust reds as the best of the day.

Four years later, we still feel the same way. But somehow, they taste even better in Australia!

Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy

Simply lovely. We brought a bottle of this Shiraz back to our hotel, where we savored every sip while enjoying the view from our balcony. The name Blue Eyed Boy is perfect, because of the blueberry flavors that explode in your mouth the minute you take a sip. (The winemaker says it reminds him of taking a bite from a blueberry muffin.) This is a rich, powerful wine with a silky texture and a very long finish.

Mollydooker Carnival of Love

Love is exactly what we feel about this wine. Full-bodied, complex, intense and elegant, Carnival of Love shares the same silkiness as other Mollydooker wines. And yes, we took some back to Seattle.

Mollydooker Velvet Glove

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.28.45 AMThis beauty is exemplified first by the black velvet label, and then by the velvety smooth taste on the palate. WOW doesn’t even seem adequate for one of our favorite wines in the world. Inky in color, complex, beautifully balanced, rich and luxurious, Velvet Glove has black fruit flavors layered with chocolate, mocha and spice. It’s impossible to just drink one glass.

Marquis Fruit Weight™

Owners Sparky and Sarah Marquis guarantee the quality of their wine by rating it on their unique Marquis Fruit Weight™, which is “the measure of how far back on your tongue the velvety sensation of fruit goes, before the prickly sensation of tannin is exposed.”

More details about fruit weight and the Mollydooker story will be highlighted in our next blog post, Mollydooker Wines-Part 2. We hope you come back to read more about our adventures at Mollydooker’s Cellar Door in McLaren Vale, Australia.

Cheers!

 

 

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.

Cheers!

Angel Vine Wine

Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 12.47.59 PMAngel Vine is an Oregon winery specializing in Washington Zinfandel and Primitivo, and to a lesser extent, Petite Sirah. The wine is made by Ed Fus in one of our favorite places in Oregon wine country, Carlton, but the grapes come from Washington state: Walla Walla Valley, Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope.

A year ago, we tasted pours of some Angel Vine at Carlton Cellars, where Ed makes the wine, so we were delighted when we received some sample wines to try this year. We agree with the branding note on the back of the bottles, the winery’s website, and Facebook and Twitter profiles: “Angel Vine is committed to producing premium Northwest Zinfandel and Primitivo wines that show character, individuality and spunk.”

 Angel Vine 2010 Petite Sirah (Wahluke Slope)

This big, bold red has a dark inky color, with a firm texture and mouthfeel and aromas and flavors of dark plum and blueberries. We paired it with spaghetti, with a rich tomato and meat sauce. However this wine would also work well with grilled or barbecued meats or spicy dishes. An excellent value, at $22

Angel Vine 2011 Zinfandel  (Horse Heaven Hills)

If you are a fan of Zinfandel, you must try this rich and robust wine. Comprised of 98% Zin and rounded out with 2% Petite Sirah, this wine offers bright flavors of raspberries, cherries and strawberries. Washington state wine expert Paul Gregutt wrote this in the Wine Enthusiast: “Angel Vine sources excellent fruit, and makes what is arguably the most hedonistic, California-style Zinfandel in the northwest.” Another excellent value at $19

Angel Vine 2010 Primitivo (Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope)

We love Primitivo, and this one hits the mark in both taste and value. From Coyote Canyon vineyard and Stonetree vineyard, the blended wine offers gorgeous and fragrant aromas of black cherry, raspberry and dark fruits; the wine is elegant, luscious and jammy. Another excellent value at $20

Cheers!

 

Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concert Series

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 2.32.41 PMThe first sign of summer, to us, isn’t the arrival of the magnificent cherry blossoms or the longer hours of daylight. Rather, it’s the   announcement of the first-rate performers at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Summer Concert Series.

We attend one of the concerts at the scenic outdoor amphitheater every year, and regardless of whom we see, we always have a fabulous time.

The 2014 lineup, which kicks off June 13, is even better than previous years. While some concerts are already sold out, you can still find tickets for many performances.

  • Allen Stone
  • Sarah McLachlan (sold out)
  • Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell
  • John Legend (sold out)
  • Steve Winwood
  • Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band
  • Replay America with The Go-Go’s, Patty Smyth and Scandal, Martha Davis and The Motels, Cutting Crew & Naked Eyes featuring Pete Byrne
  • Lyle Lovett & His Large Band
  • Goo Goo Dolls & Daughtry with special guest Plain White T‘s (sold out)
  • Festival of Jazz with Manhattan Transfer, Spyro Gyra, Lee Ritenour & Dave Grusin and Jessy J
  • Chris Isaak
  • Nickel Creek
  • ZZ Top and Jeff Beck (sold out)
  • Gipsy King’s
  • Earth, Wind & Fire (sold out)
  • Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus Featuring Buddy Guy
  • Boston (sold out)
  • An Evening with Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • Crosby, Stills & Nash (tickets are still available for the second night, the first is sold out)

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

How can you miss? Beautiful grounds, fine Chateau Ste. Michelle wine, summer weather and music for dancing = happy people all around! There are many reasons why Chateau Ste. Michelle 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.

Have questions? Check out the concert FAQ.

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

Cheers!

What’s in Our Glasses Lately?

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.31.42 AMWe’ve had many reasons to celebrate in the last few months — birthdays, anniversaries and vacations — and what better time to pull out a bottle of fine Washington state wine from our cellar?

We also found some good-value reds lately — how can you miss at $14-$16 for Washington state juice?

So here is a mix of Washington state wine, at a wide range of prices — from $14-$75 — in alphabetical order. (Note: Some of these were small pours at the Woodinville Wine Country event, Reserve; others were bottles shared with friends.)

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

Special thanks to Angel Vine, Columbia Winery and McKinley Springs for the samples to taste.

Cheers!

Spring is in the Air at Six Seven Restaurant

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.35.22 AM We can’t think of a better way to celebrate spring than having a five-star meal at the award-winning Six Seven Restaurant at The Edgewater, one of Seattle’s most stunning hotels.

Let us start out by saying run, don’t walk, to this gorgeous spot on the pier, where you will experience an explosion of tastes sure to please every palate.

The spring menu is as inspiring as the restaurant’s breath-taking views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, and the spectacular sunsets as well.

We were recently invited to join a group of food and wine bloggers who were lucky enough to sample delectable choices from Chef John Roberts’ new spring menufeaturing Northwest-inspired dishes crafted with the freshest and finest ingredients.

We also enjoyed the 2010 Baer Winery Ursa, a distinctive signature blend of 42% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, and always a crowd-pleaser.

Here is the menu of the delicious dishes we were served.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.30.41 AM

Carpaccio of Beef (perfect appetizer, signaling what to expect in the next courses) with black truffle, shaved artichokes, baby arugula, parmesan and crisp capers

Caesar Salad (so unique) consisting of baby romaine hearts, boursin, spanish white anchovies, brioche, parmesan and creamy caesar dressing

Intermezzo (an incredible, refreshing palate cleanser) of Apple Ice and Apple Pucker

Seared Diver Scallops (amazing!) with cauliflower two ways, blistered green onions, cherry tomatoes and spanish salsa verde

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.31.11 AMRoasted Lamb Loin (melt-in-your-mouth flavors), with rosemary roasted vegetables, gnocchi, preserved lemon and mint lamb reduction — all of which was enhanced by the Ursa blend from Baer Winery

Chocolate Cake, beyond delicious

Not only do we recommend Six Seven as a must-visit (often) restaurant, but also we encourage you to stop by the luxury waterfront Edgewater Hotel where the restaurant is located.

The Edgewater is the only over-water and waterfront hotel in the Seattle area. Shortly after it was built, zoning changes prevented additional construction of further hotels on piers.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.28.50 AMIn its early years, many hotel rooms offered fishing poles, so guests could cast-off from their rooms’ windows. The Beatles stayed at The Edgewater in 1964, followed by the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

But back to the present – we highly recommend that Seattle residents and tourists alike stop by for a meal at Six Seven and a visit to the historic hotel.

We also want to thank Chef Roberts at Six Seven and Sarah Kiepe and her  Edgewater team for one of the tastiest and fun evenings we’ve had this spring.

Cheers!

Reserve – A limited amount of tickets left

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 1.11.47 PMRun, don’t walk, to pick up tickets to the newest wine tasting event in the Seattle area, featuring two unique opportunities to experience the best wines in Woodinville – all rated above 90. And that’s why we say “Hurry!”

This stellar lineup will be poured on April 25 at Willows Lodge in Woodinville:

  • Reserve: Featuring more than 30 wineries pouring 90+ rated wines, this event starts at 7 p.m. and costs $90 per person.
  • North of 95: Wines rated at 95+ will be poured 30 minutes earlier, at 6:30 p.m. These VIP tickets also provide access to Reserve and cost $160 per person.

So who is pouring? Some of our favorites!

North of 95 wineries (in alphabetical order): Baer Winery, Betz Family Winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle, DeLille Cellars, Gorman Winery, EFESTE, Januik Winery, J. Bookwalter Wines, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Long Shadows and Mark Ryan Winery.

Reserve wineries (in alphabetical order): Ancestry Cellars, Auclair Winery, Brian Carter Cellars, Bunnell Family Cellars, Chandler Reach Winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Convergence Zone Cellars, EFESTE, Elevation Cellars, Gard Vintners, Goose Ridge, J. Bookwalter, Kaella, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Mark Ryan, Matthews, Michael Florentino Cellars, Obelisco, Novelty Hill, Page Cellars, Patterson Cellars, Pondera, Sparkman Cellars, William Church Winery and Woodinville Wine Cellars.

With this much good juice in the house, please consider booking a hotel room for the night. If not, make sure you have a designated driver, even if you sip ‘n spit or spill.

There are only a limited number of tickets left — you can purchase them through Brownpapertickets.com.

For more information, visit the Woodinville Wine Country website, where you can also find the full list of wineries.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!

 

Another Successful Taste Washington

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 12.02.07 PMEvery year, we find more things to rave about Washington state wine, celebrated in all its glory last week at Taste Washington.

Taste Washington is the country’s largest single-region wine and food event, which we like to describe as ”the Super Bowl of Washington state wine events.”

More than 200 wineries poured at Century Link Field, 70 restaurants shared tasty bites, and there were all kinds of ways to discover more about the state’s wine industry.

Our plan this year was to visit friends at wineries we know well and try some new wines. We decided to only taste red wines this year, because there were so very many wines to sample.

These our the highlights of our experience:

Top three favorite new (to us) wines, with brief descriptors

  • Walla Walla Vintners 2012 Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley — Sassy, stunning, stellar, superlative
  • Double Canyon 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills — Velvety, vibrant, vivacious, victorious
  • Boudreaux Cellars 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon — Lovely, luscious, luxurious, luxe

Other favorites (in alphabetical order)

Longtime favorites (in alphabetical order)

Best bites (there were so many, but we only sampled a few)

Congratulations and thank you to the Washington Wine Commission and Visit Seattle for a such an excellent event and experience.

Cheers!

Delicious Darighe

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 12.53.56 PMAs March (the official Washington Wine Month) comes to an end, we decided to open one of the first bottles of wine that we tasted when we moved here: Darighe from The Woodhouse Wine Estates.

The 2008 vintage is as lovely as the first we tried – 2001 Darighe.

2008 Darighe is an excellent, traditional, old-world, left-bank Bordeaux blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 11% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot, sourced from Columbia Valley grapes.

A silver medal winner at the annual Savor Northwest Wine Competition, 2008 Darighe has a magnificent mouthfeel and a lengthy finish.

The bottle is heavy glass, as substantive as the juice inside.

Like its predecessors, the 2008 features a dense tannic structure that is a hallmark of Darighe.

According to the tasting notes:

“Darighe is ruby in color with the delicate, yet complicated scent of violet, mocha, smoke, truffle, blackberry, cassis and an array of spices. It is soft, refined and elegant with a persistent finish.”

In our opinion, these words best describe 2008 Darighe: Classic, stellar, beautiful, robust, rich and soft velvet.

We have recommended Darighe since we first experienced the 2001 vintage; the 2008 continues that tradition. If your palate prefers big reds, you will love 2008 Darighe.

Cheers!

 

Taste Washington: The Super Bowl of Wine Events

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 12.02.23 PMMarch is officially Washington Wine Month, although we celebrate the state’s fabulous juice every month.

The March festivities culminate on March 29-30 at Taste Washington, the country’s largest single-region wine and food event. That’s just one of the reasons we call it “the Super Bowl of Washington state wine events.”

More than 200 wineries will be pouring at Century Link Field, 70 restaurants will be preparing tasty bites, and you can discover more about Washington wine at special seminars about the state’s wine industry, in addition to learning about wine-and-food pairings, wine blending and cooking with wine.

We highly recommend that you develop a plan for Taste Washington’s Grand Tasting before you enter the doors. Because once there, you will be hit with an explosion of taste potentials — and it can be overwhelming.

For example, one year we decided to only taste wines made from Cabernet Franc, as a standalone varietal. Another year, we decided to visit booths of some of our tried and favorite wineries plus five new ones.

Below is our initial list of the winery booths that we hope to visit this year. We will narrow the list down before the event, where we will taste at some booths and just stop by to say hello at others. And chances are something will catch our eye occasionally as we walk through the aisles, and we’ll make an on-the-spot decision to deviate from the list.

Note: We recommend tasting and spitting wine (or pouring it into the buckets at each booth) at this major event, but if you think you might want more than a sip or two, many hotels in the area are offering special weekend packages. Otherwise, be sure to have a designated driver, or take cabs or local transit home.

Of the 200 wineries pouring at Taste Washington, here is our long list of 35 of our favorites (in alphabetical order):

  1. Alexandria Nicole Cellars
  2. Amavi Cellars
  3. Andrew Will
  4. Avennia
  5. Barrister Winery
  6. Bartholomew Winery
  7. Betz Family Winery
  8. Boudreaux Cellars
  9. Buty Winery
  10. Charles Smith Wines/K Vintners
  11. Cooper Wine Company
  12. Double Canyon
  13. Doubleback
  14. Dunham Cellars
  15. EFESTE
  16. Fall Line Winery
  17. Fidelitas
  18. FIGGINS
  19. Force Majeure Vineyards
  20. Forgeron Cellars
  21. Gilbert Cellars
  22. Gorman Winery
  23. Guardian Cellars
  24. JM Cellars
  25. L’Ecole No 41
  26. Lauren Ashton Cellars
  27. Long Shadows Vintners
  28. Matthews & Tenor Wines
  29. Obelisco Estate Wines
  30. Sinclair Estate VIneyards
  31. Sleight of Hand Cellars
  32. Sparkman Cellars
  33. Va Piano Vineyards
  34. Walla Walla Vintners
  35. Woodward Canyon

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!