Get Ready for Washington Wine Month!

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Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 12.02.23 PMAs far as we’re concerned, every month is Washington wine month, because we are major supporters of our state’s abundance of good juice.

From Woodinville to Walla Walla, vineyards (where it all begins) and wineries come together to produce exceptional wines to please every palate.

But March is officially Washington Wine Month, so please celebrate with us. If you haven’t joined the parade yet, now is a perfect time.

In addition to celebrating our state’s award-winning wine, the Washington Wine Commission offers March promotions at participating restaurants, wine shops, winery tasting rooms and even some hotels. The Commission’s website provides a calendar to see what is going on any day of the month.

The festivities culminate in what we call “the Super Bowl of Washington state wine events,” Taste Washington on March 29-30. (And you know how well the real one turned out! Go Hawks!)

Taste Washington is the country’s largest single-region wine and food event. More than 200 wineries will be pouring at Century Link Field, 70 restaurants will be preparing tasty bites, and you can learn more about Washington wine at special seminars about the state’s one industry, wine-and-food pairings, wine blending and cooking with wine.

It is important to note that we recommend tasting and spitting wine during your time 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.

We’ll be writing more about Taste Washington in the weeks ahead but until then, stop by some of the 750+ wineries in our state and celebrate Washington Wine Month.

Cheers!

 

Washington State Barbera

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Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.59.19 PM Relatively speaking, Barbera is a newer grape in Washington state, often found near the cool growing climate of the Columbia Valley, in Horse Heaven Hills and Walla Walla.

Its native home is in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy; the grape arrived in California in the 19th century.

When crafted by experienced winemakers, Barbera somehow tastes both rich and light-bodied, with flavors of dark cherry, strawberries, plums, blackberries, vanilla and anise.

With low tannins, high acidity and juicy flavors, Barbera is a food-friendly palate-pleaser, particularly when paired with turkey, grilled chicken, pizza or spaghetti with meatballs. Or for something simple, try it with rich blue cheese or Reggiano Parmigiano. Delicious!

We have found a few excellent Barberas in Washington state:

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.59.02 PM

Unfortunately, many of these are now sold out, so please let us know if you’ve found an excellent Washington state Barbera.

Cheers!

Go Hawks & Go Quarry Butte!

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Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks and their Super Bowl win! What an exciting time to be a Seahawks fan/12th Man.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 2.11.33 PMWhat was in our glasses during the game? Quarry Butte from Alexandria Nicole Cellars!

The 2010 vintage — a  double gold winner at Seattle Wine Awards — is  a beautiful blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 12% Syrah, 9% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot.

At $25, it’s a perfect showcase for ANC’s theme of “Approachable Elegance.”

We have been fans of Quarry Butte since 2007, when we first tasted the 2004 and 2005 vintages.

More recently, we opened a bottle of 2010 Quarry Butte during the Jan. 19 game between the Seahawks and 49ers, and the Hawks won. Being superstitious, it seemed fitting to also open a bottle during the Super Bowl. The Hawks won!

Go HAWKS!

We also heard that the recently released 2011 Quarry Butte is a winner!

Regardless of vintage, Quarry Butte has always been a complex wine with bold flavors. It drinks well with a rich steak or a robust beef stew.

But best of all, it drinks well with a winning Seahawks team!

Go Seahawks!

Go Quarry Butte!

Cheers!

Windy Point-Beauty & Value

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

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.50.22 AMWhen you drive between Seattle and Prosser or Walla Walla, be sure to stop at Windy Point Vineyards for a pour of some excellent value wines in a beautiful tasting room. Or if you’re looking for something different to do over a weekend, it’s worth the trip to Windy Point.

With stunning architecture and beautiful views of Yakima Valley, the well-designed tasting room is airy and comfortable, with a professional kitchen as the centerpiece.

Outside, you are surrounded by gently rolling hills, a small waterfall and a pond. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see some Mississippi sawbuck turtles raised at the vineyards.

And talk about value – our favorite Windy Point reds are priced between $17-$23, and we always seem to go home with a case. You can purchase the wine outside the tasting room but it’s much more fun to visit.

Here are the wines we enjoyed:

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 10.48.51 AM2007 Pointless Red ($17): A blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot, Pointless is known for its four “E”s: estate-grown, economical, easy-drinking and “endlessly pleasing.”

2005 Cab Franc ($18): This vintage was awarded a platinum by Wine Press Northwest and a gold medal at the Washington State Wine Competition; the more recent 2006 Cab Franc ($20) won a silver medal at the Washington State Wine Competition.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($20): Showing excellent potential, this Cab was just released. We were big fans of the 2004 Cab, so we’re cellaring the more recent vintage for a couple of years.

2007 !Exclamation Point! ($21): Windy Point’s signature wine is a rich blend of 60% Cab Franc and 40% Merlot, one of the winery’s best-sellers, a two-time gold medal winner and “best in show” at the Washington State Wine Competition.

2008 Moot Point ($23): This is an elegant Bordeaux-style blend at such a low price point: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% CabFranc and a splash of Malbec.

While some of these wines were lovely to drink on their own or with almonds and cheese, they also pair well with different foods. On the Windy Point website, you can find recipes, such as  Apple Wood Smoked Pork Loin Sandwich, Seared Halibut, Braised Colorado Lamb Shank or Wine Infused Beef Flank Steak with Savory Mushroom Napoleon, Crispy Root Vegetable Cakes & Red Wine Cream Sauce.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Coming Soon! Seattle Wine & Food Experience

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You’d better move quickly – tickets are now on sale for the Seattle Wine and Food Experience at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. If you like good wine, beer and food, mark your calendars for this delicious experience on Feb. 23, from 1-5 p.m.

New this year is a VIP experience,which includes a one-hour early entry, an event tote bag, wine glass and tasting plate, plus an opportunity to win a variety of wine-related prizes.

This year’s featured region is Woodinville Wine Country, with pours from many excellent wineries, including Alexandria Nicole Cellars,  Lauren AshtonObelisco and The Woodhouse Wine Estates. Other Washington AVAs are represented by Double Canyon, Kiona and Red Mountain AVA Alliance, among others.

Some of our Oregon favorites – Seven of HeartsKing Estate and Willamette Valley Vineyards – will be be pouring, along with wineries from California, Idaho, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Argentina.

You can find a full list of wineries that will be pouring, along with beer and ciderspirits, and coffeein addition to information about numerous restaurants serving gourmet bites, at the Seattle Wine and Food Experience websiteTickets are $55.

It’s important to note – this is the sixth annual SWFE, which is testimony to the reputation and following that this event, with its explosion of tastes, has generated in Seattle. 

So run, don’t walk to get your tickets! We hope to see you there.

Cheers!

Time to Try Gard

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Gard Vintners was created in 2006 by the Lawrence family, who has been farming the Royal Slope, near Royal City in the Columbia Valley, for more than 45 years. We enjoyed some of Gard wines a few years ago, but hadn’t tasted any recently.

So we were delighted when we received three samples of Gard wines from Lawrence Estate Vineyards on the Frenchman Hills in the Columbia Valley AVA.

We had been told that Gard wines had developed over the years and indeed, that is absolutely right.

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 5.11.18 PM2009 Syrah Reserve packed a punch from the minute we opened the bottle.

Super dark, super ripe, super layered and super intense, this magnificent wine is smoky, earthy and powerful with a hint of black pepper.

Pair it with barbecued anything or a nice spicy bowl of spaghetti, or drink it alone, simply enjoying the lingering taste that builds sip after sip. (Released May 2012, $45)

2010 Syrah is an incredible value at $29. We recommend decanting this medium-bodied wine for an hour or two to truly experience its evolution into a rich and silky mouthfeel. Or better yet, cellar it for 2-4 years and prepare to be wowed. (Released May 2013)

2011 Don Isidro Red is a medium-bodied blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Syrah and 8% Merlot that will complement a meal such as roast beef, beef stew or even a good steak. At $22, this red could be described as an easy-drinking, food-friendly value wine that could grace any table. (Released September 2013)

Props to Gard winemaker Aryn Morell – we are adding Gard Vintners to our list of favorites.

Cheers!

 

Vancouver International Wine Festival

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Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.01.23 PMAll my wine experiences started in Vancouver, where I lived most of my life before moving to the U.S. So I am really hoping to get to the Vancouver International Wine Festival, which runs from Feb. 24 to March 2 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and other locations around my favorite city in the world.

This year’s festival focus is on France, with 52 wineries representing the country’s diverse wine regions, including Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Champagne, Loire and Rhone.

In total, 178 wineries from 14 countries will be on hand at 54 events over the eight-day festival, which will be celebrating its 36th anniversary this year.

The heart of the festival is the International Festival Tasting Room at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where some 780 wines are available for sampling. A senior executive from each winery will be available to answer questions about their wines.

About 800 additional wines will be served at special events, including a gala auction, wine seminars, trade events, and food and wine pairings at winery dinners, lunches and brunches at major Vancouver restaurants and hotels.

Frankly, I can’t believe we haven’t attended this festival in years past. How did that happen?

Vancouver friends and family, we hope to see you there — tickets are on sale now at  VanWineFest.ca. Friends in Washington, Oregon California and across the U.S., there are hotel packages available, so you don’t “wine and drive.”

Cheers!

Four Great Wines from Guardian Cellars

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 4.05.31 PMWe have been fans of Guardian Cellars since first tasting the heavenly 2004 Gun Metal, the winery’s flagship Bordeaux blend. We happily joined the crowds at the 2007 opening of the winery’s tasting room in Woodinville.

Since the beginning, owner and winemaker Jerry Riener has maintained a policy: to cellar each premium red at least one year before release, something not common in new world winemaking styles.

The result is beauty in a glass.

From three wines and 300 cases in those early days, Riener increased production to nine wines and about 5,000 cases in 2013.

We visited the Guardian Cellars tasting room over the holidays and were not surprised to find out that the 2010 Gun Metal sold out shortly after its release. But we were delighted to find three more beautiful reds:

2011 Chalk Line is a scrumptious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, rounded off with a splash of Malbec, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. Jerry describes this sixth vintage as “a bona fide buffet of delicious grapes” and we couldn’t agree more.

2010 The Alibi is a stellar blend of Red Mountain fruit — 54% Cab Sauv, 31% Merlot and 15% Cab Franc from three vineyards, Obelisco, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun. The Alibi is absolutely gorgeous in its third vintage, in our humble opinion.

In its fifth vintage, the 2010 The Rookie is 100% Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, blended from grapes grown at Obelisco, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun vineyards. The Rookie was aged for 21 months in 100% new French oak, and 17 months in the bottle, before being released a couple of months ago and is, simply, amazing.

Next time you’re in the Woodinville wine warehouse district during a weekend, be sure to stop Guardian Cellars and try these wines for yourself.

Cheers!

Happy New Year!

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Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.30.32 AMCheers and Happy New Year!

May your best day in 2013 be your worst day in 2014!

That’s my favorite new year’s toast ever, one I’ve shared with my dear friend Kathie in Ottawa for more than 20 years.

And it’s our new year’s wish to you! May your year be filled with good health and happiness, and yes, good wine!

Cheers!

We want to start 2014 with a shout out to our top five — no, make that six! — favorite wines that we enjoyed in 2013.

Happy New Year from your friends at Write for Wine — It’s Wine O’Clock Somewhere!

Cheers again!

Margot and Dave

Special Wines for New Year’s Eve

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

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.30.32 AMSome wines are just perfect for special occasions, and bringing in a new year seems like a great time to pop open the cork on one of them.

There are so many to choose from, we decide to list several special-occasion wines from Washington state and decide later which one we will open!

We highly recommend all of them!

Let us know some of your favorites.

Cheers to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014 from your friends at Write for Wine!

Margot and Dave

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