What’s in Our Glasses Lately?

Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

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

Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

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

Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

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

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

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

Bordeaux Blend, Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

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

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

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!

 

Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, California wineries, Chardonnay, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 1.16.32 PM Chateau Montelena is a Napa Valley winery established in 1882 and famous for putting California on the international wine map in 1976. That’s when the winery’s 1973 Chardonnay won a blind tasting at the prestigious Judgment of Paris wine competition.

The historic victory was surprising to many, particularly in Europe where the expectation was for a French winner; a fictional version of the amazing event was featured in the 2008 film, Bottle Shock. (Notably, the Paris competition is just one highlight of Chateau Montelena’s rich history.)

Winemaker Mike Grgich – who later joined with Austin Hills to establish Grgich Hills – crafted the 1973 Chardonnay, which remains on display at Chateau Montelena’s only satellite tasting room in California, just off the lobby at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco.

The St. Francis was where I happened to be speaking about social media analytics at the Dreamforce 2013 conference last November and, not surprisingly, I was drawn to the tasting room to try the lineup

I was very lucky that the knowledgeable and friendly sommelier Cassandra Brown happened to be pouring that day. (Cassandra pours at several events and locations in the Bay area, so be sure to stop by to see her, if you have a chance. I know you’ll have both an educating and enjoyable time.)

First, I must applaud three of the winery’s whites: 2012 Potter Valley Riesling, which has a beautiful nose, layers of rich peach and apple, and only a touch of sugar;  2011 Napa Valley Chardonnay, so opulent and creamy; and the crisper 2010 Chard.

But what really captured my attention was Chateau Montelena’s Cabernet Sauvignon.

2009 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 1.52.32 PMThis is a wine with the “wow” factor: earthy, silky, rich and full-bodied, with berries and spice flavors, and an enticing mouthfeel. The Cabernet Sauvignon (98.25%) is rounded off with a splash of Cabernet Franc (1.75%).

According to the tasting notes:

The nose opens with big black cherry, currants, and plum spice cake notes. Underpinning all that fruit are layers of smoke, anise, and very subtle oak tones. The palate entry is soft and round, but builds quickly with loads of fine velvety tannin, huge black cherry, and red fruits that persist through to a rich finish layered with spice. A firm core of acid and barrel spice integrate beautifully across all layers, enhancing the structure and balance of this massive but approachable wine.

This winning wine is drinkable now, but the wow factor will be even more prominent in 7-10 years.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 2.00.59 PM2010 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

In Napa Valley, Cabernet is King and this is one royal, robust red — a big, dense wine with concentrated fruit, and layers of berries woven with tones of vanilla and spice.

The Cabernet Sauvignon (91%) is blended with 7% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc.

Try drinking it now with a big juicy steak, like we did with the bottle I brought home from San Francisco, or if you have more patience, put it in the cellar for a few more years.

Cheers!

 

 

Efeste – True Love on Valentine’s Day

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

On Valentine’s Day, I fell in love with Big Papa all over again and developed a new crush on Nana. Thankfully, Dave feels the same way.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 4.58.43 PMOf course, we’re referring to Efeste‘s 2010 Big Papa Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon and 2010 Nana, a three-vineyard and three-varietal blend, both made by winemaker extraordinaire Brennon Leighton. (Current Efeste winemaker Peter Devision has some magic up his sleeve too.)

2010 Big Papa Old Block Cabernet Sauvignon

This robust 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was drinking well in August 2013, when we last tasted it. Six months later, on Valentine’s Day, Big Papa demonstrated further why Wine Advocate bestowed Efeste with 94 points for this beauty and Wine Enthusiast just named it a Cellar Selection with 92 points.

Brennon used his signature minimalist approach with native fermentation, which resulted in a big, bold, complex and balanced wine, made from grapes sourced from mature vines in five of the state’s best vineyards: Klipsun, Bacchus, Sagemoor, Kiona and Red Willow.

We’ve been a fan of Big Papa since 2009, and I can guarantee that we will continue to advocate buying it year after year. It’s true love.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 5.18.33 PM2010 Nana Right Bank Bordeaux Blend

This is the only time I’ve written about Nana, but only because this is the first vintage. Elegant, refined, robust, strong yet supple, Nana showcases all the classic characteristics of a stellar Bordeaux blend from the Right Bank.

The mouthfeel is amazing, likely because my palate favors Cab Franc and Cab Sauv, both plentiful in this fine wine: 18% Stone Tree Cabernet Franc, 18% Angela’s Vineyard (Efeste’s Estate) Cabernet Franc and 18% Red Willow Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with 46% Red Willow Merlot.

Brennon also fermented this wine with indigenous yeast, which encourages more complexity and produces fuller, richer wines than those inoculated with commercial yeast.

We are new fans of this new wine, and I can guarantee that we will be buying more of this vintage, and in the years to come.

Both wines combine elegant aromas and flavors, ripe tannins and bright, juicy acidity, and are drinkable for another 10 years.

Now to see if we have the patience to cellar them instead of popping the cork in the near future.

Cheers!

Facts about Washington Wine

Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.31.42 AMEvery year around this time, we love to share facts about the wonderful wine industry in Washington state.

We hope you enjoy the 2014 version, courtesy of the Washington State Wine Commission.

Note: The average amount of summer sunshine in Washington state, compared to California, might surprise you!

Scroll down for details.

 

Facts about the Washington State Wine Industry

National rank: Second- largest premium wine producer in the United States

Number of wineries: 750+

Winery growth:

  • 1981 – 19 wineries
  • 1996 – 80 wineries
  • 1997 – 101 wineries
  • 1998 – 129 wineries
  • 1999 – 160 wineries
  • 2000 – 163 wineries
  • 2001 – 170 wineries
  • 2002 – 208 wineries
  • 2003 – 240 wineries
  • 2004 – 300 wineries
  • 2005 – 360 wineries
  • 2006 – 460 wineries
  • 2007 – 540 wineries
  • 2008 – 580 wineries
  • 2009 – 650 wineries
  • 2010 – 700 wineries
  • 2011 – 740 wineries
  • 2012 – 760 wineries
  • 2013 – 780 wineries

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 3.59.19 PM Number of wine grape growers: 350+

Appellations:
Thirteen American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), as recognized and defined by the United States Treasury Department; Alcohol & Tobacco Taxes & Trade Bureau.

  • Yakima Valley – 1983
  • Walla Walla Valley – 1984
  • Columbia Valley – 1984
  • Puget Sound – 1995
  • Red Mountain – 2001
  • Columbia Gorge – 2004
  • Horse Heaven Hills – 2005
  • Wahluke Slope – 2006
  • Rattlesnake Hills – 2006
  • Snipes Mountain – 2009
  • Lake Chelan – 2009
  • Naches Heights – 2011
  • Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley – 2012

Varieties produced: 30+ varietals

Leading white varietals:

  • Riesling
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Gris
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Viognier
  • Semillon
  • Chenin Blanc

Leading red varietals:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Syrah
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Malbec
  • Pinot Noir
  • Sangiovese
  • Lemberger

Ratio of white to red:
55% white to 45% red

Wine production:
12-million cases

Wine grape acreage:
43,000+ acres

Estimated Direct Revenue:
Winery Revenue = $1 billion; Wine Related Tourism = $1.06 billion

Full-time equivalent wine-related jobs:
27,455 in Washington, 68,719 nationwide*

Average hours of summer sunlight:
16 hours per day, about 1 more hour than California’s prime growing region

Annual rainfall:
Eight inches (20.32 cm) in Eastern Washington (the major grape growing region) 48 inches (121.92 cm) in Western Washington

Wine production growth

  • 1981 – 2.0 million gallons (7.5 m liters)
  • 1996 – 5.3 million gallons (19.9 m liters)
  • 1997 – 9.6 million gallons (36.3 m liters)
  • 1998 – 10.9 million gallons (41.5 m liters)
  • 1999 – 10.0 million gallons (38.0 m liters)
  • 2000 – 14.0 million gallons (52.7 m liters)
  • 2001 – 15.5 million gallons (58.5 m liters)
  • 2002 – 17.7 million gallons (67.3 m liters)
  • 2003 – 17.3 million gallons (65.5 m liters)
  • 2004 – 16.5 million gallons (62.9 m liters)
  • 2005 – 19.0 million gallons (72.0 m liters)
  • 2006 – 20.0 million gallons (75.8 m liters)
  • 2007 – 20.0 million gallons (75.8 m liters)
  • 2008 – 21.4 million gallons (81 m liters)
  • 2009 – 25 million gallons (94.6 m liters)
  • 2010 – 20.1 million gallons (76.1 m liters)

*figures from the 2012 Economic Impact Study by Stonebridge Research

Cheers!

 

 

 

Get Ready for Washington Wine Month!

Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

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!

 

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