Another wonderful time at Taste Washington

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For years, we’ve said if you only go to one Washington state wine event each year, Taste Washington is it. This year was no exception. We had a lovely day sipping our way through some of the best wines that Washington state has to offer. (We also spilled a lot, which is quite acceptable, along with spitting, at wine tastings.)

Every wine we tasted was a stand-out. But two were stellar to our palates: 09 Cabernet Franc from Barrister Winery and 07 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Boudreaux Cellars.

The other stand-outs were:

And while all the food we tasted was delicious too, the winner (in our opinion) was Tulalip’s fried chocolate bread pudding with a bourbon carmel-vanilla milkshake. Sigh.

Cheers to the Washington Wine Commission and cheers to Washington state’s 730+ wineries!

Random Thoughts from Taste Washington-Part 1

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Washington state produces excellent wine. Period.

That is our main takeaway from Taste Washington, held March 23-24 in Seattle.

That is certainly not a new or revolutionary thought on Write for Wine. We were major advocates of Washington wine for years before this blog was created in 2007. But, frankly, the winemakers and vineyard producers just keep getting better and better with each passing year.

First, kudos to Washington Wine Commission for creating such an organized event at the massive exhibition hall at Centurylink Field. Year after year — for 16 years, to be precise — this well-oiled machine produces a crowd-pleaser that introduces newcomers to the best wine and food in the state and also provides new experiences to annual attendees.

Taste Washington is an incredible taste sensation, with pours from more than 225 Washington wineries and bites created by 68 local restaurants. There were so many standouts; here is the first part of our random thoughts from the Super Bowl of Washington wine events.

Best surprise – an outstanding Obelisco 2012 Red Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, created by winemaker Kevin Correll from Barrage Cellars in conjunction with Doug Long from Obelisco. We are headed to the Obelisco tasting room in Woodinville to buy some of this amazing summer sipper before it sells out!

Ditto for Doug’s superlative 2010 Nefer 111, which demonstrates how incredibly well Washington grapes can be transformed with a Napa Valley style. This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain fruit sourced at Obelisco Estate Vineyard. We don’t frequently purchase 3-bottle sets, but we are going to make an exception for this stellar wine.

And speaking of Barrage, the 2008 Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon is drinking really well right now! We loved it when it was first released, and now, simply wow.

Still on the Cab Sauv track, we were fortunate to taste Gorman Winery‘s 2009 Albatross Red Mountain, a powerful blend of 80% Cab Sauv and 20% Petit Verdot, which received 94 points from Wine Enthusiast. This one is a beauty, which we’re also going to buy before all of it gets snapped up!

With a Parker rating of 92 points, the Adams Bench 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon V is a polished vibrant red that we are pleased to add to our list of favorites. It was recommended to us by William Church winemaker Rod Balsley, whose 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon has been winning awards all over the place!

By the way, Rod’s William Church 2010 Cab Sauv has just been released, and we can’t wait to taste it. This standout Cab is the winner of the 2013 Golden Grape Best Cabernet Award, judged by the winemakers of Woodinville, which is pretty impressive.

Somehow, we missed Barrister‘s 2010 Cabernet Franc, which has been a favorite in past vintages. But we tasted the delightful full-bodied “Burning Desire” Estate Cab Franc from Hard Row to Hoe, which is consistently fabulous year after year.

We also missed pours from Forgeron CellarsFidelitas and Gilbert Cellars – but we know from past experience that wines from all three typically rock!

There were so many random thoughts from Taste Washington, this blog post will continue – come back soon to read about the rest of our favorite pours and bites at this Super Bowl of wine events.

Did you go to Taste Washington 2013? What were your standouts?

Cheers!

 

 

March is Washington Wine Month

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In our family, every month is Washington Wine Month, but the official celebration occurs in this state every March.

That’s when you will find great deals at wineries, wine shops, big grocery stores and many restaurants. For example, some promotions include discounts on full or half cases of Washington state wine, purchase discounts off any bottle or Washington wine or in-store free wine tastings.

For specifics, have a look at the Washington Wine Month Calendar.

One that caught our eye is a 20%-off promotion for Northwest Totem Cellars at Wine World on March 16th. And thanks Wine World, for quoting this blog in your promotion!

As for us, we celebrate by telling anyone who will listen about the great juice Washington state wineries produce.

Whether you like big, bold reds (like us), crispy Sauvignon Blanc, rich Viognier or buttery Chardonnay, you can find the best right in your own backyard, so to speak, from Red Mountain, Yakima Valley, Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Cascade Valley, Woodinville and many more.

We recently tasted these Washington wine gems:

Do you see a trend here? We heart Cabs!

And these are just some of the amazing wines you can find from Washington state. We encourage you to do so!

Happy Washington Wine Month!

Cheers!

 

Better Move Quickly – Tickets on Sale at Seattle Wine & Food Experience

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It’s that time of year again — the Seattle Wine and Food Experience at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. If you like good wine, beer and food – and seriously, who doesn’t? – mark your calendars for this delicious experience on Feb. 24, from 12-5 p.m.

In addition to the wonderful wines of Washington, our neighbors to the south, Oregon, are featured again this year. You can also tour a world of wine in one place, by heading to booths where you’ll find pours from California, Idaho, Italy, Spain, France and Israel.

Some of our Oregon favorites — Seven of HeartsErath Winery, Youngberg HillTroon and Willamette Valley Vineyards – will be side by side with our Washington friends from Barrage Cellars, Obelisco, Dunham Cellars and The Woodhouse Wine Estates, to name a few. And then there’s Watermill Winery, which straddles both states and offers some mighty fine wine.

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

In addition, this year’s featured experiences includes the Snoqualmie Casino Luxe Lounge, where you can “play” a hand or two at one of the classic gaming tables, listen to live music, enjoy a premium wine or craft beer and taste some of the signature dishes from their award-winning restaurants – Terra Vista, 12 Moons Asian Bistro and Sno Deli.

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

We hope to see you there.

Cheers!

What’s in our glasses, recently?

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In the dark, damp winter months, it’s all about the reds. But with a spate of warm weather in Seattle in the last few weeks, out pop the whites too! Here is a list of red, white and rosé wines that have recently graced our glasses.

2011 JM Cellars Bramble Bump White: A blend of Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvingon Blanc and a touch of Semillon, winemaker John Bigelow calls this crisp beauty a “Conundrum.” Not surprisingly, the 2010 vintage was named “Editor’s Choice” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. We enjoyed this refreshing summer sipper with prawns on the deck.

2011 Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc: We first tasted this bright wine on a recent trip to Carmel for my birthday. There are some fine wines being crafted in the Carmel Valley, and this one was one of our favorites because it shows classic Sauv Blanc characteristics.

2012 Obelisco Red Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé: This amazing summer sipper was jointly created by winemakers Doug Long from Obelisco and Kevin Correll from Barrage Cellars. You will find it to be unlike anything you’ve ever expected or experienced in a Rosé. Unfortunately, only a small quantity was produced, so we recommend you head to Woodinville to pick up some quickly.

2010 L’Ecole 41 Candy Mountain Vineyard Red Wine: L’Ecole released this red blend as part of their 30th Anniversary celebration. Candy Mountain is adjacent to our favorite Red Mountain; this seductive wine — a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Merlot —  is just one of many reasons why L’Ecole has been named “Winery of the Year” for 11 consecutive years by Wine & Spirits.

2010 William Church Cabernet Sauvignon: This standout wine has what we like to call the WOW factor. But don’t just take our word for it! The winemakers of Woodinville judged this beauty as the winner of the 2013 Golden Grape Best Cabernet Award. Very impressive!

2009 Alexandria Nicole Cellars Destiny: When I walk into ANC’s Woodinville tasting room, they know to bring out this luscious blend. That’s because year after year, it’s been at top of my list of stellar ANC wines – and it’s a long list! Winemaker Jarrod Boyle calls Destiny “voluptuous” – and for good reason. This vintage is Cab-Sauv based (67%), with equal parts Cab Franc and Merlot (10% each), plus 8% Malbec, and rounded out by a touch of Petit Verdot and Carmenere.

2010 Forgeron Cellars Zinfandel: On Facebook, I used the term “beauty in a glass” to describe both ANC’s Destiny and Forgeron’s Zinfandel. We have not tasted a Washington state Zin that comes even close to Marie Eve Gilla’s creation, which blends 77% Zinfandel and 23% Primitivo. This is one powerful wine that cried out to be paired with Dave’s zesty spaghetti. Delicious!

We recommend all of these seven wines — the whites and Rosé in warm weather, and the three reds with BBQ burgers or steak.

Cheers!

 

 

Wines for Thanksgiving

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Wondering what wines to share over the Thanksgiving holidays? A special bottle to take to a family dinner or an evening with good friends? Here is our list of current favorite red wines of different vintages.

But first, a note: We strongly believe that people should drink whatever varieties of wine they want, red or white. Our preference for Thanksgiving happens to be robust red wines – some with a bit of funk, such as 2009 Reynvaan In the Rocks Syrah, and some that are rich and smooth, such as 2009 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon.

In addition to those two beauties, here are the wines (in alphabetical order) that we recommend for Thanksgiving – all are from Washington state unless otherwise noted as from Oregon.

What’s on your list of Thanksgiving wines?

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

A Wonderful Week of Wine

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What a week it’s been. A very busy time. But a wonderful week of wine, at that.

Those who follow Write for Wine on Facebook might have noticed near-daily updates on what’s been in our glass this week.

In case you missed it, here is the list.

We recommend some of these wines for special occasions and some, well, just because.

Hopefully next week, I’ll have more time to write a longer post about some new wines we’ve tasted recently.

In the meantime, if you’re on Facebook, please stop by the Write for Wine page and say hi. Or like it, if you wish!

Cheers!

Belated Thanks!

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Thank you for your patience while our blog, Write for Wine – it’s Wine O’clock Somewhere, was offline for more than a week after being hacked. As a result, this Washington wine blog was not accessible during Thanksgiving.

We are thankful that you stayed with us, and we’d like to send belated Thanksgiving wishes to family, friends and our readers. We’re thankful for many, many things.

First, always is health and family, followed by good friends and good jobs. We’d also like to give thanks for any unknown blessings already on their way.

We are thankful that we’ve had an opportunity to become friends with many people at Washington wineries including:

Jarrod and Ali, Vida and Ross, Matt, Kathie, Rachel, Shanah and Carah at Alexandria Nicole Cellars; Rod, Leslie and Marcus at William Church Winery; Angie and Kevin, Daniel and Helen, Peter and Nancy at Efeste; Kevin and Rebecca at Barrage Cellars; Doug and Manny at Obelisco Estate; Bijal, Sinead and Jean Claude at The Woodhouse Wine Estates; Marie-Eve at Forgeron Cellars and Gilles at Long Shadows; Charlie, Jess and Cindy at Fidelitas Wines; Mike and Kate at Northwest Totem Cellars; Justin at Va Piano; Neil at Cooper Wine; John and Peggy at JM Cellars; Tim and Nancy at Fall Line; Judy and Don at Hard Row to Hoe; Hope at Heaven’s Cave; Chris at Gorman Winery; Darby at Darby Winery; Marty and Chris at Avennia; Trey at Sleight of Hand; Amber and Greg at Desert Wind; Bart at Bartholomew Wine; and Mike, Karen, John and Kelly Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard.

And a special shoutout to our Walla Walla gal-pals Jamie at L’Ecole 41; Muriel at Otis Kenyon; Shari at Woodward Canyon; and Catie at Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman; and to our special friends who are now in Walla Walla, Brennon and Paige Leighton.

Of course there are dozens of other fabulous friends and wine enthusiasts in Washington state, Oregon, California and other places — too many to name — and we wish you all the best too.

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Stay safe over the holiday season.

Cheers!

Margot and Dave

 

I Heart Cab Franc

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Cab FrancWhen you think of Cabernet Franc, it’s probably in the context of a blending wine that adds more complexity to the robust Cabernet Sauvignon, or adds more structure to the softer Merlot. When combined with both Cab Sauv and Merlot, Cab Franc rounds out the trio in Meritage blends. Indeed, Cab Franc is one of the main varieties in Bordeaux-style blends.

In Washington state, like in France’s Loire Valley, wineries are also creating Cab Franc as a purebred — in other words, the dominant variety, or a stand-alone wine. And I, for one, am delighted, because I heart Cab Franc.

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.

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

In our cellar, we still have a bottle of one of my all-time favorites, Matthews Estate 2003 Conner Lee Cab Franc, which received 96 points from the Wine Advocate. 

Meanwhile, I’ve read about, but not tasted, the award-winning 2007 Fielding Hills Cab Franc, the 2007 Red Sky Cab Franc, and  2007 Dusted Valley Cab Franc — I hope to enjoy some of them within the next year.

I also tip my glass to Goosecross Cellars for its 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Franc.

And I tip my glass to LeAnn Moore for the photo of Cab Franc growing at Hedge’s Family Estate Vineyard. Thanks, LeAnn!

What Cab Francs do you think we should taste?

Cheers!

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