January 3, 2008
As you’ve probably gathered from my recent posts, St. Nick’s weekend in Woodinville was an outstanding event. In addition to the wineries that I’ve already blogged about, we also visited Arlington Road Cellars, Baer Winery, Cuillin Hills Winery and Edmonds Winery.
Arlington Road Cellars’ signature wine is its red MONOLITH. The 2004 vintage is a traditional Bordeaux-style blend, and received critical acclaim. Arlington Road’s winemaker is Matthew Loso, considered one of Washington finest winemakers and also known for his superb wines at Matthews Cellars.
I’ve blogged several times about Baer Winery because we’re big fans of the signature 2004 Ursa, a velvety Bordeaux-style red that may be enjoyed now or cellared for up to 10 years. During St. Nick’s weekend, we learned that the 2005 Ursa, which will be released in April, is showing well in its early previews.
Considering that my favorite wines tend to be Bordeaux-style blends and robust Cabs, and Dave’s favorites tend to be Bordeaux-style blends and big Merlots, we were surprised to discover that Syrahs tended to lead the pack for both of our palates at St. Nick’s. New to us was Cuillin Hills–and we highly recommend The Dungeon 2005 Syrah – a “mouth-filling, hedonistic wine” that is best with a good meal.
Last, but not least, came Edmonds Winery with its 2005 Cab-Merlot blend. Ten percent of all retail sales of this blend (60% Cab and 40% Merlot) are pledged to Food Lifeline.Â
And by the way, on January 20, Edmonds will be releasing its 2005 Syrah, with 10% of all purchases donated to Food Lifeline. Visitors are also encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or a cash donation to Food Lifeline. Call 425-774-8959 for more information.
January 2, 2008
DeLille Cellars, one of the premier wineries in Washington state, is often compared to the best chateaux in Bordeaux. It is no coincidence that the winery recently was named on four Top 100 lists: Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, the Robb Report and Seattle’s Paul Gregutt.
The winery is not often open to the public, so the tasting room was packed during St. Nick’s weekend. And no wonder — the wines being poured were superb; the warm appetizers and cheese-and-cracker table, awesome; and the chateau was beautiful as big white snowflakes descended on it.
We found the 2005 Doyenne Grand Ciel Syrah excellent, and simply had to order a bottle. The Doyenne 2005 Aix was rich and delicious, and the smoky, silky 2006 Chaleur Estate Blanc exceeded my expectation of a complex white wine.
Yes, DeLille Cellars lives up to its glowing reputation, and then some. We are looking forward to returning to the release party in February.
December 31, 2007
One of the highlights of St. Nick’s weekend earlier this month was finally visiting Mark Ryan Winery’s tasting room and having an opportunity to chat with the winemaker himself. We have tried frequently in the past to stop by the Woodinville tasting room, but it’s not always open. All I can say is it was worth the wait!
First, we tasted a barrel sample of the new 2006 Wild Eyed Syrah from Red Mountain. This powerhouse red rocked! According to the tasting notes, “Deeply colored, dense and rich, the wine exudes black plum and berries with notes of chocolate, smoke and bacon.” We wanted to take some of it home, but its release date isn’t until March. Instead, we lapped up the most delicious meatballs in the world! (Yes, in true Woodinville wine weekend style, some of the wineries went all out with excellent selections of appetizers to taste along with the wine.)
Mark Ryan himself is frequently called Woodinville’s rising star, but he’s as down to earth as he looks in photos on his Web site. I talked to him about his fabulous wines and his new venture, Guardian Cellars, with Jerry Reiner.
Back in November, we first tried Mark Ryan’s 2005 Dead Horse when my nephew Mathew, with his excellent palate, ordered a bottle with a lucious dinner at Daniel’s Broiler in Bellevue. We also read rave reviews of 2005 The Dissident. (Who wouldn’t love a wine with a name like that?) So it was no surprise that we bought a couple of bottles of those two wines to take home with us.
And we’ll be in line in March for the new 2006 Wild Eyed Syrah, most definitely!
December 30, 2007
There are some very fine wines in Woodinville. If you get a chance to go to Passport to Woodinville in April or St. Nick’s weekend next December, go for it!
We went to St. Nick’s earlier in the month and stopped by DeLille Cellars, Mark Ryan Winery, Arlington Road Cellars, Baer Winery, Cuillin Hills Winery, Edmonds Winery, Page Cellars, Red Sky Winery and Washington Wine Company. Some of the wineries are only open to the public at these special events, so it was a real treat. The winemakers were on hand, the appetizers were delicious and the wine … well, let’s just say that I’ll be writing about my favorites for the next few days.
First up — Red Sky, Page Cellars and Washington Wine Company.
Red Sky makes rich, elegant wines. My favorite was the 2003 Bordeaux blend because of its similarity to a smooth and silky Margaux–my wine region of choice outside the northwest. This blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot and 7% Cab Franc comes from a number of great vineyards, including Conner Lee and Pepper Bridge. Red Sky is open on Saturdays, so I’m sure we’ll be heading back for more tastes in the new year.
Page Cellars’ signature Preface continues to shine. My previous blog post, written after a tasting in November, still stands. Not only did we enjoy the wine, but the salmon and the music were fabulous too!
Washington Wine Company was a pleasant surprise. And how can you not like wines called “Forbidden“? The 2003 Big Forbidden Syrah is a velvet taste of dark fruits, black licorice and chocolate. We loved it. Amd we absolutely loved the 2003 Forbidden Red – a blend of 61% Cab Sauvignon and 39% Merlot from Horse Heaven Vineyards. We also tasted the 2004 Forbidden Red, which adds 30% Syrah to 50% Cab Sauv and 20% Merlot. While it was good, we preferred the 2003 Cab-Merlot blend.
Coming up — DeLilleDeLille, Mark Ryan and Baer.
December 24, 2007
A press release about wine that contains a baseball analogy and a hockey reference is bound to get my attention! That recently happened — a press release touting DeLille Cellars’ latest honor stated: “DeLille Cellars became the sole member of a very exclusive club in 2007: The only winery in the world named to Top 100 lists of Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and the Robb Report, it has just been included on one more list … Instead of merely pulling off a hat trick, DeLille is ‘hitting for the cycle.’ ”
The fourth list is from Seattle’s respected wine writer Paul Gregutt. DeLille’s 2006 Chaleur Estate Blanc was given position number eight on Gregutt’s list and DeLille’s Doyenne Roussanne came in at number 46.
We tasted 2005 Doyenne Grand Ciel Syrah at St. Nick’s weekend, earlier this month and (of course!) ordered some. We’re looking forward to the release party in February.
Speaking of St. Nick’s weekend — come back in the next few days for more details about that fabulous weekend. I haven’t forgotten that I promised to write more about it.
December 20, 2007
When we first moved to Seattle in 1999, one of the first Woodinville tasting rooms that we visited was Di Stefano Winery. It also was the first time that we ever tasted Cab Franc, and we became big fans of both the wine and the winery.
We went back on the weekend and tried several wines on Di Stefano’s current tasting menu. While we enjoyed the 2002 Merlot and 2003 Domenica, my preference was the 2004 Meritage and Dave’s was the 2003 Syrah R.
As regular readers of this blog know, my palate is all about Washington state Bordeaux-style blends (although I’m back to favoring Cabs these days too). Di Stefano’s 2004 Meritage blends 40% Cab Sauv, 40% Merlot and 20% Cab Franc into layers of smooth flavors of berries and spice. It’s ready for drinking now, through 2011.
We tasted Syrahs from numerous wineries during St. Nick’s weekend in Woodinville earlier this month, and decided we were starting to favor its smoky, peppery rich depths. But Di Stefano’s 2003 Syrah is unique – -perhaps because of the addition of 4% Viognier and 2% Cab Sauv. It had a bit of a kick to it that we’ve never noticed in other wineries’ Syrahs.
We recommend both the Meritage and the Syrah … and suggest a Saturday visit to Di Stefano’s tasting room too.
December 1, 2007
First, I have to say that Woodinville Wine Country and the wineries of Woodinville know how to throw a great event. We braved the predictions of snow today and went to our first Saint Nicholas Day Open House tasting, and it was fabulous! I’m sure I’ll be writing blog posts about it for days to come.
We decided, in our limited time before the snow started to fall, to visit wineries that we had never been to before. Our first stop was DeLille Cellars. This superb, renowned winery is rarely open to the public, which explains the long lineups outside and the (friendly) crowds inside. We also visited the tasting rooms of Mark Ryan Winery, where I had an opportunity to chat with the winemaker himself, Arlington Road Cellars, Baer Winery, Cuillin Hills Winery, Edmonds Winery, Page Cellars, Red Sky Winery and Woodinville Wine Cellars.
I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again. Washington state wineries make some excellent world-class wines.
I will write specifically about my favorite wines and wineries in the days ahead, in addition to special treats (appetizers, music and art) that we found at many of the tastings. I wish we had time to go back for the second day of St. Nick’s tomorrow, but we’re heading to Portland for the first time in almost ten years. And thanks to your suggestions, I’m sure we’ll find some great tastings there too.
So come back often in the next couple of weeks to read details of both St. Nick’s and our brief trip to Portland.
November 30, 2007
Thursday, Nov. 29
Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2
Check out St. Nick’s Open House in Woodinville from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The wineries of Woodinville Wine Country open their doors for a single ticket price of $50. Some of the participating wineries are rarely open to the public, so don’t miss this opportunity! You’ll enjoy special tastings and specially prepared hors d’oeuvres to complement the wine. Check out Woodinville Wine Country’s Web site for a list of wineries and ticket information.
- Fall Line new release tastings: Fall Line, along with the other members of South Seattle Artisan Wineries â€” Cadence, :Nota Bene, and Oâ€¢S â€” will be open for wine tasting from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.Â on Dec. 1. This is a great opportunity for you and your friends to sample Fall Line’s newly released 2005 vintage wines…and take care of some of your holiday shopping.
- Raise your paws for a good cause at Vino Bello in Burien. Enjoy a Penfolds wine tasting. If you buy a bottle from the tasting list, your $5 tasting fee will be refunded. And, for every bottle of wine purchased, a donation will be made to Pasado’s Safe Haven, an animal rescure sanctuary in theÂ Cascade foothills.Â Â The tasting starts at noon until 8 p.m. Enjoy live blues-folk music featuring JD Hobson from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
- Walla Walla Holiday Barrel Tasting: Winemakers will be on hand as more than 50 wineries open their barrel rooms. Each winery offers a variety of different featuresÂ such asÂ food, music, art exhibits, wine dinners, cooking demonstrations, poetry readings and more. Want some help to decide how to plan your Barrel Tasting weekend? Walla Walla Wine News has some tipsÂ of “must-see” destinations with its insider report..
Wednesday, Dec. 5
Happy 5th anniversary to The Tasting Room! Come celebrate five fabulous years at Pike Place Market with special tastings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Tasting Room winemakers will showcase their favorite wines for the evening. Snacks — cured meats and artisan cheeses — will be available for nibbling. Tickets are $15 per person, with a $10 credit applied to any wine purchases.Â RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-770-9463.
Saturday, Dec. 8
Fall Line new release tastings: Fall Line, along with the other members of South Seattle Artisan Wineries â€” Cadence, :Nota Bene, and Oâ€¢SÂ â€” will be open for wine tasting from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.Â
Vino BelloÂ offers a tasting full of gift ideas from noon until 8 p.m. Vino Bello has some great gift ideas and stocking stuffers for the wine lovers on your list. Silpada Jewelry is on sale too. Enjoy live folk music by Charlie Spring from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. ($10)Â
Tuesday, Dec. 11
Wednesday, Dec. 12
Chateau Ste. Michelle: An evening of wine and gourmet cheesesÂ from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chateau Wine Shop. $20 at the door.Â
Sparkling Wines and Champagne: Before you celebrate the festive season, enjoy a bubbly evening with Wine educator Steve VernonÂ at Columbia Winery. $30 per person.
Friday, Dec. 14
Saturday, Dec. 15
Wines of South Africa at Vino BelloÂ from noon until 8 p.m. Come try a Petite Chenin, Pinotage, Shiraz and a Bordeaux-style blend. ($10) Enjoy live blues-folk music featuring JD Hobson from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 19
Â Meet all-star pitcher Jamie Moyer at The Local Vine, in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood from 6 to 8 p.m. Jamie and ESPN analyst Digger Phelphs will be autographing wine bottles from more than 300 selections. Twenty-five percent of proceeds from wine bottle sales will be donated to The Moyer Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to helping children in distress.
Saturday, Dec.Â 22
Saturday, Dec.Â 29Â
November 27, 2007
This weekend is going to be one of the busiest wine weekends we’ve had in a long time. It all starts on Friday night, when we head to Woodinville to see Jarrod Boyle, winemaker extraordinaire of Alexandria Nicole Cellars. The winery’s Woodinville tasting room is having a release party, and we’re looking forward to it. Hopefully the commute won’t be too dreadful on a Friday night!
On Saturday, we return to Woodinville for St. Nick’s weekend, where we plan to stop by some rarely open wineries such as Baer WineryÂ and DeLille Cellars, in addition to visiting our old favorites Woodhouse Family CellarsÂ and Columbia Winery.
Then it’s off to Portland, for the first time in almost ten years. It’s a brief business trip, and we plan to stop by a few tasting rooms too. Thanks to those of you who e-mailed your suggestions to me! It’s a long list, but we’re not there for long!
I plan to write about all of it, so be sure to come back and read more!
November 24, 2007
St. Nicholas Day Open House is just around the corner on Dec. 1 and 2, and we can’t wait! Just like the popular “Passport to Woodinville” event in the spring, a St. Nick’s booklet is a ticket to special tastings (and specially prepared hors d’oeuvres to complement the wines) at dozens of wineries — from boutiques to the bigs –Â around Woodinville.
Some of the wineries are rarely open to the public, so we are really looking forward to discovering new wineries, meeting some winemakers and tasting some excellent Washington state wine at this special, festiveÂ event.
For a full list of participating wineries, check out the Woodinville Wine Country Web site. We have a quite a few of them on our list over the two-day event: Baer Winery, DeLille Cellars, Des Voigne Cellars, Mark Ryan Winery and William Church Winery, to name a few. We’ll probably stop by our old favorites too: Woodhouse Family Cellars, Columbia Winery, Alexandria Nicole Cellars and Matthews Cellars.
Yes, we will have a designated driver. And we hope to see you there!