Big Reds, Good Value

Looking for a reasonably priced big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon to take to that holiday party? Or maybe you want to serve it at your holiday open house? Perhaps you want to pour it before or during a holiday meal?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Over the last few months we’ve found some big Cabs at good price points.

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Seven Falls Cellars 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)
100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker’s Notes: “Ripe black cherry and boysenberry layered with notes of caramel, mocha and black tea. Concentrated, full body with a smooth lasting finish.”

Wine Enthusiast“This wine has immediate appeal showing aromas of milk chocolate, cherry and dried herbs. The flavors are plump and rich in feel yet backed by soft tannins.”

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Columbia Crest 2012 and 2013 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon
($10-$14, depending on where you shop)
99% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc

Winemaker’s Notes: “This bold Cabernet opens with flavors of black cherries and blackberries with a touch of currants and vanilla, complemented by earth and mineral notes. Deep berry flavors lead to a soft tannin cocoa finish.”

Wine Spectator: 91 points (2013); 92 points (2012)

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Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 2.56.52 PMGiant Wine, 2013 Ghost of 413 Cabernet Sauvignon ($16-$19, depending on where you shop)
This is the fourth vintage of a great red wine created by Chris Gorman from Gorman Winery and Mark McNeill from Mark Ryan.

Full Pull Tasting Notes by Editor-in-Chief Paul Zitarelli: This begins with a nose of smoky crème de cassis fruit, complicated by notes of dried herb and soil. At its heart, it is a deep, black-fruit driven Cab, full of blackcurrants and blackberries and black plums.

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If you like your Cabernet Sauvignon big, bold and beautiful, don’t let these low prices fool you. We think some of them would surprise you in a blind tasting next to more expensive Cabs.

Of note, samples were provided by Seven Falls and Columbia Crest; however we enjoyed these wines so much, we purchased additional bottles.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Sneak Peek

wine-glasses-photo-courtesy-Marcus-Whitman-Hotel-e1294811651743Life has been so busy lately – with work (our day jobs), the holidays and most importantly, family.

So while we’ve done our fair share of tasting wines lately, there hasn’t been as much time to write about them as we had hoped. But we will soon!

Here’s your sneak peek at what we’ll be posting in the weeks ahead:

  • List of best good-value red wine for the holidays
  • List of special wines for the holidays
  • Our second annual list of our top 50 Washington state wineries

Some new wines that we’ll be writing about include:

  • Seven Falls 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 GPS Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 GPS Zinfandel
  • Stottle 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Meritage
  • Oak Ridge Winery OZV Old Vine 2012 Zinfandel
  • Mark West 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
  • Nero D’Avola (Sicily)
  • Red Diamond 2012 Limited Release Mysterious Red Blend

So stay tuned to learn about some good red wines for the holidays!

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

 

 

Special Wines for the Holidays

Holiday WinesGood wine over the holidays helps to make the season fabulous. Here is the list of special wines that we started to open and share over the Thanksgiving holiday and will continue to do so through New Year’s day — either pouring them for guests, taking to parties or enjoying at home.

Some of these wines are special because of their high quality and high price point. Others are simply special good-value wines enjoy in our home throughout the year.

They are listed in alphabetical order:

Of note, all but three of these wines are from the wonderful Washington state wine country.

Cheers – and happy holidays!
Margot and Dave

Wine Lover’s Gift for the Holidays

Is this the year when you want to give your friends who love wine a different type of gift for the holidays? Maybe you’ve given them a nice bottle of wine in the past, but want to surprise them this year with something else.

Look no further than VinoGrotto Premium Wine Cellars, where Black Friday specials are underway.

For example, if you have wine-loving friends who enjoy golfing, skiing or maybe even rodeos, VinoGrotto offers a number of novelty items: a 3-bottle recycled snow ski wine rack ($59.95), a golf club wine balancer ($28), a rodeo wine holder ($18) and a 6-bottle Eiffel Tower wine rack ($42.95).

Or check out this 24-bottle wine rack – it also makes a nice table for wine collector’s items such as our mini-wine barrel. And it’s short enough to be an end table too.
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You can even use it as a centerpiece for your holiday decorations.

Winston wine shelf

This redwood 24-bottle table rack, also comes in clear pine, and is on sale now for $99.

It has a deep 12-inch design, with wide 3¾” openings to fit all 750ml bottles. The wine rack stands 26.31 inches high and 18.56 inches wide.

And it’s easier to assemble than you might think — no glue or nails are needed.

Read the reviews to learn more.

Even Winston, one of our Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, loves to admire our wine rack.

But if you think your friend might prefer other types of wine racks, VinoGrotto has several to choose from: a wine cube for 12 bottles ($68), 24 bottles ($81) and even 120 bottles ($219).

You can also find barrel stave wine racks, scalloped racks, countertop racks and decorative racks.

Many items are up to 30% off for Black Friday savings.

You might even want to get one for your home, to keep all your wine bottles in one decorative location when guests come by to visit over the holidays. Think about it. We’re using ours to hold the wine we’re taking to festive parties in the next six weeks.

Many thanks to VinoGrotto for providing us with a sample. Winston says thanks too.

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

Another Successful Taste of Tulalip

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 12.25.27 PMTaste of Tulalip 2015 is now behind us and once again, it was a taste sensation that featured a collaboration of wine, food and art.

We applaud Lisa Severn, the director of food and beverage at Tulalip Resort Casino, and her entire team for their incredible efforts to make this amazing event so enjoyable.

Let’s start with the art. We had the pleasure of meeting Mike Gobin, the talented artist and master woodcarver who created the commemorative wine bottle and plate featured in this photo. He showed us several pictures of his work, all of which represent a beautiful expression of his Tulalip culture. He had our complete attention as he shared stories of his people and his craft. We also were delighted to meet his super-nice family.

His commemorative bottle contains a unique blend of wine created by Tulalip‘s talented wine expert, Tommy Thompson, and the event’s 2015 honorary winemaker, Kerry Shiels of Côte Bonneville. Sourced from DuBrul Vineyard grapes, this stellar wine blends 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. We somehow had never met Kerry before, so we were glad to have that opportunity, and hope to taste more of her wines in the future.

Sparky TOT2We were fortunate to spend considerable time with Sparky Marquis, co-winemaker/owner of the award-winning Australian winery, Mollydooker Wines. His seminar, “Turning Water Into Wine,” was both informative and fun. We also chatted with him throughout the weekend, at the Celebration Dinner, the Grand Taste and at Tulalip Bay, one of our favorite Seattle-area restaurants where we ended off the event enjoying a fantastic meal with our very good friends, Robin and Sue from British Columbia.

We are big fans of Mollydooker wines: Carnival of Love, the #2 wine in the world, according to Wine Spectator, in addition to the coveted Velvet Glove, Enchanted Path, Blue Eyed Boy and seven more!

We first met Sparky last year at his Cellar Door in McLaren Vale, Australia. For more information, see our blog posts, Mollydooker Part 1 and  Mollydooker Part 2 and learn about Mollydooker’s Marquis Fruit Weight™ process and their “yum-worthy” wines.

Throughout the weekend, we sipped our way through dozens of wines and send kudos to these wineries, whose teams poured some of our favorites.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.30.35 PMWashington State

  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars
  • Betz Family Winery
  • Cote Bonneville
  • Double Canyon / Archery Summit
  • Fidelitas
  • Figgins Wine
  • Gorman Winery
  • Karma Vineyards
  • Leonetti Cellars
  • Obelisco Estate
  • Quilceda Creek
  • Reynvaan Family Vineyards

California

  • Caymus VIneyards
  • Silver Oak Cellars
  • Stone Street

Global

  • Chateau Coutet, Bordeaux, France
  • Domaine Huet, Loire Valley, France
  • Inskillin, Ontario, Canada
  • Mollydooker WInes, McLaren Vale, AustraliaRocca di Frassinello, Maremma, Italy

Flowers TOTAnd then there was the excellent food experience at the Italian-themed Celebration Dinner and at various seminars and booths throughout Saturday.

Executive Chef Perry Mascitti and his talented culinary team were joined by special guest Chris Cosentino, the award-winning Chef/Owner of San Francisco’s Cockscomb and Boccalone, to prepare the delicious dishes. From extravagant gourmet treats to tasty snacks, there was something sensational to pair with every wine.

Antipasta TOT Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.56.48 PMThe Celebration Dinner was the Friday night highlight that kicked off the weekend activities. The mouth-watering dinner started out with “Amuse Bouche” Dungeness Crab and Lemon Cannoli Ricotta by Chef Gerry Schultz, followed by Antipasti Carni and Formaggio (pictured) by Chef JP Ponticelli.

Next up was Rustic Polenta Lasgna by Chef Brent Clarkson; Intermezzo by Chef John Jadamec; Seared Chilean Sea Bass by Chef David Buchanan; Filet Mignon Braciole by Tulalip Executive Chef Perry Mascitti; and Semplice Insalata also by Chef JP Ponticelli. Rounding out the explosion of flavors was Tiramisu (pictured) and a pink box of assorted Italian cookies, including chocolate biscotti and wedding cookies, by Chef Nikol Nakamura.

Last, but definitely not least, Taste of Tulalip 2015 supported the charity, Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors, which provides emergency assistance and numerous programs for wounded service members and their families in Washington state.

If you didn’t attend this year’s event, you missed something great. Be sure to stay tuned at this time next year, so you won’t miss out again.

Many thanks to Lisa Severn and Allan Aquila for inviting us to this extravaganza. It was a weekend that we will be raving about for a long time to come.

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

Villa Maria Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 5.12.52 PMRaise your hand if you knew that New Zealand’s Pinot Noir is right up there with its Sauvignon Blanc in terms of taste and value.

Good for you, because we didn’t!

Located at the northeast corner of New Zealand’s South Island, Marlborough is known internationally for its Sauv Blancs. But the region is also becoming popular for Pinot Noir.

We recently discovered this when we participated in a Nov. 4 Twitter tasting of two Villa Maria Pinot Noirs from Marlborough. Our main takeaway: Either one of these wines would pair very well with turkey and an assortment of sides during a Thanksgiving feast.

Villa Maria 2014 Private Bin Pinot Noir ($17)
This good-value Pinot Noir is very approachable and food-friendly, displaying the hallmarks of the region — the aromas of sweet red cherry and berries. This medium-bodied wine is ruby red, with a juicy palate of red berries, cinnamon and herbs. In addition to pairing well with turkey, this Pinot will complement red meats, smoked salmon or aged cheddar throughout the year.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 5.12.26 PMVilla Maria 2013 Cellar Selection Pinot Noir ($25.00)
Also from Marlborough vineyards, this Cellar Selection has subtle smoky aromas along with red cherries on the nose, and red berry, black cherry and plum flavors on the palate. We preferred this Pinot for its silky mouthfeel, spice and earthiness, and plan to enjoy it during our family’s Thanksgiving extravaganza. Of note, it will also pair well with many traditional sides, including beet salad. Other fall and winter meals, such as lamb or wild game, will go nicely with this wine too.

Villa Maria has been a family-owned winery since 1961. In the 1990s, Villa Maria pioneered sustainable viticulture and winemaking in New Zealand, and became the country’s first wine company to declare the winery “a cork-free zone.” Villa Maria has used screw caps from the 2001 vintage onward.

There is a Washington state connection — Villa Maria wines are imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

Thank you to Villa Maria and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates for inviting us to the Twitter chat and providing samples to taste.

Enjoy these wines at your Thanksgiving table!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

The Estates Wine Room in Seattle’s Pioneer Square

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 12.07.10 PMSeattle’s historic Pioneer Square will soon be the new site of The Estates Wine Room featuring one of our favorite Washington state wines, Double Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon, and Archery Summit Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

On Dec. 11, Crimson Wine Group will open the new venue with a tasting bar, table seating and an area where you can purchase bottles of wine.

Walk-in customers can join in the tastings, purchase wine by the glass, enjoy small bites, as well as food and wine pairings. Yes, Double Canyon and Archery Summit will be featured – they are Crimson Wine Group’s northwest holdings. But other wines will also be available.

Based in the Napa Valley, Crimson’s diverse collection of luxury domestic estates and wine brands also include Pine Ridge Vineyards (Napa, Calif.), Seghesio Family Vineyards (Healdsburg, Calif.), and Chamisal Vineyards (San Luis Obispo, Calif.).

Regular readers know that we have been big fans of Double Canyon since winemaker Jason Ledbetter arrived from Pine Ridge Vineyards, Trefethen Vineyards and Cakebread Cellars in Napa.

At Taste Washington 2014, we named Double Canyon’s 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, from Phinny Hill Vineyard, in our top three favorite wines.

A few months later, Double Canyon was included in our list of top 50 Washington wineries in 2014.

Here are our previous blog posts:
Double Canyon 2013 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon
Double Canyon-New Winemaker, New Wine

We hope to see you at the new Estates Wine Room, where you can stock up on party wine right before the holidays!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Recommendation – Get Your Taste of Tulalip Tickets Now!

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 12.25.27 PMTickets are going quickly to one of our favorite wine events in Washington state, Taste of Tulalip — so run, don’t walk, to get yours before they sell out.

Trust us, you don’t want to miss this collaboration of wine, food and art.

Some “All Access” passes and tickets to the Grand Tasting on Nov. 14 are still available at Ticketmaster. But the Nov. 13 Celebration Dinner is already sold out.

All Access pass holders will have early entrance to the Grand Taste and the edgy Rock and Roll Cooking Challenge; a wine seminar called “Washington State AVA Smackdown,” featuring some of the state’s top wine producers; a VIP seminar featuring a cooking demo from Chef Chris Cosentino (from San Francisco’s Cockscomb and Boccalone); a private Magnum Party with a selection of high-level wine and food pairings; and more.

The Rock and Roll Challenge is a fast-paced culinary roller coaster with slammin’ rock and roll music. Three chef/sommelier teams will face off for a 30-minute cooking and wine pairing showdown—Iron Chef Style. Each team will combine talents to create the ideal entrée or appetizer from their mystery box, and pair it with a wine selection that the sommeliers will “hunt” for at the Grand Taste.

Each team will consist of one local Chef, one Tulalip Chef and one local Sommelier. This year’s local guest chef lineup includes Toby Jensen, The Ruins Seattle; Eric Truglas and Dean Shinagawa, Kama’aina Grindz; along with Tulalip Chefs Nikol Nakamura, John Jadamec and John Ponticelli. The Sommeliers will be comprised of Chris Horn, Purple Cafe Seattle; Dawn Smith, John Howie Steak; and Kristin Young, Bastille Cafe and Bar.

The Challenge takes place during the Grand Taste, which is always the weekend’s highlight. This year, more than 100 wines from Washington state, Oregon, California, Oporto, Maderia, will be poured, along with global selections of bubbles, late-harvest and ice wines, and craft beer.

Tulalip Resort Casino‘s talented wine expert, Tommy Thompson, and the event’s 2015 honorary winemaker, Kerry Shiels of Côte Bonneville, have created a unique blend of wine sourced from DuBrul Vineyard grapes — 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. As you can see in the above photo, the artwork by Mike Gobin for the commemorative wine bottle and plate is a beautiful expression of the Tulalip culture.

We were also delighted to discover that this year, on Nov. 14, Taste of Tulalip is featuring an in-depth reserve wine tasting/seminar called “Turning Water Into Wine” with Sparky and Sarah Marquis of the award-winning Australian winery, Mollydooker Wines. The tasting lineup will include 12 of Mollydooker’s recently released 2014 wines.

When we visited their Cellar Door and vineyard in McLaren Vale last year, we had so much fun with Sparky and his dad, Leigh Gawith. We had a vineyard tour, tasted through their amazing lineup and had a truly wonderful time. For more information, see our blog posts and learn about Mollydooker’s Marquis Fruit Weight™ process and their “yum-worthy” wines:

Mollydooker Part 1
Mollydooker Part 2 

We hope to see you at Taste of Tulalip!

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

 

Bellingham Grape and Gourmet

Grape & GourmetThe 12th annual Bellingham Grape and Gourmet is less than a month away, and we are really looking forward to attending. This year, the event will be held at Silver Reef Casino on Nov. 1. 

The evening of “sensational wines and exquisite food” is hosted by Bellingham Bay Rotary Club.

The event is also a fundraiser — all proceeds will be donated to local non-profits.

Almost 40 Washington and Oregon wineries will be pouring — including our friends at William Church, Forgeron Cellars, L’Ecole 41, Walla Walla Vintners, Dunham Cellars, Airfield Estates and Hightower. Wines range from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Viognier to Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Merlot and Pinot Noir. And there’s more, including both white and red blends.

If you find a wine that’s a real palate pleaser, you can purchase it at a 20% discount right on site. You can also sample tasty bites from local restaurants, including one of our favorites, The Steakhouse at Silver Reef Casino.

Last week, we were fortunate to be invited to a pre-tasting, hosted by BB Rotary Club event organizer Bryant Engebretson and his wife Hillary. Our two favorites were William Church Winery’s 2 Spires and Walla Walla Vintners Cuvee, but we know there will be more to add to that list on Nov. 1 at Bellingham Grape and Gourmet.

Grape & Gourmet 1So what are you waiting for – get your tickets now!

Sunday, Nov. 1 at Silver Reef Casino, 5:00 – 8:30 p.m.

VIP Tickets ($100) give you early admission at 5 p.m., which means 90 minutes without the crowds!

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for regular admission ($80).

We hope to see you there!

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

 

Columbia Crest Fall Release Wines

If you’re one of those people who look for good-value wines at a $10-$15 price point, this blog post is for you. We are very pleased with some Columbia Crest winery samples that pair well with the fall season.

First, you might recall that we praised Columbia Crest H3 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon In  a July post about Good Value BBQ Reds. H3 became our go-to, every-day wine over the summer ($10-$15, depending on where you look). We were not surprised to find out that H3 was a Double Gold winner at the 2015 Seattle Wine Awards.

And now, Columbia Crest offers their 2013 Limited Release “Gold” Red Wine Blend, in addition to several other new 2013 releases, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.

We particularly enjoyed these four wines, all from Columbia Valley, all priced at $12.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 5.53.39 PMColumbia Crest 2013 Limited Release “Gold” Red Wine Blend
According to the winery, a couple barrels of wine that represent the “gold standard” of Columbia Valley grapes are blended into this limited release Gold Red Wine. Harvested in September 2012, when Cabernet Franc had an excellent year, this wine features 52% Cab Franc, 38% Syrah, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Merlot. Think spicy, rich and textured – and great to pair with grilled beef, lamb, rich stews or simply with strong cheese.

Columbia Crest 2012 Grand Estates Red Blend
This is a Syrah-Cab Sauv blend, specifically 57% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Viognier, 6% Merlot and 3% other varietals. Tasting Notes: “This complex red blend marries together a variety of characteristics and layers that complement each other, including lively flavors of red and black fruit punctuated with layers of spice and caramel on the finish.” We paired it with rich spaghetti and meatballs, and it was delicious.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 6.11.45 PMColumbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
The 81% Cab Sauv is rounded out with 15% Merlot, 2% Syrah and 2% of other varietals. Tasting Notes: “This bold style Cabernet Sauvignon displays great complexity and structure. There are aromas of dark berry fruits and plum on the nose with chocolate and vanilla on the palate. This wine pairs well with beef tenderloin or hearty pasta.” We think it also is wonderful paired with blue cheese and/or dark chocolate.

Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Syrah
In this classic, 95% Syrah is co-fermented with 5% Viognier. Tasting Notes: “Elegant smoky tones lead to notes of currant, dried herbs and hints of pepper. The supple texture is complemented by flavors of cedar and dark fruits.” Pair with grilled salmon, pork tenderloin or soft cheeses.

Although we haven’t yet tasted Columbia Crest 2013 Grand Estates Unoaked Chardonnay, Wine Spectator called it out as providing the biggest bang for your buck.

We know it seems too early to start thinking about holiday wines, but at this price point, do you really want to wait? You can pour them at any party – your own or ones you attend as a guest — from Hallowe’en to Thanksgiving and beyond.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave