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

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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

Where is the Love?

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Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 9.53.01 AMWe just got back from a trip to New York, where we played tourists for a weekend and had an incredible time.

That, despite a 20-degree snowstorm with high winds during an evening of a lot of walking around to see the lights and the sights.

So it was understandable that we wanted to take breaks to “come in from the cold” — and what better places than wine stores and wine bars? Since you’re reading this blog, we’re sure you’ll agree!

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 8.37.48 AM It was a very cold night. So we went into a lot of places to get warm. And we looked for Washington state wine.

We were not happy with the results.

One wine store had a couple of bottles from two Washington state wineries, on a shelf clearly marked “California.”

Another wine store said they only had one Washington state winery represented … until we pointed out a bottle from another one. The person helping us had no idea that bottle was from Washington state.

The third and fourth wine stores did not have any Washington wine whatsoever.

We didn’t fare much better at wine bars or even at restaurants with extensive wine lists.

We’re sure there are many good reasons why Washington state wineries don’t ship to New York – but we’d love to hear your take on it.

Meanwhile, we’re back at home, and loving our Washington wine.

There’s no wine like it!

Cheers!

Mackey Vineyards, Walla Walla

Cabernet Sauvignon, GSM, Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Screen Shot 2013-12-08 at 5.34.39 PMWe recently had the opportunity to taste wine described as “hidden gems” from Walla Walla: Mackey Vineyards 2009 Syrah ($32), 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon ($32) and 2009 Concordia ($38). We give a thumbs up to all three.

Mackey Vineyards was launched in 2010 by Philip and Roger Mackey, who collaborated with winemaker Billo Naravane of Rasa Vineyards. Although gaining some local acclaim, the portfolio is not very well known across the state. As a result, Write for Wine received these samples to taste – and we are glad.

2009 Mackey Vineyards Syrah, Walla Walla Valley

This wine manages to pack a wallop, while being silky and elegant at the same time. Big and beautiful, this Syrah has a lovely nose with aromas of blackberry, vanilla and minerals, and is full of flavors of spice, black pepper and smoked meat — a showcase of the way this grape is crafted in Washington state. We enjoyed it with Dave’s amazing spaghetti, but this robust wine would also go well with grilled meats, game, beef stew and meat lover’s pizza. This Mackey Syrah is strong enough to simply pair with some tasty cheese, too – a mild but smokey blue cheese or a white cheddar.

2009 Mackey Vineyards Concordia, Columbia Valley

This deep, dark red wine is a Rhone blend of 77.4% Syrah, 12.9% Grenache, and 9.7% Mourvedre. In some circles, this big, peppery combination is known as GSM. Frankly, unlike many of our friends and colleagues, we are not big fans of Mouvedre or Grenache as stand-alone wines; there are many good ones in Washington state, but they aren’t to our palates. So we were always hesitant to taste a wine that blends those two grapes with Syrah. That is, until about a year ago, when Seven of Hearts in Carlton, Oregon encouraged us to stretch our palates and wowed us with their version. Thanks to Seven of Hearts, we decided to try again with this Concordia, and we loved it. The 2009 Mackey Vineyards Concordia showcases flavors of white pepper, black fruits, dark chocolate and vanilla. Mackey describes it as complex and decadent, and we agree.

2009 Mackey Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Our palates favor Bordeaux-style wines, so how could we not enjoy  a Cabernet Sauvignon that is rounded off with 15.8% Cabernet Franc and 5.3% Petit Verdot? This wine features a silky texture and good complexity, and we both talked about how it is a good every day wine to pair with some of our favorite home-cooked meals. But notably, we both also think it will age to become a special-occasion wine, if we cellar it for 5-8 years. In other words, it definitely is drinkable now, but has the potential to be be really powerful a few years down the road.

By the way, both the 2009 Mackey Vineyards Cab Sauv and Syrah won a gold at the 2012 Seattle Wine Awards and silver at the 2013 Tri-Cities Wine Festival last month. The 2009 Concordia received 92 points from The Wine Advocate and Wine Enthusiast, and 91 points from Wine Spectator.

Give all three a try and let us know what you think!

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

 

Wines for Thanksgiving

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carlton Wine Country, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Washington wineries, Wine, Zinfandel Comments Off

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!

 

Beautiful food, wine and oh, what a view!

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Oh what a night! We were fortunate to be invited to a bloggers’ tasting of the fall menu from Six Seven Restaurant at The Edgewater recently.

Let us start out by saying run, don’t walk, to this gorgeous spot on the pier, if you are looking for a special evening out or well, just because you can.

The food was as inspiring as the stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, and the spectacular sunset as well.

Chef John Roberts prepared delectable choices from his new fall menu, paired with the just-released 2011 Delille Cellars D2 and Woodward Canyon 2010 “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon. The D2 shows much promise, while the Cab Sauvignon is highly drinkable right now, and wow, heaven in a glass.

Here is the menu of the scrumptious dishes we were served.

  • Salmon Crudo appetizer with sweet chili pepper puree, apple salsa, avocado and yellow curry oil
  • Sweet Potato and Leek soup with kale, pine nuts and chanterelles
  • Golden Beet salad with candied pecans, craisins, oranges, blue cheese, fuji apples and sherry reduction
  • Pan Roasted Halibut with mussels over a saffron risotto
  • Roasted Rack of Lamb and rosemary roasted vegetables, which was enhanced by the rich, robust Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pear and Frangipane Tart

These tasty dishes are described in our live tweets on Twitter @writeforwine on Oct. 17. For mouth-watering photos and descriptions, we also suggest that you visit the blog of our new friends and well-respected Seattle-area foodies, Mary and Joy, at A Passionate Plate.

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 a wonderful place to stay — check out these photos and you’ll see why one of my colleagues said he never wanted to leave — and also has such a rich history.

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.

In 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 visitors to the area 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 fall.

Cheers!

 

Quilceda Creek 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

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What can we say about Quilceda Creek 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, a Washington state wine that received 99 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate? A wine that is recognized in every fine restaurant we have visited in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe? A wine that in four previous vintages won 100 points, only one of five wines in the world to earn consecutive 100-point scores?

No words can describe this wine adequately. Nonetheless, here are our thoughts.

First, this wine should be put in the cellar for a few years. Forget about it.

We were too impatient to keep our hands off. Dave’s birthday was upon us and we wanted to celebrate in style.

Thankfully, we knew we had to decant. The bottle was opened eight hours before pouring, and then sat in the glass for another 30 minutes.

And then we had our first sip. Wow. It was an incredible combination of luscious and muscular, intense, expressive, complex, a deep, dark ruby red color, with aromas of black fruits and licorice, and velvety flavors of chocolate and berries.

Winemaker Paul Golitzin describes this wine as “graced with layers of blackberry, plum and cassis fruit with complex floral nuances of violets, star anise, dark chocolate and Asian spices. The wine has an amazing texture and depth while maintaining great purity, elegance, and focus. Anticipated Maturity: 2015-2029.”

According to the Wine Advocate: “This line up was one of the highlights of my trip through Washington and without a doubt, this awesome estate, which is run by Paul and Alex Golitzin, is producing some of the top Cabernet Sauvignon blends in the state, and I would venture, the world. While all of the wines are incredibly age-worthy, the tannins are so well managed and the textures so polished, they dish out immense pleasure even in their youth.”

Our friend and Washington state wine expert Sean Sullivan gave us the best advice on Facebook: “Don’t be afraid to have a glass or two and let it sit over night if it’s still locked up! Always good to be patient.”

We heeded Sean’s words and did just that. We also put our other bottles away in the cellar for special occasions in a few years, allowing the wine to evolve over time.

So we have one word of advice, if you find yourselves with one of these beautiful bottles and little patience, like we had:

Decant!

Cheers!

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