JM Cellars: Best Saturday Tastings in Woodinville?

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Woodinville winery JM Cellars has the best Saturday tastings in the area. It must be true because I heard that declaration at an event at a different winery last weekend! Unfortunately, we have had no luck in getting to the JM Cellars tastings ourselves. But it’s not for lack of trying.

My nephew Mathew (who has an excellent palate) and I stopped by JM Cellars a few Saturdays ago, but sadly, we arrived late and the official tasting was over. With a special shout-out to assistant winemaker Tim Drake, we did try a 2005 Merlot, which had depth in its Red Mountain flavors bursting with cherries. (JM Cellars’ 2003 Merlot was named one of the top twelve Merlots in America by Wine and Spirits magazine.)

But we didn’t get a chance to taste JM’s red blends — and regular readers of this blog know that my palate is all about red blends. I love the names of some of JM Cellars wines, too: Their flagship wine Tre Fanciulli (tray-fan-CHEW-lee) and Bramble Bump Red. We can’t wait to finally get to a tasting (on time!) to try them.

But Saturdays are tough for us to go wine tasting; we typically go on Sundays. So we were looking forward to stopping by JM Cellars during St. Nick’s weekend next month in Woodinville. Again, no such luck. The winery won’t be represented there. So, hopefully, we’ll be able to attend the YWCA Childcare Endowment Fund Benefit on Nov. 16 at Wright Exhibition Space in Seattle. They’ll definitely be pouring there, along with others. And it’s for a good cause. For more details, check out my What’s Going On posts on Thursdays.

Have you gone to Saturday tastings at JM Cellars? Write a comment and tell me what I’ve been missing!

Cheers!

What’s going on …

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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 — Cadence, :Nota Bene, and O•S — will be open for wine tasting from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. 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 the Cascade foothills.  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 features such as 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 tips 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. RSVP: jen@winesofwashington.com 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 — Cadence, :Nota Bene, and O•S  — will be open for wine tasting from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. 

  • Vino Bello 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) 

Tuesday, Dec. 11

Wednesday, Dec. 12

  • Chateau Ste. Michelle: An evening of wine and gourmet cheeses from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chateau Wine Shop. $20 at the door. 

  • Sparkling Wines and Champagne: Before you celebrate the festive season, enjoy a bubbly evening with Wine educator Steve Vernon at Columbia Winery. $30 per person.

Friday, Dec. 14

Saturday, Dec. 15

  • Wines of South Africa at Vino Bello 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

  •  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. 22

  • Get ready to ring in the new year at Vino Bello’s Champagne and Sparkling Wine tasting from noon until 8 p.m. Enjoy live folk music by Charlie Spring from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. ($10) 

Saturday, Dec. 29 

Cheers!

Di Stefano still delicious

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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.

Cheers!

Busy wine weekend ahead!

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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 Winery and DeLille Cellars, in addition to visiting our old favorites Woodhouse Family Cellars 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!

Cheers!

What’s going on …

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Friday, Nov. 16 to Sunday, Nov. 18

  • Winemaker Dinner: The Waterfront Seafood Grill welcomes Brian Carter as he showcases his exceptional European style blended wines paired with a multi-course dinner. The Nov. 16 event begins at 6:30 p.m. Price: $125 Information: 206.956.9171

  • Tri-Cities Wine Festival: This festival first started in 1978! This professionally judged wine competition begins on Nov. 16 and culminates in a public tasting on Nov. 17, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. At the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco, wines from small boutique wineries will be poured side-by-side with those from large producers. Find out more information here.

  • JM Cellars pours at the YWCA Childcare Endowment Fund Benefit along with Cadence, Guardian Wines, Mark Ryan, Reininger Vineyards and other wineries at the Wright Exhibition Space in Seattle on Friday, Nov. 16.

  • Welcome Guardian Wines to Woodinville at a special release party on Nov. 17, from noon to 4 p.m. More details about this exciting event are available on this blog.

  • Bottle Your Own Wine returns to Silver Lake Winery in Woodinville on Nov. 17-18, just in time for the holidays. Handcraft wine with your personalized label — you’ll get to bottle it, cork it, foil it and label it.

  • Discover perfect Thanksgiving pairings in a special wine tasting at Vino Bello on Saturday Nov. 17 from noon to 8 p.m. $10

  • Learn how to put bold flavors into small bites with Holiday Hors d’Oeuvres on Sunday, Nov. 18 from from noon to 3 p.m. at Januik Winery. Cost $90.

  • How to taste wine — a Sunday class and tasting at Maple Leaf Cellar to help those who are confused by the “right” way to taste wine. 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. $40

 Friday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 25: Thanksgiving in Wine Country

  • At all three Silver Lake Winery locations — Woodinville, Leavenworth and Zillah — sample complimentary newly released wines served with snacks and special holiday pricing of your favorite wines.

  • Grand Opening of Wilridge Vineyard Tasting Room near Yakima over Thanksgiving Weekend. Be the first to visit Wilridge’s organic and biodynamic vineyard oasis and Tasting Room on the Naches Heights, five minutes west of Yakima.

  • Port lovers unite! It’s a special Ports & Stickes Blowout at Vino Bello from noon until 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24. The wine bar will rock to the mean guitar blues of Kimball Conant and the Fugitives from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. $10

  • On Nov. 24, Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars will be pouring three wines: “The Archimage” Columbia Valley 2005, “The Spellbinder” Columbia Valley 2005  and “The Magician” Columbia Valley 2006 at Cellar 46  on Mercer Island. Free!

 Thursday, Nov. 29

  • Walla Walla Valley Annual Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend: Join the 2nd Annual Winemakers’ Fete at the Marcus Whitman Hotel. Two of our favorite Walla Walla wineries, Forgeron Cellars and Pepper Bridge will join 18 other wineries hosting a special dinner–five courses with a special wine with each course prepared by Chef Bear. 
  • EB Foote Winery Holiday Open House: Sample new releases, Rainy Day Red IV, 2006 Zinfandel and 2006 Syrah, and tasty snacks Nov. 29-Dec. 2. There is no cost but times vary each day. Call 206-242-3852.

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.

  •  Walla Walla Holiday Barrel Tasting is an annual event in the Walla Walla Valley. Winemakers will be on hand as more than 50 wineries open their barrel rooms. Each winery participates offers a variety of different features such as food, music, art exhibits, wine dinners, cooking demonstrations, poetry readings, and more.

Tuesday, Dec. 11

Wednesday, Dec. 12

  • Chateau Ste. Michelle: An evening of wine and gourmet cheeses from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chateau Wine Shop. $20 at the door. 

Cheers!

WWD: Page Cellars 2004 Preface

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Our wine with dinner (WWD) last night was a robust Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004 Preface from Page Cellars. We picked it up at our first visit to the Woodinville winery a couple of weekends ago. This vintage is so new that it isn’t even listed in the wine section on their Web site yet, but Preface is Page Cellars’ signature wine. The 2000 and 2001 Preface were Bordeaux-style blends. The 2002 Preface was 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Cab Franc.

The 2004 Preface is 90% Cab and 10% Cab Franc–perfect with filet mignon or prime rib. I guess I don’t need to tell you what dinner we had with our wine. :)

There’s also news for fans of Page Cellars Limited Edition. The 2002 Limited Edition is sold out. But a new vintage will be released right before St. Nick’s Open House wine weekend in Woodinville. We are looking forward to tasting it then (Dec. 1 and 2). Hope to see you there!

Cheers!

DeLille Cellars

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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.

Cheers!

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