The Super Bowl of Washington Wine

Events, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

Taste Washington, the Super Bowl for the Washington state wine industry, kicks off March 23-24 with something for every wine enthusiast. It’s also a perfect place for newbies to learn, without fear, about the wonderful world of wine, Washington style. And then there’s the food.

Specifically, Taste Washington features more than 225 Washington wineries and 68 local restaurants.

No wonder that the Washington Wine Commission and Visit Seattle, annual producers of the event, promote it this way: “Taste Washington. Drink. Eat. Learn.” Indeed, Taste Washington is billboarded as “the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event.”

The weekend begins with Saturday seminars to educate your palate. The wine will also be flowing at these educational experiences:

  • Introduction to the World of Wine
  • Cure What Ales Ya!
  • RIEDEL Glass Tasting
  • Washington vs. The World!
  • All Mixed Up – The Art of Blending
  • Yakima Valley 30th Anniversary
  • Join the Cider Revolution

Sunday features the Grand Tasting. Like any Super Bowl, you need to plan to stay ahead of the game. It’s easy – you can download a copy of the event program and start planning which wineries and restaurants to visit.

We organize our tasting route in advance every year. One year, we decided to only taste pours from wineries or wines that we had never before experienced. Another year, we decided to only drink Cab Francs.

Here is more information to help organize your weekend: Participating wineries | Vineyards |Restaurants | Hotels | Exhibitors | Tickets |

There are various price tiers for the event, which is being held at the CenturyLink Field Event Center:

VIP Tickets – One day $145, two days, $185; For this price, your receive one extra hour to enjoy Taste Washington before the crowds arrive; access to the Barrel Room, an exclusive VIP lounge presented by Tulalip Resort Casino; VIP swag bag and special giveaways each day during the VIP hour.

General Admission — One day $80; two days, $125

Seminars — Held over two days, these range in price from $25-$75 dollars

We hope to see you there!

Cheers!

 

Rules for Attending a Wine Festival

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We’ve headed into the season of major wine events, so it was particularly timely to receive an email from Hedges Family Estate titled, “Rules for Attending a Wine Festival.”

Not only was it timely, the words rang true according to several winemakers we’ve talked to over the years.

It’s also pretty funny.

So props to Hedges Family Estate – enjoy!

 

Rules for Attending a Wine Festival

by Hedges Family Estate, Red Mountain, WA

  • Don’t tether your wine glass to your neck.
  • Don’t pinch your fingers and say, “Just a little.”  Dump it if you don’t want to finish it, but I’m going to pour as much as I damn well please.
  • Don’t violently lift your glass mid-pour and say, “That’s enough.”  Same deal as above.
  • Don’t say, “Give me the biggest thing you have.”  This isn’t NASCAR.
  • Let “smooth” take the day off from your vocabulary… the whole day.
  • Don’t shove.  I mean… really.
  • Don’t say you hate Merlot. We all saw Sideways. Guess what: Miles didn’t want to drink Merlot because it reminded him of his ex-wife. That bottle he drank in the end—his most precious bottle—had a ton of Merlot in it.
  • Don’t tell every winemaker about the winery that was down the street while you lived in Lodi.
  • Don’t ask how the wine scored… ever.
  • Do wear a “Wine’er, Dine’er, 69’er T-shirt.
  • If you are going to wear one of the those little food trays that has a cutout for your glass, you better be damn sure you are cool enough to wear it.  Note: no one is that cool.
  • Over-buff late thirties guy: Don’t try to impress your date by contradicting me.  You’re going to fail.  Yeah, try me.
  • Don’t lick your glass… pig.
  • Don’t talk about your sulfite allergy.  There is a good chance you have no idea what you’re talking about.
  • Don’t dump into the water pitcher.  And always look before you drink out of it.
  • Practice spitting at home; it will come in handy.
  • Don’t talk about the legs after you swirl the glass.  Here’s a tip: the legs don’t matter.
  • Don’t take your heels off and puke in the lobby.
  • Don’t ask what the most expensive wine on the table is.
  • Keep the rim of your glass food free.
  • If you proclaim that you don’t like white or rose, we will make fun of you when you walk away.
  • NO Perfume!  And go light on the lipstick, honey.

Do you have any tips or rules to add?

Cheers!

March is Washington Wine Month

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Walla Walla, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

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!

 

Ethos Vertical Tasting Here We Come!

Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Syrah, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

We hope to see you at the Ethos Reserve Vertical Tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle on Sunday March 3. We are really looking forward to this rare opportunity to taste past vintages – 2003, 2004 and 2005 Ethos Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Ethos Reserve Syrah from Columbia Valley.

Chateau Ste. Michelle produces many wines that make Washington state’s wine industry proud but, in our humble opinion, Ethos — the winery’s self-described “pinnacle wines” — reign supreme. These vintage wines will be paired with a special selection of cheeses to showcase how wine fares so much better with age.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t already purchased tickets, the Ethos vertical tasting is sold out. However, there are many more Chateau Ste. Micheel events to choose from, such as:

Chef without Borders Dinner
Saturday, March 16, 7:00 PM
Explore Chef Janet Hedstrom’s world of cuisine while sipping on perfectly paired wines from the Chateau.
Reservations required. 800-267-6793
Price: $120.00 plus tax

Spring Barrel Tasting
Saturday-Sunday, March 16 & March 17, 11:00AM-5:00PM
A unique opportunity to taste several wines that are in the process of barrel-aging and chat with a winemaker. Tickets will be available on 3/16 and 3/17 in the wine shop.
Price: $20.00 per person plus tax. (Includes all barrel tastings and an additional glass of a pre-selected finished wine)

Sip & Savor Sunday
Sunday, April 14, 3:30-6:00 PM
Wine and cheese pairings at the Chateau plus jazz musician Heather Sullivan.

Treasures of the Earth Dinner
Saturday, April 20, 7:00 PM
Join Chef Scott Harberts as he celebrates Earth Day with a menu that will feature ingredients that are sustainably grown and harvested. Dinner will be paired with wines from the chateau’s LIVE and Salmon Safe certified vineyards; Cold Creek Vineyard and Canoe Ridge Estate.
Reservations required. 800-267-6793
Price: $120.00 per person plus tax

Spring Fling Chef Dinner
Saturday, May 18, 7:00PM
Chef Kurt Olson will create a menu to highlight the flavors of spring, accompanied by “a few surprises” from the cellar.
Reservations required. 800-267-6793
Price: $120.00 per person plus tax.

Happy spring! Cheers!

New Tastes

Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, California wineries, Merlot, Syrah, Washington wineries, Wine Comments Off

We recently tasted some good juice from two family operated wineries that are new to us – one from Washington state and one from California.

Starting close to home, we tried three wines from Two Mountain Winery in Rattlesnake Hills in Washington state’s Yakima Valley.

All three of these award-winning wines show great potential, and are vibrant, balanced and approachable.

Two Mountain 2009 Syrah won a gold medal at the 2013 World Wine Championships, a silver medal at the prestigious 2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a gold medal at the San Antonio Wine Competition.

Two Mountain 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Merlot both took silver at the San Antonio competition.

We will definitely visit the winery on our next trip to Yakima Valley – it sounds like the type of total wine experience that we enjoy so much;  just read the reviews on Yelp, and you’ll want to go too.

***

The other new wines that we tasted recently are from Trione Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma County. As mentioned in an earlier post, we received a sample pack of six small bottles to try. Our favorites were three reds — 2008 Russian River Syrah, 2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Alexander Valley Red.

All three were big, lush and fruit-forward.

To our surprise, Trione’s Syrah is one of the best we’ve tasted from California. We typically prefer the smoky, peppery Syrahs from Washington state, but this Russian RIver beauty is intense, velvety and drinking very well.

But our favorite was the ’07 Alexander Red. The nose, with distinct whiffs of dark chocolate, is magnificent; the full-bodied, classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet and Merlot left us wanting more.

***

Full disclosure: These wines were all free samples, given with the understanding that we only write about the wines we enjoy. See our sample policy for further details.

Cheers!

 

 

Update: A Great Idea for Wineries

Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Wine Comments Off

Back in October, I wrote about TastingRoom.com, a unique way to find wines you like among the thousands of brands that are available.

TastingRoom.com provides samplers from wineries around the world (including top-of-the-line Silver Oak and Duckhorn) that come in a minimum of six 50ml bottles – so you can taste first, before deciding if you want to invest in full-sized bottles that range from $11-$110.

In October, we received a free sample of A Taste Adventure – Cabernet Taste-Off with Cabs from Washington state and Sonoma.

Since that time, we have happily noticed that some California wineries are sending samplers from TastingRoom.com to wine writers and wine industry trade folks to showcase the variety of their wines in an easy-to-ship, easy-to-taste experience.

You might recall that I wrote in early December that we received a TastingRoom.com sampler for a Don & Sons virtual tasting on Twitter, which meant we  had an opportunity to taste six wines without having to open (or drink from) large bottles.

Last week, we received a similar six-bottle sampler from Trione Vineyards & Winery in Alexander Valley in SonomaValley. Trione is a small, family-run operation, much like many of our favorites in Washington state. The Trione team wanted to send out their wines to people like us, who don’t live in California and don’t have too many opportunities to visit their tasting room.

Instead, they turned to TastingRoom.com, so they could introduce us to each of their current vintages – in a “pour size” instead of a full-sized bottle.

We now have an opportunity to taste — from the comfort of our home — 2010 Trione Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Chardonnay, 2008 Pinot Noir, 2008 Syrah, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Red Wine blend (Cab and Merlot). We haven’t poured them yet, but look for another blog post when we do.

Now, we don’t own or work at a winery, but it would seem to me that wineries could save money by sending samplers of their wine instead of full bottles. As a wine writer, I appreciate being able to taste an entire line-up, without having too many open full-sized bottles sitting around the house waiting to be finished or possibly go bad.

It seems like more and more California wineries are moving in this direction. I hope Washington state wineries look into it too. And kudos to Gilbert Cellars for participating in the Washington state vs. Sonoma Cabernet sampler!

For more information about TastingRoom.com samplers, wine by the glass and a wine club, see my previous post An Innovative Way to Find the Wines You Like, or visit The TastingRoom.com.

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!

January is Barrage Month

Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington wineries, Wine, Woodinville Comments Off

Halfway through January, we discovered it’s all about Barrage, baby! Barrage Cellars, that is.

Let me explain why.

In November, we stopped by (with our dog, Sir Winston) at the Barrage Cellars tasting room in Woodinville’s Wine Warehouse district, and fell in love all over again with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc created by winemaker Kevin Correll.

We had a great time tasting some fine juice and catching up with Kevin and Rebecca, and walked away with quite a few bottles of more than one vintage of Barrage Cellars Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon and Outcast Cab Franc.

As a result, January has become Barrage Month at our house, as we opened some of the bottles. It is hard to cellar these very drinkable wines.

We are captivated with 2007 Double Barrel and the 2009 Outcast is simply superlative. These two wines are our favorite varietals these days, and Barrage Cellars is high on our list of must-haves.

This is not surprising — Barrage Cellars Outcast has made our list of favorite Cab Francs more than once — just try searching Write for Wine for Barrage Cellars. And it’s not just us – Seattle Magazine voted 2007 Outcast the best Cab Franc in Washington state in 2011, and Seattle Wine Awards gave Outcast a silver medal the same year.

But let me tell you, Kevin’s wines simply get better and better with each vintage. Every time we think we’ve tasted his best yet, he surprises us the following year with better yet.

Like many winemakers in Washington state, Kevin started making wine as a hobby in his garage; from there, he moved his craft to the barn. Put the two words barn and garage together – Bar+rage – and voila, Barrage Cellars was born.

But unlike many winemakers who blend different grapes together into one wine, Kevin prefers to blend wine with the same grape from different vineyards.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to stop by Barrage Cellars in Woodinville for Kevin’s red and white wines, make a point of it. You won’t be disappointed.

Sir Winston wants to go back too because Kevin and Rebecca love puppy dogs!

Cheers!

Ringing in 2013

Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine Comments Off

When you’re a wine enthusiast, you tend to have a lot of bottles of wine in your cellar. Many of them hold promises of a spectacular wine experience, and what better way to ring in a new year?

The problem, however, is finding just one bottle that best represents such a special occasion.

We talked about pulling two bottles of reds from our cellar, but there were simply too many excellent ones to choose. (Such a problem to have, eh?)

So first, we reduced the options by restricting the list to Cabernet Sauvignon. Then we limited it to the great juice produced in Washington state and some wine from Napa Valley, where Cab is King.

Believe it or not, the list was still big, so we decided to hold our unique version of a blind tasting. Sort of.

On one side of the counter, we placed several bottles of Washington state Cabernet Sauvignon; on the other, a few bottles of Napa Cab. We put each one in a wine bag, so we couldn’t see the labels, and chose one from each side.

Let’s keep this in perspective though – all the wine was highly rated, so we knew in advance we couldn’t lose!

And the winners were (drum roll please):

It was a complete coincidence that both bottles were the 2007 vintage. Interestingly, the Wine Spectator gave a grade “A” to the overall 2007 vintage in Washington state, while awarding 99 points to the overall 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon vintage.

We’ve long been fans of Fidelitas wines produced by Charlie Hoppes and his team at Red Mountain, and we’ve been drinking wine from Grgich Hills for more years than I can remember (although not as far back as 1976, when Mike Grgich brought Napa Chardonnay to world acclaim at the famed Paris Tasting).

So we rang in 2013 with some marvelous Cabs, and wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

Cheers!

Goosecross Cellars Howell Mountain Cab

Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine Comments Off

There’s a reason we always tell friends, family and colleagues to stop at Goosecross Cellars during their trip to Napa Valley. Well, actually there are several reasons: great wine, super people and a fun atmosphere.

Let’s start with the wine, specifically our favorite Goosecross red over the years: Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

Every year we buy a bottle (or several), and each vintage always impresses. Every year, we plan to cellar this robust wine for as long as possible. But, not being particularly patient people, our Goosecross Howell Mountain Cab rarely lasts more than 18 months in our cellar.

This year was no different. Yes, the 2007 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is drinkable through 2016. But guess what? We popped open a bottle a few days ago, and like its previous vintages, this deep, dark and intense wine already has what we like to call the “wow factor.”

Goosecross Howell Mountain Cab is rich and elegant with so many layers of lovely that we wish we had a few cases.

A full-bodied Cab with aromas of dark cherry, plum and anise, and wisps of chocolate, smoke and spice, this beauty pairs well with ribeye steaks, roast beef, prime rib and more. In fact, Colleen Topper, co-owner of Goosecross, has seven recipes that pair with this big red, including a delicious Grilled Ribeye Steak with Garlic Butter.

You can find it, along with hundreds of recipes matched to Goosecross wines, at goosecross.com. David Topper, CEO and webmaster, was one of the first winery owners in Napa Valley to prominently place social media on their website. Back in 2005, he created a popular podcast, Napa Valley Wine Radio, as one of several educational resources provided by the winery. These days, you’ll find links to wine articles, Colleen’s recipes, a free concierge service, reviews on Yelp, and to Goosecross’ pages on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Over the years of visiting Gooscross Cellars, David and Colleen have become our valued friends. We enjoy their company as much as we enjoy their wines. But it all began in their tasting room, where hospitality reigns supreme.

Back to the wine: In Napa Valley, Cabernet is king. And, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from Goosecross Cellars is a king of a Cab!

Cheers!

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