A Word about the Washington Wine Wench

I am not a wine critic. I am not a wine journalist. (I used to be a political journalist, many moons ago, but that’s another story.) I am a wine enthusiast. And I am a supporter of Washington state wine.

Why did I choose this route? When I really like a certain wine, I like to tell people about it. They might want to try it; they might not. But if I taste a wine that I don’t particularly like, it does not mean that others will have the same reaction.

Every palate is different. So I choose not to write about wines I don’t like. And I never lack for things to write about because Washington state offers so many fine wines. (And I’ll soon be writing about some wonderful wines that we tasted yesterday at Passport to Woodinville.)

And now you know what drives the Washington Wine Wench and Write for Wine.


JM Cellars’ John Bigelow

One of the highlights of Taste Washington a couple of weeks ago was finally meeting John Bigelow, the winemaker at one of our favorite Woodinville wineries, JM Cellars. John and his wife Peggy are co-owners of this family winery, located in the so-called Hollywood area of Woodinville.

Regular readers know that we’ve always said there are three things that draw us to wineries – great wine, great people and great events. JM Cellars has them all.

For a couple of years now, we’ve loved wine from JM Cellars — Tre Fanciulli, Cuvee and Bramble Bump Red, to name just a few. We also have attended many wonderful release parties at the tasting room. In fact, we first heard about JM Cellars at another winery where other people were raving about JM’s Saturday tastings.

And Paige and Lisa in the tasting room are definitely great people! They’ve welcomed us with open arms (literally!) whenever we’ve visited and we adore them. But in all this time, we never had an opportunity to chat with the winemaker himself.

We had heard the stories — John was a successful executive in the software industry and a wine enthusiast, when he decided to shift gears and study the technology of winemaking. In 1999, he made 350 cases of Tre Fanciulli, which became the flagship wine to launch JM Cellars.

We drank a bottle of 2006 Tre a couple of nights ago and it was even better than the 2005 vintage, which generated 93 points from Wine Enthusiast. Tre, as you might expect from the name, is a blend of three varietals — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. But the wine also is named after the three sons of John and Peggy. It truly is a family-operated winery.

So it was a delight to finally meet John at Taste Washington and hear first-hand about his passion for the grape. After the event, he wrote me a note to thank me — not just for my blog posts about JM Cellars, but about my support for Washington state wines in general. Now that’s a class act!


Passport Weekend in Woodinville This Weekend

If you love Washington state wine, or if you’ve always wanted to know more about the 40+ wineries near Seattle, this weekend’s event, Passport to Woodinville, is the place to be.

But this hot event is sold out, so if you haven’t already purchased tickets, sadly, you’re out of luck.

If you did purchase tickets, here is where you can pick up your passport and tasting glass. Don’t forget to bring your ticket confirmation information with you.

We’re going on Sunday – hope to see you at one of the many wonderful Woodinville wineries. And don’t forget to bring a designated driver!


Coming Soon: Two Spires @ William Church Winery

Before I head off to Taste Washington, I have a quick rave about a new wine coming from William Church Winery — 2 Spires. If you like blends, you will absolutely want to add this one to your cellar. Wow! 2 Spires is a blend of 63% Syrah and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon that is a tribute to the talents of winemaker Rod Balsley and assistant winemaker Marcus Rafanelli.

Unfortunately, we have to wait for its November release. But we have the 2006 Bishop’s Blend to keep us happy until then. This vintage of Bishop’s Blend is made up of six different varietals — 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot, 9% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 4% Syrah and 4% Sangiovese. It’s our favorite blend at $19 a bottle.

But we still can’t wait for 2 Spires. We know that it will meet the goal of William Church: “Wines that are approachable and delicious upon release but will also express themselves well over time.”