A Slice of Heaven (Heaven’s Cave)

We tasted a slice of heaven this weekend – two very different but noteworthy wines from Heaven’s Cave Cellars in Prosser: 2009 Two Degrees Barbera and 2005 Angel’s Blend.

Both of us appreciated both wines, but my preference was the Angel’s Blend, and Dave’s was the Barbera. Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised at that – my palate adores Bordeaux blends, while Dave searches high and low for a solid Barbera – not as easy to find in Washington state.

The 2005 Angel’s Blend combines 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 12% Malbec, 3% Cab Franc and just a touch of Petit Verdot to round things off. This robust, full-bodied red stands beautifully on its own, but also pairs well with hamburgers, steaks, lamb and teriyaki beef. The grapes are sourced from Destiny Ridge Estate Vineyard, owned by Jarrod and Ali Boyle of Alexandria Nicole Cellars.

The 2009 Two Degrees Barbera was sourced from vines at Alder Ridge. Unlike its light-bodied Italian counterparts, this 100% Barbera is a warm, earthy, well-balanced wine that is also rich and smooth. Again, it’s good enough to drink on its own, but it pairs very well with pizza, pasta and chicken parmesan, or even lamb or turkey.

In addition, 100% of the profit from the sale of Two Degrees Barbera goes to the Make The DASH Count Foundation, dedicated to delevoping the next generation of community leaders and benefitting at-risk youth. The foundation was created in 2003 by Hope Moore, proprietor of Heaven’s Cave.

The DASH refers to the little horizontal line on our gravestones; the one between the date we are born and the date we pass away. The DASH represents everything in between and how we chose to live it.”

As fall sets in and the weather turns colder, sipping on either one of these reds in front of a toasty fire is a great way to spend the evening.


Lachini – A Taste of OR in Woodinville

We discovered Lachini Vineyards’ new tasting room in Woodinville quite by accident, when we recently visited one of our favorites, William Church Winery, which is now open in the Hollywood Schoolhouse District, next to Purple Cafe. Lachini is right next door, and we encourage you to stop by and check it out.

In addition to some fabulous big Washington reds and Bordeaux-inspired wines, Lachini offers a taste of the Willamette Valley right in our backyard. We enjoyed every one of them – from Oregon Pinot Noirs to Washington La Bestia.

Let’s start with a Washington wine from Red Mountain. La Bestia (the Beast) is sourced from Klipsun’s oldest block of Cabernet Sauvignon and was aged in barrel for two years. No wonder why it’s described as a “high-octane red” that received mid-90s scores. Wow! We weren’t surprised to discover that Lachini’s rows are adjacent to the vines of Quilceda Creek.

If you’re a lover of Pinot Noir, look no further. Lachini’s Estate Vineyard is located on the backdrop of the Chehalum Mountain in the North Willamette Valley. Lachini offers a number of Pinots for every palate – and in every price range, from $17 for a 2010 Rose of Pinot Noir to $140 for a magnum of 2007 Cuvee Giselle. In between, you can find ruby-red Pinots that are elegant, aromatic and rich for $35-$65.

Here are tasting notes for the full lineup and here are reviews and awards from Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate.

We’ll be going back – and we hope to see you there.


Do Not Miss Taste of Tulalip!

You might not know this but Taste of Tulalip, held each year at Tulalip Resort Casino, has been recognized as one of the top Northwest foodie “happenings.”

It doesn’t surprise us, considering the wonderful food, wine & hospitality experience we had there in May.

The resort’s superb reputation was underlined again last week at a tweetup, when its food and wine maestros — Chef Perry Mascitti and his fabulous team of chefs, and Sommelier Tommy Thompson — treated a few of us to a sneak peak of Taste of Tulalip.

Once more, we encountered an explosion of flavors and aromas — the food, wine and hospitality merged into a premium, five-star experience. We were also delighted to discover the well-deserved honor given to Barrage Cellars, which was named the official 2011 winery parter of Taste of Tulalip.

Don’t just take our word for why you should attend Taste of Tulalip – below are some of the tweets that were posted during our preview event. Read them, and then get your tickets – Nov. 11 & 12 – at the Tulalip website.

At Taste of Tulalip, you’ll find 65 Washington wineries, more than 20 from Napa and more than 20 Italian wineries, along with mouthwatering food and a Magnum party with exclusive tastes from world-renowned wineries.

These are the wines we sampled:

  • 2002 Louis Roederer “Cristal” Champagne
  • 2008 Domaine Leflaive Batard Montrachet Burgundy
  • 2006 Leonetti Cellars Reserve red blend
  • ZD Abacus Cabernet Sauvignon XII

Here is just a sample of tweets from our sneak preview of the scrumptious food and wine at Tulalip:

Are you convinced now? Mark your calendars for Nov. 11 & 12, and get your tickets here. See you there!


It’s a Perfect Time to Visit Swiftwater Cellars

The summer tourists have gone home and the skiiers are waiting for the season to kick off, so now is the time to visit Swiftwater Cellars, a destination within a destination at Suncadia Resort – a one-hour drive from Seattle in the heart of the Cascade Mountains.

We visited a couple of months ago, and it was gorgeous – mountain views, a 360-degree bar, a two-story stone fireplace, a shop with unique gifts and collectibles, and Swiftwater Cellars premium wine – what’s not to like? If you’re lucky, owners Don and Lori Watts, both consummate storytellers, will regale you with anecdotes about their lives and about the former Roslyn Coal Mine No. 9 that the winery sits atop.

And let’s not forget the wine! Veteran winemakers Tony Rynders and Linda Trotta create a number of outstanding wines with fruit sourced from a selection of vineyards in Washington and Oregon. The Watts family also owns Zephyr Ridge in Horse Heaven Hills.

Not surprisingly to regular readers of this blog, my favorite was Swiftwater’s Proprietary Red – a beautiful Bordeaux blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cab Franc, 16% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot and 10% Syrah. But full props also go to Swiftwater’s Syrah and Pinot Noir (sourced from Willamette Valley).

We also enjoyed some white wines from their second label, Number 9, naturally named after the coal mine. At the moment, Switfwater Cellars produces a total of 2,500 cases of wine, with plans to double that in the future.

But Swiftwater Cellars is more than fine wine – the Fireside Lounge offers an all-day menu and The Hoist House dinner menu has many mouth-watering choices.

And there are frequent events; for example, this weekend you’ll find live music and “Experience the Crush.”

Did I mention this destination winery would also be an awesome location for a wedding or holiday party?

Whether you’re looking for a day-trip, a wonderful weekend or a unique place to hold an event, we recommend checking out Swiftwater Cellars. We plan on going back!


Vars & Sundry

“Vars & Sundry” is an old wire service term that refers to various and sundry news stories that don’t necessarily fit in with other stories. So it seemed a fitting title for this blog post, which is about a number of wine samples that were sent to us from different wineries. They come from Washington state, of course, British Columbia, California and New Zealand.

L’Ecole No. 41 2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Regular readers know that L’Ecole 41 is one of our favorite wineries in Washington state, and this rich, layered Cab Sauv exemplifies why. This is a classic  — 100% Cabernet Sauvignon blended from several premium vineyards into one fine juice, sip after sip.

This robust red is showcased beautifully by the new elegant label unveiled by L’Ecole 41 earlier this year. If you missed the story about the new label, be sure to read it – and you’ll understand how this wonderful Walla Walla winery has grown from a small family-run favorite to one known as an enduring, sophisticated creator of quality wine. ($29)

Gnekow Family Winery 2005 Old Vine Zinfandel Reserve, Lodi:  Located about an hour from Napa Valley, Gnekow prides itself on producing wines that showcase the grapes from the region. This 05 Zin is drinking nicely, a mellow but jammy wine with structure and the complexity that comes from old vines. ($25)

Mission Hill Five Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Merlot Bin 88: This beautiful winery in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia is a pioneer in Canada’s wine industry. This is a medium-bodied, everyday wine that could be paired nicely with any red meat dish. ($17)

Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010: We loved this refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with prawns on the deck during the warm weather. Bursting with grapefruit and citrus flavors, we were not surprised to discover it won gold at the International Wine Show in 2010. ($14)

Thanks for the samples! Cheers!