Feb. 4 Release Party for Bishop’s Blend

Mark your calendars for this weekend’s 2009 Bishop’s Blend release party at both tasting rooms of William Church Winery (in the Woodinville Wine Warehouse district and in the Hollywood Schoolhouse area).

We tried an early taste last weekend, and we predict this moderately-priced blend will be an award-winner just like its previous vintages.

Back in 2009, winemaker Rod Balsley told us that he couldn’t wait to release this all-occasion red wine, the 2006 Bishop’s blend “that is truly a labor of love as we blended and blended until we got it just right.” He got it right year after year, as each vintage sold out quickly and won awards.

The 2008 blend was called “seductive” and “smoky” and “the best ever” by Washington wine expert Paul Gregutt in The Seattle Times. The 2009 vintage bursts with vanilla aromas on the nose, in addition to layers of strawberry and red fruit flavors from five different grapes — 47% Syrah, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 8% Malbec, & 7% Petit Verdot — blended together into one easy-drinking bottle.

Our recommendation – stop by the release party at either location, have a taste and pick up a few bottles for your Super Bowl party or to drink while watching the Puppy Bowl!

  • Feb. 4: noon to 5 p.m. at the Warehouse Wine District and noon to 8 p.m. at the Hollywood Schoolhouse location next to Purple Cafe.


2009 Chateau Smith Cab Sauv

Continuing with our trend of trying value wines in 2012, we want to give a shout-out to 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon “Chateau Smith” by Charles Smith Wines

 This reasonably priced wine received 91 points from Wine Spectator:

“Supple and inviting, with complex flavors of dark berries and plum shaded with hints of bacon and star anise. The finish rolls along unimpeded by the polished tannins.”

Not bad for a wine that sells for $15-$20, depending where you look. This Cab — blended with 14% Petit Verdot and 6% Syrah — is perfect for a weekday evening or during an afternoon game. (C’mon, not everybody drinks beer at games!)

Chateau Smith is the value label of Washington state wine maker, Charles Smith of K Vintners, who is known for his distinct-looking hair, black-and-white wine labels, and excellent reviews of his wines.

Give it a try and let us know what you think!


2006 Dussek Cabernet Sauvingon

Regular readers of this blog know that we have long been fans of Dussek Cabernet Sauvignon from The Woodhouse Wine Estates. The 2004 vintage was spectacular, and a favorite of ours. My sister-with-the-incredible-palate in Vancouver also gave it a thumbs up.

We were delighted to discover that the 2006 vintage is even better! 2006 Dussek Cabernet Sauvignon is elegant, big and bold. Frankly, I don’t know why more isn’t written about this gem, priced at $36.

The Woodhouse Wine Estates has a robust wine club with passionate members, but its wines have been under the radar for too long.  Just sayin’.

The Woodhouse signature is to release its wine later than many others, giving the wines more time to express their fullest flavor complexities. The 2006 Dussek Cab was released in May 2011, drinks extremely well now, and could be kept in the cellar for a few years.

The 2004 Dussek sold out quickly, and the 2005 vintage (decent, but not as incredible as its predecessor or the current release) sold out too. There are limited quantities left of the 2006 Dussek – you can only order a maximum of six bottles.

Yes, we just ordered six, even though we already have a case stocked in our cellar. So did my sister!


2009 Ghost of 413 Red

This is one of the best value wines we have had in a long time: 2009 Ghost of 413 Red. And we put our money where our mouths are – after buying two bottles from our friends at Full Pull Wine, we put in an order for a case.

Ghost of 413 is released by Giant Wine Co., a collaboration between Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery and Mark McNeilly from Mark Ryan Winery.

The first vintage came in 2005 when, the story goes, Mark and Chris weren’t sure how the wine would taste, so they decided to keep their names invisible and the “ghost” was born.

No need to hide behind Casper this vintage — 2009 Ghost of 413 Red  is not a phantom wine! You’ll discover a ripe rich wine that blends 90% Cabernet Sauvingnon with a 10% pinch of Syrah and Merlot. Or as it’s described on the Giant Wine website, “Dark and velvety rich with plenty of stuffing to scare wines at twice the price.”

We agree – 2009 Ghost of 413 Red is worth much more than its $15 price point.

Five thousand cases were produced, and according to Paul Zitarelli at Full Pull, he expects the wine to be sold out by late February or early March. So what are you waiting for?


Maryhill Winery

Back in June, 2010, I wrote a blog post about how we wanted to visit Maryhill Winery, known for its breathtaking views of the Columbia Gorge and very good value-priced wines. Another year has gone by, and try as we did, we could not get there in 2011. I was so busy traveling for my “day job” that I couldn’t make as many winery trips as we had hoped.

Thankfully, we still had an opportunity to taste some of Maryhill’s wines, even though we didn’t make it to the winery, which is the state’s 15th largest in terms of production (80,000 cases) and located on the Washington-Oregon border.

We recently tried three samples that were sent to us:  2006 Syrah Proprietor’s Reserve ($20), 2006 Sangiovese ($18) and 2007 Zinfandel ($22). (You can find newer Maryhill releases; we waited for more than a year before tasting these ones.)

The 2006 Syrah Proprietor’s Reserve received 92 points from Robert Parker, along with a Double Gold for Syrah under $20 in the 2009 Seattle Wine Awards and a Gold from the 14th Annual Northwest Wine Summit 2009. More than two years later, we could see why this rich and silky Syrah is a winner. We enjoyed it with a savoury stew; it would also pair nicely with a hearty roast.

The 2006 Sangiovese paired perfectly with Dave’s delicious spaghetti, but it would have worked well with barbeque ribs, pasta or pizza too. More than a year after its release, this medium-bodied wine exhibited an earthiness that we weren’t expecting, with cherry, orange peel and mineral on the palate often associated with Sangiovese.

The 2007 Zinfandel  was crafted for “pure palate pleasure.”  Fruit-forward and jammy, with a deep ruby color, this wine has character. We nibbled on strong, stinky cheese, a perfect match for this dry red.

Although we waited to taste these wines, we hopefully won’t have to wait too much longer to visit the winery. It’s a new year, and hopefully 2012 will be the one!


Craggy Range

I don’t often write about wines from New Zealand, but I’m making an exception for this one: Craggy Range 2009 Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2009. This exquisite 100% Pinot received 94 points from the Wine Advocate, and we understand why.

The 2009 Pinot Noir is an elegant, silky and complex wine, which showcases that year’s strong growing season in the Te Muna Road Vineyard, one of two estate properties owned by Craggy Range in New Zealand. The 33-hectare vineyard is planted with eight clones of Pinot Noir in the cool-climate region of Martinborough.

From the tasting notes:
“A bright and deep rosey red. Fragrant aromatics of red fruits, plum, tree bark, a variety of flowers, spice and earth. 2009 is a year of seamless structure, satin tannins and gentle supporting acidity. The palate is pure, long, very finely textured. The lush mid palate holds a mix of red berries, violets, ruby grapefruit, liquorice and exotic spice. The wine finishes with length, poise and delightful focus.”

As with most Pinots, Te Muna Road can be paired with salmon, pork or lamb. We might end up matching it with two out of three. Seriously.

We started discovering wines from New Zealand, after tasting some of that country’s refreshing Sauvignon Blancs over the summer. The bottle of Craggy Range Te Muna Road 2009 Pinot Noir that we tasted was sent as a sample, but it’s one that we would definitely purchase in the future.