Our Faves from Seattle Wine and Food Experience

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 6.41.50 AMWe had a wonderful time at the Grand Tasting at Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE) — great wine, tasty bites and good conversations. If you missed it this year, be sure to mark your calendar now to check it out in 2017!

Below is the list of our favorite wines we tasted at SWFE, but the ones we took home were Ambassador Wines Plenipotentiary 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bartholomew Winery’s Primitivo 2013 and Des Voigne Cellars 2012 The Duke Zinfandel.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.44.57 AMOf the wineries that were new on our list, Ambassador Wines was our favorite. Plenipotentiary Cab Sauv is a rich, robust delight from Red Mountain; according to the tasting notes: “Deep dark chocolate cherry, blackberry jam, toast and finishes off with vanilla sweetness and spice. The mouth explodes with dark fruit flavors, a rich and full mid-palate and a nice lingering vanilla, blackberry and spice finish. The tannins meld nicely with the acid and to create a nice enticing finish begging you to take another sip.” We are looking forward to visiting their tasting room in Woodinville to try some of their other wines.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 11.43.18 AMHere is the list of our other favorites that we tasted at SWFE (in alphabetical order):

  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 Jet Black Syrah (new release)
  • Brian Carter Cellars 2010 Solesce
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle 2013 Tenet The Pundit Syrah
  • Double Canyon 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Guardian Cellars 2013 Chalk Line
  • Mercer Estates 2011 Ode to Brothers GSM
  • Three Rivers Winery 2013 River’s Red Wine (a unique blend of Sangiovese, Malbec, Syrah, Merlot and Cab Sauv)
  • Watermill Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc
  • Wilridge Winery 2013 Estate Melange Noir Red Blend (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cab Sauv, Malbec and Petit Verdot)
  • The Woodhouse Wine Estates 2012 Darighe

We also enjoyed some tasty treats from these restaurants: Duke’s Seafood and Chowder House, Anthony’s Budd’s Broiler, Chinoise Cafe, The Kitchen by Delicatus, Macrina Bakery and Delicious Health Cultered Cashew Cremes.

We can sum up our experience at SWFE in one word: Delicious!

Margot and Dave

Seattle Wine and Food Experience Wine Awards

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 6.41.50 AMThe results of the third annual Wine Awards have been announced by the Seattle Wine and Food Experience in conjunction with their weekend of events Feb. 20-21.

More than 200 wines from Washington, Oregon, California and international regions were judged by a panel of experts who tasted and reviewed the wines under blind conditions, not knowing the producers, region of origin or prices.

Of the 204 wines submitted, 130 were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals. Top honors went to:

  • Best of Show: Piper Heidsieck Brut, NV Champagne
  • Best Red Wine: Garnet Pinot Noir 2013, Monterey County, California
  • Best White Wine: Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling 2014, Columbia Valley, Washington
  • Best of Class:
    • Ambassador Wines of Washington Estate Envoy 2012, Red Mountain, Washington
    • Arbor Crest Cellars Dionysus Meritage 2012, Columbia Valley, Washington
    • Bogle Vineyards Merlot 2013, California
    • Serra Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Applegate Valley, Oregon
    • Terra Blanca Winery & Vineyards Signature series Block 8 Syrah 2010, Red Mountain, Washington
    • Wilridge Winery Malbec 2013, Yakima Valley, Washington

A full list of awards can be viewed at Seattle Wine and Food ExperienceThis year’s judges’ panel, led by northwest-based wine journalists Andy Perdue and Eric Degerman, were Doug Charles, Lane Hoss, Rebecca Murphy, Chris Nishiwaki, Tim O’Brien, April Reddout, Yashar Shayan, Dawn Smith and Mark Takagi. You can read more about the judges and their credentials at Seattle Wine and Food Experience.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Margot and Dave

Vivino’s 2016 Wine Style Awards

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 4.01.47 PMVivino, our favorite wine app, recently released its 2016 Wine Style Awards, which “recognize the best wines on the planet in over 100 categories, from Argentinian Malbec to Bordeaux Red to Californian Chardonnay and everything in between.”

The awards were given out to the top-rated wines, as determined by Vivino’s 13-million users and their millions of wine ratings. To make the list, a wine had to generate more than 50 ratings in 2015.

Since our wine of choice typically comes from Washington state, we decided to focus on the wineries that won the style awards for our state’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blend and Merlot.

We are delighted to see that many of our favorite wineries made the list — congratulations to all!

Cabernet Sauvignon ($15-$220)
1. Quilceda Creek 2010
2. Woodward Canyon Artist Series #21 2012
3. Chateau Ste. Michelle Limited Release Druthers 2011
4. Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Reserve 2011
5. Lower East 2012
6. Canvasback 2012
7. Gravel Bar 2013
8. Seven Falls 2012
9. Tamarack 2012
10. Columbia Crest 2009

Red Blend ($22-$88)
1. Figgins Estate Red 2011
2. DeLille D2 2012
3. Col Solare 2009
4. Sheridan Vineyard L’Orage 2012
5. Quilceda Creek CVR Red 2011
6. Efeste, Final Final 2011
7. Mark Ryan The Chief Board Track Racer 2012
8. Gilbert, Left Bank Red 2012
9. Spring Valley Vineyards, Uriah Red, 2012
10. Hedges Family Estate, 2011

Merlot ($11-$34)
1. Northstar 2010
2. Seven Falls 2011
3. Canoe Ridge The Expedition 2012
4. L’Ecole No. 4 2011
5. Skyfall 2012
6. Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek 2011
7. Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells 2012
8. 14 Hands 2010
9. Stimson Estate 2011
10. Chateau Ste. Michelle 2011
Congratulations again!

For the winners in all wine styles in many more regions around the world, here is the full list of Vivino’s 2016 Wine Style Awards.

For more on Vivino, please see our previous blog post.

Margot and Dave

Recommendation: Download this free wine app!

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 3.32.47 PMOur favorite app these days is Vivino. Its slogan is  “Never Pick Another Bad Wine” — and the process is very simple.

All you have to do is download the free app, and then use your smartphone or tablet to take a photo of the label on a bottle of wine. Vivino then scans through its database, and in seconds you will be shown details about the wine, including ratings, reviews and prices.

The information comes from Vivino’s 13-million users – making it the world’s largest community of wine drinkers. The app is easy to navigate, and also offers articles, regional guides and suggestions about where to buy wines nearby.

We use Vivino in so many ways; here are some recent examples:

  1. During a December trip to Washington, D.C., we wanted to pay corkage for a nice bottle of wine to celebrate a special event at an upscale restaurant. We went to a liquor store near our hotel and found a few bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from four wineries we recognized. But we hadn’t tasted any recent vintages from those wineries, so we didn’t know which wine to buy. We took photos of the labels of all four bottles, read and compared the Vivino reviews and voila, it was easy to make a decision.
  2. Our friends had us over for dinner and poured several excellent wines. We wanted to remember our favorites, so out came Vivino. We took photos of the bottles, rated them and wrote notes to refer to later on. We will never forget another bottle of wine, thanks to Vivino.
  3. We were at Costco and decided to buy a few bottles of our favorite good-value red. We had enjoyed the 2012 vintage, but this time Costco only offered the 2013. So we took a photo with Vivino and found that the 2013 vintage was rated higher than the 2012. Out came our wallets!
  4. We went out for dinner with friends and didn’t recognize some of the offerings on the restaurant’s wine list. (We know many wines from Washington state, Oregon, California, British Columbia, France, Australia and New Zealand, and several from Italy, Spain, Argentina and Chile, but we’re not as familiar with wines from Germany, Portugal, Austria, South Africa and other countries.) So we scanned the restaurant’s wine list to see the ratings and reviews, and then made a decision about which ones to pair with our meals.
  5. Vivino also works with U.S. wine retailers to provide exclusive, discounted offers on high-quality wine to its users. We recently ordered four bottles of an excellent Cab Sauv from Napa Valley at a good price point. An extra bonus: shipping is often free when you purchase a few bottles.

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 4.21.15 PMVivino also has social media attributes, so you can follow friends who use the app and see what they are drinking and enjoying. You can even like or comment on their reviews.

Of note, Vivino has excellent label recognition software and mostly gets labels immediately correct. But occasionally a different vintage or a different variety might be displayed from that same winery — when that happens, there is a super easy way to change it, and the correct label quickly shows up. And if the app can’t automatically identify a wine, Vivino’s team will manually do so for you — although it takes more than a few seconds.

You don’t have to wait as long if you upgrade to Vivino’s paid premium feature ($49.99), which fast-tracks the manual process for your unidentified labels. Another plus of the premium feature is cellar management. If it’s hard to remember where a specific bottle is located in your cellar (or in your wine coolers or wine racks), Vivino can help you out there too.

So whether you are an expert, enthusiast or simply enjoy wine, Vivino can help you find the best ones and remember them.

Vivino also recently released its 2016 Wine Style Awards, which you can read more about in our next blog post.

Margot and Dave