Another Successful Taste Washington

Congratulations to the Washington State Wine Commission and Visit Seattle for another successful Taste Washington March 23-26, capping off Washington state Wine Month.

Thousands of people participated in the annual celebration of the excellent juice made in this state — at the Grand Tasting, educational seminars, lunches on local farms, and at restaurants, wineries, hotels and retailers that offered special deals and promotions throughout the month.

But we hope that people did more than taste the fine wine of Washington. We hope they appreciated it, and the hard work by people in our state’s wine industry – from farmers to vineyard managers to those in the production facilities, winemakers, distributors, marketing specialists, tasting room staff and more.

In particular, we applaud the workers in the vineyard who toil over the grapes and the terroir, the winemakers who balance creativity and science in every barrel and bottle, and their families who support this extreme effort.

We definitely appreciated every taste that was poured for us at the Grand Tasting.

And there were some delicious bites too. Our favorite was these amazing Salted Caramel Fudge Brownies from Blazing Bagels. (Their bagels were mouth-watering too, of course!)

We also enjoyed seafood from Anthony’s Pier 66, Ivar’s, Ray’s Boathouse and The Crab Pot. We munched on a lot of crab cakes this year!

Here are some of our favorite wines, in alphabetical order:

      • Alexandria Nicole Cellars 2014 Quarry Butte Red Bordeaux Blend ($26)
      • Ambassador Wines of Washington 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($38)
      • Andrew Will 2013 Champoux Vineyard Red Blend ($74)
      • Avennia 2015 Oliane Sauvignon Blanc ($28)
      • Barrage Cellars 2012 “Cease and Desist” Cabernet Franc ($35)
      • Barrister Winery 2013 Cabernet Franc ($31), pictured left with Petit Verdot & Barrister’s Block
      • Bartholomew Winery 2014 Tannat ($32)
      • Betz Family Winery 2013 Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon ($75)
      • Boudreaux Cellars 2011 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($115); winemaker Rob Newsom and his daughter Keely are pictured below
      • Canvasback 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($40)
      • Cooper Wine Company 2014 L’inizio Bordeaux Blend, Red Mountain ($55)
      • Double Canyon 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($65)
      • Efeste 2013 Big Papa Cabernet Sauvignon ($60)
      • Fidelitas 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($50)
      • Figgins 2013 Estate Red Bordeaux Blend ($85)
      • Lauren Ashton Cellars 2013 Cuvee Estelle Red Bordeaux Blend ($50)
      • Maison Bleue 2014 Voyageur Syrah ($50)
      • Obelisco 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($50)
      • Saviah Cellars 2013 “The Stones Speak” Syrah ($55)
      • Secret Squirrel 2013 Red Bordeaux Blend ($25)
      • William Church 2014 Keystone Reserve Series, Reserve Syrah ($55)

There were so many other wonderful wineries pouring at Taste Washington, but we unfortunately could not visit every table.

As far as we’re concerned, every month is a good time to celebrate Washington state wine.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Our Top 65 Washington Wineries

NYE WineHappy New Year! As we begin 2017, it’s time for our annual Top Washington Wineries List. Why 65 wineries? The list grew to 65 from 60 last year, and from 50 the year before, as we were introduced to new wines or new wine experiences.

The way to get on our list is fairly simple; we only have two criteria: wineries must offer great juice and good people who provide an excellent wine experience. Perhaps we had fun or learned something in a tasting room or at a wine event such as Taste Washington, Taste of Tulalip, Seattle Wine and Food Experience, Bellingham Bay Rotary Grape and Gourmet or Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival. Perhaps someone from the winery gave us a call, or sent us a personal note or samples. Or perhaps we were invited to an incredible winery party.

These people might be the winemakers or the winery owners; in some cases, they are the hard-working staff in a tasting room who went out of their way to make us feel welcome or the amazing workers in the vineyards where it all begins.

We welcome ten newcomers to our list this year, and thank you for the 2016 wine experiences you brought us — Ambassador Wines of Washington, CanvasbackDeLille Cellars, Matthews Winery, Mullan Road CellarsSavage GraceSpring Valley VineyardTildio Winery, Upchurch Vineyard and Two Vintners.

Write for Wine’s Top 70 Washington Wineries (in alphabetical order):

  1. Alexandria Nicole Cellars
  2. Ambassador Wines of Washington
  3. Andrew Will
  4. Avennia
  5. B. Leighton
  6. Barrage Cellars
  7. Barrister Winery
  8. Bartholomew Winery
  9. Betz Family Winery
  10. Boudreaux Cellars
  11. Buty Winery
  12. Canvasback
  13. Chateau Ste. Michelle
  14. Columbia Crest
  15. Cooper Wine Company
  16. Cote Bonneville
  17. Darby
  18. DeLille Cellars
  19. DiStefano
  20. Double Canyon
  21. Dunham Cellars
  22. Dynasty Winery
  23. Efeste
  24. Ensemble Cellars
  25. Fall Line
  26. Fidelitas
  27. Fielding Hills
  28. Figgins
  29. Force Majeure
  30. Forgeron Cellars
  31. Gard
  32. Gorman Winery
  33. Guardian Cellars
  34. Hard Row to Hoe
  35. JM Cellars
  36. L’Ecole 41
  37. Lauren Ashton
  38. Leonetti
  39. Long Shadows
  40. Maryhill
  41. Matthews Winery
  42. Mercer Estates
  43. Mullan Road Cellars
  44. Obelisco Estate
  45. Otis Kenyon
  46. Passing Time
  47. Quilceda Creek
  48. Reynvaan
  49. Ross Andrew
  50. Savage Grace
  51. Seven Falls Cellars
  52. Sinclair Estate
  53. Sleight of Hand
  54. Spring Valley Vineyard
  55. Stottle Winery
  56. Tildio
  57. Two Vintners
  58. Upchurch Vineyard
  59. Va Piano
  60. Vin du Lac
  61. Walla Walla Vintners
  62. William Church
  63. Windy Point
  64. Woodward Canyon
  65. Woodhouse Wine Estates

To these people, we thank you; we support you. Cheers to Washington state wine!

Happy new year!
Margot and Dave
Write for Wine — it’s Wine O’clock Somewhere!

Taste of Tulalip 2014

TOT1Taste of Tulalip is always one of the best wine and food events in the Seattle area, and this year was no exception. The sixth annual Taste of Tulalip was an explosion of flavours for every palate.

Kicking off the event Friday evening at Tulalip Resort was the Celebration Dinner, an incredible six-course meal paired with excellent wines. While the entire dinner was beyond magnificent, our ultimate favorites were:

  • Creamy Jerusalem Artichoke soup, pumpkin seed pesto, creme fruit and crispy leek straws (Chef Brent Clarkson), paired with d’s Wicked Hard Cider “Baked Apple,” Kennewick, WA
  • Seared scallop with green papaya slaw, micro Asian mallow, golden edamame shoots, with ginger lime vinaigrette and aged balsamic (Chef John Ponticelli), paired with 2012 Alleromb Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, WA
  • Blackberry sockeye salmon lox popsicle and salmon souse vide over toasted hazelnut pesto (Chef David Buchanan), paired with 2012 Kosta Browne Russian River Pinot Noir, CA
  • New York strip, dry aged 46 days, tarragon beurre blanc and New York strip, aged 28 days, wild cranberry demi, with cambazola-mascarpone “Twinkie” (Executive Chef Perry Mascitti), paired with 2011 Leonetti Cellars Reserve blend, Walla Walla, WA

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 12.40.24 PMChef Perry also provided another special treat during the dinner. He not only wowed the house with his, and his team’s, creative and delicious dishes, but also brought down the house with his showmanship by joining the band for a rocking version of “All Night Long.”

TOT3There were several musicians entertaining during the dinner, but Daniel Parks of Las Vegas had people on their feet dancing. From old-school Beatles and Neil Diamond tunes to perfect covers of Happy and Blurred Lines, this young man was a star. We hope to see him again; we can’t say enough good things about Daniel Park’s talent.

Can you tell that we totally enjoyed the Celebration Dinner?

Saturday offered a wide variety of things to do at Taste of Tulalip. We decided to spend our time at the Magnum Party and Grand Tasting.

There were two Magnum parties held simultaneously — one for old-world wine and one for new world wine. At the old-world tasting, we sipped an incredible 1985 Bordeaux blend from Chateau Lynch-Bages Pauillac in France — a chateau we visited during our trip to that wine region in 2005. This wine is drinking marvelously right now! We also tasted a pour from a $300-bottle of a Bordeaux blend, which combined Merlot and Cabernet Franc from St Emillion, France.

Hard as it was to leave the old-world event, we thoroughly delighted in excellent new-world wines too: Opus One 2007 Bordeaux blend from California; a lovely 2008 Shiraz from Penfolds in Australia; and our home-grown beauty, 2011 Betz Pere de Famille.

TOT2I also won a very cool gift pack that featured the Taste of Tulalip wine blend from the event’s honorary 2014 winemaker, Sean Boyd from Woodinville Wine Cellars. Special coffee and a gorgeous Tulalip medallion were also included in the gift.

How did I win it? Simple – I knew the answer to the trivia question, “Who is the Executive Chef at Tulalip Resort?” Even if I hadn’t already known it, how could I miss after his star musical performance the night before?

Next came the Grand tasting; how could this event make a mark after the activities already outlined above? Easy – we had an opportunity to see our friends and sip wine from some of our favorite Washington wineries: Obelisco Estate, Barrage Cellars, Avennia, Doubleback, Efeste, Gorman Winery, Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Figgins, Force Majeure and Woodinville Wine Cellars. Plus we had a taste of a magnificent red blend from Craggy Range, a winery we enjoyed when we were in New Zealand last May.

Special thanks to Allan Aquila for the invitation!

If you’ve never been to Taste of Tulalip, please bookmark this page, so you will remember to get your tickets for the 2015 event!

Cheers!
Margot and Dave

Random Thoughts from Taste Washington-Part 2

This is a continuation of our random thoughts from Taste Washington, held March 23-24 in Seattle. To start at the beginning, please read Part 1 first.

Another perennial favorite, 2010 Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon, from Betz Family Winery, continues to showcase how this grape shines in Washington state.

Smart thinking from Col Solare — at their booth, they offered an educational (and tasty) experience of how wine develops over the years, with a side-by-side tasting of the 2007 and the 2003 vintages.

Somehow, we were lucky enough to taste Cooper Wine Company‘s stellar 2008 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon. This standout wine wasn’t on the tasting list provided when we arrived at the event.

Thank you to all our friends who poured us a little-extra-special something from under the table!

Speaking of friends, Bob Silver noted in his blog WA|Wine|PR that the Double Canyon 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was “the favorite wine that I met at 2013 Taste Washington.” He described it as “Big honkin’ fruit from Horse Heaven Hills, wonderful structure and balance” – so you know we’ll be checking this wine out in the near future. Our palates are similar to Bob’s – he’s never steered us wrong with his many recommendations over the years.

Efeste‘s 2009 Big Papa is drinking so well right now that we need to get to Woodinville to pick up more, stat! Just one taste underlined why Washington wine expert Paul Gregutt described this beauty as capturing the best of Washington in a single bottle.

As expected, we enjoyed JM Cellars’ 2010 Longevity and 2010 Tre. We can’t wait until May, when John Bigelow’s 2012 Red Mountain Sauvignon Blanc is released. We savored a pour at Taste Washington, and indeed, this wine demonstrates the true characteristics of the grape. A perfect summer sipper on the deck!

Another favorite was Sparkman Cellars 2010 Kingpin Cabernet Sauvignon, also sourced from Red Mountain. I adored Sparky’s tasting notes: “Will develop for many years and last well past the end of the world.”

There were so many more wineries that we did not have the time (or fortitude) to visit! And then there was the food!

The standout restaurant booths that we visited were Anthony’s Pier 66Murray’s CheeseIvar’sRelish Burger BarRN74Sullivan’s SteakhouseThe Capital GrilleSweet TreatsThe Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company and every restaurant from Tulalip.

Did you go to Taste Washington 2013? What were your standouts?

Cheers!