Another Success for Taste Washington

Congratulations to the Washington State Wine Commission and Visit Seattle for another successful Taste Washington March 22-25, 2018. Thousands of people participated in the annual celebration of the excellent wine made in this state — at the Grand Tasting, educational seminars, lunches on local farms, and other events.

Every year, 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, tasting room staff and more. In particular, we applaud the workers in the vineyards 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. Our top 25 favorites are listed below. ((Note, some were “under the table” pours!)
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Montes and Kaiken Wines

We recently tasted three different releases of Cabernet Sauvignon and a Bordeaux blend from Montes Wines and Kaiken Wines, which we discussed during a Twitter chat with founder and winemaker Aurelio Montes Sr. — considered to be a founding father of the modern Chilean wine industry. Prior to the Twitter event, we enjoyed three other Montes wines that were sent to us in time for Thanksgiving. See below for details.
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Va Piano Vineyards

We’ve been fans of Va Piano Vineyards and owner/winemaker Justin Wiley since we met him in 2010 after the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla. How can you not like a winemaker who says, “My winemaking philosophy is very simple: Grow the best grapes we can and don’t screw it up in the cellar.”

More recently, Justin also founded Eritage Resort, located on 300 acres in the rolling fields of wheat and vineyards about six miles north of Walla Walla. Scheduled to open early next year, the resort will offer 10 luxury suites and a restaurant headed up by James Beard award-winning Seattle chef Jason Wilson.
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Mercer Estates

Mercer Estates has been growing grapes in Prosser since 1972, the first to plant in Horse Heaven Hills. Of note, Block 1 later became the highly acclaimed Champoux Vineyard.

But the family’s history in Prosser began in 1886, three years before Washington became a state. In 1915, the family began herding sheep; In 1958, Mercer Ranches incorporated.

The Mercer family made their first vintage of wine, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, in 2005. Four years later, their Prosser tasting room opened. (Earlier this year, a second tasting room opened in Seattle.) In 2011, Don and Linda Mercer received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. Last year, Wine Press Northwest named Mercer Estates the “2016 Washington Winery of the Year.”

Wow! So it’s not surprising that we have been fans for quite a few years now, and Mercer’s recent releases continue to impress. The winery produces three tiers of brands: Mercer Canyons is the most affordable; Mercer Estates is mid-range; and Mercer Reserve has the highest price point.

We were fortunate to receive samples of three new releases — Malbec, Sharp Sisters Red Blend and Sauvignon Blanc, in addition to three Cab Sauvs from all three tiers. First, the new releases.
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