Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Taste Washington 2015

A little over month has passed since Taste Washington and I am still basking in the afterglow.  Once again it lived up to it's reputation as "The nation's largest single-region wine and food event".  This event has grown over the years and kicked off with the Red and White Party Thursday night, Taste Washington on the Farm and The New Vintage Friday and culminating with the seminars and Grand Tasting on Saturday and Sunday.  Someday, I hope to make a weekend of it and attend all these great events.  Alas, I was only able to attend the Grand Tasting on Saturday.  I made the most of it!

My first observation as I entered was "Yes! Finally an adequate sized glass for tasting!".  Thank you so much for this!  Things were off to a great start.  My plan as always is to try out new wineries.  So beforehand I take the event program and mark them ahead of time so I have a plan of attack. Here are a couple that blew me away:

Palencia Wine Co - Victor Palencia is no stranger to the world of Washington wine. At a young age he would follow his father and brothers into the vineyards around Prosser.  The first wine to christen my glass was his 2014 Pinot Noir Rose'.  This is sourced from a couple different vineyards in the Ancient Lakes AVA.  This area is know for it's rich minerality and it certainly delivered that in this rose'.  It has an amazing floral nose and great acidity.  It screams "summer" and I made sure I secured a few bottles to enjoy on my deck.

J & J Vintners - Jeremy Petty (one of the "J"s in J & J) poured for us their 4 Boys Blend, a Cabernet Sauvignon dominate blend.  This was nice, smooth, easy drinking wine at a great price point.  Next up, he poured their yet to be released 2012 Les Collines Syrah.  This was easily one of the best wines of the day for me.  Amazing depth and layers of flavors, from brambly fruit all way through to the earthy finish.  This wine just received 93 points in Wine Spectator, so congrats to them!

The amazing food is always a highlight and it's even better when it pairs with wine. The Waterstreet Cafe and Bar was serving a smoked oyster pate with pickled red onion.  It was divine and paired so well with the Saviah Cellars Tempranillo next door.  Another standout food bite was the smoked black cod with miso-sweet soy glaze and roasted shiitake mushrooms from Rays Boathouse and Cafe.  But, no matter how many bites I sample I always save room for dessert!

Thank you Taste Washington for another stellar time.  I cannot wait until next year!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Taste Washington 2014

Another successful Taste Washington has come and gone.  This event is a must for any Washington wine lover.  I had newbies in tow this year and beforehand I tried to prepare them for the magnitude of this event.  I gave them advice such as - do not try to taste/eat everything, share tastings with your spouse, use the dump bucket, take water breaks etc.  I saw their eyes gloss over the moment we walked in.  No matter, fun was had by all!

As always I like to split my time between visiting some new (for me) wineries and seeing some of my favorites as well.  Here is a sampling of my highlights from Taste Washington 2014:

Cairdeas Winery - My first sip of the day was from this Lake Chelan winery, it was their 2013 Cinsault Rose'.  Cinsault is starting to pop up in Washington as a single varietal.  This rose' was dry and crisp and begging for spring. It was a great way to start the day!

Cadaretta - Their 2011 Syrah was everything I love in a Syrah - earth and spice followed nicely by dark fruits with a nice long finish.  Winemaker, Brian Rudin explained that this was due to a partial whole cluster ferment which allows the stems to enhance and influence flavors.

Cotes de Ciel - Most Washington wine drinkers are familiar with the Ciel du Cheval vineyard.  It is one of the oldest vineyards on Red Mountain. Richard Holmes, son of vineyard founder Jim Holmes, poured a 2013 Roussanne for me.  I was immediately taken aback with the perceived sweetness on the tongue, but it was the immense tropical fruits exploding on this wine.  Perfectly rounded out with that richness and slight acidity that is familiar to this varietal..  Richard tells me they are releasing their first red wines this September.  He was visibly excited about it....and so am I!

Sun River Vintners - So, I have the hubby to thank for discovering this winery.  He urged me over there after having a sample of their 2011 Souzao. Souzao is a Portuguese grape normally grown for using in port wine.  It had a that slight raisin-y quality but it was restrained enough to not taste anything like a port.  Very interesting wine, one I'd love to spend more time with.

Taste Washington isn't all about the the wine, it's about the food too.  There was some fabulous food this year:
  • RN74 had amazing bacon deviled eggs
  • Piatti Restorante with their roasted pear, gorgonzola and honey crostini
  • Hoist House at Swiftwater Cellars and their shaved leg of lamb on a crostini with a huckleberry reduction. They had this specifically paired with the Swiftwater Cellars 2009 Proprietary Red and the pairing was spot on.

Once again Taste Washington has outdone itself.  It is truly the wine event of the year and provides a great opportunity for up and coming wineries to make there name known.  The addition of the photo booth this year was a winner. What a great way to commemorate your experience! You can see mine here.

I want to thank the Washington State Wine Commission as well as Visit Seattle for organizing and putting on this wonderful event.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tulpen Cellars Grenache...Keep it Simple

So, unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple weeks, I’m sure you have heard about the Skagit River Bridge Collapse that happened on 5/23.  This is right smack in the middle of my neck of the woods.  Due to the increased traffic on all the side roads to get around this detour, my major grocery shopping has been (voluntarily) limited.  The headache and road rage just isn’t worth it.  I mean, I live in rural Skagit County for a reason.
For this reason my meal options have been limited. However, I did manage to come up with a pretty tasty dinner. I threw some organic, grass fed hamburger patties on the grill, melted some Beecher’s white cheddar on top; a little ketchup, mustard, dill slices, tomato and fresh arugula from the garden and voila! No buns in the house, so it was unintentionally low carb.  It was pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself.

One thing I do not have a shortage of is wine.  This particular evening I chose a Tulpen 2010 Grenache. This lovely wine comes from Yellow Bird Vineyard, located up Millcreek Rd next to Walla Walla Vintners.  This is winemaker, Ken Hart's, completely dry farmed vineyard. I had the pleasure of meeting Kenny on my bus tour at the 2010 Wine Blogger's Conference. He is a very well respected grower and vigneron in the valley.  This wine is a lesson in blessed simplicity-cherry cola with pepper, rounded out with a nice acidity. This paired really well with my burger, the acidity cut through the fat and that lovely Grenache pepper played off the arugula so well.

This wine is worth seeking out, as well as any in the Tulpen line up.  I found mine at Compass Wines in Anacortes.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thoughts from Taste Washington 2013

I consider myself a Taste Washington veteran. I believe this is my ninth year of attending this event. I can truly say it gets better ever year. The two day format that was instituted last year was again very successful. With over 200 wineries and 65 restaurants, a game plan is a must.  My game plan is to not only visit my favorites, but also hit a few new ones as well.

Avennia - This one was at the top of my list to try.  I had read so much great press about this winery and it's wines...I was not disappointed.  Everything they were tasting was great, but I especially loved the Gravura red blend.

8 Bells Winery - This urban winery has a 2010 Red Willow Syrah that was one of my top three tastes of the day. Classic Red Willow, all from a 2006 planting.  They also produce a clonal Red Willow Syrah with 8 different clones that I am anxious to try.

Lauren Ashton Cellars - I enjoyed talking to the winemaker, Kit Singh, who was very engaging and informative about his history and his wines. The Cuvee Meline, a Sauv Blanc/Semillion blend, was absolutely lovely. I paired amazingly well with the spicy pepper spread next door.

Pomum Cellars - I have tried and loved Javier Alfonso's Idilico label, so I was excited to try his Pomum wines. Alfonso poured me the Tinto, a Tempranio/Garnacha/Graciano blend. He definitely has a knack with these varietals.  The acid is tempered, but not too much so the luscious flavors of dark berry and tobacco can shine through. Very nice.

A few other random notes - I like the chef stage at the one end of the room, I think it makes for less congestion.  I love the variety of foods, from high end restaurants to food trucks.  However; restaurants, please I beg you do not make food that requires utensils.  I usually will pass it up.  One bite, on a toast or a something neat and clean.  Thank you!  I noticed no cars this year, which is a good thing, but a large amount of space was dedicated to a beer sponsor.  Um, don't they have their own convention/festival/tasting events?

As usual, I enjoyed myself immensely.  I loved connecting with favorite winemakers and discovering new ones.  Special thanks to the Washington State Wine Commission and Visit Seattle for putting on another outstanding event.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Take The Bull By The Horns with Idilico

Idilico is the name of a 1200 lb bull in Spain that was granted a pardon by it's matador for fighting so valiantly.  It is also the name of the only Washington winery focusing on Spanish varietals exclusively.  Spanish winemaker, Javier Alfonso has created a line up of wines that are an excellent value for the money.

Idilico 2010 Garnacha - Grapes sourced from Upland (Snipes Mountain) and Elerding (Yakima Valley) vineyards, 240 cases made.  I have to say, a lot of value priced Garnacha (Grenache/French) tends to be on the sharp & acidic side. Almost pucker worthy.  This was not the case with this wine.  I opened this on a weekday. If I didn't have to work the next day, the bottle would not have survived the evening.  But alas, I was a good girl and saved the rest for the next night.  What struck me was how well balanced this wine was.  Great tart cherry up front, but it didn't drop off.  It slightly mellowed but was still there through the finish as well as some earthy mineral tones.  This wine in no way needed food, but I did try it with some BBQ meatballs.  It really sings with BBQ sauce.  The next evening, the robustness has suffered only slightly.  It was still very pleasant to drink.

I picked up this wine from Full Pull Wines and to be honest I haven't seen this wine at any retail location.  I highly recommend getting on Full Pull's mailing list, they have introduced me to some fabulous wines, including Idilico.