Driving down to Seattle from Vancouver, BC for Taste Washington, I always think about the wineries I’ve tried last year; how will their wines taste this year, and what new surprises will I find. There is always some wine that fits your palate, whether it is a light, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc, a round full bodied Chardonnay, a flowery Pinot Noir, or a big bold Cabernet Sauvignon. This year there were over 225 Washington State wineries in attendance.
If you have not been to Taste Washington before, it runs over a Saturday and Sunday,with both days starting with morning seminars, followed by a walk-about tasting room free for all. What I really like about the tasting room is that there is more than just wine to drink; there are restaurants serving various appetizers, both hot and cold, for you to try with the wines. Most of us enjoy food and wine together. A red wine that you may taste on it’s own could be too tannic, or have a pepperiness you may not enjoy, but when you try it with some grilled beef, the wine could soften up or the pepperiness of the wine may bring out more flavour from the beef. A perfect pairing. So I always like to, if I can, taste wine and food together. The Tulalip Resort Casino was also there hosting a VIP room as well as a food tasting station which everyone can attend. They have a wonderful event every November called “Taste of Tulalip”. Check out my video of some of the food available at this year’s Taste Washington event. There were more than 60 local Seattle area restaurants in attendance.
If you get tired of tasting wine, there are also some tables with beer and ciders!
I attended on the Saturday only, starting the day off by sitting in on the “Intro to the World of Wine“, hosted by Sean Sullivan, Washington Wine Report, and featuring Dr. Kevin Pogue, Whitman College, Thomas Henick-Kling, Washington State University, Thomas Price MS, The Metropolitan Grill, and Linda Murphy, Author of “American Wine”, An Honest Drink. This was more than a simple introduction to wine; it covered such diverse topics as terroir and minerality, and what to expect from wines produced from Washington State. Very informative. I will produce a separate article on this seminar.
My Wine Picks
There were many wines that I enjoyed this year. When I look at my notes for this event, I see that Syrah comes up quite often.
Cairdeas Nellie Mae Viognier Roussanne 2011. Flowery, stone fruit nose. High acid, quite fruity with flavours of stone fruit, flowers, honeysuckle, and grapefruit skin.
- Desert Wind Viognier 2011 (USD$15). Peach and honeysuckle aromas in the glass. Medium body, round and dry, with stone fruit, honeysuckle and a hint of sweet spices. Medium acidity.
- Smasne Cellars Aligote 2011. Aligote is the oft forgotten second white grape of Burgundy, behind Chardonnay. This wine had a light nose with aromas of honeydew melon. Light body, dry and spicy, with citrus and some vanilla flavours. If you spend the time to swirl this wine in your mouth the oak flavour in this wine becomes more intense.
- COR Cellars ALBA COR Pinot Gris / Gewurztraminer 2012. These two grapes are well-known in the Alsace region of France. They also do well in Washington State and Oregon. This wine had a peachy vegetal nose. Very fruity flavours of peach followed by grapefruit. Very soft and round mouth feel.
- Tranche Cellars Pink Pape 2012 (I know, this isn’t technically white, but a rose). This rose is a blend of Counoise, Cinsault and Syrah grapes. It had a nice strawberry nose. Dry, and light in body with light red cherry and strawberry flavour, with a streak of minerality.
- Chatter Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2011. Light aromas on the nose with a hint of roses. Medium minus body, medium acidity with round mouth feel. Light citrus and apple flavours on your palate. An elegant wine.
Ambassador Vineyard Envoy 2009 (USD$32.50). This red wine is a blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a nice red fruit nose. Very fruity flavours, with a mixture of red and ark fruit, and some chocolate notes too. Soft mouth feel. Nice.
- Ambassador Vineyard Diplomat 2009 (USD$45). A slightly different blend for this wine; consisting of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Syrah. Meaty, smoky, dark fruit nose. Full body, dry mouth feel, with meaty, dark fruit flavours, together with some spice and oak notes. Very good.
- Lauren Ashton Cellars Syrah 2009 (USD$34.99). One of the Syrahs from Taste Washington that I really enjoyed. An inviting nose with dark fruit aromas. Juicy black fruit flavour, together with pepperiness and some minerality to it. Vanilla on the finish.
- Barrister Cabernet Sauvignon “Sagemoor Vineyard” 2009. Deep garnet in colour, with dark fruit, yellow plum, and vanilla aromas. Full body, round with juicy black fruit and some spiciness. Good tannic structure to support the wine. A complex wine.
Laurelhurst Cellars Syrah 2008 (USD$38). The grapes for this wine come from Red Mountain. I have found from personal preference that I really like Red Mountain Syrah, plus many other grapes that are grown on Red Mountain. This wine had a dark fruit and caramel on the nose. Light body with blueberry flavour and bright acidity. This was a wow wine for me.
- Corvus Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (USD$39). The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for this wine come from Red Mountain. It has nice aromas in the glass of plums and blueberries. Medium body, soft mouth feel, with lots of dark fruit on the palate and some vanilla. Nice.
- Corvus Cellars Blackbird Cuvee 2009 (USD$19). This wine is a blend of estate Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc combined with Merlot and Petit Verdot fr0m their Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla. Light garnet/ruby in colour. Nice light ripe dark fruit nose. Full body, soft with lots of dark fruit flavours and a firm tannic finish.
Where I Stay for Taste Washington
A hotel tip: When I stay in Seattle for Taste Washington, I go to the Best Western Pioneer Square. It is about 4 blocks walking distance to CenturyLink Field, there are many restaurants in the Pioneer Square area, plus it is also a few short blocks to get to the Pike Place Market. The hotel is a heritage building, only 4 stories, and has very friendly staff. Here is the weblink for the Best Western Pioneer Square. Here is a picture of the room you could expect.