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Showing posts from April, 2012

Spring Barrel Tasting at Hedges Family Estate

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A great way to enjoy the weekend in the Columbia Valley.

What did I do today? Besides edging and mowing the lawn with my family, I managed to zip over to Red Mountain to revel in the glorious spring sunshine. I also sampled some wonderful wines in one of the most beautiful of settings, Hedges Family Estate winery.


A  grand tradition this time of year in the Columbia Valley, is sampling new wines straight from the barrel, as well as drinking award winning wines in the tasting room. This weekend is referred to as "Spring Barrel Tasting" weekend.
After the morning chores were completed, I stopped by Hedges Family Estate to visit with my friend Kenan, Vineyard Apprentice at Hedges. I enjoyed visiting with him in the full of barrels, barrel room. The two barrel samples were enticing, a good vintage. The fortified wine I sipped after was like liquid raisin cake, delightful.

It was a pleasure to see their new kitchen in action too - so many well thought out elements and architectur…

Washington Cideries Gain Prominence

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Apple wine featured at Taste Washington Seattle.

At this years Taste Washington I was exposed to a lot of great wine, but one of the delights for me this year was not just wine and food, but Washington cider. I like cider, but it has not been a beverage often consumed at home. To my surprise, there's a growing number of cideries setting up shop in Washington. As evidence, there were three Washington cideries pouring hard cider at Taste Washington Seattle. And boy was it good and well received.


I sampled all the ciders offered by Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Methow Valley Ciderhouse and Tieton Cider Works. These cideries had an array of styles, from the stark, bone dry, the slightly sweet, to the super sweet and even fruit and hops flavored ciders. Truly a cider for every palate and occasion. I enjoyed the break from drinking wine to savoring a cool, sparkling and refreshing cider. There's even enough complexity in Washington cider to keep my interest.

Cider is a fermented alcoho…

Notes: 2009 Charles Smith Wines Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon

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April Virtual Tasting Notes

Last night was the monthly Virtual Tasting. These tastings are arrranged and moderated by Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report. The wine he selected for April was the 2009 Charles Smith, Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon. For an hour we tasted and tweeted about this wine. It was a lot of fun and I have new twitter friends I am following and a few new followers myself. Check Sean's website for details on the May Virtual Tasting, consider yourself invited. Following are my condensed notes from the twitter tasting.

We followed @wawinereport on twitter and used the hashtag #charlessmith for this tasting.


I opened my bottle at 6:55pm, swirled the wine around, stuck my nose in the glass and was greeted by a cloud of taffy and wine barrel dust. I waited until 7:00pm to taste the wine, distinct cherry flavor, it was dry. We then proceeded to tweet about the screw cap closure and the label design. I have grown fond of screw caps because it's easy to open o…

Review: Two Fess Parker Wines – Courtesy of California Wine Club

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Expanding my palate to California.

“You ought to never consider retiring from work, because remaining engaged in some creative occupation makes life so much more full” - Fess Parker


As a life-long Washington resident, I drink Washington wine. This blog is “Wild 4 Washington Wine” after all, so drinking local comes easy. Yes, the occasional bottle from Australia and Spain grace my table, but not often. That began to change in 2010 when I started attending the Wine Bloggers Conferences. I was exposed to many new wines from across the United States and the world. There is a huge world of wine out there. Since 2010, especially since last year, I've sampled wines from California, Texas, Missouri, Virginia, New York, Spain, France, Italy, Chile and Argentina. Tasting all of these wines has pushed me off my comfortable bench, where I was drinking exclusively Washington wines.

The wine critic and author Paul Gregutt recently wrote “is there a cure for tunnel palate?” He describes how one d…

Review: Sparkling Sake Jyunmai "Sawa Sawa"

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Brewed by Choryo Shuzo.

A visit to Seattle is never complete for me without a stop at Uwajimaya. Conveniently located near Safeco Field and the freeway exit/entrance, I always shop there on my way in or out of the city. A Seattle landmark, Uwajimaya is one of the largest Asian grocery retailers in the Pacific Northwest. This month after Taste Washington Seattle, I popped in for some last minute shopping before heading home to Eastern Washington.

I tend to lose myself in Uwajimaya, my first stop is the Kinokuniya Bookstore which has a diverse selection of Japanese books, manga, toys, Hello Kity, calendars, t-shirts, music and DVDs. The main Uwajimaya store is stocked with Asian foods and beverages. The frozen Japanese soba noodles I purchased have turned out to be of excellent quality and make for a savory meal – firm and very slurpable. Of course I brought home humbows, sushi and a bottle of sake.

I was drawn to the little blue bottle of sparkling Jyunmai “Sawa Sawa”. I've been cu…

Almost Time for the April Virtual Tasting

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Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report has arranged another virtual tasting.
This month it is on Tuesday 24 April, 2012.
The wine will be the 2009 Charles Smith Wines Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine retails for $20, I found it on sale locally and paid $14.

What you need to do to participate:

1. Have a twitter account - a great reason for using twitter.

2. Buy this month’s wine from a local retailer or from the winery.
(If you cannot find this specific vintage/varietal, try to find another Charles Smith red wine).

3. Tweet your comments about the wine on Twitter between 7pm - 8pm PST/10pm - 11pm EST, using the hashtag #charlessmith and follow Washington Wine Report @wawinereport on twitter, you can follow me too @wild4wawine on twitter.

You don’t have to be a total wine geek to join – just have a thirst to learn and chat about wine! This will be my third Virtual Tasting.

Related Posts:

March Twitter TastingsCatching up on a Week of WineReview: 2008 Chateau Smith Cabernet Sau…

Review: Los Vascos 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve, Colchagua, Chile, Domaines Barons De Rothschild (Lafite)

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Real Value Chilean Wine.

The weather in the Columbia Valley is starting to improve. Our days are intermittently blessed with sunshine and spring showers - the mornings and evenings are still chilly. The other night, I decided to relax on the back porch and take in the last rays of the sun. Orange, pink, and purple lined the horizon, like splashes of wine. It was not warm. Bundled up in a sweater, cap and wool slippers, I kicked back and enjoyed a bottle of Los Vascos 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Reserve.

Los Vascos is one of Chiles oldest wine estates. It is managed by Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) which began modernizing the estate in 1988.

This was a brawny wine, very firm and deserved a grilled steak. On opening it had a classic Cabernet nose of cherry and vanilla, followed by tobacco and some chalk. It was dry with medium grip, and plenty of  chocolate on the finish. After an hour, this wine exploded with flavor. It rocked! It was also quite good on day two. With a coupl…

Review: Aruma Malbec 2010, Bodegas Caro, Mendoza, Argentina

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100% Argentine Malbec.
It's interesting, the more I drink wines from South America, the more I appreciate them (yes, I'm smiling). While I have read about how good the Malbec from Argentina is, the proof is in the tasting and the pairing. Aruma is produced in Argentina’s Mendoza region, by Nicolas Catena of Bodega Catena, in partnership with Barons de Rothchild (Lafite). Catena is one of South America’s largest wineries. "ARUMA" means the "night" in the language of the Quechua, the native Indians of the Mendoza region. I like the sound of "Aruma" and how it rolls off the tongue- Aruma.
This wine had a dark, inky color, it was smooth, creamy, with a sharp core, a bit tight. After 2 hours it began to open  up with a richer mouth feel, earthy aromas expressed with tobacco, dark fruit, and coffee, a light mid-palate, the finish was slightly dry with moderate tannins. Yes, I'm talking steak, which is what I paired the Aruma with. This wine is still …

Review: Macon Lugny “Les Charmes” 2010 Chardonnay, France

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Charmed again.

It was a pleasure to visit the new vintage of this wine. Last year I enjoyed the estate grown 2009 “Les Charmes” Chardonnay by Cave de Lugny. With memories of the previous vintage still fresh in sensory memory, I was charmed once again by “Les Charmes” Chardonnay.

On the nose mineral, fig, ginger and wet stone. After 30 minutes, good aromatics with a rich almost floral aroma, similar to our local sagebrush (Rosacae Purshia Tridentata) in bloom, with cinnamon and rose petal. I enjoyed the crisp, mineral and stone fruit qualities of the Les Charmes. With a lively finish of mineral, stone fruit, river rock and cinnamon it hangs for a while and put a smile on my face. A balanced wine, refreshing and tasty.

My impression is that this wine has gone up a notch in quality. It is more versatile and elegant, overall it is more expressive than the 2009 vintage, very good. Put this wine on the menu. Recommended.

Suggested pairings: oysters on the half shell, steamed clams, sashimi,…

Cougar Crest Estate Winery, Walla Walla

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Taste Washington! 2012 Recommended Wines.

Cougar Crest Estate Winery was established at the Walla Walla Airport in 2001 by Deborah and David Hansen. Owners of 50 acres of vineyard, all in the Walla Walla Appellation, they have sold wine grapes to other wineries for years. Deborah Hansen is the winemaker at Cougar Crest Estate Winery. I enjoyed visiting with Deborah and David at Taste. We talked about Gary Vaynerchuks visit in 2008. Evidently, a lot of good wine was enjoyed by all at the Space Needle the night before the Grand Tasting.

The Wines.

Vioginier - Big floral nose, big, flavorful, good finish, bright, hang time. Retail price $20.


Grenache Rose - Pomegranate, rhubarb, lovely, good finish, dry.

* Favorite: Cabernet Franc 2007 - Best Cabernet Franc of Taste WA, spice, dark fruit, balanced, earth, light med finish, raspberry. Retail price $38.




* Favorite: Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - Earth, dark, good finish, not monster, needs research, touch heat. Retail price $40.

Syrah 2007 - Modes…

The Complete List: Wineries I Visited at Taste Washington 2012

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Favorite Wineries and Wines.

At the 2012 Taste Washington! 225 Washington wineries poured over 800 wines, and more than 50 Northwest restaurants served specially prepared food. This was the 15th annual Taste Washington! in Seattle, Washington.

The quality was strong this year at Taste Washington. Which made it difficult at times to decide which wines were good and which were very good. Even so, I favored over half the wines I tasted this year. This is the list of the wineries I visited, my favorite wineries are noted as are my favorite wines.

Top 7 Favorite Wineries at Taste Washington!


Corvus Cellars,
Efeste,
Gramercy Cellars,
Lodmell Cellars,
Maison Bleu Winery,
Mark Ryan Winery,
Treveri Cellars.

I personally tasted 103 wines, and enjoyed every wine I sampled at Taste Washington 2012. However, of the 103 wines I tasted, there were 58 wines of exceptional quality and character, those are the wines on this list. The list is arranged alphabetically by winery name.

The wines on this lis…

509 Wine Company, Seattle – Poured by Wine World Warehouse

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Taste Washington! Recommended Wines.


Technically, 509 Wine Company was not one of the wineries pouring at Taste Washington. One of the exhibitors, David LeClaire of Wine World Warehouse, was pouring 509 wines.

Officially, the winery is called “Five Zero Nine” they are located in the Fremont District of Seattle, Washington. Five Zero Nine was established by Mike Blom, UC Davis graduate and California winemaker, and Kevin Conroy of Blue Rooster, Inc. an interactive marketing, design and System Integration company located in the Fremont neighborhood.

Five Zero Nine sources fruit from Walla Walla and the Columbia Valley.

The Wines.

2010 Clos Des Seattle Viognier - Light, fruity, peach, good. Retail price $18.99. Recommended.

2009 Coq Au Vin - Spicy, good. Retail price $24.99. Recommended.

* Favorite: 2009 Roots Syrah – Very good, favorite of the three. Retail price $18.99.

Wines listed here are the wines I liked and recommend. My favorite wines appealed to me because they expressed unique cha…

Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center, Prosser - Legends of Wine Vertical

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Taste Washington! Recommended Wines.


It was my good fortune to stray from my tasting list at Taste Washington. Rushing from winery to winery, working through my list, juggling business cards, wine glass, camera, tapping out notes on my iPad, I took a breather and looked around. My attention was caught by the friendly ladies at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center. They were pouring a vertical tasting of 2004 – 2009 Legends red wine blends. I should note that the wines they poured for me are not for sale. This tasting was a treat, a  touch overwhelming and a privilege. I could have spent the afternoon and evening with these wines.


The Legends of Washington Wine Hall of Fame is a project of the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center.  Named after the late Dr. Walter J. Clore, the Clore Center will be a centrally located, must-see learning center that promotes Washington wine and food by engaging visitors to experience the diversity and quality of Washington’s wine and food product…

Whitestone Vineyard and Winery, Family Estate Wines, Wilbur, Washington

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Taste Washington! Recommended Wines.

This was my first exposure to Whitestone wines, I was completely unaware of the brand until I met them at Taste Washington. Their label is one to remember and find. If your local wine shop or grocer does not have Whitestone Wines, ask them to bring them in for you. These are approachable wines, showcasing the beauty of the fruit, balanced and not heavy.

Whitestone Vineyards was founded by Walter and Judy Haig in 1992.  With the help of Washington State University, their vineyard site at Lake Roosevelt Shores, behind Grand Coulee Dam, was prepped for planting. Spring of 1994, the vineyard was planted, re-introducing grape vines to the area. 1996 marked the first harvest, their grapes were purchased by several Walla Walla wineries. In 2001, Walter and Judy started making wine themselves with their Estate Merlot grapes. The following year the winery produced wine from all three of their grape varietals. All of the grapes used in their wines come exclu…

Waters Winery, Walla Walla

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Taste Washington! Recommended Wines.

Waters is an artisanal boutique winery located in Walla Walla, Washington. Waters was founded in 2005 based on the belief that the Walla Walla Valley terroir is capable of producing distinctive red wines that rival the finest of the Old and New World regions alike. Waters produces a few thousand cases of small lot bottlings each year.

Jamie Brown Winemaker/GM. 
A Walla Walla native, Jamie studied winemaking alongside winemakers such as Rusty Figgins (Glen Fiona), Eric Dunham, (Dunham Cellars), and Jean François Pellet (Pepper Bridge, Amavi) before earning his first reviews as the winemaker at James Leigh Cellars. Since its beginning, Jamie Brown’s talents have facilitated the successes of Waters Winery as well as subsequent endeavors, 21 grams and Wines of Substance, both collaborations with winemaker and Master Sommelier, Greg Harrington (Gramercy Cellars).

Assistant winemaker Dreux Dillingham poured for me. Yep, they are also on my “must visit” lis…

Vin du Lac, Lake Chelan

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Taste Washington! Recommended Wines.
Winemaker Larry Lehmbecker launched his "LEHM" label in 2005, for wines made exclusively with fruit from the Lake Chelan Valley. In 2010, WinePress Northwest honored Vin du Lac as "Northwest Winery of the Year." Lake Chelan is cultivating some truly premium fruit and it shows well in the “LEHM” wines. Lake Chelan is a beautiful vacation destination east of the Cascades, which has become a premium wine country destination. I've been fortunate to sample several different bottles of Vin du Lac wines this year, I look forward to enjoying more of Larry's superlative wines.
My first visit to Lake Chelan was in 2006. I stayed in a condo on the lake with a stunning view of the Cascade Mountains. It was also my first occasion to visit several Lake Chelan wineries. In April 2009 the Lake Chelan AVA became the 11th AVA in Washington. Located in the north-central part of the state around Lake Chelan, the area is a sub-appellation of t…

* Treveri Cellars, Yakima

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Taste Washington! 2012 Recommended Wines.
Treveri Cellars, Favorite Sparkling Wines of Taste Washington! 2012

Treveri Cellars opened Thanksgiving in 2010 and produces handcrafted Methode Champenois sparkling wines. Treveri Cellars is a sparkling wine only facility. Treveri wines have quality, varietal variety, they are available (for me) locally, and they are affordable sparkling Washington wines. At my home I've enjoyed Treveri sparkling Pinot Gris and Treveri sparkling Gewurztraminer with dinner. They were as tasty and fun as the wines I sampled at Taste Washington in Seattle. My friends, go find some Treveri sparkling wine and make any occasion a celebration at home. Strongly recommended. Really like these wines. Can you tell? Yes, I'm a fan.

At the bottom of this post is information about Treveri owner/winemaker Juergen Grieb.

The Lovely Wines:


* Favorite: Extra Brut - Good, especially after all that red. Retail price $14.




* Favorite: Brut - A little sweeter, not much, very goo…