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Event Review: Exotic Wine Fest

Guest Post by Juli Crompe.

Another wine event has come and gone, and I am so happy I went to Exotic Wine Fest this week! Not only was I exposed to new wineries, but I was able to try varietals I'd never heard of; which is always exciting for me. Set under a 103 year old Belgium spiegeltent, Exotic Wine Fest took place at Teatro ZinZanni. Teatro ZinZanni is a comedy, cirque, dinner theater on Lower Queen Anne in Seattle, Washington. The event, a collaboration between Wine World and Spirits, Seattle Uncorked, and Teatro ZinZanni, was held to benefit Teatro ZinZanni's ZinZanni Institute for Circus Arts.

A lovely welcome table, full of beautiful glasses!
Included in the $35 ticket price was unlimited wine tasting, a variety of light charcuterie and chocolates, plus a short show by a Teatro ZinZanni performer.

While there were a few snacks available including bread, salami,
cheese and fruit, the chocolate was my favorite platter!
Some of my favorite wineries from the evening:

Bartholomew Winery was on site with owner and winemaker Bart Fabush. From a smooth, slightly sweet Aligote (similar to a combination of Chardonnay and Viognier), to Cuvee Rouge, a peppery, smooth blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Carmenere & 20% Merlot, to the Cabernet Franc, a delightful, structured, fruity, balanced wine. Bart is on my radar. He is starting to make a name for himself on the Washington wine scene, and with amazing grapes and moderately priced bottles ($12-$32), he's one to watch!

Bartholomew Winery Aligote, Cabernet Franc and Cuvee Rouge
I'd never had Whidbey Island Winery wines before, but when I approached their table, I looked at all the labels and there was no doubt this Siegerrebe caught my eye. After asking how to pronounce it (See-Grr-Ray-Baa), and practicing saying it a few times, I learned it is related to Gewurztraminer and was founded in the 1960's. It only grows in the Puget Sound and parts of Germany, and Whidbey Island Winery only makes 100 cases a year. I felt very lucky trying it. It was delicious, sweet, smooth, and perfect for any summer evening! At only $18 a bottle, it's a great buy and highly recommended!

Whidbey Island Winery Siegerrebe

II Vintners, the lesser known sister winery to Covington Cellars, is starting to make its name in the Washington wine industry, having recently scored 92 pts. for their Merlot. Winemaker Morgan Lee is taking risks and playing with flavor profiles, which ultimately is paying off in a big way! I am loving II Vintners right now. 
II Vintners 2009 Zinfandel
I've seen SYZYGY on a variety of lists at events before, but I've never had a chance to try them. I learned SYZYGY is a term that means when the earth, sun and moon align, which is what winemaker Zach Brettler tries to achieve in every bottle. SYZYGY bottles are on the higher end (this particular bottle, Saros, 40% Tempranillo,  40% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, is $45), but it was delicious! There is a waitlist for their wine club, but if you get a chance to try their wines, I highly recommend them.

SYZYGY 2007 Saros
Two other wines worth mentioning:
-Castello de Feliciana 2009 Tempranillo, smokey, with hints of licorice, spice and old leather ($28)
-Tapteil Vineyards 2010 Mourvedre (Red Heaven), hints of sweetness, with a dry finish, let it breathe for a little while before enjoying ($34)

Unlike any other wine event, this was held in a historic circus tent, and showcased a sneak peak of the talent Teatro ZinZanni has to offer. After a couple hours of fun wine tasting, vertical pole duo Sam Payne and Sandra Feusi treated the audience to their act, and stole the show with a breathtaking, sexy, tango-inspired performance. 

Bartholomew Winery:
Whidbey Island Winery:
Castello de Feliciana:
Tapteil Vineyards:
Teatro ZinZanni:

This was the 4th Annual Exotic Wine Fest. I suggest you mark your calendar for approximately March 1st, 2014 to make sure you buy tickets for the 5th annual (typically the 3rd week in March). It is definitely on the not-to-miss wine event list now!!

On to Taste Washington this weekend. Wine events galore! Cheers!

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