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Taste Washington 2013: Day One

Guest Post by Juli Crompe.

Taste Washington. If you love wine, and live in Seattle (or follow the Washington wine scene), these two words can't help but bring a smile to your face. In its 16th year, Taste is the nation's largest single-region wine and food event, showcasing Washington state wines. This year the event attracted more than 3,000 attendees, 225 wineries with more than 750 different bottles of wine, 65 restaurants and a long list of extras, including: seminars, a vineyards section, Chef demonstrations, special VIP additions and even hotel discounts and packages for attendees.

In all honesty, Taste has become so big you can't possibly do it in two days, let alone one. Until recently Taste was only one day; I believe it was the best decision ever to make it two days. Now, I'm just waiting for it to be three...or seven days I leave every year wishing I had far more time; despite my being there from the second the doors opened until the second the doors closed (and a bit later) both days!

This year my goal was to visit wineries I hadn't in a while and those I was not familiar with. The list was quite long and I realized quickly it was not possible to visit all of them. While I hit as many as I could, there definitely was room for much, more more.

Some of the standouts from Day 1:

Loved this Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon blend from Auclair winery. 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Semillon,
sweet and well balanced, new 2012 blend, perfect for summer at $18 a bottle! 
Anthony's Pier 66 served up their Dungeness Crab Stack, with fresh crab, mango & lots of avocado, topped with arugula, wild huckleberry sauce and chive oil. The perfect balance of flavors, very light, and absolutely delicious!
Badger Mountain Vineyard was a new one for me, but I'm always looking for organic wine! This Riesling, only $12 a bottle (a steal for organic!), was very traditional, delicious, not overly sweet, and crisp with tropical flavors...very good.
Badger Mountain was the first certified organic vineyard in the state of Washington...go Badger!
Of course Betz is on the list of wineries to hit early, as they always pour out of wine. This year I made an effort to try their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, as it had been a while since I'd had any Betz. It was delicious! Fruity (currant, berry), very balanced and well rounded, and will likely be incredible with a few more years in the bottle, I love this bottle. Pere de Famille from Columbia Valley comes in at $68 a bottle, definitely a special occasion treat, but a great wine!

I recently had some Bunnell Family Cellar wine before Taste, but was told they would have their "keg" wine at Taste, a must try. When I walked by Bunnell at Taste, I said, "Pour me the keg!", something I never thought I'd say at this event. This wine was bold, with strong flavors, a blend of 34% Mouvedre, 25% Syrah, 25% Grenache and 6% Cinsault. Very good and available by the bottle, too!

Cadaretta was also a new winery to me this year. I was really impressed with their SBS, a white Bordeaux blend of 76% Sauvignon Blanc and 24% Semillon. It is a slightly sweet, slightly acidic fruity blend, rounded out well from the Semillon, creating a richer Sauvignon Blanc than traditionally what we're used to. $23 a bottle. I was able to try the 5 day old 2012 SBS as well, and can see this next vintage will be just as good, whenever it comes to bottle!
Col Solare. There are no words to describe these incredible wines. This 2007 Red retails for $75, but it is amazing. Sweet, full bodied, balanced, with incredible structure, this is a "spoil yourself" wine to the max! An incredible blend of dark cherry and blackberry notes, with subtle chocolate, vanilla and spice, create the perfect balance in this bottle. Truly a treat.
I had to highlight two Col Solare wines, as they are just spectacular. The 2011 Col Solare Component Collection Estate Vineyard Red Mountain Malbec is $85 a bottle, and another utter delight for your taste buds. An absolutely gorgeous, rich, deep purple color, with beautiful sweet, smooth berry notes.
Cooper is always a good go-to winery, and I always love trying their new wines at Taste each year. This year, my favorite was the 2009 Red Mountain Bordeaux style blend, L’inizio. At $50 a bottle and very structured with caramel, cherry and vanilla notes, this is a nice bottle.
The Washington State Convention Center was on site with some delicious food options,
including these amazing almond macaroons!
ded.reckoning had a 2010 BBQ Oink! Red Blend, surprisingly good for just $10 a bottle. Mostly Cab Franc and Malbec, this is a great BBQ wine. You can't go wrong picking up a bottle and checking it out. A suggestion for this wine was making a Sangria from it, as it has light oak so it can be chilled, great for a summer BBQ for red drinkers!

Also from ded.reckoning was their 2010 Reserve Syrah from Yakima Valley. At $80 a bottle, this is one of the more expensive bottles at Taste, but it was quite wonderful. Gorgeous color, with notes of smoke, berries and herbs.
Dusted Valley 2010 Petite Sirah is a big wine! At $42 a bottle, it was well balanced,
combining 90% Petit Sirah with 10% Syrah. Very good!
Elsom Cellars 2009 Autonomous, a Red Bordeaux Blend from Yakima Valley, is $34 a bottle, and a great buy with bold flavors of oak, pepper (white and black!), spice and berry. A very well rounded, big Bordeaux blend!
Tulalip Resort Casino hosted a VIP lounge called Taste the Passion, with an amazing selection of foods.
Above is their take on a Tuna Melt, but with upscale ingredients. It was delicious!
Also from the Tulalip Resort Casino, their take on meatloaf, a classic comfort food turned up a few notches with beautiful presentation, cute miniature size and premium beef.

If you have not had the opportunity to check out Taste Washington, I HIGHLY recommend it. The only complaint I ever have is that there simply isn't enough time to sip every wine you want. You will leave this event having learned about new wineries, new wines, new restaurants, and getting to visit with many winemakers themselves. The opportunities available at this event do not come close to any other event we have in the Seattle area, period.

Make sure to check out my Taste Washington Day 2 post, covering my 2nd half of the event!


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