Taste Washington 2013: Day Two

Guest post by Juli Crompe.

Day two of Taste Washington was a crazy frenzy of playing catch up of everything I didn't get a chance to hit on day one; and everything I still had left for day two.

Planning Ahead

Every year Taste releases a floor map of where each winery, restaurant, business, special section, etc. will be, and I wouldn't get nearly as much done without mapping out my route pre-event. This year I spent about 90 minutes looking over the wineries and planning out where I wanted to go. I also made a spreadsheet and a corresponding map for each day (I split the map in half; half the room on day one, and the other half on day two).

While I definitely take it to the extreme, I do suggest looking over the map before the event; it allows you to maximize your time and see who will be there! The biggest advantage to this is to ensure you can make it to some of the more popular wineries early in the day before they pour out. For example, Col Solare poured out by 3:10 pm (the event goes until 5 pm) on day one...definitely one winery to put on your "early" visit list!

Some of the gems I found on day two:

A bit of character in the photo from the ice bucket that made this label quite wet.
This, by far, is in the top two ice wines I've ever had the privilege of sipping. Gard Vintners 2010 Riesling Ice Wine from Columbia Valley was awarded 95 pts. from wine spectator, and exhibits honey, apricot and marmalade notes. At $34 a bottle, it is, in my opinion, reasonably priced for the sheer quality. This is an AMAZING ice wine, and with only a few cases left before it sells out and the 2011 is released, I suggest you go buy some...now!
Kaella's 2010 Sangiovese from the Ceil de Cheval Vineyard was very dry with high tannins and light, earthy, smokey  notes. A bit of swirling and air really help to bring out a bit more fruit flavors in this wine, with a smooth finish.
I'm a newer fan of Kestrel, but I've been impressed so far. I'm already a big fan of their Port (which they didn't have with them at Taste), but I added their Malbec and Old Vine Merlot to that list after this event. The 2008 Winemaker Series Malbec was smooth, bold, with dark fruit flavors, a bit of oak and vanilla at $40 a bottle. The 2008 Signature Series Old Vine Merlot came from vines planted in 1972, and showed more Cabernet flavors than Merlot ones. A big, bold, fruity wine, very smooth at $50 a bottle. 
I've been a big fan of Kiona wines for a while, and this year was no exception. These were just two of the wines I enjoyed, but I liked their entire lineup. The 2010 Lemberger is a unique grape that surprisingly grows quite well in our state, but isn't often used. This bottle is only $15, and it is their 30th vintage! Smooth, easy, light flavors, this one is worth picking up and trying. The 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was bold, earthy, slightly sweet with light tannins; a very well balanced wine. $40 a bottle.
I discovered Mellisoni this year, and was quite impressed with their 2011 45 Degrees. A blend of 70% Riesling and 30% Gewurztraminer, it was surprisingly not too sweet, with green apple, melon and citrus notes. Well balanced. $35 a bottle. 
Mercer 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was good and very smooth, but a bit light for a Cab. 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 2% Malbec, and 1% Petit Verdot and Syrah blend together to bring out floral notes, with berries and spices. $40 a bottle.
I've had a few opportunities in the past to get out to see these guys, and they have never worked out. (One time, I drove out for an event and literally couldn't find them! Warning: they are hard to find!) But wow...I am so glad I finally had a chance to visit with them for a while at Taste. These guys are new the game, but they definitely know what they are doing! I can't say enough about these wines. I could go on about all of them, but I suggest picking up a bottle, or hitting up their tasting room in Georgetown (as long as you can find it! Apparently you need to go to the back door.), as they are doing great things! All three of the varietals above were superb!
Pie, always a great bite at events. I had the Strawberry Rhubarb and Beef bites, both were great, and I love that their fruit pies aren't super sweet, so they don't overwhelm when you're wine tasting!
Mark Ryan has a value brand...who knew? For those of you familiar with Mark Ryan, you know his wines can be quite pricey. I learned at Taste that he started a value brand and this bottle, 2011 The Vincent, was a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Syrah & only $20 a bottle. A smooth, fruity, slightly spicy wine with light tannins, a great value. 
Heavy Restaurant Group includes Barrio, Local 360 and Purple Cafe and Wine Bar. This Roasted Chioggia Beet Salad was delicious from Purple Cafe, a light balance of orange vinaigrette, minted yogurt mousse, and pistachio crumble.

A few other wonderful wineries worth mentioning from Taste include:
  • Adams Bench
  • Airfield Estates
  • Andrew Will
  • Cadance Winery
  • Cave B Estate Winery
  • Chateau Rollat Winery
  • College Cellars (A Teaching College at Walla Walla Community College)
  • Corvus Cellars
  • Double Canyon Vineyard
  • Gorman Winery
  • Gramercy Cellars
  • Maison Bleue
  • Owen Roe
  • Scarborough Wines
  • Treveri Sparkling Wines
I am so lucky to live in an area with such an incredible emphasis on wonderful wine and even more wonderful wine events. As always, I can't wait for the next fabulous event!

Hope to see you all next year. Cheers!

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