Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Monday, January 30, 2006

When To Open A Bottle Of Wine?

When to open a bottle of wine? The 2000 Chateau d'Aurilhac had good fruit, but lots of tannin. It had been resting in a temperature controlled unit, and we didn't think it would have much tannin, so we just pulled it off the shelf and opened it for dinner. Wrong! Either the wine was in that adolescent stage where it is transitioning from the "baby fat" and huge fruit of a very young wine to a more mature style where the structure becomes more prominent or it had already laid down some sediment which got stirred up. Fine wine lays down sediment and if you've stored it on it's side, it will make the wine cloudy and tannic when it goes from horizontal to wertical. That's why it's a good idea to stand it up for at least a few hours and preferably a few days before opening.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wine Of The Week - 2004 Muscadet Guilbaud Freres

This Muscadet is dry, crisp and tart with enough fruit , just as it should be. It was great for lunch with oysters and french bread. One bottle had TCA, a cork mold that is the leading cause of wine spoilage. It smells and tastes like wet cardboard, tennis shoes, or sweat socks - not very pleasant. People's sensitivity to it varies a great deal. TCA or a "corked" bottle is the perfect reason to"send it back" in a restaurant or to take it back to the store for a refund. There should be no questions asked about accepting such a bottle back. We found our bottles for less than $10 at Trader Joe's. If your bottle is "corked" you will have found out what TCA smells like and you should be able to get a refund. Hopefully your bottle wil be bright and crisp!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Event: Australian Wine Tasting

The Best From Down Under, put on by the Seattle Wine Society, will feature wine from Australia. The wine tasting will be accompanied by a special Australian Dinner catered by Teresa Carew of On Safari Foods. This will be a great oppportunity to taste a wide variety of Australian wines with an exceptional opportunity to taste Australian food. You can save thousands of dollars in travel expenses by buying a ticket online at:

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Quilceda Creek

We just tasted the 1998 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Wow! Northwest Bordeaux! This is a powerhouse. Bigger and darker and more tannic than many vintages of Chateau Latour which is not too surprizing given that it is 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc with no Merlot to soften it. It went great with lamb chops sauteed with fresh rosemary and garlic. It was an excellent match with the Bleu de Basque, Chevre, and aged Gouda which followed.

Our experience with this wine illustrates the common problem of when to drink a wine. Robert Parker said he thought it would be ready between 2005 and 2016. When first opened, it was quite tannic and closed. For a moment, I thought we had committed infanticide by opening it too young. After "breathing" for four hours, it started to show flavor nuances and the fruit emerged. Would it have been better in, say, 2008 or 2012? Only the shadow knows, but it is quite possible. On the other hand, it could have dried out with the tannin dominating.

Then there is the common problem with many American wines that they are made to be drunk young and garner high scores early in their lives, but don't necessarily keep well, with lovely youthful fruit turning raisiny and prune-like, leaving mostly acid and tannin in the bottle. Wouldn't it be nice if winemakers would use the back label to tell us what kind of wine they've made and what they had in mind. These days, so many wineries want it all and want to project the image of a wide window of drinkability. With new winemaking techniques and technology this is frequently possible, but most wines are either at their best in their youth or old age

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Event: Northwest Wine Festival

Think summer! Make your plans now. Save Saturday, August 5, 2006 for the Northwest Wine Festival. The Seattle Wine Society will hold its 32nd wine judging of Northwest wines and you will have a chance to celebrate Northwest wines by tasting the wines and comparing your preferences with the judges. This is the premier wine judging held in Seattle. For more information check out the society's website at:

Monday, January 16, 2006


The rulings in the recent Costco suit, bring me to a favorite rant of mine. We have NAFTA and CAFTA. Now we need WAFTA. What is WAFTA? Wines of America Free Trade Agreement! Why do we need a free trade agreement inside the U.S.? That's a new one. Supposedly, it has to do with states rights and prohibition, the Sherman anti-trust act and interstate commerce.. But, proving, once again, that nothing is what it appears to be, I think it's really about an entrenched bureaucracy, and as State Senator Margarita Prentice said the lack of public outcry has made her "resist making big changes, because the only ones interested in it are the ones who were going to make a profit." Of course, it's not entirely clear whether she was referring to Costco or the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, but it is clear that there needs to be a public outcry.

As usual, it's the little guys, the small wineries and consumers, who will suffer. If the legislature, or the court, decides against all direct selling by wineries, it will be a major loss for artisanal winemaking and for all of us who love wine. If they decide to just jigger the current three tier system with its anti-competitive bias, it will be a loss for American free enterprise. Which is the American way, anyway, competition or monopoly?

Which bring me back to WAFTA. We are fortunate to have a reciprocal trade agreement with California, but what if you want to buy wine from number three producer, New York. I know, you are not that likely to order a case from a New York winery, but shouldn't you have the right to do so? And what if you couldn't buy wine direct from Beresan, Betz or Basel Cellars. In the era of the internet and globalization, should we allow ourselves to be hamstrung by arcane and archaic laws and regulations that are based on ideas that are more than seventy years old. If telecommunications hadn't been deregulated , you might not be able to use your cell phone and you might still be expected to pay ATT as the only provider of long distance service. In this new era we need free trade in the wine world, as well. Wine distributors serve an important function, but they do not ahve to control every last drop of wine. Tom Wark, at his "Fermentation" blog suggested that distributors be required to buy every bottle of wine produced if they want a monopoly. Write or call you Washington state legislators and tell your friends to do the same. And join Free the Grapes at

Friday, January 13, 2006

Wine Of The Week - 2004 Edna Valley Chardonnay

What I like most about this wine is the balanced style. Not too much California "buttery oak and tropical fruit." Closer in style to a Washington or French wine although you would never mistake it for a French wine - not that dry and tart. Great on its own or with fish, seafood and poultry( about $10 on sale at QFC University Village).

Friday, January 06, 2006

Wine Of The Week - 2002 Red Diamond Merlot

From a new winery in the Ste. Michelle wine group, this Merlot was blended with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc by winemaker Marcus Notaro to produce a quality Merlot at an unbeatable price( about $10). Not as light and elegant as many Merlots, this wine has a little more structure and spice than you would expect from a Merlot at this pricepoint which makes it great with food - hamburgers, pizza, steak, stew.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Best Northwest Wine Selection

You might have thought of Esquin Wine Merchants here in Seattle which has one of the best selections of Northwest Wine, but we were thinking of the best selection of Northwest Wine outside of the Northwest? AZ Wines in......Phoenix. That's right! I've been in many wine shops all over the country and, at best , they usually have a few bottles of Leonetti or Ste. Michelle. At AZ we found a better selection than many wine shops in Seattle. We found L'Ecole, Seven Hills, Spring Vally Vineyard among many others. Our one complaint - as usual, the wines were scattered among the California varetals with the exception of Oregon Pinot Noir. I think the Washington Wine Commission needs to support separate wine sections for northwest or Washington wine and end displays similar to what the Australians do.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Favorite Washington Wines of 2005

Okay, so I haven’t been posting daily, so much for New Year’s resolutions. Here are my favorite Washington State wines for 2005. These are my personal favorites, not a ten best list, that’s why you don’t see any Riesling or Gewurztraminer, even though some very fine examples are made here in Washington. Same with sweet dessert wines.


  • Cadence “Bel Canto”

  • DeLille “D2”


  • Amavi

  • Pepper Bridge


  • Northstar

  • Novelty Hill

  • Columbia Crest Reserve

  • Red Diamond


  • Rulo “Silo”

  • Rulo

  • Reininger

  • Dunham

  • Columbia Crest Reserve

  • Saint Laurent

  • Three Rivers- any of three specific vineyard wines

Cabernet Franc

  • Willow Crest

  • Chandler’s Reach


  • Chinook Cabernet Franc Rose


  • Amavi

  • L'Ecole


  • Dusted Valley


  • Apex

  • Januik

  • Columbia Crest

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Topic of the Week: Should consumers and wineries have the right to direct ship?

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