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

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Taste Washington

I was just looking at a map of Northwest Wineries and Vineyards which I published in 1977 with my partner Bill Getz, a copy of which I am planning to donate to the Auction for Washington Wine which will take place August 19, 2006. In the old days there were roughly 35 wineries in the entire Northwest. Oregon was way ahead of Washington with sixteen wineries compared to twelve for Washington and, of these, four were fruit wineries. Now there are over 400 grape wineries in Washington and the state is the largest producer of wine in America after California. At Taste Washington over 200 wineries poured over 700 wines yesterday.

For a compulsive wine taster like me this posed an overwhelming problem. How to taste all those wines in four hours. Even though I can be a speed taster and "it's hip to spit", that's only about one minute per winery and three wines per minute which doesn't leave much time to talk to old friends and winemakers. I did the best I could. This year the wineries were arranged in alphabetical order and spread out in five rooms. Food was available in each room, but mostly concentrated in one area. There were 2000 tickets available this year and approximately 100 tickets were available at the door.

I started at the back and worked my way forward which worked great at the trade tasting, but put me in the first part of the alphabet when the crush of consumers came in the door at 4:00 p.m. Consequently, I missed Buty and Gordon Bros. This week I will report on Taste Washington almost every day, by room, starting at the back of the alphabet. Perhaps the only way to convey the madness of immersing oneself in 200 wineries, 700 wines and 2000+ wine drinkers is a Joycean stream of consciousness (yes, there was a Bloom Winery, but I didn't have a chance to taste it).

Room D

I headed straight for Sheridan Vineyards as they had been closed the last time I was in Zillah. My hopes of tasting their wine were only partially fulfilled as they were offering tastes of only one bottle of their new second label. A brief visit with Ron Irvine of Vashon Winery was followed by a taste of 2003 Quilceda Creek Cabernet - beautiful and quite drinkable, but with enough tannin to age for years.

Next door, was Red Diamond where I tasted their Shiraz and Cabernet -every bit as good as their wine of the month Merlot(about $10 each). Last year, Saint Laurent medaled at the Seattle Wine Society's wine judging and this year their wines were just as good. The 2003 Merlot and the Bordeaux-style blend, "Boheme" were very good, and the Riesling at $13 is an excellent value. You know I generally don't like Riesling, but this one was exceptional with a perfect balance of dryness and fruit. The wine was made by the winemaker at Ryan Patrick Winery where their 2004 Chardonnay, at $14, also represents excellent value. It is clean, fresh, and nicely balanced between fruit and acid.

While we are on the subject of value, Sagelands made an outstanding Rose (about $10) which is easy to drink, fruity, but not sweet, and very much like the delicious Roses of Provence. Their Merlot at $13 dollars was not bad, either. Speaking of value, the ultimate bargain in room D was the Pine & Post Chardonnay at $5 - a really good wine and a hell of a lot better that two-buck-chuck(Charles Shaw) Chardonnay. To be continued...

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