Happy New Year!

It’s almost 2013…and I think it’s about time that I get back to the blog. So many changes, so little time to track them all. That’s part of the reason I’ve put off updating this; I didn’t know where to start.  The longer I waited, the bigger the task got.  Procrastination is a beast.  You’d think I would have learned that by now; I’ve had years of practice.  But I finally got my act together and am happy to announce …Canines and Cabernet is on its way back !  The Woodinville Wineries page is being updated (it was REALLY out of date) and simplified; I hope to have it posted in a couple of weeks.  I also plan to eventually include info on: Seattle Urban Wineries, Whidbey Island Wineries and maybe even Olympic Peninsula Wineries.  But Woodinville is still the focus and where I spend most of my time “researching.”

Aside from changes to the blog, there have been a lot of changes with me as well.   The highlights…I have a job I enjoy, a new dog that likes going to the wineries as much as dad and I do (you can see her on the ‘About Canines and Cabernet’ tab) and a great new house that I moved into less than a month ago. Unpacking, getting set up in the new place and relaunching Canines and Cabernet are a few of my top goals for the month. All of this will no doubt require drinking some great wine along the way.

Life is good – cheers!


Happy New Year from me and The Doodles!

First Woodinville Trip of 2011

Being unemployed has really affected my contribution to the Woodinville wine community, and not in a good way!  It was good to get up there again but hard not to go on a major shopping spree.  I say it all the time…there are some FANTASTIC wines in Woodinville!  It’s been about a month but here is a brief recap…

J Bookwalter –  Terrific case sale on the Subplot 24!  This is a wonderful blend and is on sale for $144 a case.  This is a great price for a great wine.  We were also lucky enough to do a vertical tasting of the Protagonist wines from the past few vintages.  Delicious.

Otis Kenyon –  This is one of the newer tasting rooms in Woodinville and I have a feeling it’s going to really take off.  The wines are ripe and juicy, the tasting room staff is wonderful and there is a fantastic slice of history and story that goes with the winery.  Stop by, you’ll have a great time.

Covey Run –  We’ve been Covey Run fans for years but decided to pass on tasting today.  They have two tasting menus (one for $5 and one for $10) and each was about half white and half red.  The tasting fee is only refundable if you join the wine club.  We weren’t interested in joining anymore clubs or in drinking any whites today so we passed all together. 

Zerba Cellars –  When we decided to skip Covey Run, we went to Zerba Cellars instead.  Boy was that a great stop!  I haven’t been there since their grand opening weekend (roughly a year ago maybe?) and had forgotten just how good their wines are.  We were also lucky enough to meet Shawn Chandler in the tasting room.  He knew tons of information about each wine, was as nice as he could be and agreed to open a Cabernet Franc for us, even though it wasn’t technically on the line up for the day.  That was one of our favorite wines of the day – and that says a lot because there were a lot of good wines.

Pomum Cellars –  This is one of those wineries that isn’t open on a regular basis.  They open for appointments and for releases and every now and then we get lucky and go by on a day when their sign is out.  This was one of those lucky days!

Efeste –  This winery has been getting a lot of good press recently, and with good reason.  They only had a few to taste because all the good press has led to big sales and there just wasn’t much juice to go around.  The barrel room was pretty full though, so more will be on the way in no time!

Red Sky –  We’ve gone to Red Sky for years and I think I’ve always loved the Sunrise blend the best.  This trip was no exception.  Like a lot of places, all the wines are great – but there is something about Sunrise that really appeals to me.

Pondera –  We happened to be there on a day when they were hosting an event in the barrel room.  I believe it was a vertical and barrel tasting but I can’t swear to that because we hadn’t prepaid or made reservations to attend.  I can tell you that we were welcomed in to do their standard tasting and made to feel right at home. 

Cheers to another great day in Woodinville!

First Day of Spring!

 The first day of spring is a great reason to visit wineries, isn’t it?  I’m sure there is some sort of wine-themed celebration linked to it; I need to Google that.  On to the wineries!

  • Efeste – New releases of Sav Blanc, Riesling, Final Final and Big Papa Cab.  All were great, really.  The Sav Blanc was nice and dry and the Riesling was really well balanced and fooled dad and I both as far as how much residual sugar was in it.  I bought a couple bottles – this will be a great summer-sippin’ wine.  The Final Final was great and didn’t seem to need much aging.  The Big Papa was indeed big, in both fruit and tannins.  I would lay it down for a bit to mellow some of the tannins, but not too long as I wouldn’t want to lose that delicious fruit!
  • Guardian – Another release party and another great line up!  The Angel (white blend) was a good as always.  This is one of dad’s favorites.  The Gun Metal (Cab dominant blend) was as great as ever too.  No surprise, but his latest Syrah is also a hit.  The surprise was the new one.  The new kid on the block was The Wanted.  It’s a Cab/Cab Franc blend and it is fantastic!  Not all that surprising I guess – those are my two favorite grapes and Jerry is one of my favorite winemakers.  It would be a surprise if I hadn’t flipped over it.
  • Gard – There are so many wines to choose from here that you really have to go in with a plan or you’ll end up having to crawl out of there!  We decided we wanted to taste a few whites and then I went for the Cabs.  There is a wine and a price range for everyone here.  But really – don’t try to taste them all unless you don’t have any other stops planned.
  • Robert Ramsay – What a great little tasting room this is shaping up to be!  I’ve only been in once before and it was right after they moved in last year; they only had one wine available at the time – their incredible 2005 Syrah.  They still have a tiny bit left…run, do not walk, to get some!  They also have a nice line up of other reds – 07 Mason’s Red (a great Syrah/Mourvedre blend), 07 Mourvedre, 07 Cab (loved this one!) and a 06 Syrah.  The tasting room renovations are amazing and this is certainly a winery to watch!
  • Cuillin Hills – Okay, so it’s always a party when we go here; it’s hard not to have fun in this tasting room…the people, the wine – it’s all great.  There were a couple new wines that were worthy of a party too – my favorite being the new Cab Franc.  The new Rif Raf is great too, but the Cab Franc ‘did it’ for me.
  • Hestia – It hasn’t been that long since we’d stopped in to taste at Hestia and we almost didn’t stop this time but we always like their wines so we decided to make a quick stop.  I am so glad that we did!  They have released a new blend that is fantastic!  The 2007 Meritage (Mostly Cab with a little Cab Franc and Petit Verdot) is delicious.  I don’t know if they’ve done this wine in the past but it was my first introduction to it and I’m hooked!  Their Cab and their Merlot are also very good, which is why you’ll usually find one (or both) in my racks at home.  Now the Meritage is there keeping them company.
  • Isenhower – Another great tasting room and more new wines for me to try!  I loved their new Purple Paintbrush!  I’ve been a fan of their wines for a while and am really glad they’ve opened up a tasting room in Woodinville.
  • Elsom – This new tasting room is right next to Isenhower.  They haven’t been open long but they obviously have good word of mouth because quite a few people were there when we arrived.  We were warmly greeted and soon found out that the person pouring for us was the winemaker, Jody Elsom.  She is as nice as she is talented.  My favorites in the line up were the two Cabs…both were so so good!  The other reds (a Malbec and a Malbec/Cab blend) were also very good, but the cabs rocked!  I think this is another one of those “wineries to watch.” 
  • Caleano – this was such a trip!  We were greeted by the winemaker, Bryan Countryman.  To say he was enthusiastic is an understatement.  His “tasting” was taking place in the same building as Elsom.  He’s kind of located ‘around back’ from the Elsom tasting bar.  Oh, and he had nothing in bottles; we tasted our wines straight from the barrels.  All the wines are tasting great at this point in their development however, the real stand out was the Pinot Noir.  I can’t wait until that’s in the bottle and ready to go home with me.   I believe his first release will be a Gewurztraminer and a Syrah.  I look forward to watching this place grow as well.
  • Dusted Valley – This tasting room is staffed with great people.  As crowded as it gets in there (and it does get crowded) the people are always friendly and willing to talk to you about the wines and answer any and all questions.  They weren’t pouring some of our favorite wines but had great suggestions for us to try in their place.  My favorite is The Stained Tooth Syrah.  I have purchased this one in the past and will continue.  Oh, and did I mention that all their wines are done in screw cap?  I so love this!

Fine Wine & Cigars –  Okay, so this is getting to be a long day, right?  A girl can get tired after a long day, right?  And when said girl is tired it isn’t all that surprising that she can get weak, right?  So really – me dropping a wine glass and having it shatter into a zillion pieces should have been expected, right?  Yikes.  I have actually never done that before – in all my years of wine tasting.  I hope that was a once in a lifetime deal.  So after they cleaned up my mess and gave me another glass, we were set to do some tasting.  There were 4 wineries represented:

  • Pomum – We’ve known and loved them for a while now.  A new red blend is fantastic as is their Shya Red and their Tino, a Tempranillo blend.
  • Laurelhurst –  A great south end winery with excellent wines. 
  • Soos Creek –  New one for us – great Ceil du Cheval blend.
  • Seia –  Another new one for us – great wines and gorgeous labels!

What a great day and what a way to ring in spring!

A Resolution I Can Live With!

New Year’s Resolutions.  How many years do you make them in hopes of fixing something that you think is broken or with the idea that by keeping them you will somehow improve your life?  Very few resolutions can do all that, even if they were kept longer than the dried up Christmas tree in the corner of the room.  This year is different.  Along with a few typical “self-improvement” resolutions, I decided to make a few resolutions that would be fun to keep.  For example, I’ve made a resolution to drink at least one bottle of non-Washington wine a month.  I realized the other day that the wine I drink is almost all  from Washington.  As a result, wines from other regions can sometimes taste “different.”  This happened to me when I lived in California too, only with California wines.  When I moved back to Washington the wines here almost tasted sweet to me.  They sort of reminded me of…and this is going to be a stretch and prove how very little I know about wine…they sort of reminded me of late harvest wines.  Not all of them, but some of my favorite big reds from Red Mountain.  Now that I’m used to (and loving) my big/ripe Red Mountain reds again, other wines sometimes taste light, or thin.  I used to love lighter style reds and would like to stretch my palate a bit in hopes of appreciating them more again.  I was lucky enough to get a great Christmas gift that will help with this resolution.  My dad got me a case of wine from The Wall Street Journal.  Yep, you read that right – The Wall Street Journal.  They put together a mixed case of wines from all over the world…perfect for my new and favorite New Year’s Resolution.  Cheers to a New Year and a resolution I can live with!

Black Friday – Red for Us…

 Yep – this is a recap of a wine tasting day that happened almost two months ago – sad, right?  The holidays were great but boy did I get behind on the blogging.  I started a few posts but never got back to them, until now…

The day after Thanksgiving is probably best known for shopping, long lines and crowded parking lots.  Dad and I skipped all of that and went to Woodinville instead.

  • Janiuk/Novelty Hill – Somehow I’ve managed not go visit this winery since they moved.  That wouldn’t be a big deal if the move was recent but it’s been a good 4-5 years!  No excuse.  The other shocker is that I’ve been mispronouncing Janiuk!  I would have bet that it was pronounced “Yan-ik.”  I would have lost the bet; it’s “Jan-ik.”  The girl at the tasting bar was a good sport about it and was kind enough not to pick on me when I messed it up a few more times.  The tastings were nice and there were several different flights available.  Not surprisingly I chose the Cabernet flight.  It was delicious!  There was no tasting fee refund with purchase so we didn’t buy anything, but the wines were very nice and the tasting room itself is gorgeous.
  • Teft Cellars – Yet another great winery from the other side of the mountains!  They had a great line up of wine and wonderful tasting room, complete with some tables and conversation areas.  It had a bistro feel to it, not just a typical tasting bar.  There was a nice line up of wines, my favorite of the day was the Villa Toscana – a nice Italian inspired blend.  They also had several ports but I can’t comment on them because I just don’t drink port.  I keep trying it every so often but I haven’t developed a taste for it yet.  But if you like ports, I’d suggest trying theirs; everything else is great so the odds are good!
  • Efeste – This may be the first wine club I join next year.  There is nothing they make that I don’t like.  My only issue here is that I have a hard time narrowing down my choices when it comes time to purchase.  Even the white wine (which I can usually pass up at most places) is fantastic.  We were lucky enough to meet the winemaker, Brennon Leighton, this trip.  He was still (understandably) on a high from the Wine Spectator ratings that had come out earlier in the month.  The 2006 Ceidleigh Syrah was ranked #36 on the list of all wines (worldwide) released in 2009.  That and the Final Final are always my favorites.  This time I didn’t try to pick between them; I bought them both.
  • Canon de Sol – Dad and I saw this place right after we left Teft but they were literally hammering up their sign when we drove by so we decided to give them a little time before stopping by.  When we did drop in we found out that this was their opening day!  Canon de Sol and Irlandes share a tasting room and a winemaker, Victor Cruz.  The Canon de Sol label is his and Irlandes is his partners.  The Canon de Sol wines were priced in the mid 20’s and each one was great.  They all had great fruit and moderate tannins, pretty much ready to drink now.  I bought a couple of the blends and can’t wait to open them up and introduce my friends to a new winery.
  • Irlandes – These wines were priced higher and were done in more of a reserve style.  The wines were bolder and had more tannins on the finish.  They were delicious!  The tasting room is nice and big and I expect this place will do well.  It’s in a great location (the Hollywood School House area) and has wonderful wine as well as great people.  I look forward to repeat visits.
  • DeLille Carriage House – Okay so nothing can really compare to DeLille-on-the-hill.  The problem is, the main location is almost never open to the public.  So The Carriage House was born.  It’s a small tasting room showcasing DeLille wines.  It was absolutely PACKED when we were there.  Usually that’s a turn off for us but we stuck it out because it had been so long since we’d done any tasting at DeLille.  I’m glad we stayed.  The wines were better than we remembered and the people working there were fantastic at keeping up with such a crowded room.  I’d like to go back again when the weather is nicer and the patio is open.

After we were done in Woodinville we went back to Redmond and out to dinner at Frankie’s Pizza and Pasta.  We have loved this place for a long time.  The food is excellent and the wine list is even better!  Boy did we get lucky on this trip.  My parents’ favorite waitress brought us the wine list and then a few minutes later came back to make sure that we’d noticed a certain wine on the list.  It was the 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet that had just been ranked the #1 Wine of 2009 by Wine Spectator Magazine!  Yep, same list that I mentioned earlier.  What a great day for wine!  Thanks for pointing it out to us, Kelly!

Des Voigne Cellars “Untitled” – 06 Red Blend

As of today I have a new rule…a bad day at work equals a good bottle of wine.  Today happened to be a bad day at work so I thought I’d try out the new rule and open a good bottle of wine.  Since it’s been ages, I thought I’d do a quick review as well….a review of the wine, not of my bad day.

  • Wine Info:  40% Cab Franc, 30% Syrah, 30% Petit Verdot
  • Appearance: Dark ruby, lighter around the edges
  • Nose: Great fruit – plums and cherries mostly; hint of vanilla and maybe a little clove?
  • Taste: Initial ripe fruit and then it reminds me of the skin of a plum – good fruit and just a little tart
  • Finish: A little spice initially (maybe from the Syrah?), the fruit lingers for a bit mid palate, medium tannins
  • Price: $30 range
  • Remarks:  This is a great wine with or without food.  I’d like to say how it will mellow and improve with age but the truth is, I can’t seem to age this one too long.  My only regret is that I didn’t buy more of it when it was available.  I won’t make that mistake when it becomes available again.

More Wine 11-15

As if we didn’t have enough wine the day before, dad and I headed out the very next day and had a bit more.

Dusted Valley – We’d planned to go here the day prior but it was just too nuts.  They were having a wine club pick up and I must say that I love the way this wine club works.  You get to pick the wines you want, and I don’t just mean from the new releases.  They had over a dozen wines to taste and club members could choose whatever they wanted for their club allotment .  We liked everything we tried but really loved The Barrell Thief Red (a Sangiovese/Tempranillo blend) and The Stained Tooth Syrah.  (The wine club is called The Stained Tooth Society – love it!)  Great wines, super nice people and a great wine club….and have I mentioned they use screw tops on all their wines?  I’m a big fan of that.  This was my first visit but I will certainly be back.

Gifford Hirlinger – This is a couple doors down from Dusted Valley.  It’s another Eastern Washington winery (Walla Walla) that decided to open up a tasting room in Woodinville.  They had a nice line up of wines and great prices…AND a great sale was in progress…50% off!  Of course I had to take advantage of that.  I loved their Merlot and the 2007 LV, which is a Cabernet made with grapes from Napa.  Yes, I said Napa.  Every year they get grapes from Napa and make a Cab.  It was phenomenal.

Fine Wine & Cigars – Dad and I attended their Semi Annual Winemakers Event.  I love this event!  Picture it if you will…a big/beautiful wine shop full of winemakers sampling their juice.  It’s always very well done.  This time there were quite a few wineries I’d never heard of or had heard of but had never had the chance to taste their wines.  Of course there were some well-known and well-loved wines and wine makers as well.  Really a very nice event.  Some standouts were:

  • Five Star Cellars – 2007 Petit Verdot/Cab Franc Blend
  • Pondera – 2007 Sangiovese
  • Spring Valley – 2006 Uriah (54% Merlot, 33% Cab Franc, 7% Petit Verdot, 6% Malbec)
  • Stevens Winery – 2007 Black Tongue Syrah and 2007 Oui Red Table Wine (75% Merlot, 10% Cab, 8% Cab Franc, 7% Petit Verdot)
  • Gorman Winery – 2007 Zachary’s Ladder (42% Cab, 25% Merlot, 25% Mourvedre, 7% Syrah, 1% Petit Verdot)
  • Mark Ryan – 2006 Long Haul (48% Merlot, 46% Cab Franc, 6% Petit Verdot)
  • Laurelhurst Cellars – Cab Franc

Woodinville Wine Day 11-14

 Tasting notes and comments from Woodinville trip on 11-14.  Yeah, it’s been that long since I’ve updated this blog.  What can I say?  I’m hoping to do better in the New Year.

 Isenhower – This is a new tasting room that dad and I were really happy to hear about.  We’ve been fans of their wines (especially the Cab Franc, also called “The Road Less Traveled”) for a long time.  We’re glad they opened a tasting room over here as we don’t get to Walla Wall very often.  The space is shared with Maison Bleue and is really well done.  The colors are great and there is plenty of room.  It helps that we liked everything they poured.  Dad is a member of the wine club but if I remember correctly, there is no tasting fee for non-members either.  Wines are great, labels are pretty and the prices are fantastic!

Maison Bleue – as mentioned, they share a space with Isenhower.  I hadn’t heard of this winery at all until the joint tasting room opened up.  They make a very nice Viognier and we also tried a nice Grenache.  From what I read on their website, they concentrate on Rhone varieties.  I look forward to tasting more of what they have to offer.

J Bookwalter – Another great example of a tasting room opening up on this side of the mountains.  Dad and I had been to their Richland location once (many years ago) but now that they’re local we’re there much more frequently.  Their tasting room (also called a “tasting studio”) is really nice.  It’s huge and is located next to Mark Ryan and Ross Andrew…a triple threat.  The wines are very good and can be found in all price ranges.  The Subplot and The Protagonist seemed to be everyone’s favorites on this trip.  Oh, and the names of the wines have a literary theme which I think is great!  Neat place all around.

Ross Andrew – As always, this was a great stop.  Ross is as nice and as welcoming as can be.  And his wines…wow.  He had a new Cabernet/Syrah release that was great and almost got purchased by me…until I had his damn Cabernet.  I buy his Cab every time I’m there, even when I go in thinking that I won’t; I can’t stay away from it!  I also can’t keep them around the house and drink them as soon as I buy them.  Seriously, this is one of my favorite Cabs right now.  All the wines are stellar, but that Cab…

New French Oak

Adams Bench – What a nice treat to be able to visit them again!  They aren’t open often but happened to be pouring today so we stopped by.  Once again I loved the Myth – a Cab Franc/Merlot blend.  All three wines were very good and I don’t believe I saw anyone leaving empty handed.  Erica Blue (one of the owners) was pouring and really having a good time talking with everyone.  As a result, she made it an enjoyable experience for everybody – it’s always contagious to be around people that love what they’re doing.

Pomum – This was his once a year release and a great time was had by all!  The new release was “Tinto” which is a Tempranillo (80%) and Cabernet (20%) blend.   Great wine!    The other wines that were being poured were the Syrah and the Shya Red – a Bordeaux blend that I flip for.  The music was good, the passed appetisers looked great (I was holding Vegas so we didn’t sample anything – much to his disappointment!) and everyone there seemed to be having a great time.  In fact, I didn’t want to leave!

Hestia – They were tasting the new Cabernet and the new Merlot, both were fantastic!  The new Merlot is all bright fruit, very little tannins and absolutely wonderful!  The Cabernet is young but drinking really well.  Good fruit here too although (as expected with a Cab) a bit more tannins.  I loved both and bought both.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been here and not left with at least a couple bottles. 

William Church – The latest release of Bishop’s Blend is here and it’s fantastic!  We stopped by for a quick taste and to say hello to Margot (from Write for Wine) who William Churchwas there talking to people about social media.  William Church is one of the Woodinville wineries that is active on Facebook and Twitter.  They’ve even incorporated a neat new contest.  You’ll have to check them out to see what I’m talking about.

Patterson – We always look for an excuse to stop here.  Sometimes we stop with no excuse at all.  This time we could blame it on the Malbec.  PC LogoPatterson Cellars just released a 2006 Malbec and it’s fantastic!  I’m not always wild about Malbec on its own so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’m so glad I didn’t just pass it up thinking that I wouldn’t like it.  I loved it – even bought a bottle!  As usual, we loved the people there too. 

Baer – Arctos release party and a super-duper sale on Ursa…of course we had to stop by!  As is always true with Baer – everything was fantastic.  Baer WineryThe Ursa is consistently one of my favorite blends in Woodinville.  The blend in the Arctos changes from year to year but is also very good.  I like it best when it is Cabernet dominant, which it is again.  And I can’t wait until they release their Cab Franc!  They’ve never done a Cab Franc varietal and I’m betting that the wait is going to be well worth it.

Long Overdue Updates

We’ve got another wonderful trip to Woodinville planned for tomorrow.  I took at quick look at my blog and realized that I need to do a lot of updating.  Sometime between now and Thanksgiving I will not only recap the trip tomorrow, add some specific wine reviews and add some pictures but will also update the “Woodinville Wineries” tab.  So many changes and new wineries/tasting rooms to report on.  I’ve been falling down on the job…or maybe falling down because of the job – ha!  Either way…lots of work to do.  I’ll get my act together soon, honest!  Besides, it’s the cold and rainy season which means I’ll have more time to be indoors and writing.  Okay, okay…it also means I’ll have more time to be inside drinking wine.  Winter ain’t all bad.