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!

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Woodinville Releases

Whoops – I’ve had this sitting in a draft folder – thought I’d published it.  Please note that it’s about 2 weeks old at this point.

Another great release weekend in Woodinville!  We hit as many as we could and here are some of the highlights:

Chatter Creek – A Cotes du Rhone in Woodinville?  Really?  Yes – really!  Gordy made one and it is wonderful!  Light, fruity, approachable – everything you would hope and expect it to be.   TheChatter Creek Label other new release that had all of us drooling was the new Cab Franc.  He always does a nice job with this one and the new release does not disappoint.  Honestly, none of his wines disappoint.  In addition to releasing new wines, he also had a screaming deal on his Cellar Cat Red – a case for $100, an additional 10 bucks off that if you’re a wine club member!  I love a good deal on a great wine!  Cellar Cat is his “not-enough-to-make-a-varietal” red blend.  I believe it’s his first time making it but hope it isn’t the last.

Gorman Winery– Chris Gorman doesn’t have ‘regular’ tasting hours and is usually only open when he has new wines to show off.  Boy were his new wines worthy of showing off!  His release party featured four newGorman Logo releases: Big Sissy (Chardonnay), Zachary’s Ladder (Red Blend), The Pixie (Syrah) and The Evil Twin (Cab/Syrah Blend) – all were really great, as always.  The Zack’s Ladder was tasting really well, like it was ready to be opened and enjoyed now.  The Pixie and The Evil Twin were both fantastic and will probably be even better after a little age.  That being said, I am not the best at aging wines anymore, with the exception of my beloved Cabernets.  Everything else is fair game and these would be no exception.  It would be very hard for me to try and hold on to The Evil Twin for long.

Alexandria Nicole Cellars – We had to stop here because – well we love it, plain and simple.  There were no new releases here today but everything we had was great.  I ANC Logoparticularly liked the latest Quarry Butte and (as usual) the Cabernet. I was lucky enough to get a quick taste of the already-sold-out Lemberger and really liked that as well.  If you aren’t a member of this wine club, you should think about joining.  Not only do you get access to the secret tasting room behind the bookshelf door, but you also get to enjoy some of these small production wines, like the Lemberger.  Really, this winery has something for everyone – great red and white wines, great tasting room staff (Kathy rocks!) and a nice range of prices to fit anyone’s wine budget.

Red Sky– Carol Parsons is such a wonderful winemaker!  The new Cab (only enough made for wine club members) is so good and the new Merlot is out of this world!  We were lucky Red Sky Logoenough to enjoy a vertical Merlot tasting.  The 03 (only available in 1/2 bottle size) and the latest one, the 06, were the stand outs.  I expect both will sell out before too long.  We tasted some of the other wines too and, as usual, all were very good but I was in love with the 06 Sunrise.  This is such a nice blend.  I recently brought a bottle on a camping trip and insisted that several people try it, even people that don’t drink a lot of wine.  All loved it.  The Sunrise, 03 Merlot and 06 Merlot should not be missed.

Page Cellars – I hate to admit it, but I haven’t been into this winery in years.  It’s one that I’ve always liked but didn’t go into because I didn’t realize they had more than just a couple Prefacewines.  I was so wrong and I will not wait years to go back.  I believe this release party was for  The Red Zeppelin (Cab Franc) and for The Norseman (Merlot).  Both were delicious, as was the Preface, a Cab dominant blend and the wine that I always think of when I think of Page Cellars.  We were lucky enough to spend some time at the bar with the winemaker, Jim Page.  It’s only fitting that he have a “Red Zeppelin” wine, isn’t it?  This was one of my favorite wines of the day – a tasty 100% Cab Franc and a $20 price point.  That is a winning combo in my book.  I started out asking for one bottle, then a second and then finally a third.  Can’t have too much of a good thing, right?  I know, I know – I don’t need to buy anymore wine.  But this one just may sell out in a hurry and I’d kick myself if I didn’t get a few when I had the chance.

William Church–  New releases were the 07 Syrah and the 07 “2 Spires” which is a Cab/Syrah blend.  Both were outstanding!  Also tasting really well was the Bishop’s Blend.  William ChurchAlthough this is not a new release it is still a home-run in my book.  I’d never been to a release at William Church; they put on a very nice event.  The tables were well spaced, the food was good and the check out was a breeze.  If you’ve been to a lot of releases in Woodinville you know that sometimes it is really difficult to actually buy a bottle of wine at the end of the tasting.  More places could (and should) take notes from William Church.

Cuillin Hills– No matter how many or how few people are in here, it always feels like a party.  Derek is just down right nuts, and I mean that in Dungeonthe best possible way.  He’s funny, talkative and the farthest thing from a wine snob.  Oh, and his wines are sensational!  Our favorites this trip were the Dungeon Syrah, The Shackled (56% Syrah and 44% Mourvedre) and the Claret, a well balanced Bordeaux blend.  It’s hard not to come here every single time we’re in the warehouse district.

SparkmanWilderness Wall Art Cellars – I was excited to see their new winery space.  It’s right across the parking lot from their former location so it’s really easy to find.  The space is more open and has a nice feel to it so far.  And as always, the wines were very good.  The Wilderness is always one of my favorites – but the Ruby Leigh – wow is that great!  The only thing missing from this visit was the winemaker and his family.  My guess is that crush has them all pretty busy.

Guardian Cellars– They moved as well…right next to Sparkman!  I will admit, I was initially sad to hear that they were moving because I loved the former locGuardian Tasting Roomation.  Yes, it was small and yes, it could get too crowded .  Still, it was cozy.  The new location is much bigger and really quite nice.  They’d only been open a week so things weren’t completely done but I could tell this tasting room was going to be nice too.  And the wines…so good, all of them.  My favorite here was (and usually is) the Gun Metal.  Here too, the only thing missing was the crazy winemaker, Jerry.  His girlfriend, Jennifer, took good care of us though and seemed to have things running smoothly.

Challenger Ridge–  This was a new stop for me.  It’s a neat little tasting room; actually it’s more like a little house.  They had about 4-6 wines to taste, the most interesting being aPoetry Pinot Noir made out of grapes from Concrete Washington!  Not only is it noteworthy to have a Pinot from Washington…but Concrete?  For those of you not familiar with the area, it isn’t a typical wine growing region.  The wines were nice although because they were done in a lighter style, we probably shouldn’t have made this our 10th stop.  I’m pretty sure I was suffering from pallet fatigue at that point.  Still, it was a nice place and I will be back – earlier in the day next time.  If you happen to visit them, be sure to check out the cute wine signs and sayings that are posted!

Birthdays, Wineries and a Side of Beef

Dad turned 75 last Saturday and to celebrate we went to Woodinville for the afternoon.  Here is a brief run-down:

  • Cuillin Hills– We like this winery so much that dad decided to join their new wine club.  Wines are always good and their prices are really good too.  Today we tried the new Dungeon Syrah – wow!  I can see why last year’s sold so quickly.  Great flavors and a nice long finish. 
  • Senoj– They are open again after being closed for a few months.  They’ve had to make some alterations to the tasting room and it was so new that you could literally still smell the new paint.  (That didn’t do much for the nose of the wines unfortunately.)  We tasted a brief line up and both really liked the whites.  They are sold out of our favorite, the Riesling, but will have it again in a few months.
  • Darby– This is another one that we consistently love.  He had several new releases: Chaos, Purple Haze (both are blends) and the wonderful Aunt Lee Syrah.  This is the winery that I thank and/or blame for really getting me into Syrahs.  I was just starting to like them when I tasted one of his.  WOW.  It blew me away.  His Syrahs have been blowing me away ever since.  His other wines are really good too – in fact, I bought a white for dad and a Purple Haze for me.  Not a bad one in the line up.  Oh, and Darby is a dog lover.  He’s the only person all day that Vegas actually kissed.  It kinda shocked me; Vegas doesn’t usually kiss strangers.  Maybe Darby had some of the Syrah on his hands.  🙂
  • Patterson – I sound like a broken record, but this is another place that we absolutely love!  It’s a father-son team for the most part and their wines are wonderful!  The tasting room is always fun because they are so outgoing and down to earth.  It was pretty crowded while we were there so we didn’t stay too long.  Not to worry though, we’ll be back.
  • NW Totem Cellars Pouring for Homeward Pet Charity – Kate was pouring their wines and donating $10 a bottle and all tasting fees to the charity.  In addition, they had a dog (Coco) with them that was up for adoption.  He was ADORABLE, he looked like a Corgi mix of some kind and he was so happy to meet any and everyone.  If I didn’t have two wild dogs of my own, I’d have adopted him.  In fact, I am going to contact Homeward Pet to see if he’s still available and then try to find him a home with one of my friends.  (Consider yourselves warned – ha!)
  • Gordon Brothers– We went here because they were right next-door to where NW Totem Cellars was pouring and because they sent over a dog biscuit for Vegas while we were there.  Vegas doesn’t usually take food from people he doesn’t know but he loved this one – ate every bite!    Oh, I should mention the wines too.  As always, the wines here were great and the prices are great too.  They have a Cab that I adore and is a steal!  Love this place.
  • Sheridan Vineyard – This was one that I’ve been wanting to try for a while and boy, it was worth the wait!  There is a non-refundable tasting fee, one of the few in Woodinville.  However, the wines and the people are fantastic.  The Cab Franc ROCKED!  I’ll go back here again, even with the tasting fee.
  • Adams Bench – What a treat!  This place is never open so when dad told me that they were open for a release party I was thrilled!  They were pouring in a neat little barn on the property.  It was a gorgeous day and the winery is in a very pretty little neighborhood filled with white picket fencing, seriously!  The winemakers ( Tim and Erica Blue) were there pouring and couldn’t have been nicer.  The new release, “Myth”, was fantastic.  It was a blend of Cab Franc and Merlot…wow!  I had to have a bottle.  The other two were great too, a Cab and a Bordeaux Blend.  Great wines, nice people and a beautiful setting.  I have signed up for their mailing list and will try to get back there as often as possible.  Honestly – a nice little find.  Oh, and totally dog friendly too! 

 After spending the afternoon on Woodinville, we went to Daniel’s Broiler (Bellevue) for his birthday dinner.  This is our second year in a row to dine here and I swore last year that I’d had the best steak of my life.  But I swear…this year’s was even better!  It was damn near the size of half a cow, but I passed on eating any sides and managed to finish it all.  I had the Bone-in RibeyHoly Cow!e.  Holy Cow (pun intended) it was fantastic.  I wish I’d have taken a picture of it.  This picture is one I found online…it’s pretty close.  I need to start a new routine…if I’m going to write about it, I should photograph it too.  The steak I had would have made a prettier picture.  Along with our steaks, dad and I enjoyed a wonderful bottle of 2000 Clos de Betz.  I bought it for Father’s Day 5-6 years ago now and it made the perfect pairing with our meals.

A Perfect Ten

What a great day in Woodinville.  Dad, Vegas and I hit TEN wineries yesterday and each one was (as usual) friendly and full of great wine.  Even Vegas had a good time.  One of these days I’ve got to take his picture while we’re there…I’m just so distracted by the wine that I keep forgetting.  Here’s a run down of where we were:

  • Cuillin Hills – We started with one of my favorites.  The winemaker (Derek Des Voigne) is a blast, as is his brother who we saw later at Des Voigne Cellars.  And the wines are not only fantastic, but really well priced.  There aren’t many “screaming deals” here but just about everything is priced under $30.  The news here is not only the new releases, but the birth of a new wine club!  I think I might actually join this one; dad is a member everywhere else so I guess it’s my turn.  My favorite wines – Cab Franc, Riff Raff, Claret, Shackled.
  • Smasne – There are several wineries in this tasting room and all of them have the winemaker (Robert Smasne) in common.  There is a huge line up to taste here.  We were very selective b/c we knew we had such a full day.  Very good wines, very good prices…in fact, we found the “screaming deal” of the day.  A case of his Rose for $50!  I was planning to buy that anyway so when I heard of the sale I gladly bought a case.  So perfect for summer.  My favorite wines – Rose (two kinds), Riesling (two of them) and the Cabs – all of them.
  • Red Sky – We stopped to do a wine club pick up here and were (thankfully) quickly escorted to the back/barrel room because the lobby was packed.  We sipped the new wines with the winemaker (Carol Parsons) and avoided the crowd up front.  The wines and the people are always so nice here.  Dad is especially fond of the girl behind the tasting bar that speaks German with him; Michelle I think is her name? My favorite wines – Sunrise (with a new screw top!), Serendipity, Merlot Rose, Bordeaux Blend.
  • Barrage – The is one of (if not the only) winery that does not do blends.  The winemaker (Kevin Correll) likes to make varietals.  And I like to drink them.  This tasting room is very laid back, super friendly and LOVES dogs.  They usually have their dog, a Chocolate Lab named Murphy, hanging around greeting people.  Vegas is not a fan, but he’s getting used to bigger dogs so visiting this tasting room often is good for Vegas…and Vegas’ mom.  Ha!  But I must admit, I was so busy talking about dogs while I was here that I somehow managed to pick up someone else’s bag when I left!  The lovely Merlot that I paid for turned into a Chardonnay from a completely different winery by the time we got home.  Bummer!  My favorite wines – Merlot, Cab Franc, Double Barrel Cabernet.  UPDATE!  I sent Kevin an email to apologize for basically stealing somebody’s wine.  He told me that they’d realized it right after we left and since we were nowhere to be found, he put my wine off to the side for me and bought a replacement one from the other winery for the other customers.  Great customer service and a great guy!
  • Patterson – This place is another one of those little gems that has great pricing and super wines…and the people – oh so much fun!  There isn’t a wine snob for miles.  The tasting room has a couple great windows that look into the barrel room.  Quite often the winemaker (John Patterson) and/or his dad (Jack) can be found doing barrel samples back there.  If you ever have the chance – do this – I’ve never had a wine I didn’t like.  My favorites – WoodsLake Sangiovese, BDX, Recession Red, Volterra Red
  • Des Voigne – Finally, the new San Remo (Sangiovese) is out!  It was well worth the wait; the wine is excellent.  No real surprise there, it’s wonderful every year.  Heck, everything in that place is good.  The winemaker here (Darren Des Voigne) is the brother to the winemaker at Cuillin Hills.  There must be something in the genes – these boys know what they’re doing, know how to have a fun atmosphere in their tasting rooms and know that wines don’t have to cost a small fortune.  And have I mentioned the labels here yet?  All jazz inspired and gorgeous!  My favorite wines – San Remo (Sangiovese), Emcee (Merlot), The Duke (Zin Blend), Montreux (Syrah).
  • Alexandria Nicole – It’s so hard not to go into this place every time I’m in the Warehouse District.  The winemaker (Jarrod Boyle) makes some terrific wines and the people in the tasting room really treat customers like family.  I almost expect them to call out my name when I walk thru the secret passageway into the members-only area in back…kind of like “Norm!” in Cheers.  Kathy is always back there and always quick to greet us with a smile, a hug and a glass that she’s willing to fill with anything we desire.  The tastings back there aren’t done by a set list; they’re done by what you want to try.  Believe me, it’s hard not to ask for one of everything!  My favorite wines – Cab, Rock Star, Syrah, Merlot.
  • DiStefano’s – This was one of the first wineries I fell in love with in Woodinville.  Because they aren’t in an area with a bunch of others, I don’t always get out to see them.  I was glad we had to pick up wine for some friends; what a great excuse to go in and enjoy their wines.  Their tasting room is so pretty and really holds a lot of people.  Speaking of people, the ones working behind the tasting bar are so friendly and so knowledgeable about their wines.  My favorite wines – Sogno (Cab Franc), Syrah, Cab, Merlot.
  • Bookwalter – This is a relatively new tasting room in Woodinville.  It’s located right behind Hollywood Schoolhouse and has a huge space for tasting.  One of the things that sets them apart from other wineries is the literary theme that can be found in the titles of their wines.  In addition, they are very nice, have super wines and have started a great wine club (I think they call it a book club – ha!) with nice discounts.  Yes, dad joined.  My favorite wines – Couplet (Riesling), Subplot (Blend), Foreshadow Merlot.
  • Mark Ryan – What luck, we were there for the first day of business in the new tasting room!  Rock star winemaker (Mark McNeilly) is open for business behind the Hollywood Schoolhouse.  The tasting room is big and bright and was full of people when we were there.  There is a $10 tasting fee which is one of the highest, but is fully refundable if you buy a bottle.  Trust me, you’ll find something you like.  I love, love, love his wines; I just can’t often afford them.  That being said, when I want to splurge on a really special bottle, it’s usually one of his – the Long Haul in particular.  My favorites – Long Haul, Dead Horse (don’t be fooled by the name), Red Dissident.

First (of many) Wine Tasting Parties

It was time.  The boxes were almost all unpacked.  The prints were on the walls.  The new patio furniture had been purchased and (painfully) assembled.  Hell, there were even new wine Tasting Notes Coverglasses.  It was time to throw a party. 

The theme was a blind tasting of Cabernet Francs.  My group of friends and family have these parties a few times a year and usually there is some kind of theme (Washington Merlots, $10 Cabs, Bordeaux blends, Syrahs, you get the idea) and we all bring a wine of our choosing and hide it in a paper bag so as not to be influenced while we taste everything.  At the end of the blind tasting, the wines are revealed and we talk about which ones we all liked best…and least.  There are always surprises on both ends of the spectrum.  More often than not, the most expensive bottle does not win.  This time I decided to add a couple twists.  Instead of wine, I had everyone bring the food.  Boy did that ever cut down on the pre-party prep and stress!  In turn, I supplied all the wines.  As usual, they were disguised during the tasting (I even got overly-crafty and covered them with wine inspired artwork) and we all took notes about what we liked and why.  The other twist was that I also gave them a list of possible wineries that the wines came from.  So along with looking at the color of the wine, analyzing the nose, discussing the finish, etc, etc., etc. – they also had to take a guess at what winery it might be from.  Now some of you out there might be thinking that we are all very sophisticated and have amazing pallets to be able to do something like this.  I assure you, that is not the case.  TheOutdoor Tastingre was a four way tie at the end – all four people had managed to guess one correct winery.  Even my dad (who’s pallet far surpasses any of ours) only got one right.  It was neat to have everyone else see that even he couldn’t pick them out.  It was basically a guessing game and fun to see how close (or far) everyone was from guessing right.  During the tasting (6 wines total) I also had trivia questions – wine related of course – and even handed out prizes!  I think I probably had more fun than anyone; what a blast to plan it and put it all together.  I was sad to see it end but so very happy that I was home and didn’t have to drive anywhere.  I think I was in  my jammies 10 minutes after the last car was out of the driveway.  I can’t wait to start planning the next party…a true housewarming party complete with grilling (still need to buy a grill) and lawn games.  Glad a I have over a month to get ready for that one.

Here are the CaBlind Tastingbernet Francs that we tasted and a few comments on each.  Let me preface by saying that we did not have any bad ones in the bunch – thank God.  I did take the added precaution of opening up and tasting all the bottles before everyone got here, just in case something was corked.  

Here’s the list – in the order we tasted them:

  • Hollywood Hills (WA) – Lighter style than the others, a good one to start with.  Nice (but soft) nose, good fruit, very little tannins, nice smooth finish.  Most ranked it about an 8.
  • NW Vine Project (OR) – Little darker in color than the first wine, but still lighter than most.  Fantastic nose – smelled like juicy berries and a fairly long finish…one person even put “Must Have” on his tasting notes.  Rankings ranged from 7 3/4 to 9
  • Wente  (Santa Cruise, CA) – The one had an earthy nose,  and really stood out from the others in this way.  Good taste and finished with slight tannins, not a fruit bomb kind of wine, although there was hints of fruit in the finish.  Rankings ranged from 7 3/4 – 8 1/2.
  • Kennedy Shaw (Rattlesnake Hills, WA) – Comments on the nose ranged from chocolate to violets and berries and someone even detected oak.  It was the darkest and biggest of the wines we’d had up until this point and had a great, lingering finish.  People loved it.  Most ranked it at an 8 or 8 1/2.
  • Cuillin Hills (WA) – Fruit, fruit and more fruit on the nose – comments were “juicy” and “jammie.”  Didn’t taste like pure fruit though, nice hint of spice, especially on the finish.  Mild tannins, did not overpower everything else that was going on.  This one was the favorite of more people than any of the others and this was the first bottle emptied when we went back to drink more of our favorites.  Rankings were either 8 1/2 or 9.  If there was an “overall winner” then this was it.
  • DiStefano’s (WA) (Their Cab Franc is called “Sogno”) – A classic and a well loved Cab Franc year over year.  The notes mentioned berries and plums in the nose and moderate tannins on the nice/longfinish.  I was stunned that the whole group didn’t know it immediately, but I believe only one guessed it correctly.  However, I was  not stunned that everyone rated it very high.  Most ranked it 8 – 8 1/2.

I’m Drinking as Fast as I Can!

Six days until the move and there is no way I’ll make a dent in the wine collection.  I’ve been drinking as much as I can, which is probably why I am behind on the packing.  I’ve even been having friends over to help, and still…I have around 200 bottles.  Insane. 

Unless I can pick up a neighbor’s WiFi signal, this will be the last post until I am moved in and set up at the new place.  I thought I’d list some of the highlights of the wines I’ve been drinking over the last couple weeks, combined with a couple quick mentions about a few wineries.  This will have to do until I get back to writing real reviews, complete with label pics.

  • Guardian Cellars – Chalk Line:  What a great blend this was!  I’ve raved about this winery before…dog friendly, people friendly and great wines. 
  • Cuillin Hills – Claret:  Great fruit up front and not too much oak to overpower it.  Dad, Vegas and I were there recently and had the pleasure of tasting his new Cab Franc.  We’d read a great little review about it in Northwest Wine Press and were thrilled that there was an open bottle for us to taste.  I bought a bottle immediately. 
  • :Nota Bene Cellars– 2004 Miscela:  Such a great wine, good fruit, no tannins and a really “full mouth” tast.  This is one of the South Seattle wineries that I haven’t had a chance to write about.  They have some AMAZING blends.  Most of their wines are blends and, honestly, one is better than the next.  I’ve never taken anyone there that didn’t go nuts for their wines.  I know they have a winery dog (Labradooldle I believe) but not sure about customers bringing dogs.  I’ll put together a wine day at these wineries soon and will have a section for them on this site as well.
  • Barrage Cellars – Merlot:   Best Merlot I’ve had in a while, hands down.  Great fruit and it lingered for a long time.  Loved it and will be buying more soon.  Anxious to try his soon-to-be released Cab Franc.  Also, this is a very dog friendly winery…Vegas and I were there not too long ago…several other dogs were in there as well.
  • Fall Line Winery – Red Mountain Blend:  Nice Bordeaux blend with great fruit and a great finish.  Another great wine from another great South Seattle winery. 

That’s all for now…time to get back to these never-ending boxes!!