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!

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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!

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.