Washington Wine Challenge

This blog was going to be about Merlot, but that will have to wait. If you know me, which many of you do, you know that I change my mind about a thousand times a day. I promise to get back to Merlot, since it is a very important topic. Today I want my fellow readers to take a challenge with me. For the month of March, when opening a bottle of wine or ordering one by glass at a restaurant, I want you to drink Washington wine only.

Let the screaming at me begin. I know you are stuck in your rut of drinking a California Cab or Italian Chianti, but I want you to explore all the joys Washington wine has to offer. Like I said before, we are giving California a run for their money. We are the state to watch. Plus, we have young, eager wine makers and a supportive state government (in terms of wine, but don’t get me started on the lack of support with educating our youth in WA!).

Right now, many Washington wine makers concentrate on making Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Syrah and Cab Franc. Although, last week I was able to meet a wine maker, Gino Guneo, who has done an excellent job making a Sangiovese called Tre Nova (trenovawines.com). Gino states that he is making Italian style wines on American soil. Many Washington wine makers are taking risks and playing around with grapes and able to develop some killer wines. Which benefit us, the consumer!

Take a trip to the world of Washington wine. See if you are able to stick with WA wines for the month of March. Not to worry, your Chianti, Bordeaux and California Cab will be waiting for when you return in April. Just take in and enjoy what this state has to offer. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Tonights Tasting:

2006 K Vintners Motor City Kitty, Syrah. $31.00West Seattle Cellars

Luscious, dark, rich, smooth and provocative is how I would describe this wine. If I could bottle up love and turn it into wine, it would be K Vintners Motor City Kitty Syrah. It is literally a perfect Syrah. When I talked before about splurging on a bottle, this is well worth the money; if you can find it anymore. This wine had been sitting in my cellar since May 2009. I was pregnant at the time, so it just sat there tempting me. Plus, WS Cellars said I may want to give it a year or two before opening. So last night, after attending a Kindergarten open house for my older daughter, my husband and I decided this would be a perfect evening for a nice bottle of wine.

MCK had been eyeing me for years and since this was a night to celebrate making it to Kindergarten with Ava, I quickly brought it upstairs to try. Wow, it was worth the wait. We drank it slowly (and left half the bottle so we could enjoy it this evening) and we’re almost silent while tasting it. It nearly left me speechless; it was that delicious. Oh how I wish this wine could last forever. With winemaker, Charles Smith, only making 4 barrels of the 2006 MCK (100 cases, give or take), it will be difficult to find again. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon this wine, grab two bottles. I know, $62 is tough to drop on two bottles of wine. But trust me, once you finish the first bottle, you will be craving another.

If you are in Walla Walla, I have heard this is a winery you must stop at. I have not been, but is on my bucket list.

http://www.kvintners.com/wines.php

Drink on my friends…

Advertisements

Washington vs. California wineries part 2

I am absolutely thrilled to be heading to Napa Valley in two weeks. This is a much-needed, mini-vacation with my mom (my wine inspiration). Although a bittersweet trip as well, since I will be saying goodbye to a dear friend from the bay area, who is packing up and moving to London. Talk about going out with a bang though, a final Napa Valley wine trip.

As I said in the last blog, I am a fan of local businesses and proud to support Washington wineries.  But, how can I resist a wine trip to California? The birthplace of US wines.  Visit almost any country and no doubt you can easily obtain a California wine. And they make damn good wines too. You must look past Gallo, Mondovi and Sutter Homes (I’m not putting them down, they have their place) and search for smaller (using the term lightly)wineries. There are so many wineries in California; it will take me years to get through them all, if that is even possible. There are over 107 American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) in California, which include, Napa, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley and Rutherford.

California wines really made their mark in the world (even though before that, many people in the were travelling to California to fill their empty wine bottles right from the barrels) in 1976 when they beat France in a famous wine competition. A huge blow to the French ego’s. Check out the movie Bottle Shock… it will tell you all about that!

 That was a beyond brief history lesson. Now, here are some of my recommendations for wineries to visit. To be honest, I have only been through Napa (about a half-dozen times). So, my recommendations are limited to that region. And if you hadn’t noticed, I am visiting again in 2 weeks, so I may discover some new favorites to tell you about.

Here we go! Take notes my friends: my top 5 favorite wineries in Napa.

1.) Plumpjack Winery, Oakville

620 Oakville Cross Road, Oakville CA 94562

www.plumpjack.com

Fun and hip. Those are the first word that pop i to my mind when I think of Plumpjack. They cater to parties and are off the beaten path. They make a killer Cab that you will want to hold on too, for probably 10 years or so. Very much worth the trip.

2.) Peju Province, Rutherford

8466 St Helena Highway, Rutherford CA 94573

www.peju.com

Who doesn’t love wine and chocolate? This is place to visit if you want beautiful scenery and grounds (fresh flowers everywhere), fabulous wine and chocolate. I don’t know what I love more, their Cabs or the chocolate sauce they make. To top this visit off, it is family owned, intimate and very friendly to visitors (even those visitors who are wine novices). Peju is a very easy stop; right off Highway 29.

3.) Cakebread Cellars, Rutherford

8300 St. Helena Highway Rutherford, CA 94573

www.cakebread.com

I heard about Cakebread through my Arizona girlfriend who is also a wine fan. She raved about them, so on my last trip to Napa, I made an appointment to taste (they are appointment only). Cakebread wines are expensive, but they make you feel like a million bucks when you visit. They tour you through their facility, which is breathtaking. It has a modern feel, but the building is a barn. I can see why they have such a loyal backing. They are known for their Cabs and Sauvignon Blanc, but to be honest I loved their Syrah. But, I am not complaining about their other wines (well, maybe their Pinot Noir, I am not a fan of that)- very impressive. They are also another family owned winery right off of Highway 29.

4.) Andersons Conn Valley, St Helena

680 Rossi Road St Helena, CA 94574

www.connvalleyvineyards.com

Now this is a winery off the beaten path, by about 15 minutes. The best thing about this winery is the location. You taste the wines in wine caves! With wine barrels surrounding you. It is pretty cool, to say the least. The wine is alright. Not my favorite Napa wine, but for the tour and tasting, the trip is totally worth it. The Anderson’s are down to earth and not pretentious. They are by appointment only as well.

5.) Salvestrin Winery, St Helena

397 Main Street St Helena, CA 94574

http://www.salvestrinwinery.com

Again, I save the best for last. And again, I may be a bit biased. My husband  and I stayed at their Inn the last time we visited Napa. Wow is all I have to say. We met the family, sat on their patio, tasted their wines (some from right out of the barrel), and woke up at 4:30 am to watch them harvest the grapes. And to top that off, their wine is truly outstanding. Sadly though, you will not be able to Salvestrin in stores. It is only available through their winery (they can ship though!). My two favorite is their Sauvignon Blanc and Retaggio (a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cab and Cab Franc – it will knock your socks off). They are also appointment only, but if you pop by without one, they will not turn you away. As a side note, if you want to throw a party, they have an amazing facility you can rent. A patio within the vineyards!!! And for a true experience, stay at their Inn for the weekend.

Happy wine trails in California and don’t forget your designated driver and wallet (you will need loads if cash in Napa).

Cheers!

And a wine fan is born…

From a couple of nights ago...

As an adult, we tend look back on our childhood and appreciate, or not appreciate, what our parents taught us. There are many things  I appreciate about what my parents taught me as a child; one of them being exposed to the world of wine. I spent many school breaks on car trips through the wine countries of Napa/Sonoma California and Eastern Washington (and let me tell you, many wineries make wonderful grape juice for kids). I have fond memories of dinner parties where my dad let me go into his wine room and pick any wine from his wine rack. I would bring it upstairs excited  to sit and listen to my mom and dad talk about which winery it was from, who was with them on that trip and  then watch them contemplate drinking that wine or saving it (and if they wanted to save it, I went back down and grabbed another bottle).  In today’s society, that may not be acceptable parenting (however in other countries it is acceptable, we are sensitive in the US – in my humble opinion), but it was my reality and I am thankful for it. Thank you mom and dad for giving me the opportunity to learn from you about the world of wine….

Tonight, I did not taste a new wine. I do have a 6 week old baby, so I have to watch my consumption. However I do have a few things to add from past wines…

Last night’s Cotes Du Rhone  tasted delightful this evening. Some wines taste lovely a day or two after being opened. Some lose a little flavor but are drinkable. Others turn bitter, develop a vinegar taste and are horrible. It is hard to tell if your wine will last the next day; even the most expensive wine may not last a second day after being opened. My only advice is to invest in a good wine stopper. (Crate and Barrel has nice stoppers). I will try to let you know how wines taste the next day. The Cotes Du Rhone was a wine that still had a nice flavor the next day.

A couple nights ago, Ian and I opened a smooth Washington Syrah.

Milbrandt Vineyards 2007 Syrah – Columbia Valley ($14.99 Whole Foods)

The store recommended drinking this wine with Thanksgiving dinner.  Since Thanksgiving has obviously passed, I believe this would be a great wine for you gentleman to serve with the Valentines dinner I am sure you will be cooking for your wife/girlfriend/crush. It would taste lovely with a pasta or chicken dish. It has a berry, current flavor with a little spice. Not much punch  but is a smooth wine to start your date off. I would serve this Syrah with your dinner.  For an after dinner wine that will knock her “socks’ off, stay tuned for my recommendation (closer to Valentines day).

Happy tasting…..