Greetings Wine Lovers! If things look a bit different, it’s because after 10 years I felt it was time for the web site to get a little “face lift.” The renovation work is still in progress, but for the most part, what you see is close to the finished product. I hope you enjoy it!
As always, you’ll find plenty of recommendations from Washington and Pacific Northwest wineries, wine-related events I’ll be attending or moderating, details on my past and upcoming wine classes, and other useful information.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, comments, or suggestions. Linger, browse and enjoy!
Dan the Wine Guy
Saturday, December 5, 2015 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm – Join Dan and five Whatcom County wineries – Dakota Creek, GLM Winery, La Chanterelle, Dynasty, and Masquerade – for a five-course dinner and wines at North Bellingham Golf Course.
Phone the restaurant at (360) 398-8300, extension 2 for detailed information.
For the week of November 8, 2015: Robert Ramsay Cellars 2012 La Previa – Woodinville winemaker Bob Harris has crafted a completely over-the-top red blend comprised of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Counoise. There’s a seductive quality to this wine, with luscious black cherry fruit that’s beautifully balanced with minerality and acidity along with a velvety texture and spicy accents on the finish. This wine truly is the complete package and probably one of the best wines I’ve tasted in 2015.
For the week of November 1, 2015: Dunham Cellars 2012 Trutina – According to the label, Trutina is Latin for “balance,” and that easily sums up this tremendous effort from the Walla Walla winery. Juicy blackberry and cherry fruit, undertones of toasted caramel and a hint of herbaceousness round out this stunning blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah and Petit Verdot.
For the week of October 26, 2015: Kiona Vineyards and Winery 2103 Chardonnay – Need a nice, reliable middle-of-the-road Chardonnay? Try this affordable option from Red Mountain’s Kiona Winery. Gentle apple flavors with a touch of oak and just enough brightness on the finish make this an almost-certain crowd pleaser. Try it with a creamy, roasted pumpkin soup for a perfect autumnal combination.
For the week of October 19, 2015: J Bookwalter Wines 2013 Subplot No. 30 – This long-time Washington winery based in Richland (with a second tasting studio in Woodinville) has a history of producing some stellar blends and this current release is no exception. Nicely complex with red berry and plum fruit, the finish hints at roasted coffee with a touch of vanilla. It’s a nicely-priced combination of five red varietals that should keep virtually everyone happy.
For the week of October 12, 2015: Mount Baker Vineyards 2014 Muller Thurgau – The Puget Sound region produces a number of cooler climate grapes that are unique to the Western portion of the state…and here’s a great example. Imagine biting into a crisp, Fuji apple and you’ll set the backdrop for this vibrant, flavorful white wine. Its mild sweetness is perfectly balanced with brisk acidity, making it a natural to pair with shellfish or seafood.
For the week of October 5, 2015: Cougar Crest Winery 2009 Merlot – This gorgeous Merlot from the Walla Walla Valley is a fine representation of a varietal many feel the state does best. Beautiful dark cherry and black plum aromas and flavors melt into a velvety soft finish. Perfect for sipping on its own during a cool, autumn day.
Be sure to follow my radio spot, “Washington Wine of the Week” every Thursday at approximately 4:20 pm on KGMI 790AM in Bellingham.
During that time, I’ll be chatting with Tracy Ellis and Peter Wagner, the hosts of PM Bellingham.
I’ll feature a recommendation of a select Washington wine each week and also give you my slant and insightful comments on wine-related topics that include Washington wines and wineries. Keep informed and tune in!
You can also now follow Dan on Twitter (with the occasional tweet) at @Dan_Radil.
This article originally appeared in the October/November, 2015 issue of Bellingham Alive Magazine
What’s the first beverage you think of when serving that hearty soup or stew you’re preparing this fall? Sparkling water? Beer? Milk? Puh-lease! Be a little adventurous and expand your tasting horizons by serving a red wine with your soup or stew; you’re certain to be in for a true culinary treat.
With just a bit of pre-planning, you’ll find that red wines are perfect pairing partners when soups and stews are either part of a multi-course dinner or served as the full-meal deal. Red wines are varied, flavorful, and great food enhancers because they can either complement or contrast the flavor profile of the base ingredients.
For cream-based soups, consider serving a light to medium-bodied red wine with a high acid content. Pinot Noir makes an excellent choice because the wine’s natural acidity cuts through the cream, allowing you to taste both the food and the wine.
In a world of sky-high priced pinots, the Mark West Willamette Valley 2013 Pinot Noir (about $22) is a tasty, reasonably priced alternative with considerable character and depth. Red plum and raspberry flavors lead off, with touches of spicy crabapple and brisk acidity on the finish. Try it with roasted vegetable soups or perhaps a creamy lobster bisque.
Also from Oregon and worth a try: the Willamette Valley Vineyards 2014 Whole Cluster Pinot Noir (about $22) and their 2013 Estate Pinot Noir (about $30). The Whole Cluster begins with a base of black and red plum that develops a nice, edgy quality with hints of bittersweet chocolate on the extreme finish. The Estate Pinot is vibrant, lean, and lighter in body, with expressive flavors of red currant, cranberry, and pie cherry.
For tomato-based soups, medium-body/medium-acid red wines such as Sangiovese, Barbera or Grenache are ideal. You’ll find that the acidity content of the tomatoes often matches and softens the astringency of these wines, allowing the complementary flavors of each to shine through.
Made from Sangiovese grapes, the Avignonesi 2011 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (about $29) should be on your must-try list to serve with minestrone soup. Gorgeous bright red cherry flavors predominate, framed by complex, spicy accents that suggest both slightly sweet and savory/earthy characteristics. The lengthy finish displays a harmonious compromise of lively acidity and soft tannins.
Sourced from Yakima Valley grapes, Walla Walla-based winery’s Palencia Wine Company 2012 Grenache (about $36) also makes a terrific choice. Aromas of toasted walnut fill the glass, with brighter strawberry and raspberry flavors to start. An underlying darker layer comes through on the finish with an artful flourish of dried black cherries.
For hearty stews, especially those calling for beef or pork, there are a number of red wines that make excellent, reliable choices – especially those with good tannic structure. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Zinfandel are just a few of the many options available.
From Spain’s Toro region, the 100-percent Tempranillo Pata Negra Toro Roble 2013 (about $15) should pair well with a variety of heartier soups and stews. A whiff of gingerbread on the nose, red berry flavors on the palate, and a slightly earthy/smoky finish capped with a hint of toasted oak highlight this affordable, “everyday” red.
And Oregon’s Raptor Ridge Winery 2013 Tempranillo (about $35) also has a current release of this Spanish varietal that’s drinking quite nicely. Sourced from the warmer Rogue Valley Appellation in the southwest region of the state, it’s beautifully balanced with understated blackberry fruit, a splash of acidity, supple tannins, and a spritz of black pepper on the finish.
Skillful winemaker Victor Palencia has handcrafted yet another gem with his Palencia Wine Company 2012 Syrah (about $30). It explodes with blueberry and black cherry flavors that seamlessly melt into an ultra-long finish of chocolate-cherry cordial and toasted hazelnut. This truly remarkable wine should pair well with the beef broth in a classic French onion soup recipe or it can be enjoyed simply on its own.
Comprised entirely of Nebbiolo grapes, the Damilano 2010 Barolo Cannubi (about $85) has plenty to offer. This amazing Italian wine features luscious red cherry and plum fruit upon entry while chalky, grippy tannins highlight a complex finish of tobacco, leather, mint, and a dusting of cocoa powder. It’s an impressive, full-bodied red that should stand up to the biggest, most robust soup or stew you can pair with it.
California’s Renwood Winery has earned a reputation for producing solid, reliable Zinfandels year after year. A couple of their current releases worth searching out include the 2012 Clarion Red Wine (about $20) and the 2012 Fiddletown Zinfandel (about $25).
The Clarion is a delicious, unique blend of equal parts Zinfandel, Syrah, Petit Sirah, and the white varietal Marsanne. It displays a base of gentle, black plum and brambly berry with touches of white pepper and licorice. The Fiddletown is an exceptional Zinfandel; it’s quite jammy from the start, with flavors of spicy cherry and plum compote. The lovely finish is soft with just a trace of tannic texture along with accents of caramel and toffee.
One final notable red wine blend is Bellingham’s Dynasty Cellars 2012 Irresponsible (about $18). This easy-to-drink combination of Columbia Valley Merlot, Malbec and Sangiovese is certain to be a crowd-pleaser. Sensual crème brûlée aromatics, vibrant red berry and cherry fruit flavors, and a bit of chewy tannins to match the acidity give this wine excellent structure and balance. Add in nuances of roasted espresso on the finish and an under $20-a-bottle price tag and you’ve got a complete-package red wine…perfect for enjoying this fall as well as any other time of year.