Welcome!

nullGreetings 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 dan@danthewineguy.com if you have questions, comments, or suggestions. Linger, browse and enjoy!

Cheers!
Dan the Wine Guy

Sips of the Season Wine Tasting

nullSaturday, March 12, 2016 3:00 to 5:00 pm – Join Dan at The Loft Restaurant on Bellingham’s waterfront for a food and wine tasting event featuring wines from Lost River Winery in Winthrop.

Included on the tasting menu will be a 2014 Pinot Gris, 2012 Nebbiolo, 2013 Barbera, and a 2013 Late Harvest Semillon. Each wine will be paired with a number of small-plate appetizers from Chef Steve Engels of The Loft Restaurant.

Dan will discuss the wines and the winery along with an update on the Washington State wine industry and trending varietals.

Click on the link below for ticket information and to reserve your spot for this great event!

Wine Tasting @ The Loft Restaurant

Washington Wine of the Week – Selections for Winter, 2016

nullFor the week of January 31, 2016: Vartanyan Estate Winery 2014 Sweet Riesling – Whatcom County’s Margarita Vartanyan (pictured at right) has produced a gem of a Riesling at a super-affordable price (about $14). Mouth-watering, juicy pear and pineapple flavors finish with a splash of bracing acidity that perfectly balances a hardly noticeable 7% residual sugar content. How good is this wine? My youngest sister, who rarely drinks white wine enjoyed it so much that she bought a bottle during a recent visit to the tasting room. Outstanding!

For the week of January 24, 2016: Masquerade Wine Co. Non-Vintage Sparkling Riesling – Sparkling wines are one of the things Bellingham’s Masquerade Wine Co. does best and this Riesling is a classic example. Big, golden delicious apple flavors, a flourish of yeasty brioche, and ample residual sugar on the finish will make this an instant favorite of those who like their sparklers with a touch of sweetness. It should pair well with anything in the brunch line, especially eggs benedict with a creamy hollandaise sauce.

For the week of January 17, 2016: Waterbrook Winery 2014 Chardonnay – This well-priced (about $12) Chardonnay from the Walla Walla-based winery makes a great accompaniment to a variety of lighter entrees including chicken, pork and halibut. Apple aromas and flavors are followed by a touch of dried apricot, with finishing notes of nutmeg and vanilla. There’s also a bit of toasted oak in the background that doesn’t overwhelm the wine’s nicely balanced flavor profile.

nullFor the week of January 10, 2016: Barrister Winery Non-Vintage Rough Justice X – Barrister Winery continues as one of Spokane’s top wineries with another exceptional effort from winemakers Michael White and Greg Lipsker. This red wine blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is filled with understated blueberry, plum, and black currant fruits, a twist of white pepper and smoky undertones that make it a pleasure to taste.

For the week of January 3, 2016: Barnard Griffin 2014 Riesling – If you’ve blown your holiday budget and need to cut back on expenditures in January, here’s a great wine that will fit the bill without compromising on quality. Crisp flavors of Granny Smith apple, pear, pineapple and citrus highlight this tasty white wine, with just a touch of sweetness on the finish to move it into the off-dry category. It’s a steal at only about $10 a bottle.

Dan is on the Air!

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.

Light to Medium to Full Body-Style Options are Enough to Keep Any Red Wine Drinker Happy

This article originally appeared in the February/March, 2016 issue of Bellingham Alive magazine.

“Body style” is one of those wine descriptors you hear frequently, but may ignore all together when sifting through the wine section in search of the perfect bottle to serve with tonight’s meal.

Body styles range from light to medium to full, and refer to the richness or weight of the wine on the palate. Confused? Think of the difference between thin, flavorless bottled water and the mouthfeel of sweet, acidic, and flavorful fresh-squeezed orange juice and you’ll get the idea.

Categorizing a wine with a certain body style depends on a number of factors including its fruitiness, acidity, sugar, alcohol, oak, and tannins – that astringent, chalky texture you sometimes find on the wine’s finish. Red wines are especially influenced by these latter two factors, because, unlike most white wines, they are fermented with their high-tannin skins and seeds and then aged in oak barrels.

In addition to making the wine darker in color and more fuller in body, this process also adds complexity to the flavor profile…just one reason why red wines are often both the source of spirited discussion and so much fun to drink.

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

Pinot Noir should be at or near the top of the list for those who prefer lighter to medium-bodied red wines. The grape’s natural acidity makes it an excellent food-pairing choice, especially with nullhigh fat-content foods such as salmon, duck or lamb.

Sourced from 15 acres of the winery’s original plantings, the Willamette Valley Vineyards 2012 Bernau Block Pinot Noir (about $55) is an exquisitely crafted, must-try Oregon Pinot. Slightly edgy, ripe pie cherry and pomegranate flavors lead off, while a velvety soft finish provides both balance and elegance.

The Stoller Family Estate 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir (about $45) is another representation of Oregon Pinot at its finest.

“Meticulous sorting and attentive winemaking were essential,” according to the winery website and this attention-to-detail approach is evident from the first sip. Fragrant raspberry and strawberry aromas carry over to the palate along with just a touch of earthiness. Seamless and silky, a flourish of dried cherry appears on the extreme finish.

MID-RANGE CHOICES

Bobal is one of Spain’s most widely grown red wine grapes and it offers wine drinkers plenty of fresh, deep-colored fruit flavors and good acidity that place it squarely in the medium-bodied wine category.

A couple of options: The Isaac Fernandez 2012 Bovale (about $14), a 100-percent Bobal sourced from vines at least 60 years old. Lovely dark berry and cherry aromas and flavors fill the glass, with spicy/peppery accents and a whisper of vanilla on a soft finish; and the Bodegas Mustiguillo 2013 Mestizaje Tinto (about $15) a Bobal-based red blended with touches of Garnacha, Merlot and Syrah. It’s a bit more dense and gritty with reserved blackberry and black currant fruits along with a spritz of white pepper on the finish. Serve it with practically anything beef.

nullA trio of selections from Walla Walla’s Vino La Monarcha also make solid, medium-bodied red wine choices and offer good value at about $20-a-bottle each. (Winemaker Victor Palencia, pictured at right.)

The 2012 Wahluke Slope Merlot features a soft entry of plummy fruit and a pleasant, darker layer near the finish with a touch of bittersweet chocolate; the 2013 Sangiovese opens with bright raspberry and boysenberry flavors that are perfectly balanced with toasted oak and supple tannins; and the 2013 Malbec is a delicious fruit-forward wine with a mouthful of brambly berries, hints of clove, cinnamon and pepper, and a slightly structured finish that make it an absolute pleasure to taste.

Also from Washington is the Thurston Wolfe 2012 Howling Wolfe Zinfandel (about $20) in Prosser. Red currant and berry flavors are capped with a bit of baking spice, toasted caramel, and a nicely textured finish. It’s a artfully crafted Zinfandel that offers a pleasant break from some of California’s heavy-handed alternatives.

HEAVIER HITTERS

Sagrantino is an Italian wine grape that produces extremely dark, inky, tannic red wines that fall into the full-bodied category. A prime example is the Scacciadiavoli 2008 Montefalco Sagrantino (about $39). It opens with a stunning fragrance of violets and ultra-dark plums followed by flavors of red plum, green tea, a trace of minerality, and chewy tannins. This wine can easily hold up to a medium-rare steak or gamey meats such as elk or venison.

And be sure to consider the current red wine releases from Walla Walla’s Dunham Cellars. These wines are truly the complete package by carrying a full-bodied, yet elegant quality in terms of their flavor profile and taste.

“‘The passion is in the bottle’ is our slogan,” notes Bellingham resident and Dunham Co-Owner/Chairman, David Blair. “We want to celebrate the relationship between fine food and wine (and) deliver a product we’re proud to put our name on.”

Start with the 2013 Three Legged Red (about $19), Dunham’s perennial red-blend favorite that makes for terrific everyday enjoyment. Then take a step up to the 2012 Trutina(about $29), a beautiful, five-varietal blend with a base of juicy blackberry and red cherry fruit, gentle notes of caramel and rose hips, and a slightly herbaceous finish.

nullSingle-varietal wine enthusiasts will love the Dunham 2012 Syrah (about $35), with vanilla bean aromatics, blueberry and spiced black plum flavors, and a finish with a touch more vanilla and a dusting of cocoa powder; and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon XVIII (about $45), with a wonderfully complex bouquet of meadow grasses and hazelnuts, reserved flavors of cassis and espresso, and nicely integrated tannins. It’s a superb pairing partner with osso buco.

Dunham’s crown jewel: the 2011 Lewis Vineyard Syrah (about $75). Wild blackberry and graphite on the nose, luscious dark fruit flavors on the palate, and underlying notes of slate and spice box highlight this incredible, faultless wine. It’s luxurious from start to finish and undeniably worth the price.

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