Welcome!

August 17th, 2014

nullIf you’re new to the site, welcome!

You’ll find plenty of recommendations from Washington and Pacific Northwest wineries, wine-related events I’ll be attending or moderating, upcoming wine class details and other useful information.

If you’re a return visitor, be sure to check out the Category titled Bellingham Herald Articles for weekly updates on wines, wineries, and related topics that I think you’ll find to be noteworthy.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions, comments, or suggestions. Linger, browse and enjoy the site!

Cheers!
Dan the Wine Guy

Dan Is On The Air!

August 16th, 2014

Be sure to follow my radio spot, “Washington Wine of the Week” every Thursday at approximately 5:45 pm on KGMI 790AM in Bellingham.

nullDuring that time, I’ll be chatting with Tracy Ellis, the host of PM Bellingham.

I’ll feature a special recommendation of a select Washington wine each week and also give you my slant and insightful comments on Washington wines and wineries. Keep informed and tune in!

You can also now follow Dan on Twitter (with the occasional tweet) at @Dan_Radil.

Bellingham Herald Articles

August 15th, 2014

nullPosts on this web site under the category “Bellingham Herald Articles” were originally printed in the Bellingham Herald…the source for Whatcom County, Washington news.

For the latest updates in local, regional and national news, visit their web site at www.bellinghamherald.com

The Journey of 30 Years of Wine Festivals Begins With a Single Sip

August 12th, 2014

Anyone with an interest in wines can probably recall the occasion or a particular wine that led to their wine tasting epiphany.

For me, it was sometime in the early 1980’s. Then Bellingham resident Marsha Kremen (cousin of current Whatcom County Councilmember Pete Kremen) introduced me to a beautiful white wine called Macon Fuissé.

At that time, my definition of a “good” wine was one that was sweet, made me feel happy, and fit nicely into my $2-a-bottle budget. I didn’t know exactly what Marsha had poured me, but I knew that it tasted much better than the Blue Nun I was introduced to during my college days.

About that same time I struck up a friendship with Kim and Jim Dooley, a couple of other locals who were just getting into something called “premium Washington wines.”

nullJim’s brother-in-law, Maury Balcom, owned a new winery in Pasco, the now defunct Quarry Lake Winery (and if you remember that one, give yourself a gold star and don’t forget to renew your AARP membership). The Dooleys invited me along for a trip east of the Cascades for some wine tasting. I had no idea what I was in for.

Walking into the barrel room, I inhaled the intoxicating, baked-bread aroma of yeasts working their magic of turning sugars into alcohol. I also recall that Maury produced some pretty awesome wines, including chenin blanc, chardonnay and merlot.

That trip to Quarry Lake was essentially a life-changing experience, and it showed me that handcrafted wines, made right here in Washington, were a cut above anything that was mass-produced on a national level.

In 1985, the Dooleys and I travelled to Kennewick to attend something called the Tri-Cities Wine Festival, which was then in its seventh year. Sixty wineries were at the festival, which represented virtually everyone producing in the state at that time.

Like kids in a candy store, we eagerly attacked everything we could get our hands on. I don’t even remember sampling that year’s Best of Show winner, a 1983 Merlot from a little up-and-coming winery called Leonetti Cellar.

Fast forward to 2014, which is quite a landmark year for me. I’ll be attending that same Tri-Cities Wine Festival, this time for the 30th consecutive year. The Festival has had its ups and downs during its history (who hasn’t?), but recent improvements have gotten it back on track. And even after all this time, anticipating the wines and wineries in attendance still creates an air of excitement.

2014 also marks the 15th anniversary of my wine column for the Herald, which has been running nearly every week since August, 1999. During this retrospective, I’d like to thank the Herald for giving me the opportunity to use the column as a podium to promote wines, especially those from Washington, which is now home to an amazing 800+ wineries.

I’ll continue to do this as long as you’ll have me, because writing a weekly column has become so routine that it hardly seems like work. Visiting wineries, meeting with winemakers and tasting new wines is still as fresh as it was during that first trip to Eastern Washington over 30 years ago.

With a Bit of Chilling Down, These Make Great Summertime Wines

August 5th, 2014

We’ve certainly had some awesome weather this summer, haven’t we? Remember all the pouting and complaining about those wetter-than-normal months during the spring? That seems like a distant memory as we head into the thick of a beautiful summer season.

Warm, sunny weather means that chilled wines are the order of the day. I’ve got plenty of new domestic and international recommendations for you today in a variety of price points for every budget.

At the $10-and-under price range are two choices from Portugal. The Aveleda 2013 Vinho Verde (about $7) is a lighter-bodied white wine with gentle flavors of green melon and a crisp, citrusy finish.

The coral-hued Casal Garcia 2013 Vinho Verde Rosé (about $8) also makes an excellent summertime wine when slightly chilled. Its opening raspberry aromas and flavors transition into more of a savory, leaner style with tangy watermelon and cherry tomato on the finish. Enjoy either vinho verde with a pairing of sole, crab or chicken.

nullMouton Cadet really impressed me with a couple of their current releases from France’s Bordeaux region.

The 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (about $11) is vibrant, flavorful and extremely well-priced. There’s a bit of herbaceousness to lead off with an air of fresh field grasses and clover. Brighter citrus flavors of grapefruit and Meyer lemon come through on the mid-palate, while touches of honeydew melon and peach appear on the extreme finish.

Also notable is the 2013 Rosé (about $11), which combines the traditional Bordeaux varietals of merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon in a heady, rosé interpretation. The nose is both floral and fruity, while a flavor profile of bright red currants and berries really shines through from start to finish.

For a nice change from ordinary sparkling wines, try the Marenco Non-Vintage Pineto Brachetto d’Acqui (about $19). The brachetto grape is essentially the red version of the Moscato d’Asti white grape; so as you might expect, this is a fragrant, fruit-forward wine.

It’s made in a slightly effervescent, frizzante style that gives the wine a lovely, creamy texture. Wild strawberries instantly come to mind while tasting, and at only 5.5-percent alcohol, it’s easy to enjoy while pairing with a light dessert. Unique and delicious.

Kramer Vineyards in Gaston, Oregon also has a trio of newly released sparkling wines under the Celebrate! label designation that can be ordered online at kramervineyards.com.

The 2013 Müller-Thurgau (about $22) has Fuji apple and kiwi flavors and a touch of marshmallow crème; while a virtually colorless 2013 Pinot Gris (about $22) features gentle pear and apple flavors and an off-dry finish.
My favorite is the brilliant pink 2013 Rosé of Pinot Noir (about $24), with candy apple and marzipan aromas, bright pie cherry flavors to start, and a finish that suggests strawberry cream.

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