Welcome!

February 22nd, 2015

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

Bellingham Herald Articles

February 21st, 2015

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

Dan Is On The Air!

February 21st, 2015

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.

Rhone Varietals Increasingly Popular With Washington Wineries

February 17th, 2015

Rhône varietals have certainly found their niche among Washington wineries and wine enthusiasts. Once produced in scant quantities and used primarily for blending purposes, they’ve shown an increasing presence in the market, especially as stand-alone products.

So what exactly is a Rhône varietal? It’s one of 22 grapes designated for wine production within France’s Rhône Valley. Although some of these grapes remain fairly obscure, many are now commonplace in vineyards throughout Washington and the United States.

The Rhône Valley has two very distinct climates. The southern portion is characterized as Mediterranean, with hot summers and mild winters, while the north has warm summers with winters that are much more austere. As you might expect, each region’s climate has a profound influence on the types of wine grapes that can be grown there.

Eastern Washington’s climate more closely aligns with that of the Northern Rhône, and the four varietals permitted in the French region – syrah, viognier, roussanne, and marsanne – have, not surprisingly, also been grown here with good success.

Heat-loving Southern Rhône varietals, such as grenache and mourvèdre, are more adverse to our sometimes brutal winters. And yet, planted wisely and maintained properly, these grapes have also found a home in Washington, albeit to a much smaller extent.

Here’s a primer of a few Rhône varietals you’re likely to find from Washington wineries in stores and at winery tasting rooms:

Viognier – Sometimes mentioned as an alternative to chardonnay, this fragrant, full-bodied, low-acid white often carries flavors of stone fruits such as peach and apricot.

nullRoussanne – This viscous wine has common flavor descriptors of pear, apple, and nutty, with a round, creamy finish. It’s one of the few white wines that can benefit from long-term cellaring.

Marsanne – This full-bodied white is similar to roussanne, with the same nut-like quality, a rich, oily texture and oftentimes savory/spicy finish.

Grenache (grapes pictured at left) – This up-and-coming medium-bodied red varietal often features red fruits of raspberry and currant with refreshingly vibrant acidity. Often blended with Syrah and Mourvedre as a “GSM” wine.

Syrah – King among Rhône varietals in Washington, this is the third most planted red wine grape in the state. Low to medium acidity with medium to high tannins, it’s usually characterized as having dark berry and plum fruits and spicy/smoky accents.

Mourvèdre – Frequently blended with other red varietals, it’s darkly colored with a somewhat gamey/meaty quality and generally high in tannins.

Don’t Assume That Red Wine You Bought Will Automatically Pair With Chocolate

February 10th, 2015

Valentine’s Day is Saturday and I’m guessing that many of you are still mulling about a list of possibilities on what do to with your special someone.

For those of us lacking in creativity, the tried-and-true ways to celebrate the day usually seem to work best. Dinner out with a bottle of something sparkling? A solid choice. Flowers delivered to the home or workplace? Always a nice touch. Stay at home with a movie, some chocolate truffles and an exquisite bottle of red wine? Not so fast!

nullSomehow, some way, the coupling of red wine and chocolate has worked its way into the minds of love struck sweethearts as the quintessential Valentine’s Day combination.

Let me warn you that more often than not, this pairing can be perfectly awful.

The culprit is usually the chocolate, which sets the bar so high with its cocoa, sugar and fat contents it can render many red wines tasteless.

The solution is to beat the chocolate at its own game by choosing a wine that’s just as bold or sweet. A big, full-bodied cabernet sauvignon or a spicy, smoky syrah or zinfandel might do the trick; but I’ve found even better choices to be fortified sweet reds, Sherries, or a tawny Port or port-style wine.

Here a few wine recommendations that should work well with chocolate or for sipping simply on their own:

Maryhill Winery 2008 Vintage Port (about $18 for 580 ml) – A blend of traditional Port grapes – tinto cão, tempranillo, sousão, and touriga nacional – this wine was aged 32 months in oak barrels at the Goldendale winery. Rum raisin aromas and flavors are accompanied by extra-ripe cherry along with a hint of caramel and butterscotch. A somewhat sweet finish nicely balances the Brobdingnagian 19.3-percent alcohol content.

nullDynasty Cellars 2013 Amabile Late Harvest Zinfandel (about $18 for 375 ml) – This fortified zinfandel from the Bellingham winery has a stunning chocolate cherry bouquet that carries over to the palate with a subtle finishing flourish of white pepper. There’s also plenty of sweetness to balance out the underlying tannins. Amabile, by the way, translates to “sweet” or “lovable” in Italian.

BarSol Perfecto Amor (about $19) – This unique and amazing amber-colored aperitif is a combination of pisco (a Peruvian brandy) and three white varietals. Intoxicating aromas of baked raisin bread and maple nut lead to flavors of butterscotch and dried fruits on the palate. The finish is soft, elegant and lingering with touches of toasted almond. Superb!

Gonzalez Byass “Nectar” Sherry (about $25) – Sourced from Spain and made from the Pedro Ximenez grape, I’m tempted to describe this wine as a liquid fig newton for adults. But it’s much more than that, with ultra-dark plum, date, and dried apricot flavors and a nice nuttiness on the super-sweet, incredibly lengthy finish. This wine will stand up to virtually any dessert as well as an after-dinner cigar.

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