Welcome!

July 30th, 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, 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

Washington Wine of the Week

July 30th, 2015

For the week of July 27, 2015: Milbrandt Vineyards “The Estates” 2012 Malbec – Looking for a quiet, reserved red wine? You’ve come to the wrong place with this Malbec from the Prosser-based winery! Big, juicy blackberry aromas and flavors are backed with an semi-smooth finish that belies the eye-popping 15.5% alcohol content. A prime candidate for anything beef, especially when it comes off the grill.

For the week of July 20, 2015: L’Ecole No. 41 2013 Semillon – Why this varietal isn’t more popular is beyond me. This Washington Semillon has plenty to offer: gentle honeysuckle and clover aromatics, soft pear and peach flavors and finish of lemon crème. Walla Walla winemaker Marty Clubb has been producing this wine for many years with great success and this vintage is no exception. Well-priced to boot, this wine should be on your must-try list.

nullFor the week of July 13, 2015: Whidbey Island Winery 2013 Siegerrebe – Western Washington pioneer winemaker Greg Osenbach has the vineyard and the experience to craft this cool-climate grape into a beautiful wine. Pear, litchee, and fragrant spices fill the glass and a touch of residual sugar is impeccably balanced with bracing acidity. The 2014 vintage is also scheduled for release in July of 2015.

For the week of July 6, 2015: Arbor Crest Non-Vintage Cliff House White – An amazing blend of 75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Chardonnay, this ultra-impressive white wine is loaded with stone fruit aromas of peach, nectarine, and apricot that carry over to the initial taste. As the wine progress, the Sauv Blanc really kicks in, with a herbaceous, citrus flavor profile and crisp finishing notes. At only around $10 a bottle, skillful winemaker Kristina van Loben Sels deserves a hearty round of applause for serving up a stellar wine that won’t break the bank.

For the week of June 29, 2015: Palencia Wine Company 2014 Albarino – This newer Washington varietal is gaining momentum and Victor Palencia gives us reason to want this wine even more. It’s wonderfully complex, with ambrosia and stone fruit aromatics and flavors of spiced apple, pear and citrus on the palate. The finish is bone dry, with a nice slate-like/minerality quality that suggests a pairing with fresh shellfish.

For the week of June 22, 2015: Barnard Griffin 2014 Rose of Sangiovese – Another smashing success from Richland winemaker Rob Griffin, this rose is a subtle explosion of strawberry, red currant, and watermelon fruit flavors. Bracing acidity tops things off and makes this an ideal sipping wine for the summer when served well chilled.

For the week of June 15, 2015: Seven Hills Winery 2012 Merlot (Seven Hills Vineyard) – This is a big, powerful Merlot, with slightly smoky aromatics, understated dark fruit flavors, and enough finesse from Walla Walla winemaker Casey McClellan to make this readily enjoyable, as well as a candidate for the cellar for years to come.

For the week of June 8, 2015: J Wrigley Vineyards 2013 MAC Cuvee Pinot Noir – John and Jody Wrigley have produced a stellar Pinot Noir from three vineyards in Oregon’s McMinnville AVA. This wine has all the classic Pinot characteristics; slightly earthy aromatics, bright red cherry flavors and great acidity. There’s also a plush, almost elegant finishing note to this wine that will allow it to pair perfectly with salmon, duck or roast poultry.

For the week of June 1, 2015: Dynasty Cellars 2012 Malbec – Sourced from Walla Walla’s Les Collines Vineyard, this Malbec opens with beautiful berry aromatics followed by generous blueberry and blackberry flavors on the palate. With surprisingly good acidity at its core, this red wine promises only to get better with additional aging. A fine effort from Bellingham winemaker Peter Osvaldik.

And 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 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.

Cocktail Tasting & Food Pairing

July 20th, 2015

nullAugust 8, 2015 1:00 to 3:00 pm – I know, I know, this doesn’t have anything to do with wine. But I will be attending this event at Keenan’s at the Pier in Bellingham that will feature 5(!) of their house-made cocktails.

I’ll also be chatting with guests and talking about my upcoming series of wine tasting events at Bellingham restaurants: “Sips of the Season” sponsored by Bellingham Alive Magazine.

Click on the link below for ticket information on what is certain to be a great cocktail party!

Cocktails at Keenans

The End of an Era

June 16th, 2015

Dear Wine Enthusiasts:

As of today, the Bellingham Herald has discontinued my weekly wine column.

But rest assured that I’ll continue to provide you with coverage of wines from Washington, the Pacific Northwest, and to a smaller extent, around the world, albeit in other and new venues…including Bellingham Alive and North Sound Life magazines. It’s an exciting new stage in my career as a wine writer that will provide you with even better coverage of the industry’s wines and wineries.

It has been an absolute pleasure giving you the latest on the world of wine through the Herald for the past 16 years.

Here is my final column, printed in its entirety (photo below from Kiona Vineyards):

null

What does the future hold for the Washington wine industry? Today I’ll give you my insight on what you might expect.

For starters: more recognized wine regions and even more wineries. I don’t anticipate that we’ll keep up our 50-new-wineries-a-year pace (of course, I said that 10 years ago and I was wrong), but steady growth, especially from small, boutique wineries with annual production of 1,000 cases or less will keep that number climbing.

You can also expect to see more diversity among the types of wine grape varietals grown in Washington. When I attended my first Tri-Cities Wine Festival in 1985 the choices were miniscule: riesling, chenin blanc, and chardonnay for whites wines and merlot and cabernet sauvignon for the reds. That was about it.

Today you’ll find “newer” white varietals and blends that include viognier, albariño, roussanne, and marsanne much more commonplace. Red choices have become even more varied with once virtually non-existent varietals such as grenache, malbec, primitivo, sangiovese, mourvèdre, and carménère finding their niche among Washington wineries.

From the beginning, my charge has always been, “go taste wine.” Simply put, you can read all you want about wines, familiarize yourself with all sorts of snobby terminology, and know your local wine shop from top to bottom.

But until you experience a winery firsthand – traveling to the production facility, walking the vineyards, meeting with the winemaker, or perhaps participating in a barrel tasting, you’re missing out on a huge part of the Washington wine industry.

Fortunately, it’s easy to get started. With our state’s over 850 wineries, plus those in neighboring British Columbia, Oregon, and Idaho, the tasting possibilities are essentially all within a day’s drive of the Whatcom County area.

Today closes the book on my weekly wine column for the Herald. Since 1999, writing this column has been an incredible experience and introduced me to scores of remarkable people in the wine industry. I hope I’ve been able to do the same for you by using it as a forum to primarily promote Pacific Northwest wineries and encouraging you to go out and taste the wines they produce.

Moving forward, I’ll be working as a contributing writer to Whatcom Magazine, a slick, locally produced quarterly publication I urge you to check out.

You can also continue to follow me as a contributor to Wine Press Northwest Magazine, a wine educator at Bellingham Technical College, and on my “Washington Wine of the Week” spot on KGMI Radio’s PM Bellingham segment every Thursday. And of course, you can connect with me through my web site: danthewineguy.com.

Thanks to the Herald for allowing me this opportunity and thank you loyal readers. Cheers!

Boom in Washington Wineries Has Its Roots in a Handful of Groundbreakers

June 9th, 2015

Follow this column with any regularity and you’ll know that I’ve always been a big proponent of Washington wines. This week I’ll take a look back at just how far the state’s wine industry has progressed over the past 15 years and next week, we’ll look forward to what you might expect in the near future.

Up until 2000, the state saw a steady, but relatively small annual increase in the number of wineries. For example, according to the Washington Wine Commission, from 1999 to 2000, there was only a net increase of three wineries, bringing the statewide total to 163.

Then in the next 10 years, things started to go a little crazy.

By 2010, that number had more than quadrupled to around 700 wineries and today we’re at 850-plus. That’s an average increase of nearly 50 wineries each and every year for the past 15 years.

nullThe obvious question: why the explosion in Washington wineries?

Start with the grapes. The dry climate in Eastern Washington is ideal for many wine grape varietals with its extra hours of sunlight during the warm summer months; and cool evenings contribute to grapes with higher acidity levels that, “California wineries can only dream of,” so I’ve been told.

You’ve also got to give credit to the winemakers, whose skill level seems to be improving every year. Even in the cooler, testy 2010 and 2011 vintages, Washington winemakers pulled through with wines that were extremely well-balanced with excellent cellaring potential. It’s that level of consistency that makes local, domestic, and even international wine enthusiasts stand up and take notice.

But none of this growth and current popularity would have been possible without the groundbreaking work of Washington’s pioneer wineries decades ago.

A short list could include Casey and Vicki McClellan from Seven Hills Winery in Walla Walla; Gail and Shirley Puryear from Bonair Winery and Paul Portteus from Portteus Winery in the Rattlesnake Hills region; Rob Griffin from Barnard Griffin Winery in the Tri-Cities; Clay Mackey and Kay Simon from Chinook Wines, Scott Pontin from Pontin del Roza Winery, and Dr. Wade Wolfe and Becky Yeaman from Thurston Wolfe Winery in Prosser; and from Red Mountain, John and Anna Williams of Kiona Vineyards and, more recently, Tim and Kelly Hightower of Hightower Cellars.

These folks, some by their own admission, may not have known exactly all the ins-and-outs of growing grapes and producing wines. But they all shared the same vision in that Washington had the potential to be a great wine producing region and relentlessly pursued that goal.

For that, we owe them and many others, a debt of gratitude every time we lift a glass of Washington wine today.

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