Welcome!

May 24th, 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

May 23rd, 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!

May 23rd, 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.

Barbequing? Don’t Forget the Red Wines!

May 19th, 2015

The Memorial Day holiday is coming up this weekend…really. For many, it’s the unofficial start of barbequing season, although, if you’re like me, you’ve probably jumped the gun and been cooking outdoors on the grill for weeks.

No matter what your time frame, having a good selection of red wines on hand to pair with your barbequed and grilled foods is a must.

Red wines make good pairing partners because many of them complement the smoky, charred quality that meats and vegetables pick up after they’ve been on the grill. Malbec, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, syrah, and petite syrah are all good examples of red wines for you to consider and even mid-range varietals such as tempranillo, grenache, cabernet franc and sangiovese can go well with grilled foods.

My only note of caution is to go easy on any accompanying sauces and spices in your cooking. These might drown out the flavors of your wine if used to excess.

nullHere are a few suggestions of red wines I’ve enjoyed as of late that are worth a try:

From Chile’s Colchagua Valley, the Montes Alpha Dry Farmed 2012 Carmenère and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $18 to $24 each) were produced from grapes grown utilizing a farming method with virtually no irrigation.

This decreases water usage by up to 65% and results in smaller grapes with more of a dense, concentrated flavor profile.

The Montes Carmenère is outstanding, with a whiff of white pepper to begin, ultra-dark blueberry and black currant flavors, and a spritz of pepper and dried herbs on an elegant finish. The Montes Cabernet displays more red plum and cherry fruits and a bit more grippy tannins. Both should pair nicely with steak, lamb or pork.

The Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2011 (about $25) is a cabernet sauvignon-based red with merlot, cabernet franc, and sangiovese blended in. Bright fruits of red currant, pie cherry, and field berries lead off, with a slightly spicy finish and firm tannins. Try it with grilled vegetables basted in butter, roast chicken or pork tenderloin.

From Washington’s Horse Heaven Hills Appellation, the Double Canyon 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $25) is a must-try red. Big blackberry and dark cherry flavors fill the glass, with a dusting of baking spice for starters. As the wine progresses, brighter red fruits come through on the finish with a trailing note of licorice root and black pepper. Excellent!

Sourced from Yakima Valley grapes, the Palencia Wine Company 2012 Casa Amarilla GSM (about $36) is a 60/30/10 combination of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre. The grenache really shines through with its vibrant red cherry flavors; then there’s just the right balance of tannic structure and a bit of spicy smokiness on the finish. Perfect with barbeque pork or beef brisket.

Spokane’s Latah Creek Winery a Model of Consistency

May 12th, 2015

Keeping a winery up and running with a consistent product year after year is no small feat. The fact that Mike and Ellena Conway of Latah Creek Wine Cellars have been doing just that since 1980 is nothing short of amazing.

When the Conways started their winery in Spokane nearly 35 years ago there were only 17 others in Washington. Since that time, the state’s winery count has swelled to 850-plus.

What’s the their secret? Certainly their commitment to affordably priced wines in a relaxed atmosphere has to be a consideration. The tasting room, located just off Interstate 90 a few miles east of downtown Spokane, is as unpretentious as they come, with an unabashedly kitschy retail inventory that engulfs the tasting bar.

nullWhile this might be off-putting to some, those with more of a laid-back, casual approach to tasting wines will probably feel right at home.

That’s likely what the Conways envisioned while nurturing this mainstay Washington winery to its current annual production level of around 15,000 cases. And to insure this sense of family continues, their daughter, Natalie Barnes, joined the winery in 2004 and now shares winemaking duties.

Here are my tasting notes on some current releases I sampled during a visit to Spokane last month:

2013 Riesling (about $10) – Gentle floral aromas lead off, with juicy melon and tropical fruit flavors. Steely acidity balances out the sweetness that comes through as a whisper of honeycomb on the finish.

2012 Chardonnay (about $12) – This biannually produced chardonnay bears some nice minerality from the Ancient Lakes region’s terrior along with Golden Delicious apple and pear flavors. There’s a touch of citrus in the latter stages along with a hint of toasted oak.

2014 Moscato (about $15) – Mike Conway believes that muscat is one of the state’s most underappreciated grapes and his interpretation of the varietal offers a nice balance of fruit, acidity, and sweetness. White flower aromatics, lychee and pineapple flavors, and a finish of subtle spices highlight this aperitif-style wine.

2012 Ellena’s Sangiovese (about $18) – Bright red fruit flavors of cherry and currant melt into a slightly smoky finish with grippy tannins in the background. A pairing with pasta and marinara sauce immediately comes to mind.

Non-Vintage Monarch Red (pictured above, about $20) – This complex blend of merlot, tempranillo, malbec, and syrah is drinking beautifully. Delicious plum, dark cherry and black currant flavors melt into layered finishing notes of espresso and mocha.

2010 Natalie’s Nectar (about $15) – This blend of finished and unfiltered juice from syrah grapes displays a mouthful of dried cherry flavors and slightly sweet finish. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind red wine that pairs well with dark chocolate.

Latah Creek Wine Cellars’ tasting room is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Order online at latahcreek.com

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