Welcome!

September 14th, 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!

September 13th, 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

September 12th, 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

Barnard Griffin: Consistently Good Washington Wines

September 9th, 2014

In 15 years of writing about wines I don’t believe I’ve dedicated an entire column to Barnard Griffin Winery, one of Washington State’s oldest wineries.

nullI not quite sure what I’ve been thinking, because it’s fair to say that if there was such a thing as royalty among Washington winemakers, Rob Griffin would be on the short list for coronation. Together with his wife, Deborah Barnard, he’s been producing consistently good wine since the winery was established in Richland in 1983.

To get an idea of how consistently good Barnard Griffin wines have been, consider their Rosé of Sangiovese. This wine has earned gold medal honors or better from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for an amazing eight consecutive years.

Griffin also produces a number of solid red wines, with current releases including merlot, pinot noir, syrah, and a cabernet sauvignon/merlot blend. Bottled under the “signature series” designation, these wines are incredibly well priced at under $20 each.

But today’s focus is on two white wines from the 2013 vintage that I recently tried and felt deserved special notice. As an added bonus, they’re currently available at prices that almost seem too good to be true.

First up is the 2013 Fumé Blanc (about $12). This blend of 76-percent sauvignon blanc and 24-percent semillon drinks like a world-class white Bordeaux with an unmistakable Washington pedigree.

There’s a lovely layered flavor profile to this wine, with an herbal note to lead off and then a suggestion of luscious tropical fruits with melon-like flavors on the second tier. The finish hints at ripe peach, with plenty of steely acidity to complete the package. This is a completely over-the-top white wine that practically demands a case purchase.

nullAlso worth considering is the 2013 Chardonnay (about $14), sourced from six different Washington vineyards including Crawford, Gunkel and Conner Lee.

Despite the warm vintage, this chardonnay leans a bit towards the lighter side with pleasant citrus and green pear flavors. Surprisingly bright and vibrant, a gentle touch of French oak beautifully softens the edges near the finish.

One final note: the Fumé Blanc was bottled with the iconic red and yellow tulip label with which well-seasoned Washington wine drinkers have long been familiar. But the Chardonnay comes with a brand new label that only features an enlarged griffin with dark copper and gold accents. It’s regal, tastefully done and exactly what you’d expect from Barnard Griffin.

Barnard Griffin wines are well distributed throughout Washington in wine shops and grocers and can also be enjoyed at the Richland facility that now includes a tasting room, wine bar, restaurant and studio/gallery. For more information: barnardgriffin.com

Swiftwater’s Three Labels Display Impeccably Balanced Wines

September 2nd, 2014

Swiftwater Cellars, located off Interstate 90 near the towns of Roslyn and Cle Elum may well be the state’s quintessential destination winery.

With first-class accommodations, recreational activities, restaurants, and, oh yes, an excellent winery, this is a location worth searching out for a relaxing getaway.

The winery features three labels: the entry level No. 9 (in reference to the nearby long abandoned Roslyn No. 9 mine), Zephyr Ridge, and the top-of-the-line Swiftwater Cellars.

Today I’ll conclude my two-part series by focusing on some of the “best of the best” wines I sampled with winemaker Linda Trotta during a recent visit.

Trotta’s philosophy about winemaking: “I like acidity and like tannins, but I don’t want them to insult you. I think of (my wines) as an ‘Evita’ style: powerful but with finesse.”

nullWith a relatively small production of about 4,500 cases annually, her deft touch and focus on producing flawlessly balanced wines is evident in everything I tasted.

If you press me to choose an all-around favorite I’d have to lean towards the No. 9 2013 Riesling (about $18). This wine rocked my world with explosive, mouth-watering cantaloupe and green melon flavors up front and a sassy splash of orange zest. The .9-percent residual sugar content is nicely steadied by bracing, steely acidity. This riesling-lover’s dream is perfect for sipping or pairing with spicy Asian cuisine.

Three distinctly different chardonnays are also currently available, which gives them broad-ranging wineophile appeal.

An unoaked No. 9 2012 Chardonnay (about $20) opens with gorgeous stone fruit aromas, gentle citrus flavors and a kiss of ruby red grapefruit; the Zephyr Ridge 2012 Chardonnay (about $22) offers sublime baked apple flavors with a round, slightly creamy finish and a perfectly measured touch of toasted oak; and the Swiftwater 2011 Chardonnay (about $28) drinks like a fine French Chablis, with a fragrant hint of ash on the nose, bright apple and green pear on the mid-palate and a slightly buttery trailing note.

In addition to two pinot noirs there are a bevy of reds to choose from. I enjoyed the No. 9 2010 Red (about $28), a blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and malbec with spicy black plum flavors and great acidity. It begs for a pairing with medium-rare steak or roast duck.

The Zephyr Ridge 2011 Merlot (about $35) is another winner and its dusty, earthy cherry flavor profile reminded me of something from Zillah’s Two Mountain Winery.

There are also two Swiftwater Proprietary Reds (a 2009 and 2010 vintage, at $50 each and both superb); and the crown jewel, the Swiftwater 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (about $85). The red cherry fruit, acidity, tannins and oak are impeccably balanced, easily meeting the high expectations for a wine at this price point.
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Can’t visit Swiftwater Cellars firsthand? You’ll find their wines locally at Seifert and Jones Wine Merchants in Bellingham.

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