Greetings Wine Lovers! Are you ready for some great wines from Washington and the Pacific Northwest? I’ve got plenty of recommendations to offer in a variety of styles, flavor profiles and price ranges that should make any wine enthusiast happy.
In addition, my web site will give you the latest on 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 email@example.com if you have questions, comments, or suggestions. Linger, browse and enjoy!
Dan the Wine Guy
For the week of September 18, 2016: Mellisoni Vineyards 2013 Syrah – Rob and Donna Mellison have a great thing going at their Lake Chelan winery…spectacular views, good wine, and first-class service. This gorgeous Syrah displays dark cherry flavors that become more concentrated as the wine progresses. The finish is lenghty, slight chewy, and inky with a trace of minerality that’s representative of the Lake Chelan AVA. Check out the wines in person during the off-season when spring and summer tourists have departed and you’ll be able to enjoy a much more leisurely visit.
For the week of September 11, 2016: Pacific Rim Winery 2014 Riesling – Looking for a solid, classic Washington Riesling at an affordable price? Pacifc Rim has you covered with this nicely priced selection that should meet all your Riesling needs. White peach and apricot aromas and flavors, and a slighty sweet finish with well-balanced acidity make this ideal for pairing with spicy cuisine or equally nice as a summertime sipper. Priced around $10, it’s easy to spring for a few extras to have on hand (and in case you run low, the 2015 vintage is also currently available).
For the week of September 4, 2016: Bellingar Estates 2014 Oregon Pinot Noir – Born and raised in Bellingham, Washington, Evan Bellingar headed south to Oregon’s Willamette Valley to produce his first commercially released vintage…and it’s a winner. This strikingly ruby-colored, lighter-styled Pinot features ample red cherry and raspberry flavors to lead off, with a splash of cranberry on the finish and a touch of the varietal’s signature earthiness. Pair it up with a variety of foods, but keep Pacific Northwest salmon at the top of your list and you’ll have an incredible culinary combination.
For the week of August 28, 2016: Cor Cellars 2014 Alba Cor – White wine blends continue to be a growing part of the Washington wine scene and this combination of Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris from the Columbia Gorge winery is a perfect example of what to expect. Juicy pear and honeydew melon aromas and flavors fill the glass, with bracing acidity and a trace of spiciness on the finish. Serve it well-chilled and enjoy with anything seafood or simply on its own as a great starter wine.
For the week of August 21, 2016: Bergevin Lane “Linen” 2015 Rose – This second label from the Walla Walla winery serves up affordably priced choices that deliver plenty of flavor and quality. This delcious Rose is comprised of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and offers mouth-watering red cherry and strawberry flavors with an edgier finishing note of crisp, citrusy rhubarb. It’s a perfect “shrimp on the barby” accompaniment at the budget-friendly price of only about $15 a bottle.
For the week of August 14, 2016: Su Lei Cellars 2014 Sauvignon Blanc – Walla Walla’s Tanya Woodley is one of several women winemakers that are putting their mark on the Washington wine industry. Tanya notes that this Sauvignon Blanc “is made in a New Zealand style,” which means you can expect plenty of racy acidity and a touch of herbaceousness. But there’s also a more pleasant, rounder quality to this wine with its key lime, citrus and Granny Smith apple flavors. Serve chilled with fresh shrimp and you’ve can an incredible summertime combination.
For the week of August 7, 2016: Proper Wines 2013 Estate Syrah – Only 600 cases of this wine were produced so purchasing it sooner, rather than later, is the order of the day. A beautiful wine from start to finish, with lovely chocolate and espresso aromas and ample yet balanced black cherry and blueberry fruit on the palate. The finish melts into a swirl of vanilla bean with a lingering, velvety quality. Superbly crafted. Available on line at www.properwines.com.
For the week of July 31, 2016: Palencia Wine Co. “El Vinador” 2013 Tempranillo – This amazing wine from Walla Walla opens with velvety currant and black tea flavors that melt into ultra-dark cherry and bittersweet chocolate. An extended finish is framed by toasted vanilla bean. Just how good is this wine? Easily worthy of its $50-a-bottle price tag and truly a wine to savor.
For the week of July 24, 2016: Edward Lynne Cellars 2014 Malbec – Winemaker Bill Kintner has done a nice job with this increasingly popular varietal from his Camano Island-based winery. Generous dark plum flavors and undertones of black currant start you off, with understated brambly spice accents on a velvety finish. This ready-to-drink Malbec may not be an ideal candidate for long-term cellaring, but it’s certainly a pleasure to drink in the short run.
For the Week of July 17, 2016: Randolph Cellars 2013 Syrah – This varietally perfect Syrah hits all the right notes from start to finish. Smoky aromatics carry over to the palate along with rich, dark fruit, a flourish of spice and a touch of bacon fat on a toasty finish. A stunning effort from the Snohomish winery and winner of this year’s Best of Show award at the Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival.
For the week of July 10, 2016: Robert Ramsay Cellars 2015 Mason’s White – Winemaker Bob Harris’s wines are always spot on, and this just-released white is another prime example of the quality of wines you’ll find at his Woodinville tasting room. Made entirely from Roussanne, it features complex aromas and flavors of butterscotch, baked apple, hazelnut and caramel, along with a weighty, full-bodied finish that are characteristic of this Rhone varietal.
For the Week of July 3, 2016: Masquerade Wine Co. Non-Vintage Sparkling Lemberger – This underused red varietal finds a place in an unlikely place: as a sparkling wine. Yeasty brioche aromatics and tasty black cherry flavors predominate, with a lingering finish of cherry that’s fruity without being sweet. Winemaker Bill Kimmerly shows a deft touch in crafting this incredibly delicious, must-try wine that’s available only at the Bellingham tasting room.
For the Week of June 26, 2016: Tempus Cellars 2013 Riesling – Evergreen Vineyards, located in Central Washington’s Ancient Lakes AVA, has quickly become one of the state’s premiere growing regions for Riesling. This current release from Walla Walla winemaker Joe Forest, is a prime example of the quality of grapes coming from this area. Imagine biting into a fresh white peach, with all the wonderful fruit backed by crisp, laser-sharp acidity and steely minerality, and that’s what you’ll find with this wine. Refreshing, clean, and flavorful, it’s an absolute pleasure to taste.
For the Week of June 19, 2016: Gifford-Hirlinger Winery 2013 Stateline Red – Located in Walla Walla and less than a stone’s throw from the Oregon border, Gifford-Hirlinger has been a favorite of mine since its inception. Winemaker Mike Berghan somehow manages to put together this five-varietal blend, all sourced from Walla Walla fruit, and get it out the door for only $18 a bottle. Nice red plum and berry flavors, a bit of peppery spice, good acidity, decent tannins…in short, a well-balanced wine that you’ll be hard-pressed to match in quality from this area at this price point.
Be sure to follow my radio spot, “Washington Wine of the Week” every Thursday at approximately 4:20 pm on KGMI 790AM in Bellingham.
During that time, I’ll be chatting with Tracy Ellis and Peter Wagner, the hosts of KGMI’s “Your Afternoon Show.”
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.
Friday, September 9, 2016 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm – Enjoy Pacific Northwest cuisine? Then be sure to join Dan for a five-course dinner featuring some of the best food our corner of the world provides…prepared by Executive Chef Nick Moss and served at North Bellingham Golf Course’s 9 Restaurant.
Each course will be perfectly paired with a wine from either Washington or Oregon, with choices from Cor Cellars, Apolloni Vineyards, Bellingar Estates, Gamache Vintners, and Jones of Washington on the menu.
The dinner will be served “under the tent,” at the restaurant’s outdoor facility with sweeping views of Whatcom County and Mount Baker. Dan will moderate the event, which opens with pass-around appetizers at 6:00 and second-course seating promptly at 6:30 pm.
Be sure to book your reservation by calling the restaurant at (360) 398-8300, extension 2.
This article originally appeared in the August/September, 2016 issue of Bellingham Alive magazine.
Remember the “good old days” of outdoor barbequing? Assemble a stack of charcoal briquettes in the grill, saturate them with lighter fluid, set it aflame, and, more often than not, burn the food to a crisp. Then serve with your favorite six-pack of domestic beer and Kool-Aid for the kids.
Today’s barbequing and outdoor grilling routine is often a major undertaking with glistening, stainless-steel, multi-burner propane and ceramic charcoal grills and menus loaded with racks of beef ribs, kabobs, and pork in every way, shape or form.
Fortunately, wines have also increasingly become a part of the grilling culture; and good wines not only complement practically anything cooked on the barbeque or grill, they add a measure of good taste to any meal that’s prepared or served outdoors.
Have a glass of something sparkling ready for guests as they walk through the door; it’s a great way to begin a barbeque-themed event. These wines make an excellent aperitif, and often pair well with grilled prawns, salads or a variety of creamy dips and spreads on crostini.
The “Dress Code” Collection by Zonin 1821 offers three Prosecco choices using the Glera grape in striking, colored bottles that make excellent event-starter wines at about $17 each.
The White Edition utilizes a bit of Pinot Bianco and features ample flavors of green pear and citrus, with super-fine bubbles that resemble a frizzante-style sparkler; the Grey Edition is blended with a touch of Pinot Grigio, giving the wine a nice minerality component to complement the Fuji apple flavors; and the Black Edition, with 10-percent Pinot Noir, is filled with more crisp apple flavors that lead to a slightly edgy, faintly sweet finish.
THE MAIN EVENT
Grilled salmon is a Pacific Northwest favorite, and there may be no better wine-pairing partner for this regional seafood specialty than Pinot Noir.
For starters, consider the Willamette Valley Vineyards 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir (about $24). This big, flavorful rosé is packed with vibrant melon and wild strawberry flavors and capped with a touch of spicy lychee on a crisp finish. Another noteworthy Oregon wine is the Durant Vineyards 2013 La Paloma Pinot Noir (about $35). Lovely aromatics of red cherry carry over to the palate before melting into cranberry and then darker black cherry flavors. There’s a touch of smoky chocolate accentuated by the grape’s signature acidity on the finish. Outstanding!
When burgers, brats, or steaks are on the barbeque menu, a hearty red wine is a must. Walla Walla wineries really shine in this area, offering plenty of flavorful, expressive options that should keep any red wine lover happy.
La Monarcha Winery not only provides affordable wines for your barbeque, it offers a newly-released portable option that allows you take your wines anywhere in a recyclable bag. Holding 1.5 liters of wine, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $22) displays plenty of red berry fruit, good acidity and a touch of herbaceousness that will complement grilled meats. For white wine drinkers, a 2014 Chardonnay (about $19) is also available in the same handy container.
Walla Walla winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla has crafted another stunning red wine with her Forgeron Cellars 2012 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (about $35). Beautiful field berry aromas start you off, with fruit-forward black plum and cassis flavors, a flourish of cinnamon-spice, and a soft finish with toasted oak accents. It’s an elegant and delicious addition to any outdoor meal.
Another amazing Walla Walla wine is the Rulo Winery 2012 Syrah (about $30). Husband-and-wife winemakers Kurt and Vicki Schlicker continue their mastery of this grape by offering a drop-dead gorgeous Syrah that will leave you smiling. Blueberry and blackberry aromas and flavors fill the glass, and the fruit is seamlessly balanced by slightly textured, yet velvety tannins. Bring on some beef or enjoy this exceptional wine simply on its own.
If you’re planning on grilling something a little more gamey such as lamb, elk or venison, you’ll need an even bigger red wine to match the flavors of the food.
Try the C. Mondavi & Family 2013 Purple Heart (about $20), a powerful blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Dark fruits predominate, with ample tannins, crushed herbs and burnt caramel on the finish. The wine is named for the Purple Heart Foundation, an organization benefiting military personnel in need. Also look for the 2014 vintage, scheduled for release this fall.
At the top of the food chain is the Collepiano 2010 Sagrantino Di Montefalco (about $54). This intensely colored, intensely flavored Italian wine explodes with vanilla bean aromas, flavors of black currant, fig, and anise, and a splash of smoky green tea on the finish. Grippy tannins require plenty of aeration, but the payoff is a huge red wine that should stand up to anything on the grill.
AFTER THE FIRE
Fresh fruit such as apples, pears, pineapple or peaches make excellent, yet simple dessert choices when you pop them on the grill. Serve them with a slightly sweeter wine and you’ve got a tasty, sure-to-please food and wine combination.
A special dessert wine worth considering is the Boutari 2009 Vinsanto (about $48) from Greece.
Made primarily from the Assyrtiko grape, it displays a dark amber color, white raisin and toasted hazelnut flavors, and an ultra-long, honey-like finish. This “liquid baklava” for adults should pair with grilled fruit desserts and provide a fitting finalé to the meal.