Italy Offers Wide Variety of Wine Styles and Flavors

June 26th, 2006

Earlier this month I attended a wine tasting at the Zephyr Bistro in Bellingham that featured several wines from Italy. What impressed me most about the tasting was the wide array of styles and flavors that were offered; there was literally something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Here are my notes on some of the wines I sampled:

2003 Ciccariello Frascati (about $9): This crisp, white wine makes a wonderful aperitif with touches of citrus and a bone dry finish.

nullN/V Prosecco Terra Serena (Pictured at left; about $15): A wonderfully complex sparkling wine with hints of peach, pear, apple and a whisper of sweetness on the finish.

2003 Le Morge Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (about $12): This red wine has lots of berry flavors and a slightly tart finish of pie cherries accentuated by subtle smoky notes.

2002 Sabucina Nero D’Avola Ducenzio (about $15): A dense, chewy red with dark plum and sun-dried raisin fruit flavors that melt into a lengthy finish.

2002 Chianti Uccelliera (about $16): This blend of 80 percent Sangiovese and 20 percent Cabernet displays hints of cherry, cedar and sweet spices. Delicious!

N/V Negro Brachetto Birbet (about $21): This incredibly unique, slightly effervescent pale red wine nearly defies description. It’s similar to an ice wine without the heavy sugar and only contains 5 percent alcohol. Floral aromas are followed with generous strawberry and honeysuckle flavors and an ultra-long, creamy finish.

In addition to the Zephyr Bistro, you should also be able to find many of these wines at the Bellingham Food Pavilion. If the wines are not in stock, be sure to ask for them by name and they can be special ordered to meet your needs.

Scenic Lummi Island Offers Wine Tasting Options

June 19th, 2006

As a Bellingham resident, one of the things I enjoy about visiting nearby Lummi Island is that it takes just a short drive and a 10-minute ferry ride before I feel like I’m at a peaceful, secluded getaway with peerless views of Mount Baker, the San Juans and the Gulf Islands.

To top it off, you can also do some really nice wine tasting during your visit. I recently discovered Artisan Wine Gallery located at 2072 Granger Way. Proprietor Rich Frye has done an outstanding job of providing a venue with a nice selection of domestic and imported wines at incredibly reasonable prices. Open Saturdays from 1:00 to 5:00 pm or phone 758-2959 for an appointment.

nullAlso worthwhile is a stop at the Willows Inn at 2579 West Shore Drive. Husband and wife owners Riley Starks and Judy Olsen have prepared a menu that features local and organically grown foods and a wine list that makes food and wine pairings virtually effortless.

On a recent dinner visit I tried both raw Kumamoto and pan seared oyster appetizers with a Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, which proved to be a heavenly combination. Also served was a Penfolds Shiraz from Australia that paired beautifully with a both a sirloin tip steak and spicy Thai chicken entree. For reservations and more information, phone 758-2620 or visit

Take the time to visit these locations on your next trip to Lummi Island. Try a little wine tasting, have a nibble, enjoy the tranquility and relax; it’s a wonderful combination.

Ron Coleman Makes Tamarack Cellars a Great Place for Wine

June 12th, 2006

One of the best things about writing wine reviews – apart from getting to sample some really good wines – is meeting people in the wine industry. Such was the case when Ron Coleman, owner/winemaker from Walla Walla’s Tamarack Cellars, was in Bellingham last month at Purple Smile Wines for a wine tasting featuring several of his current releases.

nullBesides having an extensive background in wines that includes being a wine salesman and a sommelier, Coleman is an extremely personable individual who greets you with a smile, pours you a glass of his wine and then likes to chat at length about what went into the finished product.

This is all a good thing, especially since Tamarack’s wines are well worth the time to find and enjoy. Here are my notes on some of the releases I sampled:

2004 Chardonnay (about $15) – Loaded with citrus and baked apple flavors, this chardonnay melts into a creamy finish topped with hints of toasty oak. Outstanding!

2004 Firehouse Red (about $18) – The “Heinz 57” of reds is a blend of about half cabernet and five other varietals. With lots of berry and cherry flavors and a bit of spice, there’s something for everyone in this well-priced wine.

2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $27) – Bold and complex with plenty of character, here’s a full-bodied cabernet that’s packed with berry and dark plum flavors and touches of French oak on the finish.

2002 Columbia Valley Syrah (about $28) – An incredible syrah that begins with layers of cherry, plum and mocha that melt into finish of smoke and spice. Available locally in extremely limited quantities that may also be special ordered through Food Pavilion and selected Haggen stores.

Wine Class at BTC

June 10th, 2006

2:30 to 4:30 pm – Pairing Food With Wine. Explore the basic elements of taste for food and wine and take the guesswork out of your wine purchases. Click on the Wine Classes Page for more information.


June 10th, 2006

nullMontinore Estate 2004 (about $12): From Oregon’s Willamette Valley comes this tasty white wine.

Lovely floral nose and loads of apple and grapefruit flavors with plenty of spice. A scant amount of residual sugar on the finish makes it slightly sweet – in a good way.

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