Terrific Wines Coming from Walla Walla’s Saviah Cellars

August 28th, 2006

For a number of smaller Washington wineries it’s not uncommon for the owners and winemakers to still maintain their day jobs. I’ve met attorneys, pharmaceutical sales reps, real estate agents and farmers, to name a few, who are serious about their winemaking but just haven’t been able to make the jump to working at it on a full-time basis.

When an individual can cut the cord, so to speak, it’s usually a sign of a winery’s growing success. Such is the case with Rich Funk, co-owner and winemaker of Saviah Cellars in Walla Walla.

nullFunk is a former Environmental Health Specialist who left his job earlier this year to devote 100 percent of his time to Saviah, and his current releases reflect a more focused effort to produce some of the better wines coming out of Southeast Washington.

The Jack, Lot 25 (about $18): This tasty blend of Merlot and Cabernet displays plenty of dark cherry and plum flavors and is highlighted by a slightly spicy finish. It’s a terrific value for a red wine of this caliber.

2004 Une Vallee (about $30): A beautiful, Bordeaux-style red that begins with an incredible aroma of blueberry and vanilla. Dense, complex and loaded with black cherry and currant flavors, be sure to give this wine ample time to open up. Better yet, cellar it for another two to three years; I think it will continue to get even better.

Other current releases include the 2005 Star Meadows White (about $25), a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and the 2004 Red Mountain Syrah (about $30).

Saviah Cellars wines are available in Anacortes at Compass Wines and the Food Pavilion and in Bellingham at selected Haggen stores. The wine list at Bellingham’s Nimbus restaurant also features The Jack, which is available for purchase by the bottle. More information: www.saviahcellars.com.

Bergevin Lane Indicative of Strong Women’s Presence in NW Wine Industry

August 21st, 2006

Are women having a hand in shaping the Pacific Northwest wine industry? Absolutely!

Husband and wife teams share ownership, winemaking and management duties at dozens of wineries such as Hightower Cellars, Tildio Winery, and James Leigh Cellars. Olympic Cellars, located near Port Angeles, is currently owned and operated by three women. And a number of wineries boast women who are head winemakers including Marie-Eve Gilla at Forgeron Cellars and Three Rivers Winery’s Holly Turner.

in Walla Walla is another winery that has achieved critical acclaim due in no small part to the efforts of its co-founder/managers, partners Annette Bergevin and Amber Lane. The winery opened in 2003 and features one of the most pristine production facilities I’ve ever encountered. Their grapes come from some of Washington’s premiere vineyards and handcrafted attention to detail is fast becoming the winery’s hallmark.

Current releases include the 2004 Calico Red (about $18), a tasty Bordeaux-style blend of five red varietals at an affordable price. The 2005 Viognier (about $25) is a bold, complex white wine with flavors of peach and pear and touches of citrus and toasty oak on the finish. The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $25) is a heady, blockbuster red loaded with dark berry, currant and mocha flavors.

My personal favorite is the 2003 Alder Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel. This incredible wine is borderline port-like, with a 16.1 percent alcohol content, dark, ultra-ripe plum flavors and a mile-long finish. This wine may only be available with club membership, a service that is open to the public by signing up through the winery web site at www.bergevinlane.com.

Bergevin Lane wines are available at selected Haggen stores and can also be special ordered through several local grocers or any wine specialty shop in the Bellingham area.

Wine Class at BTC

August 19th, 2006

2:00 to 4:30 pm – Beginning Wine Tasting. The perfect class for those just getting started with wines. The format will be relaxed, yet informative, with plenty of wines to sample. No wine snob attitudes permitted! Click on the Wine Classes Page for more information.

Pinot Grigio

August 15th, 2006

nullRobert Mondavi 2005 (about $11): From California’s Central Coast, here’s a tasty little Pinot Grigio with plenty of nice pear and citrus flavors at a very affordable price.

I served this wine with an oyster ravioli and cream sauce. Talk about a perfect pairing! The wine’s crisp acidity cut through the sauce, allowing one to taste all of the wonderful flavors of both the food and the wine. Great for summer…or any other time of the year for that matter.

Clay Station Wines Are a Super Buy

August 14th, 2006

One of the most popular questions I’m asked by those who drink wine on an infrequent or semi-regular basis is, “what’s a good wine I can get for $10 or less?”

I’m not sure why $10 seems to be the magic number for some people when purchasing a wine. Perhaps it’s that psychological price point where double digits take over and a bit of uneasiness begins to creep in that one might be spending too much on a bottle of wine.

Whatever the reason, most every wine drinker seems to like a good bargain and I’ve got a suggestion or two that might help fit the bill.

Clay Station wines, located in Lodi, California, is doing a nice job of producing both red and white wines for $9.99 a bottle that are not only adequate, they’re quite good for wines in this price range. In fact, I’ll even go so far as to say that they’re comparable to wines that might cost you upwards of double the price.

Here a couple of Clay Station wines I recently tried and found to be particularly good:

2004 Viognier: This tasty white wine is filled with luscious flavors of stone fruits such as peach and apricot. The finish is faintly sweet and suggests fresh honeydew melon.

2004 Old Vine Zinfandel: A tremendous value for a California zin. It’s loaded with dark, ultra-ripe plum flavors that melt into a lengthy, velvety finish that’s highlighted by touches of spice.

You may be able to find Clay Station wines at selected Fred Meyer and Haggen Food Stores, although a better bet would be to try the Zephyr Bistro, located at 11 Bellwether Way in Bellingham, which currently has the wines in stock or available for order.

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