As Spring Approaches, Tastes Shift Toward More White Wines

February 26th, 2007

The closer we get to March, the more we Northwesterners seem to come down with a case of spring fever – and why not? The signs are everywhere – daffodils popping up in the garden, slightly warmer temperatures, sunsets after 5 pm – it’s an exciting time of year as we anticipate and welcome the change of seasons.

Another indicator that spring is on the way is a change in many people’s wine preferences. I’m a red wine drinker year-around, but if you’re like me, your tastes shift to more white wines as we move into the warmer weather of the spring and summer months.

With that in mind, let me offer a few pre-spring white wine choices that I’ve recently enjoyed.

For starters, try the Mount Baker Vineyards 2005 Chasselas doré (about $12). It’s crisp, light and faintly sweet and makes a great wine to serve as an aperitif, with mild cheeses or with the salad course of your meal.

nullIf you like sparkling white wines you’re going to love the Parxet Cuvee 21 Cava Brut (about $12). This Spanish sparkler is slightly yeasty with touches of citrus and baked apple flavors and a mild, creamy finish.

For an elegant touch, the Roza Ridge 2005 Viognier-Chardonnay (about $14) makes an excellent choice. This upscale second label from Yakima Valley’s Hyatt Vineyards has beautiful peach and floral aromas with generous flavors of apple, banana and tropical fruit. It’s capped by a toasty oak finish with lingering hints of vanilla. Serve slightly chilled and enjoy.

Second Label Stonecap Wines Makes an Awesome, Affordable Washington Syrah

February 19th, 2007

Several wineries bottle their wines as something that’s referred to as a “second label.” A second label might showcase grapes from a separate vineyard but more commonly offers consumers a line of wines in a different price range – usually lower – than the winery’s primary label.

nullYou shouldn’t assume, however, that you’ll be sacrificing a degree of quality by purchasing second label wines. A case in point is Stonecap Wines, a second label for Goose Ridge Vineyards in Kennewick. Goose Ridge has ties to winemaker guru Charlie Hoppes and Stonecap is an offshoot of this critically acclaimed Columbia Valley winery that offers wines a good $5 to $10 a bottle less than the Goose Ridge line.

I recently tried the Stonecap 2004 Syrah. This tasty Northwest wine has a beautiful blueberry aroma, smoky berry and plum flavors and a nice dash of acidity to balance everything out. Throw in the screw cap and about a $12 to $14 price tag (I picked up mine on sale at the Barkley Haggen for $9.99) and you’ve got an unostentatious, hidden gem of a wine.

Doug Charles of Compass Wines in Anacortes selected this Syrah as his 2006 Washington wine of the year; a noteworthy honor from someone who sells a lot of wine. Charles commented that, “This wine puts to rest the argument that great Washington wines need to be expensive.”

Other Stonecap current releases include a 2004 Chardonnay and a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon – both retailing for around the same $12 to $14 a bottle price range. For more information visit www.stonecapwines.com.

Wine Class at BTC

February 17th, 2007

2:30 to 4:30 pm – Taste Washington Wines. Learn about the different growing regions in the State of Washington as well as information on wineries, tours, festivals and tasting room etiquette. Click on the Wine Classes Page for more information.

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris

February 17th, 2007

Okanogan Estate & Vineyards 2005 (about $13): A fine follow-up to the 2004 vintage, this winery from North Central Washington continues to impress.

This is really a nice, almost plump Pinot Grigio, with generous baked apple and pear flavors that melt into a crisp, lingering finish. For more information visit the winery website at: www.okanogonwine.com.

nullEola Hills Winery 2005 (about $11): A natural with seafood and shellfish, this wine is loaded with apple, pear and melon flavors with a nice balance of acidity.

A slightly creamy texture gives the wine a bit of a plump finish that I found to be most enjoyable. Another well-priced wine from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Dakota Creek Winery Opening in 2007

February 16th, 2007

Update: All of the 2005 vintage wines listed below are now available for sale. You can find them at Purple Smile Wines and Gateway Wines in Bellingham and Northern Meadows in Blaine. For more details about the winery and contact information, visit www.dakotacreekwinery.com.

Original Post From September, 2006: If you live in Whatcom County, Washington and enjoy wine, the opening of a new winery is welcome news. And the word I have is that Ken Peck and his wife, Jill, are tentatively set to open Dakota Creek Winery, located near Blaine, sometime in 2007.

I had the good fortune to participate in an advance tasting of their wines. My feeling is that they’re drinking well right now and they have the potential to be really, really good. Of course the jury is still out on the final product, but for a winery in it’s first year of operation, the Peck’s meticulous attention to detail is beginning to show in their wines – even though most of them will still be in the barrel for several more months.

Releases slated for next year include an oaked and an unoaked Chardonnay, a Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. All are 2005 vintages with the grapes coming from Elephant Mountain Vineyards in the Yakima Valley. Prices for all of the releases are expected to be under $20 a bottle each.

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