6:00 to 8:30 pm – An Evening of Wine and Food Pairing – Aussie Style. Dan teams up with Whatcom County chef and cookbook author Mary Ellen Carter for a autumn menu paired with stunning Australian wines. Click on the Wine Classes Page for more information.
A few weeks ago I attended a blind tasting with friends where malbec was the featured varietal. Eight wines were poured into identical decanters, numbered, and then ranked in order of preference after each was sampled two to three times.
The tasting included six malbecs from Argentina and two from Washington. The overwhelming favorites – drum roll please – the Washington malbecs.
Now before you think the competition was skewed by a couple of Eastern Washington fruit bombs, I’ll stop you right there. Yes, they were the highest priced wines in the group, but they were also well balanced, well made red wines from the state’s 2005 vintage and completely unique in terms of style and taste.
The top choice was the Five Star Cellars 2005 Malbec (about $35). Made from 100 percent Walla Walla grapes, this incredible wine is packed with seamless layers of cherry, toffee and butterscotch with a touch of crème brulée on the finish. The bad news is that this wine has already sold out, but winemaker/owner David Huse informs me that it was so well received he plans to produce another malbec next year.
A close second in the tasting was the Tildio Winery 2005 Malbec. Chelan winemaker Katy Perry has produced a first class malbec from Columbia Valley grapes that will rival anything else out there. Beautiful mint and berry aromas lead to generous, plush plum flavors and a soft finish with silky tannins. It’s available locally for about $27 a bottle at Compass Wines in Anacortes.
The bottom line: many of Washington’s 2005 red wines are drinking exceptionally well, and our malbec competition confirmed why some area winemakers feel that this may be one of the best vintages the state has ever produced.
Sticks 2004 (about $19) : An absolute gem of a red wine from the Yarra Valley in the Australian state of Victoria.
Filled with plenty of dark currant and cranberry flavors, the wine has a bit of a smoky, earthy quality that balances out the fruit and rounds out the acidity. Great with chicken, duck, turkey and a wide variety of other foods. Outstanding!
Planning a party or social gathering in the next few weeks? Then be sure to include a variety of Champagnes and sparkling wines, which always add a nice, festive touch to any occasion.
These wines come in a wide range of styles, flavors and prices that are certain to meet both your taste preferences and your budget.
For years I’ve been a big fan of Cristalino Brut, a well-priced Spanish Cava that pairs up nicely with light appetizers. But recently I tried the extra dry style for the first time, which is slightly sweeter than the brut and just as good. It has plenty of pear and apple flavors with just a trace of honey on the finish. At only about $9 I think it’s a virtually peerless sparkling wine in the $10 a bottle and under price category.
If you prefer your sparkling wines on the drier side, the Domaine Chandon Brut Classic (about $19) is a perfect choice. This blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay from California has gentle pear flavors with touches of almond and fresh baked bread on the finish. Pair it with oysters on the half shell and you’ve got an unbeatable combination.
For a real treat, try the Moët & Chandon White Star Champagne (pictured at left). This wonderful French Champagne starts with a delicate floral aroma followed by generous stone fruit flavors, medium acidity and a faintly sweet finish. It goes well with mild cheeses but I think it’s enjoyed best when served well chilled all on its own. Prices range can range widely at anywhere from $33 to $43 a bottle, so shop wisely.
6:00 to 10:00 pm – Enjoy an evening of Northwest wines from Washington, Oregon and Idaho at the Red Lion Inn Ballroom in Pasco, Washington.
Tickets for the event run $55.00 per person and include cheeses, bread and chocolate. Hors d’oeuvres will also be available for purchase at an additional charge. Book a room at the Red Lion Inn by phoning (509) 547-0701, mention the festival, and receive a special rate of $89.95 per night.
For more information about the festival and related events visit their web site at: www.TCWineFest.com.