Monthly Archives: October 2008
Over the next several weeks, I’ll be featuring wineries from Washington’s Yakima Valley and Rattlesnake Hills Appellations. Established in 1983, Yakima Valley is Washington’s oldest appellation and home to over 40 wineries, while Rattlesnake Hills, a schism of Yakima Valley, was granted appellation status in 2006 and includes 16 wineries.
It’s impossible to pin down a varietal or varietals these regions do best, but it’s safe to say that the incredible range of quality wines created here are comparable to much of what the rest of the world has to offer.
Kana Winery, located in downtown Yakima, provides a perfect example of the increasingly diverse nature of wines produced by Washington’s wineries. Kana specializes in blended varietals, and many of their current releases feature two or more grapes from several different vineyards.
A fine example is the 2005 Workingman’s Red (about $16), a blend of zinfandel, malbec, and petite verdot that’s slightly peppery with a touch of brambly blackberry on the finish. This isn’t a big, overly fruity California zin by any stretch, which makes it much easier to pair with foods such as roast pork or lamb.
Also worth noting is the 2005 Scarlet Fire (about $25), another blend consisting of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot. This intensely compact red wine – filled with nuances of cherry, plum, and tobacco – opens up nicely with ample breathing time and has excellent cellaring potential.
For white wine drinkers, the Kana 2006 Cuvée Blanche (about $18) is a must-try blend of roussanne, viognier, and marsanne. With honeysuckle and papaya aromas, lush tropical fruit and baked apple flavors, and a lingering finish, this massive wine may very well put you on sensory overload.
Kana Winery will be one of the wineries featured at the Grape & Gourmet event in Bellingham on November 2. You’ll also find their wines at Compass Wines in Anacortes and Libation Station in Mount Vernon, or order them online at www.kanawinery.com.
If you’ve yet to try any wines from Spain I encourage you to do so. Most of Spain’s vineyards are located in the country’s warmer regions, meaning the wines produced there are generally big, bold and flavorful. These wines beg to be paired with food, but they’re also extremely enjoyable when served on their own.
And don’t be fooled into thinking that good Spanish wines are limited to a handful of reds. The range of styles and variety of Spanish wines is surprisingly diverse, with something certain to please even the most finicky wine drinker.
For instance, the Lagar do Castelo 2007 Albariño (about $14) is a well-priced white wine that blew me away with its flavors and complexity. The intoxicating aroma suggests fresh nectarine, with a combination of stone fruit, citrus and savory flavors that lead to a dry, yet lingering finish.
Also noteworthy is the Agustí Torelló Mata 2005 Brut Reserva (about $19), another great example of Cava, the sparkling wine of Spain. Extremely fine bubbles lift the aromas of baked apple and toast from the glass, while the wine displays a clean, mineral taste with traces of melon and a bone-dry finish. Ideal as an aperitif or with shellfish.
A couple of red wine recommendations include the Pinuaga 2006 Tempranillo (about $15) from the Castilla region of Spain. With a lovely floral nose, slightly smoky notes and firm tannins, this wine will pair well with tomato-based sauces or paella.
And the Solpost 2005 Montsant (about $24) is a huge, yet elegant blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Flavors of berry, plum and dried fruit predominate, with black pepper and a touch of oak on the finish.
Look for these wines at the Fairhaven Market Haggen, or ask for them by name in the wine section of your favorite grocer and they can be special ordered for you.
Three notable wine tasting events are coming up in November, and one of them will take place here in Bellingham.
Grape and Gourmet, the annual food and wine extravaganza hosted by Bellingham Bay Rotary Club, will be held at the Best Western Lakeway Inn on November 2. Tickets are available in two tiers; VIP’s pay $125 and are provided full access from 5:00 to 8:30 pm, while a $75 ticket allows you to join in the fun from 6:45 to 8:30 pm.
This has quickly become one of the premiere wine-related events in the State and it’s certainly near the top of the list of my current favorites. Dozens of Pacific Northwest wineries and local restaurants will be on hand to provide you with an array of culinary delights that is truly staggering.
This event always sells out early, so do not delay in purchasing tickets from any Bellingham Bay Rotary Club member or online at www.bellinghambayrotary.com.
If you don’t mind doing a little traveling to the other side of the state, Eastern Washington is also offering its share of wine tasting events in November.
The 30th annual Tri-Cities Wine Festival is slated for November 7 and 8, and will feature scores of wines from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia wineries. Two food and wine seminars will be offered as well as a three-hour public tasting event at the Pasco Red Lion Hotel. For more information including times, locations and ticket purchases visit www.tricitieswinefestival.com.
Finally, over 50 Yakima Valley wineries will be opening their doors on November 28 and 29 as they celebrate Thanksgiving in Wine Country. By purchasing a $20 ticket in advance, guests will be able to experience a variety of specialty foods and wine pairings, library tastings, and tours not available to the public. You’ll find all the specifics at www.wineyakimavalley.org.
6:00 to 9:00 pm – Spanish Wine Dinner. A five-course dinner paired with five outstanding Spanish wines you say? Ole! Click on the Wine Classes page for more information.
During a recent trip to Spokane I paid a visit to Lone Canary Winery, which has always been a favorite of mine. While I was there, I had the good fortune of spending a bit of time with winemaker Mike Scott.
Scott is wonderfully outspoken about his wines and has proclaimed that they are “unabashedly and unapologetically Washington State wines.” That’s great news for those of us who enjoy their wines with beautiful aromas, plenty of mouthwatering fruit flavors and just the right amount of acidity to keep things in balance.
And did I mention the incredibly reasonable prices? With the exception of the 2004 DuBrul Vineyard Reserve (a stunning red wine blend worthy of its $35 price tag), all of his current releases – including the 2004 vintages of his velvety smooth Merlot and Cabernet – are about $20 a bottle or less.
Scott’s Sauvignon Blancs have always been a thing of beauty and his 2007 vintage (about $13) is no exception. Lovely aromas and flavors of honeydew melon, a touch of stone fruits, and a bright, clean finish cap this white wine gem.
Also worth noting is the 2007 Cuvee Rosé (about $13), which I think is really more of a “reverse rosé.” That is, instead of starting with a red grape and leaving the skins on for just a short time, Scott starts with a sauvignon blanc and blends in 5 percent Barbera to achieve a lovely, salmon/coral hue.
Speaking of Barbera, if you haven’t tried this Italian-based varietal consider the Lone Canary label, which may well be the benchmark for Washington winemakers. The 2006 vintage (about $15) is loaded with red berry flavors wrapped in a splash of acidity and followed by a long, sultry finish of dried cherries. Outstanding!
You’ll find Lone Canary wines locally at the Food Pavilion, selected Haggen stores and Anthony’s Restaurants.