Winter Fun: Food, Friends and Good Washington Red Wines

December 16th, 2008

One of my favorite indoor winter activities is inviting over a group of friends and sharing a variety of red wines.

The preparation is fairly simple – provide a few easy to make appetizers or cheeses, a sliced baguette or two and several choices of good red wines.

Today I’d like to conclude my series on Washington’s Yakima Valley and Rattlesnake Hills Appellations by offering a few more recommendations from wineries in these regions that make excellent wintertime wines.

nullThe Airfield Estates 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured at left, about $22) is a beautiful and easy to drink wine, with aromas and flavors of fresh raspberries that really shine through. Eighteen months of oak aging also provide additional depth and structure and keep it from being one dimensional and overly fruity.

I fell head over heels for the Portteus Vineyards 2006 Zinfandel (about $26), an astounding red wine that’s cram-packed with big, brambly, blackberry flavors that are capped by a distinctive dash of black pepper. The wine’s high 15 percent alcohol content is virtually unnoticeable – indicative of well-balanced, attention to detail winemaking.

Thurston Wolfe continues to roll out red wines that consistently put a smile on my face. Current releases include the 2006 Dr. Wolfe’s Family Red (about $16) a super delicious, full-bodied, syrah-based blend of five varietals that features a little pepper, a little smokiness, a little black cherry and plenty of spice. The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $25) is big, yet elegant, with layers of subtle cherry and dark chocolate flavors and a finish of toasted oak.

For those with a bit more disposable income, try the Silver Lake Winery Grand Reserve series, which includes the 2005 vintages of Merlot, Cabernet and Claret for about $39 each. These are huge, intense red wines that are ideal candidates for cellaring. If you open one now, I’d suggest capping it a day or two first and then decanting it to allow the flavors to open up. They’re all good, but the Claret was my favorite, with nuances of black currant, chocolate and spice.

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