This weekend was the Washington Wine Association’s Taste Washington. Basically it’s like Disneyland for wine snobs and wine geeks like myself. Broken down over the course of two days, industry people from all over come to Seattle. There were parties galore throughout the weekend, industry seminars on Saturday, and then the grand tasting on Sunday at Qwest Field Event Center. I was in wine heaven at the tasting and my purple stained teeth are able to live to tell about it.
We started our wine weekend by going to a wine tasting party put on by the good folks at Winefoot.com, Wino Magazine, and Mutineer Magazine. Always fun to be around wine people and these folks really love wine. People who feel that the juice of the grapes, the soil of the vineyards are part of their soul. Yeah, lots of people say they love wine, but to have rearranged their lives for it – they get wine. We enjoyed our wine talks with Mike Sharidan of Northwest Totem Cellars and Jason Domanico of Domanico Cellars. Will keep an eye on both of these wineries.
The Grand Tasting is the big deal of Taste Washington. You’ll be able to imbibe in hundreds of wineries, stuff your face at dozens of restaurants, and learn about the Washington wine industry. If you have any interest in any part of the world of wine you’ll be able to cater to that interest, that is what’s really cool. It’s like a massive buffet focused on wine; but instead of mediocre food, you have all you can eat and drink of top quality stuff. Woot.
After the hop are my highlights of Taste Washington.
We went to Taste WA a bit after the massive rush of the general tasting, but by showing up later we ended up missing out on a lot of pourings. Quick roll call of wineries that were poured out: Quilceda Creek, Sheridan, DeLille, Betz, Efeste, and Col Solare. Although it was too bad that we missed out on these, we knew what to expect with these wineries as they’ve been heavily lauded. Part of the joy of Taste is to discover wineries you’re not too familiar with. Or to try out wines you’ve only heard about. This is what I like; to try a ton of different wines that I have no idea about.
What were some of the wines I liked?
- àMaurice Cellars – I’ve touched on àMaurice before, but they consistently put out good wines. This time it was their 2006 Chardonnay. Exhibiting strong notes of stone and minerality, this is a great white wine.
- O Wines – Seattle Magazine had a short blurb about O Wines in a recent issue, and it was nice to try their stuff and hear their story. Their goal is to help at-risk and underprivileged girls around Washington. And their 2007 Chardonnay from Horse Heaven Hills was delicious, a hit of malo gave it a nice lusciousness.
- Spring Valley Vineyard- Their 2006 Nina Lee Syrah was bold and vibrant with a finish that went on and on. The tannins were fine and silky making this an easy drinker. The color of this wine was a brilliant purple that typifies Syrah.
- Buty – I’ve been a fan of Buty for sometime and for this years’s Taste they brought their 2006 Beast. This Cab from Horse Heaven Hills was a delicious wine that was creamy and supple. It’s from a single vineyard from Phinney Hill and what I loved was that it didn’t need aging to really enjoy. You could buy a bottle off the shelf right now and get a great bottle of wine. Good stuff.
- Chateau Rollat – I was first able to spend time with Chateau Rollat at my wine dinner with Stephen Tanzer last summer, and was looking forward to enjoying some of their wines again. Their big winner was their 2005 Edouard. This is an elegant wine with a depth of flavor that we really enjoyed. I bet at next year’s Taste they’ll be one of those wineries that run out by 5pm. Get in on the ground floor while you can.
- Gramercy Cellars – I was really looking forward to Gramercy Cellar’s wines as I’ve been a fan since that same Tanzer dinner. I was a little disappointed that we weren’t able to converse with Greg Harrington, the main dude behind Gramercy Cellars; I guess a visit to Walla Walla is in order. The wine of theirs that I really liked was the Syrah. Chewy, unique, and delicious, this is another great expression of Washington Syrah.
The food winners for the evening?
- Crush – Chef Jason Wilson and team brought sous vide short ribs on top of a hit of some buttery Columbia City bakery bread. This was delicious. We were already swooning over Crush at our dinner last month, and they brought the thunder at Taste. I’d say that I was ashamed that I ate four of these, but I really wasn’t I – I would’ve had more if I could.
- Dahlia Lounge – I’ve come to have high expectations for what Tom Douglas Restaurants and they provided roast pork with garlic and green apples. I wanted a lot more of these, but I felt being polite was in order. How naive.
- 0/8 Seafood Grill – 0/8 provided a scallop sashimi with soy-miso, wasabi aioli and pickled ginger. We love scallops; the sweetness that’s been kissed by the ocean is a hallmark and the folks at 0/8 augmented it with their bold additions.
- Anthony’s Pier 66 – Is it possible to do Surf ‘n Turf in two bites? Yes, when it was a bit of bread topped by tenderloin, Dungeness crab and bernaise aioli. Tasty.
- Mt. Townsend Creamery – These cheesemakers from Port Townsend had some good recent press in Serious Eats, so it was nice to have some of their cheese and learn some cheese tips. Note, the sell-by date isn’t a hard rule. Some of their cheeses are already a bit young, so giving it time to age allows for the flavors to develop even more. And bringing their cheese up to room temperature really lets it shine.
In a nutshell, these are my highlights from our late afternoon amongst the throngs of wine worshipers at Taste Washington. We have a ton of good wine that comes from our state and the ability to learn about the history of WA vineyards, the personality of our winemakers, and the potential of our vines is truly a transcendent experience. Wine has the ability to move you and I think the thousands of other drinkers this evening would agree.