Once again, Taste Washington proved that it reigns supreme as THE wine event in the state. While some were skeptical of this year’s new two-day format, the worries were unwarranted. Both the crowds and winemakers alike seemed to very much enjoy the new version of Taste Washington. Over two days this past weekend, over 4,000 glasses were used and an estimated 200,000 wine pours were given out to tasters. The seminars also had a big draw this year, with standing room only crowds in several of them. I took in the sips and bites on Sunday afternoon, and as always, came away with a few new favorites. I try to make it a goal to try as many new wines as possible, and I was excited to try a few brands I had previously never heard of. So what were my favorites? Read on!
Might as well start here, right? I make it a mission to get as much food as these events as possible, these are some high-end restaurants serving up some amazing dishes! My highlights were the lamb ragu w/ creamy polenta from Volterra (@VolterraBallard), the dungeness crab cakes, namasu salad with beurre blanc sauce from Tulalip Bay Fine Dining (@TulalipResort), the Macadamia nut crusted halibut, pineapple-mango salsa, peanut sauce, chili sauce and toasted coconut from Cedars Café at Tulalip Resort (@TulalipResort), and the Kalua mahi nachos from Anthony’s Pier 66 (@AnthonysRestsNW). What I wouldn't give to have another bite of each of those right this very moment… man I love food.
(lamb ragu w/ creamy polenta)
(macadamia nut crusted halibut)
(kalua mahi nachos)
Moving on! It’s been said by several other people in their posts about this year’s event, and I’ll say it again here: the pink was the drink of the day. There were some stand-out rosés at this year’s event, which was a pleasant surprise. Maybe it’s just that the Seattle rain is making me want to lose it and the whites and rosés of the day were reminding me of sunnier days, or maybe Washington winemakers are taking this varietal more seriously. I, for one, welcome it. A well done rosé compliments not only a meal but also a sunny day out with friends. I’m excited to once again stock my wine rack with this year’s batch of wines. So, with the lovely rosés included, here are my stand-out wines from Taste Washington 2012:
MaisonBleue Winery (@MaisonBleueWine) 2011 “La Famille” Rosé of Mourvèdre & 2010 "La Montagnette" Upland Vineyard Grenache. I don’t think I’d previously tried a rosé of mourvèdre and this was a nice treat. We found the Grenache in the vineyard tasting section at the Upland Vineyard table. Excellent wine!
Syncline Winery (@synclinewine) 2011 Rosé & “Scintillation” 2009 Blanc de Blanc bubbly. I had been hearing rumors of this tasty rosé so I bought a bottle of this before I actually tried any. It proved to be an excellent purchase. This is crisp and dry and ready for action. Their sparkling wine is actually not even released yet, and I was informed they printed labels at home so they would be able to pour for it for Taste Washington! I’m so glad they did, this was probably one of my top wines of the day. What can I say, I love the bubbles… All in all, Syncline was my highlight winery of the afternoon, and one that I had not previously tried much (if any) of. I’m now a fan, and elated to see that their wines are carried at McCarthy & Schiering, my local wine shop!
McKinley Springs (@mckinleysprings) of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA was another that I had not tried before. I really enjoyed their 2009 Chenin Blanc and their 2008 Syrah. Chenin Blanc has always been a favorite of mine, and while you don’t see a significant amount of wineries producing this varietal, the ones I’ve had I have absolutely loved (again, seeing a theme here? I want summer..).
Rotie Cellars (@RotieCellars) 2011 Southern White was another big hit. This one is 50% viognier, 30% roussane, and 20% marsanne and was a nice crisp and cool blend. Rotie consistently puts out some excellent juice and I look forward to trying more from them in the future.
Tranche Cellars (@TrancheCellars) 2011 Pink Pape is another delicious rosé released this spring. I enjoyed the 2010 vintage of this, and I think I like the 2011 even more. This was another that I had picked up (along with my Syncline rosé) before I had a chance to try it. I trust my sources, they wouldn’t steer me wrong.
AniChe Cellars (@AniCheCellars) was a winery that I had previously seen on the twittersphere, but had never had a chance to taste any of the wines. I really enjoyed their 2011 “Come & Go”, a 100% Albarino. Now, Albarino is not a grape you see used often in Washington wine so this was a nice surprise. I really enjoyed this aromatic and peachy wine, and plan on grabbing another bottle for my summer sipping needs in 2012!
Some other highlights were the Nefarious Cellars (@NefariousWines) 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (I still have a bottle of their 2007 Cab on my rack, saving that one for a special day..), the FIGGINS 2010 Dry Riesling, and the Mark Ryan Winery (@MarkRyanWinery) 2008 “The Dissident” (51% Cabernet Sauvingon, 29% Syrah, 20% Merlot). There were so many great wines to be had at Taste Washington, but I tried to mix it up and try some new things! I was very pleased with my choices.
I think this new two-day format for Taste Washington should be here to stay. Having experienced the event in 2010 and 2011, I know how big the crowds can get. It was a nice balance this year that provided easier access to the tasting tables and the ability to chat a bit with the winemakers themselves. That’s always one of my favorite parts of tasting, so that really made my afternoon. So, well done Washington Wine Commission (@winecommission) and Seattle’s Convention andVisitors Bureau, your partnership helped put on another successful Taste Washington! Cheers!