Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Tantalizing Tastes of Taste Washington 2014

Once again, Taste Washington lived up to its name as the biggest and best single region wine tasting event by bringing in 225+ wineries, 65+ restaurants and a whole lot of delicious fun down at CenturyLink FieldEvent Center. As I did last year, I mapped out my plan in advance. I went through the great event guide and picked out my “must get to” stops for both wineries and restaurants. Of course there were the big names like Betz and Doubleback on my list, but my main mission (as it was last year) was to try new things. When faced with an expansive room containing more wine choices than I would ever be able to try in a week let alone the short time I had that afternoon, I chose to seek out a few wineries I had never even heard of. I really love this approach, as it helps me expand my knowledge of Washington wines, AVAs and wineries and I don’t keep going back to what I know (disclaimer: of course I still had several from ones I already know and love, but that’s beside the point…). So I perused the event guide and picked out wineries that I had either A. heard of but never tried or B. never heard of and never tried. This proved to work out well for me, as I discovered a few gems throughout the afternoon that made me excited to see more from these wineries.

The Wine

I found myself on a bit of a white and sparkling wine kick at this year’s event. Maybe it was the scent of spring in the air that was getting me excited for warm days sipping whites on the patio, or maybe I was just “feeling whites” that day, but whatever it was, I went with it. A standout for me was the Palencia Winery Albariño. One sip of this and it was instantly summer for  me. Cool, crisp, and everything I always want in an albariño (one varietal, I must say, I am super excited to be seeing more of in WA). My beer loving, here for the food, “wine is.. meh” boyfriend even enjoyed it, so at that moment I knew I needed to scoop up a few bottles! Their Sauvignon Blanc was also delightful and I can’t wait to see more from this new winery out of Walla Walla. Victor Palencia formerly made wine for Jones of Washington and I am excited to see what he does under his own label. Seek out these wines when you see them on the shelves!

Palencia Albariño

Another great wine I tried at the event was the Proper Wines 2012 Estate Syrah. Proper is a newer winery that has chosen to focus on one thing and do it well: Syrah. Vintage after vintage, this is the only varietal that the winery produces. Their newest vintage is 100% syrah from the Walla Walla AVA, sourced from their own estate vineyard. This is one that was getting rave reviews from those in attendance at the event, and it’s not hard to see why. Another must try.

Proper Wines Syrah

For my sparkling wine quest (this is always a quest, I don’t think I ever pass up sparkling wines..) I found the Treveri Cellars (@TreveriCellars) Sparkling Rosé, the Syncline Wine Cellars (@synclinewine) Scintillation Brut Rosé, and the KarmaVineyards (@KarmaVineyards) 2010 Méthode Champenoise Brut de Brut. Bubbles..are…the…BEST! It makes me so happy to see more and more Washington wineries venturing down the sparkling path.

The Food

Always go to Taste Washington hungry. I have learned that much like planning out your winery table visits, you also need to plan out which restaurants to hit before they run out of whatever delectable dish they are serving.  My favorites this year included SeductiveSpecialty Foods’ (@SeductiveFoods) mini cornbread with braised short rib; Manhattan Seattle’s (@manhattansea) pork belly mac and cheese, served with housemade crispy Cajun pork chicharrones; and Assaggio’s (@AssaggioRistora) penne pasta with pancetta, peppercorns, green onions and vodka tomato cream. Desserts were aplenty at the event, with the favorite stop of my group being Street Treats (@streettreatswa). My favorite from them was the rice krispie treats! There were also some ice cream companies battling it out for the boozy ice cream crown (Bluebird Microcreamery (@bluebirdseattle) & Snoqualmie Ice Cream (@snoqicecream), which was entertaining to watch.

As always, we didn’t leave Taste Washington 2014 hungry or thirsty. I was pleased with my success in trying so many new wineries. This created a new stop for me on Red Mountain when I head over at the end of this month (to try some more from Frichette Winery (@frichettewinery). All in all, I’d say Taste Washington 2014 was a smashing success, and high fives to the organizers for making it so wonderful yet again!

Ready, set, taste!

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