Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Look Back on 2010: A Blog is Born, New Friends, Great Wine

As we approach the end of 2010 I can’t help but look back on the past year and all the adventures that were had and all the new people I met. It’s been quite the year! Back on March 13th, 2010 I decided to try my hand at blogging, and Sips & the City was born. What started as a way to document all the adventures I had been having at various wine events in Seattle has now turned into something more for me and for those people that follow my posts. I love sharing wines, wineries, and events with other people who, like me previously, used the internet as a learning tool when it came to these things. I thought 2010 deserved a re-cap post of all the amazing fun I’ve had along the way in developing Sips & the City. The month by month timeline is when the posts occurred, not necessarily when I attended the events. Enjoy!


-My first post was about a Seattle wine bar that I had visited quite a few times during the first part of 2010. Sip Wine Bar is located downtown and offers great flights and food!

-My very first Woodinville tasting day was along with my friend Barb, aka @Seattlewinegal. We hit up quite a few places and had a great meal at day’s end!

-My first major tasting event was Bags & Bottles, held at the Westin. This annual event combined two of my favorite things: wine and handbags. It was at this event that I met Annie (@BlackPearlSEA), who has since become an amazing friend.

-With the best view in Seattle (seriously, you are higher than the Space Needle), the Columbia Tower Club can’t be beat. My first tasting at the club was with my friend Jen (@jenkmiller), where we sampled a wide variety of Washington wines. This was also my first exposure to Guardian Cellars, now a huge favorite of mine.

-My first winemaker dinner was for Andrew Will Winery and was held at Purple Café in downtown Seattle. And so began my love of food and wine pairing…


-My first April post documented an event from late March, the Washington Merlot tweet-up. This event was held at Seattle Wine Outlet and was the first time I met another friend I have acquired this year, Joanna (@jojolocal).

-I did an entire post on Barrage Cellars, which has become another favorite of mine. I took a bottle of the 2007 Outcast Cab Franc to Utah with me and tasted it with some friends! It was a hit.


-On tax day in April, I had my first experience at Black Pearl, the restaurant where Annie (@BlackPearlSEA) runs the show. Annie, along with others, hosted a tweet-up that contained food from Black Pearl and wines from several wineries and shops.

-My second winemaker’s dinner was held at what is now one of my favorite restaurants: Russell’s in Bothell. Sojen Cellars teamed up with Russell’s to offer an amazing meal paired with fantastic wines! My friend Cheryl (@DivaTink) and I had a great time at this dinner.

-Another great tasting I attended was at Il Fornaio, located in Pacific Place. This was another food and wine paired event, and was absolutely delicious!


-As a special treat for my mom the Friday before mother’s day, we attended the Friday Wine & Dine Tour that is a partnership between Butler Transportation and Russell’s Restaurant. What a fun afternoon!


-In late May, we headed east for my best friend’s bridal shower in the Tri-Cities. As part of this, we visited several area wineries also. It was a fun wine-filled two days!

-Memorial Day Weekend took me to Lake Chelan, and found me visiting several of the newest Washington AVA’s many wineries. This was another two-day adventure that had me packing lots of wine back across the mountains!


-I did a post about a great wine bar and shop called Greenlake Wines. Their Thursday tastings are still going strong, check them out!

-On a beautiful day in July, my friend Caity and I headed to Woodinville for another fun tasting day. It was a hot day with great wines, and great food to cap it off!


-On 9/2/10, I woke up feeling creative and “Twas the Day of Cabernet” came spilling forth. This was the worldwide “Cabernet Day” and I felt like it deserved some love.

-I did a preview post about an upcoming event called the Grape Cup which included my top 10 list on why people should attend the event.

-I re-capped my “Cabernet Day” fun, which was held at Bin 41, a wine shop in West Seattle.


-I re-capped BLEND, a seminar and tasting event held at Bell Harbor Convention Center in Seattle. The blending seminar was my favorite part!

-I also re-capped the Grape Cup, and the winners of the judging between WSU and UW wines. Cougs reign supreme once again!

-I attended an AMAZING preview event for the Taste of Tulalip, held at the Tulalip Resort.… I loved it.


-Another preview event I attended was for 20something, an annual wine event, this year held at the Fremont Studios. We got a great sneak peak at several wines being poured at the event along with delicious food from Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie.

-The Taste of Tulalip definitely lived up to and exceeded expectations as a one of a kind wine event. I can’t wait for next year!

-I had the opportunity to attend a tasting of Bordeaux wines at Esquin, located in the SoDo area of Seattle. What a treat those wines were!


-The Seattle Magazine “Best of 2010” Party was out of this world. It was truly the “Party of the Decade”.

-I re-capped the 20something event, which was trendy, had great wine, and event had a dance-off!

-I did post on Seattle’s newest wine superstore, Wine World Warehouse. This is one you need to check out for their daily tastings and amazing wine selection.

Well, there we have it! It’s hard to believe I did so much during 2010, but I am so thankful for each opportunity that I had to attend such amazing events this year. I have learned SO MUCH in less than a year, it’s pretty unbelievable. I have also met some pretty spectacular new people, who I look forward to future adventures with. What’s in store for 2011? Well, I have a new job; one that will no doubt take up a lot more of my time. I’ll still be hitting the wine scene as best I can though, and look forward to attending the 2011 “vintages” of the events I attended in 2010. Until then, cheers and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wine World Warehouse - Seattle, WA

Where in the world is Wine World? Well you’re sure not to miss it if you happen to be driving on I-5 north. With a big red sign that you can see from the Ship Canal bridge, Wine World Warehouse (@WineWorldSEA), Seattle’s newest and largest wine store, sits right off the freeway at NE 45th St, right near the University of Washington campus. A lot of hype surrounded the opening of this new superstore, which was founded by Northwest Sommelier David LeClaire. The store claims to have the “largest selection of Northwest wine in the world”, and boy do I believe it. In just a few visits to the store, I saw several Northwest wines that I had not seen on shelves at any other stores in the area. The massive store has several unique features that sets it apart as one of a kind and poises it to become the next big thing in wine retail in Seattle.

(Wall to wall wine!)

You enter the store to an open floor plan where you immediately find the before mentioned display of Northwest wine. To your immediate right is a nice selection of cheeses, crackers, and meats, all sure to accompany any wine quite well. Walking forward a bit more, you can belly up to one side of the large tasting bar in the center of the store. This bar has the ability to host TEN (yes I said ten) different wineries or distributors at a time for tastings. The bar is split into two different bars, each facing a different side of the store. On the wall behind each bar are large flat screen TVs where information about the wineries pouring that day can be displayed. One of those unique features I mentioned about Wine World is that it will offer tastings every day of the week. On any random Tuesday you are likely able to walk in on your way home from work and taste wine before picking up a bottle to enjoy that same evening. Check out the calendar to see who will be pouring on upcoming days. These happen 6-8pm Monday through Friday, and 2-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays (unless otherwise noted).

(Need some cheese and crackers for that wine?)

(One side of the tasting bar)

To the right of the tasting bar is an area containing a pretty big selection of wine related gift items such as glasses, decanters, bottle stoppers, glass charms, and books. It was so great to see so many great gift items in this area on my first visit and I came back in a week later to get some Christmas shopping done for family and friends! On the opposite side of the store on the other side of the tasting bar is something you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find in a wine store: beer. An entire wall is dedicated to a wide selection of different beers from around the world.

(Great wine related gift selection)

Wines from different regions of the world make up the rest of the store, each labeled with signs that hang overhead. Most interesting to see was the “Off the Beaten Path” section, with wines from areas you wouldn’t normally associate with wine, including Greece and Japan. Another note worthy area contained “Earth Friendly” wines, such as NSA (no sulfites added) and other “organic” wines. It’s quite apparent that this store is really trying to cater to every audience that might walk through the doors.

(Signs show you where different regions are located)

(Wines "From the Earth")

The thing that sets this retail store apart from others in the area is the private event space that sits off the side of the store area. This room has large windows that offer city views and can host events for up to 150 people. It’s a perfect sized space for private corporate events, birthday parties, or any other special occasion that might call for an awesome space with a quick source of wine next door! I look forward to attending future events in this space!

Overall, I was pretty impressed with this new wine store. It offers a great selection of wines, hosts daily tastings of some of the area’s best wineries (many of which may not have tasting rooms in the area), has an impressive choice of wine related gift items, and has one thing that those “city” stores don’t necessarily have: parking. The store has its own private lot that makes it easy to stop in and out quickly to grab the next perfect bottle. Look for the enormous red sign on the side of the building and stop in today!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

20something - The New Vintage - Fremont Studios - Seattle, WA

Last month I attended the highly anticipated 20something – the new vintage (@20somethingwine), held at the Fremont Studios. As I previewed a few weeks prior to the event, the event is geared toward the “20 something” wine drinker, an age group that often doesn’t know much more about wine than the fact that they like to drink it. This year’s 20something event sold out in the days leading up to it, and the place was filled from wall to wall with eager wine tasters.

As you entered (from the bitter cold, that was a rough weekend), you walked down a long hallway to receive your glass, your first taste, and to get photos on the red carpet with the one and only Seattle Wine Gal (@SeattleWineGal), Barbara Evans. Here you were also able to enter to win some amazing prizes that were given away throughout the evening by SWG up on stage. My favorite of the prizes (which I did NOT win, bummer!) was a wine weekend getaway courtesy of Seattle MINI. This involved winning the use of a MINI for the weekend to take a road trip to eastern WA wine country for a stay at Desert Wind Winery (@desertwindwine) and dinner for two at Picazo 7Seventeen (@Picazo717). What a great little weekend, maybe I’ll have to head over there for a weekend like that, just at my own expense instead of as a prize!

(SWG and myself on the red carpet)

(SWG calling out winners for prizes)

My favorite thing from this event was the “Geek Lounge”, which I had talked about in detail in my preview post. It was a lot of fun to taste several Merlots side by side at the Merlot Bar and to try a few different whites at a bar dedicated to that also. Another favorite aspect of this room was the food and wine pairings available. The Waterfront Seafood Grill (Waterfront70) cooked up pan-seared Columbia River King Salmon with Beluga lentils, smoked bacon, sherry vinegar and red onion jam. This was paired along with Sparkman Cellars’ (SparkmanCellars) 2009 Lumière Chardonnay, which was an excellent pairing. I may or may not have gone back for seconds on that salmon! Yum!

(@erindrinkswine would love to pour you some Merlot)

Some other highlights of the evening: @clivity and @jojolocal thumb wrestling for the last piece of the AMAZING shrimp that @chefmagana prepared for us; Greg Smallwood of Laurelhurst Cellars’ (@LaurelhurtWine) quote about being “wine blocked” by his business partner (“it’s ok as long as our pour spouts don’t touch!”); and @Seattlewinegal’s impromptu dance-off competition up on stage amongst 20something attendees. All in all it was a pretty entertaining night!

("One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war...")

I would say that the only thing I wasn’t so keen on at this event was the fact that I just couldn’t fine some of the wine I wanted to try. While I really like the idea of the winemakers intermingled with the crowd for more one-on-one interaction, this left them all over the place throughout the whole night with no set base to find them at. I saw several multiple times and some not at all. There were a few wines that I was looking forward to trying at the event, but I was never able to find them amongst the crowds. Maybe a future idea would be a hybrid of walking around in the crowd but in a “zone” area, so you know that you’ll always find certain wineries in certain zones? That would have made it much easier to find some of those wineries I had been excited to try out at 20something.

The after-party for the event took us around the corner to LTD Bar & Grill for some post-wine PBR’s (if you’re gonna switch it up, switch it up BIG), and an intense game of Big Buck Hunter between @erindrinkswine and myself. She won. I need to work on my video game hunting skills apparently.

Overall, 20something was a huge success for the 5th year in a row. I look forward to next year and the fun new ideas that the Washington Wine Commission (@WineCommission) will bring to the event!

(Two happy 20something attendees)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Seattle Magazine's Best of 2010 Party - Seattle, WA

Have you ever partied with 1,700 of your closest friends? I have. Well, take out the fact that they were all my friends (I didn’t know them, perhaps they would like to be my friends?), and Seattle Magazine’s Best of 2010 “Party of the Decade” was just that. A jam packed, glamorous, glitzy, 1,700 person party. It was truly quite the experience. Of course, I had to have the perfect dress, the perfect shoes and the perfect hair, so I consulted my local Nordstrom for the perfect little black dress (seriously, it was GORGEOUS) and the most amazing sparkly shoes. The outfit was topped off by an updo from the fabulous Swink Style Bar (@swinkstylebar) and I was ready for the purple carpet (yes, not red, purple. This party was much too cool for the standard red carpet). I attended with two of my girl friends, and after we had our van cab pull over far away from the front door, we strutted up in style, ready for our photo ops. Unfortunately, it was colder than snot outside and we settled for a quick group shot (them with their coats on, me without. I mean c’mon, the DRESS) and shuffled quickly in the front door. We were immediately provided tasting glasses, raffle tickets, drink tickets (for drinks from the “Decade Lounge” upstairs), and a pour of some delicious Nicolas Feuillatte champagne and off we wandered into the party. The main floor had several wineries and food booths, as well as the “main stage” for some of the musical acts that performed throughout the evening. This area featured wines from some of my favorite wineries, including Barrage Cellars (@barragecellars) (pouring their very tasty 2009 Riesling), Kiona Vineyards & Winery (@KionaWine) (where I sipped on the AMAZING 2006 Lemberger. Have you tried this? Do it. Now.), and O Wines (@owines) (their 2007 Red Wine has aged beautifully since it was released back in February of this year). My favorite foods from this room included the Il Fornaio pesto gnocchi, and Capital Grille’s wagyu beef.

We trekked up some stairs (never easy in heels) and wandered into the Taste of Tulalip Retro Game Room. In this room they had more tasty treats from the Tulalip Resort (which I lunged for immediately. You saw my notes on the food from the Taste of Tulalip preview and event), as well as skee-ball, pool tables, and foosball! Down farther from this room was the Tulalip Wine Tasting table, where resort sommelier Tommy Thompson was pouring my FAVORITE from the Taste of Tulalip, the 2005 Corliss Estates Cabernet Franc. I was so delighted to be able to sip on this wine again. Adjacent to the Tulalip table was the Team Photogenic SEEN lounge, where at a point later in the evening, my friends and I were interviewed by Count Kody about our wine blogs! Look for my segment when it’s finally edited and posted, I talk all about this wonderful (well, at least I like to think so) blog in it!

Much like the Energizer Bunny, this party kept going and going and going. We were shocked to discover that you could keep walking across a window enclosed walk-way (where snacks from Tom Douglas restaurants (@TomDouglasCo) were featured) and into a completely different room that contained another stage and additional wineries and food stations. In this room I was able to try the Buty Winery Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle, which was quite lovely.

I’m not kidding, the party went even farther with a trip up MORE stairs to a third level, which contained the “Decade Lounge”. This area had music and dancing, as well as a bar with ice sculptures and what appeared to be some sort of cosmopolitan luge (sign me UP). We stood in line for our tasty cosmo’s (which we then put in our wine glasses. That didn’t look weird or anything) and ventured around the top floor a bit more.

I was simply amazed at the sheer magnitude of this party, both in size and complexity. There was quite literally something here to appease any appetite or taste. While my feet were hating life at the end of the night (I did not expect that much walking INSIDE a party), I left there feeling like I had attended one of Seattle’s most well put together and glamorous parties in history. With every party comes one that’s even greater following, so I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the next!

(With some fabulous friends at the party incl @DivaTink, @YasharWineMongr, @ErinDrinksWine, and Lauren!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wines of Bordeaux - Esquin Wine Merchants - Seattle, WA

Back in September I had the privilege of attending one of the seminars of BLEND, which I subsequently wrote about in a post about the event. In the seminar, we learned all about the Bordeaux region of France, and how French Bordeaux blends are created. As you’ll recall, the five grapes of the Bordeaux blend are.. (pop quiz, go!) … Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Granc, Merlot and Petit Verdot (how did you do?). Many Washington wines are made in Bordeaux style and are supremely delicious. So what’s a Washington wine girl to do when the opportunity to taste the REAL DEAL comes about? Take it! Last week I headed down to Esquin Wine Merchants (@Esquin) for a tasting of wines from the Bordeaux region of France. Oh what a treat it was! We tasted through eleven amazing French wines, and I was able to learn so much more about what makes French wine so different from American wine and about all of the different (and historic) practices that go into the making of a true Bordeaux blend.

Since I detailed the whole right bank/left bank thing in my BLEND post, we’ll skip straight to the “growths” of Bordeaux. The Wikipedia entry can explain this concept better than I can: “For the 1855 Exposition Universelle de Paris, Emperor Napoleon III requested a classification system for France's best Bordeaux wines which were to be on display for visitors from around the world. Brokers from the wine industry ranked the wines according to a château's reputation and trading price, which at that time was directly related to quality. The result was the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. The wines were ranked in importance from first to fifth growths” It goes on to say that “within each category, the various châteaux are ranked in order of quality and only twice since the 1855 classification has there been a change, first when in 1856 Cantemerle was added as a fifth growth (having either been originally omitted by oversight or added as an afterthought, depending on which of the conflicting accounts is correct) and, more significantly, in 1973, when Château Mouton Rothschild was elevated from a second growth to a first growth vineyard.” Interesting to note is that the bottles do not specify which particular growth a wine is from. This must be known by the drinker or else researched in advance.

It was interesting to learn about the vintages we would be tasting, and how they are perceived by experts. 2000 was an amazing vintage, “one of the greats” and probably one of the top 5 or 6 of the past 20-30 years. 2001 was said to be terrific on the right bank. 2005 is considered a great vintage uniformly and 2006 didn’t quite present what it should have and is just in the shadow of 2005.

We started our tasting with a 2000 Carbonnieux Blanc, Pessac-Léognan. This 89 point wine from Wine Spectator is a high acid and full bodied wine. It’s so rare that you see a white wine that is recommended to age past 4 years, which is the case with this one. It was the perfect clean wine to begin our exploration of the wines of Bordeaux.

We moved on to a 2005 Picque Caillou Rouge, Pessac-Léognan. This wine does not come from one of the classified growths of the region. The wine had a ton of berry on the nose, and a huge burst of tannin on the taste. With each taste the fruit came forward just a bit more, and the finish ended up being quite enjoyable.

Next, we tried a 2001 Blason l’Evangile, Pomerol. It was interesting to learn that 80% of the Pomerol estate is planted to Merlot. This particular wine is almost all Merlot, with just a hint of Cabernet Franc present. 2001 was a great year on the right bank, and this wine will continue to age well. Cherry flavors and another big burst of tannin characterized this wine, which had a deeper and darker color than our previous taste.

Next our Bordeaux journey took us to 2006 Malescot St. Exupery, Margaux 3rd Growth. This young left bank wine was a 92-94 point recipient from Parker. The family that owns this estate has had it for just the past 20-30 years. The estate itself is planted to about 57% Cabernet. The taste of this wine definitely had that “pucker effect” with the amount of tannins present right off the bat. It also had a very deep and dark color. This wine will age very well, with anticipated maturity between 2010 and 2025. It will become much less tannic over time.

We moved to a 2006 Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Médoc. This was a 90-92 point Parker recipient and had an excellent purple hue. Black current was present at first taste and this was a very Cabernet dominant wine (about 75-80%) which, for now, has those “super tannins” present. This wine will definitely age more and will soften out over time. About 7-10 years of cellaring is recommended, with the wine lasting for up to two decades after that.

The right bank brought us the 2006 Clos St. Martin, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé. This is one of almost 60 wines that are Grands Cru Classés. There are two estates that are Premiers Grands Crus Classés (A) and another 13 estates that are Premiers Grands Crus Classés (B). This, another high scoring (92-94 points) Parker wine, had a super smoky nose and was full bodied and quite nice. This is another that will age much longer, reaching its peak between 2015 and 2025.

It was no doubt as the bottles became more expensive, my appreciation of them also also increased. We moved forward into the 2006 Gruaud-Larose, Saint-Julien 2nd Growth. This had a slight smoke on the nose, but also had hints of berry as well. The first taste brought a slight attack of those tannins again, but excellent fruity flavors. This wine, best after 2010, was a 90 point recipient from Wine Spectator.

I love those wines that one would consider “feel good” wines, which was exactly what we were able to taste next. The 2006 Lynch-Bages, Pauillac 5th Growth comes from an estate that ran into disrepair until it was bought about in 1977. This is a big wine, perfect for lovers of those big bad California Cabernets that need a smooth transition into a love of Bordeaux wines. I enjoyed the nice fruit on the nose of this, and an excellent back of the palate finish. A perfect wine for a cold night by the fire, this fantastic bottle was the recipient of 92 points from Parker.

Of course my favorite taste of the night was from one of the most expensive bottles we tried (but not THE most expensive!). The 2005 Calon Segur, Saint-Estèphe 3rd Growth quite literally made me go “oooohhhhh” when I first tasted it (seriously, see my tweets from the evening!). This estate is run by a woman (way to go girl!) and this 2005 vintage is a blend of 60% Cabernet and 40% Merlot. A hue of deep ruby and a sweet nose picqued my interest before I sipped on luscious fruit and tannin that was there but not in your face. This wine is amazing from start to finish and I can see why reviews state it will drink well for up to three decades. This 94-96 point Parker recipient needs to find a home in my collection ASAP. What a treat…

Moving to last of our Bordeaux reds, we had the extreme pleasure of trying the 2005 Cos d’Estournel, Saint-Estèphe 2nd Growth. Of the 14 second growths, this is one of the five that are considered “super seconds”. This is about 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, with a balance of mostly Merlot and just a hint of Cabernet Franc. The wine had an incredible inky dark color and a nose of spice and blackberry. This is a MASSIVE tannin wine with very closed up fruit flavors, but overall it’s very balanced. The flavors will continue to reveal themselves as this wine ages, one that has been called a “wine for the ages”. It’s recommended to not even look at this for about 8-10 years and enjoy it after some serious aging, sometime between 2017 and 2040. This is a 98 point Parker recipient, and I’m tremendously honored to have had the opportunity to try this incredible wine.

We finished the tasting with a 2006 Coutet, Sauternes 1st Growth. Very sweet nose with hints of citrus and peach cobbler. Good acidity, and one that will age well for 25 or more years. A little too sweet for my taste, but enjoyable none-the-less. This is another Parker 92 point wine.

My journey through the wines of Bordeaux was simply incredible and I can’t believe I had waited this long to enjoy some of the world’s best juice. Each tasting I attend furthers my knowledge of grapes, wine making styles, key vintages, and just an overall understanding of the wines of the world. I’ve been a wide-eyed and eager sponge at these events, taking in all the info I can to broaden my horizons of one of nature’s greatest gifts. I look forward to my next big adventure!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Taste of Tulalip - Tulalip Resort - Tulalip, WA

A few weeks ago I provided a preview of the Taste of Tulalip, held November 12th – 13th, 2010. In it I provided a sneak peak on some of the food and wine that would be available at the main event. Well let me tell you something, the main event did NOT disappoint. The whole event was simply fantastic! As we entered, we checked in at the main tables and were provided goody bags and Riedel tasting glasses. The concourse leading to the main Orca Ballroom had all of the California wineries in attendance at the event. I thought it was interesting, and pretty cool actually, to have the CA and WA wineries separated at the event. That way, while we were in the hallway we knew we were tasting wine from all CA wineries, and in the main ballroom we were tasting WA wines. The main ballroom had the wineries spread out throughout the room, with food prep and tasting stations mixed into center areas. The “twitter lounge” had some couches and chairs, and a large screen showing the tweets of everyone using the #TasteTulalip event hashtag. It was fun to watch my tweets from the event go by throughout the evening! One thing I noticed immediately was the winery placement around the room. At first, I was a bit thrown by the fact that the wineries weren’t in any sort of order. Normally these types of tasting events have them alphabetically arranged and easy to locate. After I wandered around a bit, I realized I liked the random nature of the winery table locations. Instead of bee-lining to specific wineries I knew, it forced me to take a look at each table that I passed, and in turn, I was able to try a few new wines I had never even heard of prior to the event. Several seminars and food & wine pairing challenges also took place during the event, however, I missed those as I never seemed to know when they were happening! (note for next year to event organizers: perhaps an announcement of when these are starting?) Overall though, I was extremely blown away by the wines that were brought to be poured by the wineries, the amazing food offered by the chefs of the Tulalip Resort, and the overall vibe of the entire event. I included a few notable wines from the event below, so read on!

Well, go big or go home right? I’m just going to come right out with my favorite wine of the evening, the Corliss Estates 2004 Columbia Valley Cabernet Franc. This wine was balanced and wonderful. I’m finding through my many tastings that I am a huge Cab Franc fan and I think I may have found my favorite of the Cab Francs! This is a must try, and one that will no doubt be finding its way onto my wine rack in the very near future.

Additional stand out wines for me were the wines brought by the amazing Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery. I had been hearing all around the wine world that Bob Betz is one of the most genuine and friendly people out there and I was so honored to finally meet the man himself at this event. He took time to explain each wine he was pouring, it was great! Available at the Taste of Tulalip was his 2008 La Cote Rousse Syrah, the 2008 La Serenne Syrah, and the 2008 Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon. This last Cab I tried is a young cabernet that is amazing now, but will be simply stunning with a few years on it. This was my first experience tasting Betz wines, and it will most definitely not be my last.

One of the great things about wine tasting events is discovering new wineries and winemakers. 21 Cellars (@21Cellars) is one that I discovered at this event. This winery is based in Tacoma (I don’t think there are many others down there?) and is a partnership between Phillip Coates and brothers Ben and Dan Bradley. They still have very limited production, with less than 100 cases produced of their 2006 Pont 21 Cabernet Sauvignon, which was poured at this event. The brothers are young and ambitious and I have no doubt that we will see more fabulous wine from them in the coming vintages.

Visiting with a favorite, Barrage Cellars (@BarrageCellars), I had the chance to try their 2008 Eclipse Syrah, which has not been released yet. Poured from the decanter at this event, this wine is young and different from other wines I have tasted from Kevin Correll. It was fruit forward (which I love) and left me wanting more. I am very excited to see what this wine does as it ages a bit more. Also fun to note is that Kevin won a food & wine pairing challenge against Charles Smith of K Vintners! Way to go Kevin! (and look how happy he is with his prize basket)

Other notable Washington wines from the event: the Five Star Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, which received 92 points from Wine Spectator in October, and was a Double Gold at the 2010 Seattle Wine Awards (@WineAwards). A friend and I purchased this bottle to share together at a future dinner, looking forward to it; the Hightower Cellars (@HightowerCellar) 2007 Murray Cuvee Blend; the Flying Trout Wines 2008 Malbec (did you know they are one of Walla Walla’s tiniest wineries for case production?); and the William Church Winery (@WmChurchWinery) 2007 Sur la Mer French Bordeaux blend and 2008 Malbec, a 100% Malbec.

Onward we go to California! It was great to try CA wines at this event, as most events I have been to lately have all featured WA wines. I don’t know as much about CA wines or appellations and it was great to try cabs that were just a bit different from what I’m used to having here in WA. A favorite of mine that we don’t see much of in WA is Zinfandel. The Charles Krug (@charleskrugwine) 2006 St Helena – Napa Valley Zinfandel was very nice. I do love a good zin…

Another standout CA winery was ZD Wines (@ZDWines). Each vintage of their Abacus wine is made with the previous vintages included in it as well. So basically, Abacus XII, which they are on now, contains all eleven prior Abacus vintages in it as well. This is a spendy bottle (the Abacus XIII is pre-selling for $475/bottle), but no doubt is unlike any other wine you will find out there. We were able to try their 2006 Reserve Cabernet at the event, and after the full bodied cabernet nature of that, I would LOVE to try the Abacus someday.

So much wine, so little time... While I’d love to have the chance to list out every amazing wine I tried at the Taste of Tulalip, it would just take much too long (goes to show you how many great wines there were there!). If you haven’t tried the wines I did include in this post, get out there and get yourself a bottle and let me know what you think! In the mean time, I can’t wait for the Taste of Tulalip 2011, held November 11th and 12th, 2011. This is an event that will become a permanent fixture on my social calendar and I hope to see its popularity increase even more next year!

(photo below of Megan, myself, and Tara. We had a blast at the Taste of Tulalip!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Upcoming Event: 20something - The New Vintage - Fremont Studios - Seattle, WA

Did you know that 25% of people that drink wine 3+ times per week are between the ages of 21 and 30? Do you realize how much this group of “millennials” is expected to grow within the next five years? The Washington Wine Commission (@WineCommission) does, and celebrate this growing wine market with their annual 20something – The New Vintage (@20somethingwine) wine event. 20something, now in its 5th year, came about when winemakers on the Wine Commission board expressed a desire to have an event catered towards the younger demographic, the 21 – 30ish range. They wanted to make sure this group of young wine drinkers “drinks Washington first” (as opposed to our competition from the Golden State). Madeline Dow, new to the Wine Commission at the time, proposed the idea of 20something as an “approachable” event, and one that had a “fun and lively atmosphere”. In contrast to other major wine events where each winery is featured at their own table, this event has the winemakers walking around in the crowd offering tastings. This approach allows attendees to interact with the winemakers and chat in a more informal setting. This year’s event, held once again at the trendy Fremont Studios, features 75 Washington wineries and more than 15 local chefs offering up tasty bites. As in the past, 20something partners with KEXP DJ Darek Mazzone, who spins tunes to set the mood of the party. Other fun additions to 20something this year include a “Geek Lounge” for those interested in learning a little more about wine at the event. This lounge will include a Riedel (@RiedelUSA) table, where tasters can compare wines in different types of glassware. Doug McCrea of McCrea Cellars will also be offering a Rhone blending area, where attendees have the chance to try their hand at some blending. Also in this area is the “Mer-love” bar, where the young Seattle sommelier team will be on hand to showcase one of the classic grapes that is often neglected: Merlot. This educational area is a great tool for the millennials, many of whom consider themselves wine drinkers, but not necessarily very educated in varietals, blends, or vintages (as most would say about wine: it’s either “red or white”). Another great feature of 20something is that they encourage winemakers to bring their under $30 bottles. This is a fantastic way to market to this demographic that generally doesn’t spend $50+ on bottles like older generations might. A final partnership that 20something brought on this year was a fabulous host. Join the amazing Seattle Wine Gal Barbara Evans (@SeattleWineGal) on the red carpet and for some pretty fantastic prize giveaways throughout the evening!

The Washington Wine Commission hosted a small preview tweetup event for several social media people from Seattle at the newest Tom Douglas (@TomDouglasCo) hotspot, Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie (@SeatownROTO). The restaurant graciously welcomed the group into their cozy little restaurant, located just across from Pike Place Market on Western Avenue. Several of the 20something wineries had donated wine for us to preview, and Seatown created a delicious menu of appetizers for us to enjoy during our tasting. Our amazing server made sure we always had food on the table in front of us, and Tommy (nephew of Tom Douglas and also an amazing chef), came out from the kitchen to explain several of the courses prepared throughout the evening. We had 18 wines on hand to preview, and they were all out on the table so we could enjoy them family style, keeping with the casual style that 20something has. Also in attendance at our preview were two of the 20something wineries: Laurelhurst Cellars (@LaurelhurstWine) from Seattle’s SODO neighborhood, and Ott & Murphy Wines of Whidbey Island. Winemakers Greg Smallwood (who I learned is a WSU alum, GO COUGS!) and Dave Halbgewachs were on hand from Laurelhurst, providing a detailed bio of the winery and winemakers. Did you know that Laurelhurst got their name because that’s the neighborhood where they started their winery in a garage? I love learning those types of fun facts about wineries. Eric Murphy was in attendance from Ott & Murphy, and had tasting notes on hand for the two wines he poured for us at the preview. All the winemakers in attendance were such a pleasure to be around and I look forward to seeing them again at 20something on 11/20!

And now for the wines (and some food too!). As I mentioned, we tasted through 18 different wines at the preview, including whites, single varietal reds and red blends. One of the things I really enjoyed about this preview event was that I had never tried any of the wines on the table. This made for a great adventure of trying new things (which I LOVE to do). Several of the wines stood out, I’ll split them up by whites and reds below:


Dusted Valley Vintners (@DustedValley) stood out in both the white and the red category, with my favorite white of the evening being their 2009 Pinot Gris, a Columbia Valley wine and very decently priced at $13 a bottle.

Ott & Murphy's 2009 Viognier was also quite good. This Columbia Valley wine was bottled in May and released this past July. It’s 76% viognier, 18% roussanne and 6% chardonnay. Sweet, but enjoyable.


Dusted Valley Vintners (@DustedValley) showed well again with their 2007 Stained Tooth Syrah. This Columbia Valley wine is just $25 and seemed to be a big hit with many at the table. I think this bottle was finished up first as people kept going back to it for one more taste! A must try at 20something this year!

Another standout for me was the Laurelhurst Cellars (@LaurelhurstWine) 2008 Merlot. “Merlot you say? But Taryn, you don’t even like Merlot that much!” True statement. Merlot has never been my go-to wine when I’m browsing my wine rack or choosing my tastings at a winery. Let me tell you a little something about this Merlot: it rocks. Great nose and a fantastic finish. This wine will be part of the “mer-love” bar I mentioned previously. Definitely go check this out!

Three Rivers Winery (@3riverswinery) is one that I had not heard of prior to this event. Well I know them now. Their 2008 Rivers Red is a blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Malbec, 13% Merlot, 11% Tempranillo, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot. This amazing blend is just $14 a bottle! I’m a huge Tempranillo fan, and it was great to see this added into this otherwise common blend. I really enjoyed this multi-grape blend, complex but not overly so.

Ott & Murphy stood out again with the 2008 Double Bluff Red Rhone Blend from the Columbia Valley. Excellent flavors, very yummy along with our tasty snacks from Seatown.

Tasty Snacks

I was able to snap a few shots of our delicious appetizers before we all dove into them headfirst (well, maybe fork first). The food at Seatown is wonderful, I look forward to visiting again for a full dinner!

“Pam’s Rainbow Plate” – fresh vegetable and fruit compositions: sweet potato soup; dill, shallot, marinated beets; chanterelle, sunchoke, thyme; pear and chrysanthemum salad; roasted fennel, oil cured olive, tarragon

Northwest Free Range Chicken, dripping potatoes, rapini – Great to learn about this dish from Tommy. It’s their “winner winner chicken dinner”! It’s a 3 day process to make this delicious chicken! A must try when you dine at Seatown.

Chocolate deliciousness on a plate (not sure what they call it, but that’s what I’m calling it!). Big thanks to Greg and Dave of Laurelhurst Cellars for adding in some dessert for the tweeters!

20something is coming up on Saturday 11/20/10 from 6pm to 10pm. As of the night of the preview (11/8), only a few hundred tickets remained to this fantastic event. It WILL sell out this week so get your tickets now by clicking here. It’s just $50 for one ticket or two for $90. Come out and mingle with other “millennials”, sip some fantastic wines, listen to some great tunes and learn something in the process. Not in the 21-30 range but still feel like a 20something at heart? You better be there too. This event is not strictly for “20 somethings” only. It’s for all wine lovers who want to enjoy a trendy and different kind of wine event. It’s going to be a blast. I’ll see you there!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Upcoming Event: The Taste of Tulalip - Tulalip Resort - Tulalip, WA

A few weeks ago I had the extreme pleasure of attending the Taste of Tulalip preview event, held at the Tulalip Resort. The event was held to provide a sneak peak to the main event, The Taste of Tulalip, which will be held November 12th and 13th, 2010. This annual event, a celebration of “wine food tradition”, combines delectable food from chefs of the resort’s many restaurants and wines from 60 Washington wineries and 20+ Napa Valley wineries. Friday the 12th, the event kicks off with a champagne reception, the Taste of Tulalip Celebration Dinner, and a VIP after party. Saturday the 13th is a full day of events, including several wine seminars and the Grand Taste, held in the 15,000 sq ft Orca Ballroom. The Grand Taste also includes several live quick-fire challenges and chef demonstrations, put on by the chefs of the Tulalip Resort. Also on site will be Marc Mondavi, who will be presenting one of the seminars, as well as signing bottles during the Grand Taste.

Our experience at just the preview event was incredible. From the moment we arrived at the resort we were treated like VIP guests, starting with complimentary valet parking at the entrance. After being greeted warmly by resort staff and the preview event organizers and being handed a glass of sparkling wine, we walked into a beautiful ballroom that had been set up specifically for us for this preview event. The table settings were incredible, with wine glasses lined up at the ready for tastings and only four settings at each table, so each attendee had ample room to tweet or take notes on the courses we tasted throughout the evening (check out #TasteTulalip on twitter for our tweets from the evening). There were also photo slideshows on large screens on the walls, showing views of the Tulalip Resort’s rooms, restaurants, and entertainment offered on-site. We had a brief talk from Tony Hatch, Youth Advocate of the Tulalip Tribes, where we learned that Tulalip customs state that “one of the most intimate things you can do is sit down and share a meal with someone.” The resort strives for this, and works to think about old traditions and customs in the way that they treat their guests; with the respect that they deserve. According to the resort’s Executive Chef Perry Mascitti, the “chefs can show their passion with everything that they put out”. This sense of tradition and respect has shaped this event into what it is today. Our preview tasting started with samples from the Celebration Dinner, which will be held on Friday the 12th. This dinner contains five courses, with an intermezzo course between courses three and four. While the wines were not necessarily “paired” with the courses, they accompanied wonderfully. As each course was served, the chef who prepared it came out and gave a short intro to what we were about to taste and how the dish came to be. Also, Tulalip Resort’s Sommelier Tom Thompson would stop at our table to tell us about each wine as it was poured. It was so great hearing his stories of these wines and seeing the passion he has for what he does at the resort. Listed below are the courses of the Celebration Dinner, with photos and notes on a few of my favorites:

First Course, prepared by Gerry Shultz, Banquet Chef and John Jadamex, Eagle’s Buffet Chef: Dungeness and Alaskan Crab Sushi with Wild Rice, Sesame Lavash, Avacado Wasabi Foam
Accompanying Wine: Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling
Notes: For someone who doesn’t normally like sushi, I was extremely pleased with this dish. The Ste. Michelle dry Riesling paired well with the spiciness of the wasabi used in the sushi.

Second Course, prepared by Gerry Shultz, Banquet Chef and John Ponticelli, Chef Garde Manager: Chenterelle, Smoked Boar Bacon and Aged Cheddar Soup and Quail Salad, Blackberry Vinaigrette, Micro Greens, Mache, Teardrop Tomatoes
Accompanying Wines: Betz Winery 2007 Besoleil Red and Tranche Cellars 2007 Roussane & Viognier
Notes: The cheese soup in this course was absolutely incredible. I was sad we only had such a small portion to try, I wanted an entire bowl of this stuff! The wines were also very nice, with the Betz having a strong bouquet and a complex finish.

Third Course, prepared by Brent Clarkson, Cedars Café Chef and David Buchanan, BlackFish Chef: White and Red Miso Salmon, Miso Rice, Lemon Butter Tamari Mushroom Medley, Inari-Nori slaw
Accompanying Wine: 2010 Taste of Tulalip Bookwalter Red (2008 vintage)
Notes: This wine will be the house wine for the resort in 2011, sold by the glass or by the bottle. The bottle was designed specifically for them by local artist Scott Schoenen from Fresh Northwest Design. In working with John Bookwalter on creating this wine, they wanted something that could sit down and age for awhile, or be enjoyed right now. This Bordeaux style blend contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. Because Tulalip has a retail license, guests at the resort will be able to purchase a bottle to take with them if they enjoy it while on-site.

Intermezzo Course, prepared by Kurt Hitchman, TRC Chef de Cuisine: Pomegranate Aspic, Orange

Fourth Course, prepared by Dean Shinagawa, Tulalip Bay Chef: Waygu Beef Short Ribs and Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin, Bleu Cheese Potato, Shiitaki, Sundried Cherries, Cabernet Demi Glace
Accompanying Wines: Charles Krug 2006 Cabernet and Charles Smith Wines 2007 “Skull” Syrah.
Notes: This beef dish was fantastic! The meat was so perfectly tender and the demi glace added amazing flavors. While I had started to limit how many bites I was taking of each course (with 12 courses you really have to do that…), I most definitely ate every last bite of this delicious dish. The wines were very different and gave two very different contrasting flavors for this course.

Fifth Course, prepared by Nikol Nakamura, Pastry Chef: “A Study in Chocolate” – White Chocolate Cream, Milk Chocolate Cremosa, 55% Chocolate Ganache filled Raspberries, 72% Dark Chocolate Baby Fondant Cake
Accompanying Wine: Graham’s 6 Grapes Port
Notes: After so much food it was hard to dig into this dessert, but I was glad I did. The filled raspberries were delicious and the port had very bold flavors that accompanied all the chocolate aspects of this dessert quite well.

After the Celebration Dinner courses (but wait, there’s more?!), we moved onto a preview of some of the dishes offered at the Grand Taste, which will be held Saturday the 13th. These courses were brought out together in some cases, and the wine was all poured for us up front, so I will just list out each item and also list out the wines we enjoyed along with these tastes.

John Ponticelli, Chef Garde Manager: Spicy Wonton Cup with Seared Spiced Ahi, Wasabi, Soy, Mirin, Seasame Aioli

Gerry Shultz, Banquet Chef: Smoked Duck, Chanterelle, Olive Romano Lasagna Roll, Port and Roasted Tomato Coulis, Pesto Oregon Bleu
Notes: This was a favorite of the first three items brought out (they were brought out all at the same time). This was a great twist on a pasta dish!

John Jadamec, Eagle’s Buffet Chef: Pulled Duck Slider with Pear Glaze, Asian Slaw, Brioche Roll

David Buchamam, Blackfish Chef: Apple Lacquered Pacific Halibut over Savory Fennel-Butternut Squash Bread Pudding
Notes: I really enjoyed this dish. Being from Alaska, I can be rather picky with my seafood (I mean c’mon, I’m used to eating fish I hauled out of the ocean/river/lake myself), but this halibut was prepared perfectly. It was tender and cooked well, and the accompanying butternut squash bread pudding was an amazing pair to the fish.

Dean Shinagawa, Tulalip Bay Chef: Butter Poached Sea Scallops with Toasted Pinenuts
Notes: This was one big buttery scallop! Like the halibut, the scallop was prepared perfectly and quite delicious.

Nikol Nakamura, Pastry Chef: “A Sweet Ending” display – Passion Fruit Macaroons, Chocolate Nougat, Pistachio Bon Bons, Financier, Mouse Au Chcolat, Beignets
Notes: More dessert! At this point I was so full I couldn’t see straight, but the bites I did have off this platter were quite lovely. Loved the beignets!

Chef Kurt Hitchman, TRC Chef de Cuisine: Local and International Cheese Plate
Notes: Who doesn’t love cheese to finish a meal? We had a few bites from this plate as an excellent finish to this extraordinary tasting event.

Wines Poured for Grand Taste Preview:

ZD Wines 2008 Founder's Reserve Pinot Noir

Lachini Vineyards 2008 Pinot Gris (the only OR winery featured at The Taste of Tulalip)

Reynvaan Family Vineyards 2007 Syrah

Mi Sueño Winery’s Herrera label 2006 Cabernet (This 100% Cabernet is VERY limited, with only 100 cases produced. Tulalip Resort is the only location in Washington that carries this wine. This is a big bold cab with great flavors!)

As the preview event concluded and we tried to determine how we were going to roll ourselves out of the ballroom, the amazing organizers of the event had one more surprise for us. In Tulalip custom visitors never leave empty-handed, so we were all provided a wrapped gift of beautiful glass flutes with the Tulalip symbol on each of them. I was so thankful to receive such a beautiful gift after dining on such amazing food and wine.

Don’t miss out on The Taste of Tulalip 2010. As you can see, the food and wines offered at this impressive event (awarded the Washington Wine Commission's "Best Wine Event" featuring Washington Wines in 2009), are second to none. This year’s event will no doubt sell out, so visit Ticketmaster ASAP to get your tickets to any or all of the events that make up The Taste of Tulalip. Also, when booking overnight packages for the event, present your Ticketmaster event code for a special room rate at the resort. Guests will receive a Deluxe King for $150 plus tax per night or a Double Queen for $180 plus tax per night.

I’ll be at the Grand Taste on Saturday November 13th, so I’ll see you there!