Thursday, March 28, 2013

The New and Notable of Taste Washington 2013

Well another wonderful Taste Washington has come and gone, and I came away with some AWESOME new finds in both the wine and restaurant arenas. This year, I walked in with a plan of attack. I’ve been to a lot of wine events, and often times I find myself drawn to the wineries I have had and enjoyed previously. So this time around I decided that I was going to visit just a few of those never fail wineries (mostly the ones that really don’t ever pour at events either) and make my focus on trying wines from wineries that I had never even heard of. What a success it was! I also found some great bites from some restaurants that I will be making visits to ASAP. We started at one side of the room in A and basically worked our way across the room to Z all afternoon. We had some great finds to show for it

The Whites

I came across several whites that I really really enjoyed this year. Blame it on the sunshine outside on that Saturday afternoon, but I was starting to get into “summer tasting mode”. The whites I took a liking to this year came both from wineries that I had tried before (but had just never tried this particular wine) and also from new (to me) wineries. One of the new and notable wineries that I tried was Market Vineyards, LLC (@MarketVineyards), who has a tasting room over in Richland. I hadn’t even heard of the winery before Taste Washington, but you better believe I’m going to dig further into it. Their 2012 Liquidity, a Viognier Roussanne blend, was just wonderful. Washington puts out some amazing wines using this blend and the people that do it right do it so so right. This is one of those wines. Another one I enjoyed was the Collaboration Series 2011 Red Mountain Viognier from Force Majeure. It’s a bold Viognier, but the citrus notes keep it clean and enjoyable. Another new winery for me at Taste Washington was SuLei Cellars (@SuLeiCellars), based in Walla Walla. They poured their 2011 Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Soft and sweet and ready for summer. 

Market Vineyards, SuLei Cellars & Force Majeure

The Ro

This category is singular (rather than the plural of whites and reds you see above and below), because my favorite rosé at this year’s Taste Washington was the 2012 Angiolina Farm Grenache Rosé from Kerloo Cellars (@KerlooCellars).  This is the second rosé release from winemaker Ryan Crane, who has been doing some excellent stuff with the juice (most notably for me previously in Syrah). It was fun to learn from their tasting notes that this wine is made in a method where they treat it as a white varietal and pick early. They covered it with dry ice and pressed to tank nine hours after skin contact, starting the initial fermentation for five days in stainless steel. They then transferred it to neutral barrels on lees, stirring every other week, and finally was cold stabilized and filtered. The result is a beautiful wine in both color and flavor. It has perfect acidity and the great notes of peaches and lemons. I’m working on tracking down some of this to add to my “drink this my patio” collection I’ve started for this summer. I would suggest you do the same, this is a fantastic wine!

Kerloo Cellars Rosé

The Reds

Another new winery for me at Taste Washington was Avennia, located in Woodinville. Avennia has been getting a lot of great press lately so it was a no brainer that I had to check them out for myself. The 2010 Gravura was the highlight for me, which is a blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 6% Cabernet Franc. The name is a play on an artisan printing technique, and on the Bordeaux region of Graves, which features similar blends.  Another highlight included a red from Market Vineyards. Their 2009 Basis Points Red Blend is a true Bordeaux style blend, made up of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 17% Merlot, and 8% Malbec. Silver Bell Winery (@SilverBellWine), based in Burlington, had a nice Cabernet Sauvignon that I enjoyed. Their 2010 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a single vineyard wine sourced from Hedges Family Vineyards. I’d love to get up north to LaConner to visit their tasting room, they were great people and their space looks adorable. Another one finding its way into both the white and red categories is SuLei Cellars. Their 2010 Les Collines Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is simply wonderful. I can’t wait to get over to Walla Walla this summer (it’s on the agenda!) and try more from this winery.

Avennia, Market Vineyards, Silver Bell Winery, & SuLei Cellars

The Foods

Fun story: of all of the delicious bites we tasted throughout Taste Washington this year, my favorite two were the very first and the very last ones we tried. We started at Barking Frog at Willows Lodge, who served a prawn & berkshire pork dumpling with pickled vegetables, black garlic cilantro emulsion & ponzu. SO GOOD. I should have gotten another one of those before the end of the day..  The end of the day favorite came from Manhattan Seattle (@ManhattanSEA), who served a dish of shrimp and cheddar grits, with braised pork belly and scallions, topped with a white wine Cajun-butter sauce with red pimento and caramelized onions. We ended up having to wait for a few minutes for the chef to prepare another batch (and it was late in the day so we were thankful that he was!) and I am so glad that we waited. WOW. This made me immediately want to head up to Manhattan to try the rest of their menu. That will happen very very soon. In between my two favorites, there was a lot of other amazing stuff too. One such amazing bite came from Cantinetta (@cantinettaSea) who served up a ginger sugar zeppole. In a nut shell, this was a tiny doughnut bite type thing with a creamy chocolate interior. WHAT?! It was so good. The kahlua pork sliders from The Lodge Sports Grille and the Orecchiette pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and pesto cream sauce from Assaggio (@AssaggioRistora) were both also fantastic. Man I love food…

Dumpling from Barking Frog & Zeppole from Cantinetta

I heard a lot of great feedback from this year’s attendees about the event, and I’m one of those offering it up as well. The two-day format has REALLY helped with the crowds and made getting to a table for a taste much more manageable. I was bummed to miss out on the seminars this year, I hear they were amazing. I’m so excited that I left this year’s Taste Washington with new wineries to go seek out both around here and in eastern WA, and new restaurants to try here in Seattle. Thanks Wine Commission (@winecommission) and Visit Seattle (@VisitSeattle), you’ve done it again!

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