This past weekend was my sixth Taste Washington weekend in Seattle. As usual, it was a fantastic event -- particularly the seminars which bring together top media and industry panelists, fabulous wines and the opportunity to taste in a more structured setting. The grand tasting was wonderful, too, given the breadth of exciting wines, chance to connect with clients and industry folk.
Below are my notes from the two seminars I attended; Janel will share hers in a future post:
Washington versus the World
This seminar paired five Washington wines with five wines from France, Australia and Napa. What a treat!
1999 Woodward Canyon Special Selection
Deep blackberry, black cherry, graphite, vanilla; chalky tannins. Some hints of rosemary and celery root. Still quite youthful; beautifully integrated. Smooth! Long life ahead of this wine...
2000 Leoville Las Cases
Dear God. A damn fine St. Julien. Cassis, blackberry, spice rack; subtle yet complex in the way a French wine can be; oregano, dried cherry and lots of depth in the palate. Mineral note at finish. Still pretty tight and much less fruit-forward compared to Washington. (At this point I was loving the tasting but also feeling odd comparing them because they are not really comparable -- it's like two amazing but very different musical scores. Doesn't matter which one is better because both are amazing. That's why you can ask for more than one glass at a table!)
2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
Very juicy black fruit with hi-toned cassis note. Quite round on the palate with good, chalky tannin. Youthful. Not my style of wine, actually.
2005 Cos d'Estournel
Coffee grinds, butterscotch, mocha. Not your typical Bordelaise approach. Silky with great, smooth, depth; some graphite at palate with chalkiness and long, tannic finish. This is complex and very special. Seems in between new and old world (I couldn't quite place this wine because even though I knew it was the Bordeaux, it didn't present that way.)
2005 Araju Eisele VIneyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Very concentrated black fruit, graphite, curing tobacco; ripe with silky tannins.
2010 Betz La Cote Patriarche
Youthful -- nearly felt like California even though I knew it was from Washington. Cinnamon, blackberry pie; big concentration -- just a baby; slight cured meat character but mostly hidden by youthful fruit. There is luscious weight here that just doesn't quit.
2009 The Standish
I don't have much experience with Aussie wines because I tend to find them to be huge fruit monsters and I prefer some complexity with other aromas and flavors. This wine was awesome. Super youthful with great depth; forest floor, black cherry, pepper; nice velvety palate.
2010 Avennia Syrah
Wow! Black cherry, concentrated pepper, hi toned graphite; silky with some exciting zippy acidity and good, prominent rich fruit. Integrated. Un peu d'animal -- makes me want more. Would love to see this wine again in 10 years. Palate weight is just wow. Damn. Will be thinking about this for awhile.
2006 M. Chapoutier Ermitage le Meal
I'm usually the Francophile who loves the "stank" of the old world. This wine had stewed tomato (too much), bay leaf, caramel, cured meats and lots of cherry. Nice complexity but just not my style -- definitely needed food -- like a very stinky cheese. Not sure if this is/was typical but seemed on its way out.
Yakima Valley 30th Anniversary
I've been to Yakima a few times to judge the Washington State Fair, but must admit I had no idea! Yakima is "the craddle of the Washington industry and has been growing grapes for over 100 years". It is also home to 12,000 acres of vineyards or about one third of the state's acreage, 75% of the hops produced in our country and the number one producer of mint.
This area is also home to the sub-appellations of Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain and Snipes Mountain. There are some incredible vineyards here including Boushey, Red Willow, Ciel du Cheval and more.
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rose
DSM is the state's largest grower of Pinot Noir which is used in this wine. Lovely red apple, rose, cranberry and a nice, creamy palate. Heck of a value!
2010 Owen Roe Red Willow Blend
Inky blakcberry, black cherry pie, basil, a little toffee; smooth, bright with cocoa at palate -- it just feels good in the mouth; mouth-filling yet somehow balanced; rich with a little touch of brown sugar on the finish.
2010 Betz La Serenne Syrah
Little bit of an old world style. Black peppercorn, fresh oregano, white pepper and black fruit; more angular; very youthful and juicy but with balancing minerality; very focused nose -- if an aroma could have a texture, this would. Intriguing wine.
2010 Smasne Cellars Ancient Rocks Rhone Blend
Chalky, raspberry jam, dried cherry and nutmeg -- great aromas; really nice complexity on the palate with a velveteen texture; little mid-palate mineral and coffee note on the finish. Love it!
2009 DeLille Harrison Hill Red Blend
A Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wine with hi-toned blackberry, roasted red pepper, garlic butter and raspberry. Long finish with rich fruit throughout palate -- it just goes and goes. There is subtle slately character.
2010 Soos Creek Ciel du Cheval Red Blend
Blackberry puree, fresh leather and oregano, sweet black cherry; juicy and huge on palate; slately/mineral on mid-palate with clean finish. Delicious.
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