Our Taste Washington Review

Sunday we (Brynn, Mary and Jeff) hopped on the Bremerton ferry and began our trek to the Qwest Events Center in downtown Seattle for the largest wine tasting event in the state.

During the hour-long ride we mapped our plan for trying to visit as many of the wineries in attendance. With more than 600 wines being poured, we really needed to make sure our day was planned.

We narrowed our selections to a fairly small margin. Ten top priority wineries with 13 wineries next in line. Another 17 were on our list if we had the stamina.

We landed in Seattle, walked to Qwest and then preceded to swirl, sip and spit. Had to spit, man, there were so many wines out there!
While we weren’t disappointed with what we tried — and trust us, our taste buds were numb by the end of the day — we also weren’t knocked off our feet.

Maybe we went in with our expectations set too high, but on the ferry ride home the three of us discussed the fact that there was no single wine that stood out to us as exceptional. There were a lot of great wines, don’t get us wrong, but nothing that left us feeling like we were privileged to have had the chance to try it.

Because we tasted more wines that we could count, we decided to highlight those that stuck with us through the day. We’ve listed the wineries we went to and classified them under our “Top Sips” (wines we loved), “We’d Drink Again” (wines we liked), and “Glad to Have Tasted” (wines we wanted to try, but wouldn’t run out and buy tomorrow).

Top Sips:

  • Cave B Chardonnay (Brynn like this one because of its mix of oak and acidity.)
  • Januik Chardonnay (Like Cave B’s Chard, Januik’s had a great blend of oak and acidity. He was pouring Sunday and said he’s been making the Chardonnay for 21 years — even before he made it for Chateau Ste. Michelle.)
  • Sparkman Cellars’ Ruby Leigh (Brynn and Mary really liked this one, a version of Right Bank Bordeaux blend.)
  • Long Shadows Winery Pedestal Merlot (Mary’s absolute favorite. Her thoughts: “This cracks me up as all day I leaned towards the cabs or Bordeaux blends and what’s my favorite? Merlot! Shades of Sideways…”)
  • Long Shadows Chester Kidder (Jeff like the bouquet on this blend of Syrah, Petite Verdot and Cab Franc.)
  • Buty Winery’s Herbfarm Red (Jeff found this red blend to be his favorite of the day.)

We’d drink Again:

  • Betz Winery’s Patriarch Syrah (Brynn and Mary really liked this one. Mary was surprised to find that it was 100% Syrah. “It was so fragrant that I could have sworn it was co-fermented with some Viognier,” she said.)
  • Smasne Cellars 2008 County Line Red Blend (Brynn liked this wine for its oaky flavors which softened the finish.)
  • L’Ecole Merlot (Jeff and Mary really liked this one, but as Mary points out, she likes everything this winery does. They’re also debuting their new label, which is an iconic photo of the old school house.)
  • L’Ecole Luminesce White Bordeaux blend (Brynn liked his Semillon for its hints of oak, which gave it a full mouthfeel.)
  • L’Ecole Perigee (Mary really loved this one because of its balance of an expression of those old wines. Beautiful.)
  • Cave B Merlot (Jeff, who went into the event saying he didn’t like Merlot, came out a with a new appreciation for Merlot after some great sips like this one.)
  • Ryan Patrick Vineyards’ Rock Island Red (All three of us really liked this one as an everyday wine, or an every weekend wine. It’s money well spent.)
  • Steppe Cellars Barbera (One of Jeff’s favorite wines is a Barbera, and he wasn’t disappointed when he tried this Washington-grown version. Brynn also enjoyed the complexity of this wine.)
  • Syncline’s Rose (The three of us all liked this wine paired with cold salmon bites offered by Ivars at the event. The wine was dry, balanced and refreshing.)
  • Terra Blanca Winery’s 2007 Red Blend (Brynn and Mary liked this blend of 54 percent Merlot, 42 percent Cab, and 4 percent Syrah. It was smooth and had a hint of sweetness to its finish.)
  • Airfield Estates Lightening (Brynn like this refreshing take on the White Rhone style varietals of 55 percent Viognier, 25 percent Roussanne and 10 percent Marsanne.)

Glad to Have Tasted:

  • Brian Carter Cellars Oriana White Blend
  • Andrew Will Two Blondes, Sorella
  • Buty Syrah
  • Reininger Winery’s Cima (Brynn enjoyed this one, but Jeff and Mary were underwhelmed at the other wines poured, including a Carmenere and Malbec.)
  • Martinez & Martinez Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mary enjoyed talking with Linda Mercer who was pouring wines from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA — one of which was the Martinez Cab. Mercer and her husband planted Mercer Ranch back in the 1970s. The Mercer Ranch vineyards are now owned by Paul Champoux and are highly prized by many top wineries in the state. Linda’s niece and nephew own M & M. It wasn’t a favorite cab for Mary, but “I love what the Mercers have contributed to Washington State wines.”)


Brynn and Mary (and Jeff)