Our Taste Washington review

Brynn writes:

Well it took us long enough, but almost a month after attending the state’s largest wine tasting event we have finally transferred our thoughts from scribbles on pieces of paper to a coherent blog post. (Well at least we hope it’s coherent).

Going into Taste Washington we had quite the ambitious list of wineries we wanted to visit while attending the four-hour event at the CenturyLink event center.

Unlike last year, this year’s event was held over two days. We didn’t find out though until we received our press credentials the week of the event that we could attend both days. Unfortunately I had already scheduled myself for something Saturday afternoon, but Mary took advantage of the access and went Saturday and Sunday.

You better believe if they hold it over two days next year (which we’ve heard rumors they will) that I’ll be right there beside Mary maximizing my sips Saturday and Sunday.

Like last year we made sure to pace ourselves as we cruised through the aisles, stopping to nibble some of the delicious bites prepared by area restaurants. We also carried bottles of water with us to stay hydrated.

And while we had a list of where we planned to go, like any good wine taster with ADD, we often found ourselves sidetracked by a winery that caught our eye — sending us in crisscrossing through the event center. The good thing is we still had a blast, even if we didn’t hit every winery on our list.

One thing we did make sure to do was visit as many of the tables that we could that were pouring the most expensive wines of the day.

Seeing as I was eight months pregnant at the time of the event, my husband Jeff went as my designated taster. Before the event he read through the list and marked some of the most expensive bottles, figuring it might be the only time we’d get the chance to taste that many high quality wines at one time.

I was in charge of photography, but I did taste at almost every stop, followed by a lot of spitting. The reviews though are largely from Mary’s and Jeff’s comments and my summations of their responses to what we tried. Since my palate was still off from pregnancy, and because I was taking micro sips, I let them take the lead.

Without further ado, here are our thoughts on the day:

We’ll start with the most expensive wine we tasted.

It was the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Boudreaux Cellars out of Leavenworth and it was $100. The cab comes from Champoux Vineyards (75 percent) and Loess Vineyard (25 percent) in Walla Walla. An interesting side note about this winery: it’s completely off the power grid, meaning winemaker Rob Newsom relies heavily on nature to get things done. My palate isn’t fine tuned enough to know whether I’m drinking a $100 bottle of wine or a $50 bottle of wine, but between this and the Bordeaux blend the winery was pouring the reserve was our favorite.

Speaking of favorites, the absolute favorite wine of the day for Brynn and Jeff came from Rotie Cellars. It was the winery’s Northern Blend, made up of 95 percent syrah and 5 percent viognier. The deep purple color exemplified what we’d expect from Rhone-style syrah and its meaty nose had a beautiful aroma. The midpalate was complex with a lot of flavors. This wine was reminiscent of France’s Rhone Valley syrah — something winemaker Sean Boyd was aiming to replicate. The finish is long lasting, leaving you time to think about how much you want a second sip.

Another favorite from Rotie was the winery’s Southern White, composed of 50 percent viognier, 30 percent roussane and 20 percent marsanne. It is a perfectly balanced, full-bodied wine with peachy fruit flavors and stony minerals. V.G.

Here are some other highlights from the weekend:

Robert Ramsey Cellars, 2009 McKinley Springs Mourvedre. We tried this at the Kitsap Wine Festival and really liked it then — tasting it a second time confirmed our first impression: it’s a great wine. It’s rare to see this grape without its partners in wine, Syrah and Grenache but that didn’t stop us. The color was dark purple red and stained the glass. Lots of complexity with leather, dark fruits and a pleasant earthiness.

Doubleback 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon This Walla Walla cab was one of the most expensive and therefore a must try.  At $89 it was probably the second most expensive wine we had all day. This wine reminded Brynn of a Napa Cab, with its in your face flavors. Winemaker Chris Figgins has created a complex wine that we wish we could have tried as it opened up over time — as recommended by winery owner Drew Bledsoe in his tasting notes. It was a little too up front for Brynn, but would be one we’d try again after letting it breathe for a couple hours.

Figgins Estate Red Bordeaux this 2008 estate blend came in at $85. It’s a mix of cab, merlot and petit verdot. The cab is heavy upfront, yet the nose hints at its merlot subtleties. It’s a wine that could be drunk now, or laid down for a little more time to age.

Brian Carter Cellars always has interesting blends. His Corrida is a Spanish style blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, Garnacha and Cab. An unusual blend with the Cab and Merlot in there, but these grapes added a little more body and flavor to the Tempranillo.

Castillo de Feliciana’s Columbia Valley Micalato, another Spanish style from Red Mountain grapes is a blend of 68 percent Garnacha, 13 percent Tempranillo, 10 percent Syrah and 9 percent Counoise. Wine had ripe red fruit and herbal flavors and a really nice and round, smooth finish. Right next-door was bin on the lake with Pork belly tart tatin coins. Darn! Those were tasty!

Cave B’s Barbera was nice but what truly impressed us was the 2010 unoaked Columbia Valley Chardonnay. If you want to taste Chardonnay, no oak ageing, no barrel fermentation, no sur lies, this is it pure unadulterated Chardonnay.

Cascade Cliffs Barbera was awesome. Bob Lorkowski planted Piedmont grapes along the Columbia River in 1997. Mary likes to think she set him off on the Piedmont path when she tasted him on what she thought was the best Barbera on the planet at her Grape Expectations wine shop. Cigluitti Barbera d’Alba. He also has a very good Zinfandel.

Chandler Reach Vineyards from Benton City has a rich, smooth Cab called Parris. The wine was aged in American, French and Hungarian oak before blending and bottling. The complexity comes from the different blends of oak rather than the grapes. Another impressive wine.

Januik Winery 2009 Ciel du Cheval Petite Verdot is a rich with black fruits with hints of minerals, great balance and a weighty mouthfeel. The finish is smooth but will improve with some cellaring.

Kana Cellars 2008 Dark Star is a luscious blend of mostly Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache that is barrel aged for 3 years. V.G.

Long Shadows Vintners 2007 Columbia Valley Pedestal Merlot is a concentrated dark cherry, toasty oak-kissed wine made by Michel Rolland from Pomerol.

Marcus Sophia Winery is located in Graham. Winemaker Laela Cramer sources her grapes from Alder Ridge and Horse Heaven Hills, two very well known vineyards. Her 2009 Yakima Valley Merlot is a blend of 85 percent syrah and 15 percent cab franc aged in American oak. Well worth seeking out. She also makes a syrah in the traditional way, cold soaking to extract flavor and color and then co-fermenting with a bit of viognier. It’s earthier then most syrahs but impressive.

Michael Florentino 2008 Columbia Valley Monastrell. It’s rare to see this grape without its partners in wine, syrah and grenache. monastrell is the Spanish way for saying mourvèdre. It’s thick-skinned grape is the reason these wines are so inky purple and tannic. This monastrell has lots of black fruit flavors with spice, leather, and herbal nuances. A really good lamb sausage from the Hook & Plow restaurant was perfect with this wine.

Pondera Winery out of Woodinville 2008 Columbia Valley Consensio is a Bordeaux blend of 58 percent cab, 27 percent merlot, 10 percent cab franc and 5 percent malbec. This full-bodied wine is richly colored with flavors of cherries plums and hints of spice and mocha. The finish is long and smooth.

Saviah Cellars 2008 Walla Walla Petit Verdot is a rich, glass-staining-black red wine with black fruits with hints of leather and minerals, balanced, smooth and velvety. What a mouthful!

Sparkman Cellars 2009 Red Mountain Kingpin Cab. There’s a mouthful of wine. Rich with black currant and plum, tobacco, leather and spice. Smooth, rich with a long, long finish. Nicely paired with Assagio Ristorante’s Penne with wild boar ragu. Yum!

Syncline James and Poppy Mantone’s 2009 Blanc de Blanc has a fine bead and citrus flavors that paired very nicely with the chicken liver pate from RN74.

Treveri Cellars Sparkling Mueller-Thurgau. This grape is a cross of riesling and silvaner grapes. The citrus and mineral flavors balanced by 3 percent residual sugar paired very nicely with the shrimp seviche with dry cured chorizo and cucumbers from the Purple Café and Wine Bar.

Waters Winery out Walla Walla way has a fabulous 2008 Columbia Valley Cabernet. With dark fruits, leather and spice, it has depth and complexity. Sourced from Cold Creek and Pepper Bridge Vineyards.