Reviewing the 2012 Kitsap Wine Festival

Brynn writes:

This past weekend Mary and I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual Kitsap Wine Festival.

It was our third year at the event — we missed the inaugural year — and unlike the last three years, this year the sun hid behind a bank of clouds. We heard from a lot of people they were happy it wasn’t as hot as years past, but I have to say I would have liked at least a little sun.

But I digress, we weren’t there for the weather, we were there for the wine!

This year 34 wineries were set up around the Bremerton Harborside Fountain Park, many of them returning from the previous year.

When we got there we went straight to the back, as we usually do at this type of event. Not too many people had arrived yet, so we were able to make our way around pretty quickly before it got crowded.

I was pulling double duty, triple duty actually, reporting on the event for Sunday’s paper (See the story here), taking photographs for the paper, and doing the wine blog thing with Mary.

The fact that I was mutli-tasking was a good thing because it made me run around to different booths and try wines that I might have otherwise overlooked.

Of course to start things off I went to two of my favorite wineries: Kiona Vineyards and Winery and McCrea Cellars.

Once again McCrea is taking the award of “Favorite white wine” from the festival for its Sirroco Blanc, a blend of Grenache blanc, marsanne, roussanne and picpoul — all my favorite white Rhone grapes. Looking back at our previous reviews of this weekend, McCrea ranks among our top picks.

The Sirroco Blanc is a medium-bodied white, with the weight of the marsanne balanced nicely by the mouth-puckering flavors of the picqpoul. The nose is floral and the finish has a slight tartness to it.

Here’s our reviews of some of the other wines that made our favorites list from the event:

 Forgeron Cellars:

 2010 Chardonnay: This wine is 100 percent fermented in oak, 1/3 of it new. Those who don’t like oaky chardonnay would love this wine. While there are hints of caramel from the oak in the wine, the fruit and citrus flavors take center stage. If I hadn’t been told it was fermented in oak I would have guessed the wine was aged in stainless steel. This wine follows the traditional winemaking style of Burgundy.

The winery labels its chardonnay as “unique”. I asked Don Gagne, who was there pouring for the winery, what makes it unique? He said it’s the fact that winemaker Marie-Eve Gilla uses grapes from four different vineyards. This allows for the mixing of different terroir. There’s also one barrel of Grenache blanc added to the mix. It was added because the winery had a barrel left after doing its Rhone blends and didn’t want it to go to waste, Gange said.

Retail: $25. Forgeron is available at the Port Orchard Fred Meyer.

2010 Late Harvest Riesling: This wine was apparently a fan favorite Saturday because by the time we made it up to the retail shop it had sold out.

This vintage is the winery’s first with Botrytis, or noble rot, which is what produces the concentrated flavors. The syrupy sweetness is evident on the nose, while the citrus flavors balance the middle. The winery recommends it paired with strong cheeses or tart cobblers, or as dessert in a glass. Retail: $19.

 Hightower Cellars:

 Out of Line 2009: This estate wine from the Red Mountain AVA is in its fourth year of production. It’s the winery’s Bordeaux Blend with 42 percent merlot, 34 percent cabernet sauvignon, 8 percent cabernet franc, 8 percent malbec and 8 percent petit verdot.

This earthy wine is complimented with notes of dark cherry, cedar, graphite, cassis and kola. It is a medium-bodied wine with a smooth finish that lingers.

 Naches Heights Vineyard and Winery:

 2010 Syrah: Unlike some Washington Syrah’s that can be chewy and fruity, this Syrah is more reminiscent of one from France’s northern Rhone Valley. That is probably because the vineyards are the highest planted syrah in the state, according to winery owner Phil Cline. The result of the cooler climate is a wine that retains its acidity, making it less aggressive on the fruit flavors and an elegant accompaniment to food. Retail: $20.

 Angel Vine:

 This winery is very unusual. Here is an Oregon winery producing the California grape (zinfandel) harvested in Washington. They also produce a Primitivo, which is a cousin to the zinfandel grape. Both wines have the typical scents of plum and black cherry and big, rich plum, berry, and peppery spicy flavors.

Convergence Zone Cellars:

 This winery produces award-winning wines in all categories — gold, silver and bronze. Their Storm Front Red 2009 is a wonderful blend of merlot, cab, cab franc and malbec from Red Mountain. It’s a blend that has aromas and flavors of plum, black cherry spiced and pencil lead with this jimmy finish. It just rocks!

Laurelhurst Cellars: 

This Seattle urban winery poured a Columbia Valley red blend of mostly cab with a little merlot, cabernet franc and malbec called Laurus Nobilis. We loved their 2008 Red Mountain Syrah.

Northwest Totem Cellars:

This is a small, family-owned winery producing handcrafted wines in Woodinville. Their consulting enologist, Cheryl Jones, has been making wine in Washington for a number of years and is well practiced at her craft. Mary especially liked the Qoné 2009 Red. It is a delicious blend of cab franc, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and petit verdot that smells of blackberry, cherries and vanilla, with a luscious berry and white pepper finish.

The first wine of the day for Mary was Finca Domingo’s 2011 Hermanos Torrontés from the Cafayate Valley in Argentina. This vineyard is located 5,500 feet up the foothills. Its tropical fruit aromas were delightful and the steely citrus and spice flavors refreshing.