Category Archives: Local Wines

You’re invited: Mosquito Fleet Winery release party

Brynn writes:

Wine release party season is fast upon us as area wineries prepare to share their hard work with the drinking public.

Belfair-based Mosquito Fleet Winery is opening its doors the weekend of Feb. 9 and 10 for its release party celebration to showcase the release of its 2010 vintage wines. This is the winery’s second release. We attended the winery’s inaugural release party last year and were thoroughly impressed. We also had a chance last fall to taste some of the winery’s 2010 vintages while they were still in the works and again were extremely excited to taste the “final” bottled product.

(Click here for our story about last year’s release party; click here for a story about Mosquito Fleet Winery; click here for our review of MFW Cab).

Doors will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. For $10 you can taste the winery’s six wines. The fee is waived with purchase.

Here’s info sent by the winery with details of what to expect at the weekend celebration:

The crew at Mosquito Fleet is intent on rolling out an enjoyable spread of chocolates and cheeses. They have hired Chef Dustin Joseph of the ‘Art House Café’ to create food pairings for each of their six wines.

In addition, Mosquito Fleet contracted with Oh Chocolates of Mercer Island to create truffles using the winery’s own ‘Port style’ desert wine. The winery is also bringing in a different band on each day to play for guests.

Doors will be open from 11 a.m. to 5:00 pm both days. They will be serving six wines, five still wines and a dessert wine that will be served in small Swiss chocolate cups. The cost is only $10 per person with the winery waiving that fee with the purchase of a bottle of wine.

Mosquito Fleet Winery has operated for four years, but has only released one vintage (2009) thus far.  The 2010 varietals will be their second release.

“We are certainly wanting to remain patient and not release the wines before they are ready. We want to continue maximizing wine quality and creating a good first impression for the consumer,” said winemaker and co-owner Brian Petersen.

The MFW 2009 vintage sold out in a matter of months and received tremendous accolade. The winery believes the soon-to-be released 2010 wines are even better and the four owners anticipate tremendous sales this year as well.

The February release consists of only 1,000 cases and some varietals are extremely limited. With the tremendous local support and many commercial accounts clamoring to get their hands on this year’s production, it could go quickly.

“We are excited about the growing demand. We believe it’s a result of prioritizing quality over quantity… a stronghold of the Mosquito Fleet Winery philosophy,” Petersen said.

Babies at wine tastings? Yes please!

Brynn writes:

Since having my son four months ago I’ve made a point of not letting the little guy slow me down. That doesn’t mean I haven’t spent time at home cuddling, playing and enjoying these early months where he thinks his mom and dad are the coolest people around (I know this won’t last forever), but when the chance arises to get out of the house for something fun, I typically won’t turn down the invitation.

That was the case Labor Day weekend. My best friend Michelle flew all the way from Maui to meet the little guy, and of course hang out with her bestie of 16  years. Not wanting to deal with the Seattle craziness, we opted to stay in Kitsap. Instead of hanging around our house all weekend I suggested we head to Bainbridge Island to take advantage of the winemaker open houses and try some wine.

Since Daddy worked Saturday, there was no leaving the baby at home. So we packed up the little guy and hit the dusty trail. We had so much fun we returned Sunday, this time with Daddy in tow. The baby handled his first wine tasting like a pro, hardly making any fuss, and the wines we tried were superb. (As you can see below, he enjoyed his time at Eleven Winery Saturday).

I know we just devoted several weeks of our “What we’re drinking” posts to the Bainbridge wineries, but there were some new releases this weekend that were too good not to mention.

They are, in no particular order:

Rolling Bay Winery’s 2011 Fusion. This wine is a blend of 75 percent chardonnay, 25 percent pinot gris. Winemaker Alphonse de Klerk sources all of the grapes for his wines from Snipes Mountain in Eastern Washington. This white blend is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, which allows the mingling of citrus and tart fruit flavors of the chardonnay and pinot gris to stand out. The winery showcased its Fusion white wine blend in 2007 and de Klerk has made it ever since, thanks to its popularity among his winery’s followers. It was a great wine to start our tasting with Saturday, and paired nicely with the mini cubes of white aged cheddar we sampled.

The Fusion is a great choice to sip in the sun while sitting at one of the tables de Klerk has positioned in the gardens surrounding the winery’s cozy tasting room. We loved the setting — especially the peekaboo views of Murden Cove, and the foliage. Apparently so does Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, which recently named Rolling Bay’s tasting room its “Best Essence of Puget Sound.”

Eleven Winery had a couple of wines that stuck with us after we left. While we enjoyed everything we tasted, we especially liked the 2011 La Primavera, a rosé, and the 2011 Angelica, a white port made from pinot grigio.

The Primavera was wonderful — made just the way I like it: dry. Winemaker Matt Albee blends all of the red grapes he sources for his other wines to make this delightfully light rosé. The Angelica port was a great surprise too. It’s not everyday you see a white port; most well-known ports are made from red grapes, but there is such thing as white port wine. This wine offered a delicate balance between the citrus flavors of the pinot grigio grapes and sweetness.

Eagle Harbor Wine Company’s 2009 Viognier. Winemaker Hugh Remash doesn’t offer this wine as a part of his five wines available for tasting, but we lucked out Sunday. Remash described the wine to us, saying he doesn’t filter or fine the wine, so it appears cloudy because of the sediment that stays in the bottle. This can be unappealing to some, which is one reason why Remash doesn’t taste people on it. As Michelle debated whether she wanted to buy a wine she hadn’t tried, Remash went into the back and brought out a bottle of his precious viognier. Saying he planned to open some for dinner guests that night anyway, Remash poured us a sip.

Oh my what a treat. This was hands down my favorite white wine we tried at his winery Sunday — Remash’s Goldfinch sits high on my list of favorite wines, so this is an impressive feat. The viognier grapes come from Remash’s block at Dwelly Vineyard in Walla Walla. While Remash warned the wine might be cloudy, it poured nicely. Floral and tropical notes filled our noses and then our mouths. The full mouthfeel of the wine was exactly what I love about oaked white wines, but by no means does oak overpower this wine — it adds weight, but doesn’t detract from the delicate characteristics of the viognier grape.

Amelia Wynn Winery’s 2011 Riesling is the wine I ended with Sunday while at the Island Vintners tasting room in Winslow. Since we got a late start on the day, 5 p.m. came upon us fast — that’s when the wineries close their doors to tasters. So we headed to the tasting room, which was open later. We ran through the list of Amelia Wynn winemaker Paul Bianchi’s white wines, including his chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and Riesling. Bianchi added all of these this year after seeing the high demand for white wines from visitors to the tasting room.

The 2011 Riesling was just released. It’s a refreshing wine, and a perfect match for some of the warmer afternoons we’ve been having recently. The color is a pale, barely visible yellow, and the slight sweetness of the grape is met with the balance of tart citrus flavors, leaving your mouth feeling refreshed sip after sip.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Victor Alexander

Brynn writes:

Victor Alexander’s Semillon 2009 is one of Brynn’s favorite wines from winemaker Charlie Merrill. Unfortunately it’s apparently everyone else’s favorite too because Merrill doesn’t have any bottles left to sell.

While selling out is a good problem to have, it’s too bad because his Semillon is the perfect wine to sip while on the back deck of the Island Vintners tasting room where Merrill sells his wines alongside Jim Wilford’s Fletcher Bay Winery and Paul Bianchi’s Amelia Wynn Winery.

This light- to medium-bodied wine has floral notes on the nose, but time spent on oak is evident on the finish, which has a slight vanilla finish. Hints of apple and custard carry through this wine, which is reminiscent of crème brulee.

While we wish there were more supply for people to try while visiting the tasting room, we recommend letting Merrill or the tasting room employee know you hope to try the Semillon so Merrill makes sure to make it again.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Rolling Bay Winery

Brynn writes:

Rolling Bay Winery 2011 Pinot Grigio: When summer arrives and temperatures rise above 70 degrees this is a great wine to sip while enjoying the sunset on a warm evening.

The higher acidity of this wine makes it a refreshing choice to counteract the lingering heat. Winemaker Alphonse de Klerk has created a nice marriage in this wine of rich apple notes with weighty herbal flavors. The color is a beautiful pale, straw yellow.

All of de Klerk’s grapes are sourced from Snipes Mountain, near Yakima. He’s been making wine for close to 20 years and has sourced his grapes from Snipes for 18 years.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Perennial Vintners

Brynn writes:

Perennial Vintners’ 2011 Lemberger: This is winemaker Mike Lempriere’s first red wine under his Perennial Vintners label, and what a great way to bring his winery over to the “dark side”.

Lempriere has traditionally made white wines from grapes grown on Bainbridge Island, but the last couple of years of bad weather forced him to branch east of the mountains to get grapes from vineyards that weathered the poor conditions better than his estate vines.

While he’s still making his island-grown whites and raspberry dessert wine, Lempriere has expanded his selection, adding a lemberger.

Sourced from Kiona Vineyards on Red Mountain, Lempriere’s lemberger is made in the old world style. Instead of letting this wine spend time on oak, Lempriere turned it around quickly, producing a fruit-forward young wine that packs a lot of flavor for its light body.

With only 12 percent alcohol the fruitiness of the wine is able to shine, making it a great choice for summer barbecue season.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Fletcher Bay Winery

Brynn writes:

This week we’re reviewing two wines, a red and a white, from the island’s Fletcher Bay Winery. We’ll start with the white, then go into the red.

2011 Pinot Grigio:  This wine recently won a silver medal at the New York International Competition and we can see why.

Winemaker Jim Wilford has produced a signature white wine to compliment his wine library that is dominated by strong Italian red wines.

The grapes for this wine come from Crawford Vinyards in Yakima. The wine itself has citrus, apple and pear on the nose that are followed by the same light, crisp and refreshing flavors. This is a clean wine that would go great with seafood or some light hors d’oeuvres on a warm summer afternoon or evening.

Give it a try at Island Vintners, the Winslow tasting room featuring wines from Fletcher Bay, Amelia Wynn Winery and Victor Alexander Winery.

Wilford also said he’s working on a late harvest pinot grigio, which is ready to go he’s just waiting on the label.

2010 Battle Point Red: This is Wilford’s signature red wine, his go-to if you will of the reds he makes — a medium-bodied wine goes well with dinner and is one you don’t have to save for a special occasion if you don’t want to.

The blend is 22 percent tempranillo, 21 percent merlot, 19 percent cabernet sauvignon, 17 percent lemberger, 13 percent cabernet franc, 8 percent sangiovese. It’s been aged for 10 months in French and American Oak.

The wine has dark cherry on the nose, which mix with a bit of herb in the middle. It’s a smooth wine that is pleasing to any palate. It also was lauded at the New York competition, winning a bronze medal.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Eleven Winery

Brynn writes:

Eleven Winery’s 2011 Roussanne is a somewhat new wine for winemaker Matt Albee. The 2011 is his third vintage of the Rhone varietal and we have to say he’s mastered it quite well.

This full-bodied white wine is very aromatic with floral hints on the nose and lemon, pear and fruit flavors.  Albee received recognition for his Roussanne at the recent Seattle Wine Awards, earning a bronze medal for his 2010 Roussanne.

Albee gets the grapes from 10-year-old vines on Elephant Mountain. He said the farmer planted the Roussanne as a test block so there are only a couple rows of the vines available. Albee takes all of these grapes, but with such a limited quantity it only makes 90 cases.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Eagle Harbor Wine Co.

Brynn writes:

Eagle Harbor Wine Company’s 2011 Goldfinch is one of Brynn’s favorite white wines by Bainbirdge winemaker Hugh Remash. He changes the blend depending on harvest (in 2010 it was 60 percent Viognier, 40 percent Chardonnay).

This wine offers a nice balance of weight and acidity. It’s medium-bodied, which allows it to pair nicely with a full meal; but it’s also one that would go well with a simple cheese platter.

The Viognier is evident on the nose, offering floral notes with a touch of pear. These hints of honeysuckle carry through the wine, which is a blend of  Viognier (37 percent), Chardonnay (33 percent) and Roussanne (30 percent).  The Roussanne and Chardonnay bring the acidity and weight to the glass.

Remash gets his grapes from Walla Walla and has a French-influenced winemaking style. The wine retails for $18.50.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Amelia Wynn

Brynn writes:

As we’ve wrote about last week, we recently attended the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which was geared at highlighting seven of the wineries on the island. Mary and I attended a VIP tasting the first night of the event, which not only gave us a chance to speak with each of the winemakers, it also provided us the opportunity to taste their various wines.

We’ve selected a few of the wines we tasted and plan to highlight them in our regular “What We’re Drinking” spot over the next seven weeks. Most of the wines are available for tasting at the various tasting rooms in Winslow, and of course at the wineries when they’re open for their regular “Meet the Winemaker” weekends.

Amelia Wynn Winery, founded by Paul Bianchi and named after his twin grandchildren, will kick off our series. Bianchi is the newest winemaker to join the group. Without further ado, here’s the review:

2011 Sauvignon Blanc: This is the first year winemaker Paul Bianchi has made a Sauvignon Blanc and he did it largely because of the Winslow tasting room, Island Vintners, where his wines are poured.

Fellow Bainbridge winemakers Jim Wilford, of Fletcher Bay Winery, and Charlie Merrill, of Victor Alexander Winery, also are featured at the tasting room. Each have whites that are popular — especially during the summer — so Bianchi wanted to come up with a white to compete.

He gets his grapes for this wine from the Yakima Valley and ferments the wine in stainless steel. The end result is a wine that is not over the top on its herbal or citrus flavors. It’s a great sipper for summer with a good balance of crisp acidity and earthy notes.

Bianchi is also working on a Riesling that he hopes to release soon and a Rose of Sangiovese to be released in 2013. They each should be available at the tasting room, 450 Winslow Way East.

Bainbridge wineries recognized at Seattle Wine Awards

Brynn writes:

I was recently contacted by Jim Wilford, winemaker of Fletcher Bay Winery on Bainbridge Island, who let me know that a number of the island winemakers did quite well in the recent Seattle Wine Awards, announced May 21. As the winemakers’ put it: “the small wineries of Bainbridge Island took home a disproportionately large share of the medals.”

Here’s the information from the Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island’s website:

Amelia Wynn Winery

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Amelia Wynn Winery Cuvée, Columbia Valley

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Amelia Wynn Winery Sangiovese, Red Mountain

Eagle Harbor Wine Company

SILVER 2008 Eagle Harbor Wine Co. Eagle Harbor Wine Co. “Raptor” Cabernet, Walla Walla

Eleven Winery

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery La Ronde, Washington State

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills

DOUBLE GOLD 2009 Eleven Winery Sweet Sarah, Washington State

BRONZE 2010 Eleven Winery Roussanne, Yakima Valley

Rolling Bay Winery

SILVER 2009 Rolling Bay Winery Cuvée Aldaro, Snipes Mountain

BRONZE 2009 Rolling Bay Winery Syrah, Snipes Mountain

While he wasn’t listed in the Seattle Wine Awards, Wilford’s winemaking skills were recently honored at the New York International Wine Competition, where his wines were judged against others from around the world.

Here’s how he did:

Fletcher Bay Winery

SILVER 2011 Pinot Grigio

BRONZE 2010 Battle Point Red