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
They are, in no particular order:
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
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.
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
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