Category Archives: Washington Wines

What to Drink – Saviah The Jack

Saviah Cellars was founded in Walla Walla in 2000. The first year was small, only 300 cases but it’s grown – alot. And the wine in most demand is The Jack.savuah 941

This wine has pedigree. Grapes are sourced from some of Washington State’s best vineyards – Pepper Bridge, Elephant Mountain, McClellan Estate, Stillwater Creek, Frenchmen Hills Vineyard, Seven Hills, Weinbau, and Conner Lee.

Fermented in open top tanks so it could be punched down twice a day, this brilliant red wine is a blend of 86% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc. The aromas of black cherries, plum and vanilla greet you and then the flavors offer up the black cherries and plums that are juicy and sweet. The flavors are balanced by perfect acidity, a kiss of tannins and nice, smooth finish. All that flavor is worth the $14.

What We’re Drinking – Milbrandt Vineyards Clifton Hill Vineyard The Estates 2010

Not too long ago, an old friend stopped by with a bottle of wine in hand. That put a smile on my face. And I was delighted to visit and taste this winery’s Syrah.

I recalled that brothers Jerry and Butch Milbrandt were farmers first, the same as many wineries in Eastern Washington, having worked their family’s Columbia Valley farm for 50 some years growing row crops and orchards. Then in 1996, a couple of big wineries recruited the Millbrandts to grow grapes. They began planting vineyards in 1997.

Today, Milbrandt Vineyards has more than 2,300 acres of grapevines; most of their estate vineyards are located in two AVAs in the Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope AVA and Ancient Lakes AVA.

The high quality of their fruit became so well known and in such demand, the Milbrandts were selling tons of their grapes to many Washington wineries. That was the impetus for building a custom crush facility in 2005. And then in 2007, they launched their own  wines.

The 29 acre Clifton Hill Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA near Mattawa was planted to Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah in 1999. Now a fully mature vineyard, it produces an intense purple-black colored Syrah with a ton of black fruit flavors sprinkled with a hint of herbs and great balanced acidity. This is a big wine with surprising finesse. Expressive and classy, it has a wonderful long smooth finish.

Distributed in Washington by Unique Distributing and sells for around $23.

 

Riesling for Harvey’s Recipes

Mary writes:

Riesling was one of the first vinifera varieties planted in Washington, dating back to late 1880s. Much later, in the early 1970s, there were more acres planted to Riesling than there were Merlot.

Probably because Riesling is the most versatile, complex and food-friendly of all the noble grapes. And because back then, many, many people preferred a sweeter wine. In the next two decades, winemakers started making some Rieslings drier because of the demands of the market.  We can safely say that no other varietal has been crafted to express so many different styles from bone dry to ice wines and everything in between.

Rieslings have very floral aromas, a crisp, vibrant character with peach, citrus and apple flavors that morph into apricot as they age. When noble rot or botrytis attaches itself to the skins, the resulting wine is a concentration of sugars and flavors to produce a wine of incomparable intensity.

With Ann Vogel’s Harvey’s Butter Rum Batter recipes, the versatility of Riesling was the key that unlocked the synergy door. Riesling has just the right amount of sweetness and acidity to pair with apples, pork, pineapple, ham, red pepper flakes and cheesecake.

Riesling is all over the place when it comes to residual sugar (RS). It can have a ton of RS, making it a late harvest or ice wine. Or it can have as little as a Chardonnay – around .5% – and a crisp acidity for food friendliness.

Germany has been making some stunning Rieslings for a few centuries and it’s to Riesling what Bordeaux is to Cabernet and Merlot – the bench mark. That’s why it’s so cool when German winemakers come to Washington to make wine with Washington grapes.

Washington has 6,320 acres planted to Riesling. The most expensive is the Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Ice Wine at $85 for a half (375ml.) bottle. It’s made by one of my favorite German winemakers, Armin Diehl. This being a very special and labor intensive wine, it’s to be expected.

Other Washington Rieslings are as little as $3 for a 750 ml and continue up to around $20. These more expensive wines tend to have more work put into them and are generally drier.

There are three major Riesling producers in Washington State. Hogue, Ch. Ste. Michelle and Pacific Rim. All three have received numerous medals from around the world for their Rieslings.

For the Harvey’s Pork Chops with Apple Compote, try the Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling. This wine is a blend of grapes from all around the Columbia Valley made in an off-dry style at 11% alcohol and 2.2% RS. $10.

Pacific Rim’s Columbia Valley Riesling is crisp and slightly sweeter, a lovely wine with fiery red pepper flakes and juicy sweet pineapple in the Harvey’s Glazed Ham with Pineapple Chutney. Another blend of grapes from around Columbia Valley made in an off-dry style at 11.5% alcohol and 3.1% RS.

Cheesecake was made to be paired with Riesling. That being said we’ll move to a Riesling from another longtime giant in the Washington wine industry, Hogue. Their Late Harvest Columbia Valley Riesling was picked mid-October through the first part of November. It has 11% alcohol and 5.4% RS and at $10 a bottle is a total bargain.

Making a Splash with Syrah

Mary writes:

Columbia Crest Syrah

Some time during the Merlot craze of the 90s, David Lake had a few acres of Syrah planted in Washington State. Lake, the winemaker at Columbia Winery, Master of Wine and firm believer in terrior, had a vision of what Syrah could become in Eastern Washington. In 1990, there were a mere 15 acres planted to Syrah; today, there are 3,103 acres of Syrah in the ground.

Washington’s Syrah are luscious and ready to drink upon release unlike Old World Syrah that typically require a few years’ aging.

While dining with a friend recently, a bottle of Columbia Crest Syrah was opened to pair with the grilled flank steak with Chimichurri sauce.

This gorgeous wine was flawless from start to finish. Elegant aromas of smoke, cinnamon, blackerrries and cedar, followed by flavors of pepper, blackberries and currants. It’s a big wine, though the tannins are silky and smooth.

Columbia Crest Winery, not to be confused with Columbia Winery that first planted Syrah, was established in 1983. They are part of Stimson Lane that includes Chateau Ste. Michelle.

The winery is located in the Horse Heaven Hills. And it is huge. It was described when I toured it in 1986 as being as large as four football fields and could store 27,000 59 gallon barrels.

Over the years, Columbia Crest Winery has been named Winery of the Year by numerous wine trade magazines. And now by this blog! At $12.00, it’s a lot of wine for the money.

Wine pair: Roasted pork tenderloin and full-bodied chardonnay

It’s hard to believe that it was only three years ago that Cheers to You came to life online with a simple blog post explaining what we hoped to accomplish with our pairing — a budding wine enthusiast looking to learn more and a seasoned wine aficionado looking to share her knowledge.

Since our first blog post on Aug. 3, 2010 we have expanded our weekly wine talks to include regular posts about wines we’re drinking, definitions of wine terms, and of course this beloved wine pairing column that has found a home in the Kitsap Life section twice a month.

Fortunately for you dear reader this column will continue to appear in print the first and third Sundays of the month, but after today’s column there will be one less face smiling back at you when you pick up the paper. Brynn’s last day with the Kitsap Sun, and Cheers to You, was Oct. 29. She left Kitsap for a new gig a little farther south in Tacoma.

To commemorate her departure and all the fun we’ve had since starting Cheers to You, we are recommending a wine for this week’s pairing that is a little more expensive than we normally would suggest. But don’t worry, we have your interests at heart, so we’re also going to recommend a second, more affordable wine.

Because this is Brynn’s last Cheers to You wine pairing, we felt it only appropriate that we recommend her favorite wine variety to match Ann Vogel’s recipe for roasted pork tenderloin with apples and onions: chardonnay.

Not only are we suggesting a chardonnay, we’re suggesting a creamy, oak-infused chardonnay from California’s prestigious Napa Valley.

A couple of years ago Mary gave Brynn a bottle of her coveted Shafer Chardonnay, sourced from a single vineyard at the northern tip of San Francisco Bay in the Carneros region. We pulled the cork on the bottle this summer and sat back to enjoy its exotic fruit flavors of kiwi, pineapple, lime, papaya, apricot and citrus zest.

As we sipped we discussed the complexity of this wine. It is layered with the crispness of citrus fruits, but balanced almost perfectly with caramelized notes and a crème brûlée finish that lingers. The winery uses wild yeast for its fermentation and does not put the wine through malolactic fermentation. While the wine is full bodied and creamy, these rich notes don’t slap you in the face like some over-oaked California chardonnays.

At $50 this wine is likely not going to make it to many people’s dinner table, but if you have something to celebrate and feel like splurging, keep it on your list.

Sticking with chardonnay, but offering a much more budget-conscious bottle, we also think Waterbrook has a beautiful chardonnay that would pair just as well with the roasted pork tenderloin.

This Walla Walla winery’s 2011 chardonnay has fragrant pineapple and mango aromas with buttery notes. Dried apricots and apple give this wine a full mouthfeel with lingering toast notes on the finish. At $12 (and likely less if you find it on sale at the grocery store) this wine is a great addition to your fall table.

Winemakers dinner at Alderbrook Resort and Spa

Looking to splurge in November? Here’s the details for an upcoming event in Union at the Alderbrook Resort and Spa that highlights Dusted Valley Winery, named the 2013 Winery of the Year by Wine and Spirits Magazine.

The release sent by the resort has all the details:

Indulge in a unique culinary experience at Alderbrook Resort & Spa. On Saturday, November 16, guests are invited to an elegant dinner featuring varietals from Dusted Valley Winery, paired alongside exquisite dishes prepared with locally-sourced food from Alderbrook’s Executive Chef, Lucas Sautter.

Dusted Valley Winery, a locally owned and operated winery based out of the Walla Walla Valley helps set the stage for this festive, harvest meal. Dusted Valley’s winemaker will be onsite throughout the evening to answer any questions regarding the winery’s award-winning wines. Located alongside the breathtaking shores of Hood Canal, guests will dine on six courses prepared by Alderbrook’s renowned Chef Lucas Sautter, served with a red or white wine blend to complement its specific flavors.

Reservations can be made by calling (360) 898-5500. Want to stay the night and experience more of Alderbrook? Enjoy the full-service spa, get in a round on the 18-hole PGA-class golf course or come back for seconds at The Restaurant at Alderbrook. Room rates start at $179. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

What: Wine Maker’s Dinner with Dusted Valley Winery
Where: Alderbrook Resort & Spa, 10 E Alderbrook Drive, Union, WA 98592
Date: Saturday, November 16, 2013
Time: Social begins at 6:30 p.m., dinner begins at 7 p.m.
Cost: $109 per person
Reservations: (360) 898-5500

What we’re drinking: Woodinville wines

Brynn writes:

On Sunday in the Kitsap Life section our getaways feature this month is going to be on Woodinville, written by your’s truly.

It’s fitting that my last Kitsap Life story would be on Western Washington’s wine country. (Yes, you read that correctly, my last story. My last day at the Sun will be Oct. 29.)

This post isn’t about my departure, it’s about all the great wineries you can experience with a short jaunt across the water (Puget Sound and Lake Washington) by exploring Woodinville.

I remember when Woodinville was known as the home to Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery and Red Hook Brewery. Now it’s home to more than 80 wineries and a number of great restaurants. It really does make a great day trip from Seattle, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to get to Woodinville to go wine tasting than it is to drive across the mountains to Eastern Washington.

A month or so ago my husband and I found ourselves with a rare day off together and a babysitter eager to watch the kid (thanks grandma!) so we decided we’d take advantage of our good fortune and do a little wine tasting. With 80+ wineries to choose from it was a little daunting to figure out where we were going to go, but I just hopped online and started looking at the different wineries listed under the Woodinville Wine Country website. (Also look at the Warehouse District winery website when planning your trip because there are some great wineries in that area too.) Within an hour I had our Woodinville wine tour mapped out.

Here’s the list I created:

  • Airfield Estates
  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars
  • Dusted Valley
  • J.Bookwalter
  • Otis Kenyon
  • Ross Andrew Winery

I didn’t expect us to make it to every winery, but I wanted a couple “fall backs” in case we went somewhere and it was busy. (Or if we really did make it through our top picks quickly, we’d have somewhere to go.) We ended up visiting (in this order): Ross Andrew, J.Bookwalter, Alexandria Nicole, Airfield Estates.

By the last winery we were maxed out and ready to head across the street to Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, where we had an excellent dinner.

If you’re planning a trip to Woodinville, do your homework before you go so you have a rough idea of what you want to see, but also know that once you get there there are so many wineries you can easily change your mind and pop into any storefront and likely have a great experience.

Of the wineries we visited, Alexandria Nicole is one not to be missed. The atmosphere is great and so are the people pouring wines. Plus their wines (in my opinion) are fantastic. We loved their 2012 Shepherd’s Mark, a blend of 65 percent Roussanne, 20 percent Marsanne and 15 percent Viognier. This wine won a gold medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and a double gold at the 2013 Seattle Wine Awards. This wine has notes of pineapple, pear, citrus and peach and the floral characteristics of Viognier come through on the nose. ($24)

The 2010 a Squared Cabernet Sauvignon was also good with its dark fruit flavors and hints of vanilla on the finish. This is a great fall/winter wine and would pair well with heavier meals like roasts and lamb. The blend is 86 percent cab, 6 percent cab franc, 6 percent malbec and 2 percent petit verdot. ($24)

I also loved J.Bookwalter’s Chardonnay, which had just the right balance of weight from its fermentation in barrels and stainless steel. The wine had aromas of pear and honeydew with a slightly nutty hint on the finish. This was a creamy wine that I am kicking myself for not purchasing while we were there.

I was excited to try Ross Andrew because I had not heard of this winery before, which is hard to believe because the winemaker has been in the business for a long time and studied under one of the best in the industry, Master of Wine Bob Betz. The tasting room was recently remodeled and is done in a minimalist, modern style. It’s in the same building complex as Pepper Bridge/Amavi Cellars, Mark Ryan and J.Bookwalter, and right across the parking lot from Alexandria Nicole. If you plan on heading to Woodinville you could spend your afternoon just cruising between these wineries without even having to move your car.

We enjoyed the 2011 Meadow White Wine (so much so we bought a bottle) and the 2012 Meadow Rose (again we bought a bottle). The Rose is the first Washington Rose I’ve tried that reminds me of the Provincial style Roses I drank while in France. It’s dry with a crisp finish. The white wine would be a perfect pair with crab, scallops or white fish. Both wines were $16.

If you’re thinking about planning a trip to Woodinville, check out my story in Sunday’s paper (or online). Now’s a good time to head over there because they’ve finished the craziness of crush and the craziness of the holidays hasn’t picked up yet.

What we’re drinking: Dubindil Winery

Mary writes:

Dubindil Winery, a small winery in Snohomish, recently pulled down three medals at the Seattle Wine Awards. A double gold for the 2010 Columbia Valley Syrah, a gold for the Rowan Red and a bronze for the 2010 Cabernet.

A Double Gold award is very prestigious. This award is The Best of The Best.

And fortunately for us, we were able to taste the Rowan Red and the Double Gold Syrah at the Kitsap Wine Festival.

Owners Lisa and David Henrickson started as home winemakers and volunteers for other wineries for a number of years before taking the big leap into the commercial production in 2010.

Imagine three years later hitting a double gold for one of your first commercially made wines. Pretty darn impressive.

The winery name is a combination of nicknames their kids gave each other — Dubin and Dil. Rowan Red is their proprietary name for their red blend even though this year’s is just Cabernet. Now you too know the code names.

The 2010 Yakima Valley Rowan Red is 100 percent Cabernet aged in French oak for 21 months. The bright berry with hints of herbs, pepper and currants are nicely balanced with smooth tannins and good acidity.  Only 97 cases made. $18/bottle from the winery.

The 2010 Columbia Valley Syrah, the double gold winner, is 100 percent Syrah. It comes from several vineyards which is why you won’t find a vineyard name on the label. This multi-faceted Syrah has a bouquet of violets, blueberries, mocha, and licorice.

It’s a mouthful of blueberries, mocha and licorice. With smooth tannins and great balance. Sold out at the winery but you may be able to find it at specialty stores.

Airfield Estates riesling with spiced pumpkin soup makes hearty harvest meal

As we see the sun set earlier and the leaves start to change, we find ourselves subconsciously moving away from recommending crisp white wines for fall recipe pairings because, let’s be honest, they really are the best to sip on a hot summer day.

But for Ann Vogel’s spiced pumpkin soup, we’re making the conscious decision to hang on to our summer just a little longer and recommend Airfield Estates 2011 Riesling to drink with this fall soup.

Located in Prosser, Wash. this family-run winery chose its name to recognize the World War II air base that once resided on the farm. The riesling vines that produce the grapes for this wine are some of the oldest on the farm, planted in 1979.

You might wonder why we would recommend a light-bodied wine for this thick soup. The answer is riesling is a great pairing for foods with weight and a little heat. The pear and citrus fruit flavors in this wine add a feeling of fall harvest to this dish. Heat up a loaf of crusty French bread and you have yourself a hearty lunch.

Airfield’s riesling isn’t overly dry, so you’ll pick up notes of sweetness but the natural acidity balances that out, leaving your mouth with a slight pucker on the finish.

It’s a beautiful pale yellow and the bottle has a slight hint of frizzante, leaving the fruit flavors dancing on the tip of your tongue.

This wine also pairs nicely with shellfish or lighter poultry and pork dishes, so consider adding the pumpkin soup as an accompaniment to be enjoyed before a main meal and serve the riesling for both courses.

Another bonus about Airfield Estates? The wine is easy to find. The 2011 riesling retails around $15.

What we’re drinking: Knipprath Cellars

Brynn writes:

Based in Spokane, the only chance we were going to get to try this winery’s wines was at a local tasting. Lucky for us they were at the Kitsap Wine Festival in August.

This was probably one of the most interesting wineries at the wine festival, largely because the wines produced aren’t everyday wines.

Knipprath focuses on Portuguese and Spanish grape varietals grown in the Northwest. The winery also has a heavy focus on Port wines and different flavor variations of Port.

Some of the Ports poured at the wine festival by winemaker Henning Knipprath were: NV Spanish Nudge Coffee Port, NV Au Chocolate Cabernet Port and my favorite of the three, NV Lagrima White Port.

Knipprath also poured a 2010 La Bodega Del Norte Touriga Nacional Red, which is a red wine made from Portuguese grapes traditionally used for Port.

The Lagrima White Port had a nutty finish similar to what you would find in sherry, but it was rounded out with a balanced sweetness of a dessert wine.

The grapes that make up the white port are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Albariño, a white grape with Portuguese origins that is also grown in Spain.

The wine is aged in neutral oak casks for 30 months, which helps give it that nutty finish.

I’m not a huge fan of wine that’s been infused with chocolate flavors, but the Au Chocolate Port had a strong chocolate nose and subtle finish. Knipprath uses cocoa beans to infuse the chocolate flavors in the Cabernet Sauvignon he uses to make this Port-style wine.

For you coffee lovers out there, the Spanish Nudge Coffee Port had a nice combination of Syrah and dark roast coffee. Knipprath infused the wine with cinnamon sticks, giving it a cinnamon nose. This was another interesting combination that had a lot of people coming back for second tastings. (A certain someone who also writes this wine blog, but who asked to remain anonymous — hint her name rhymes with “Berry” — also enjoyed this wine and its complexity.)

Learn more about Knipprath and how to get the wines at the website: knipprath-cellars.com.