Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
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Posts Tagged ‘Kitsap Wine Festival’

Wine pair for grilled pork chops with bourbon glaze

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Last weekend we tasted the perfect white wine to accompany Ann Vogel’s rosemary bourbon glazed grilled pork chops with nectarines.

We were along the Bremerton waterfront at the Kitsap Wine Festival. One of Brynn’s favorite wineries — Kiona Vineyards and Winery — was again at the event, this year pouring three wines.

It was Kiona’s 2011 Chenin Blanc that caught our attention. As the founders of Red Mountain, an American Viticultural Area just outside of Yakima, Kiona’s vineyards have been around for more than 30 years. The family-run winery has been making chenin blanc for 31 vintages, according to sales manager JJ Williams. (Williams is the grandson of John Williams, who with Jim Holmes pioneered and planted Red Mountain in 1975).

The wine has a slight frizzante — a tingle on the tip of your tongue — that is followed by a tartness on the finish. As Williams described the wine Sunday “it’s lemonade for adults.”

While there’s a hint of sweetness to the wine, the crisp, tart finish balances out the initial sweet notes, making this a great accompaniment to the fruit-forward glaze on the pork chops.

Some have said chenin blanc, which is believed to have originated in France’s Loire Valley, is France’s answer to Germany’s Riesling. The grape is versatile and can be used to make everything from a stand-alone chenin blanc or a sparkling wine to a dessert wine.

Like most wines, a lot of how the Chenin grape tastes once in the bottle depends on the climate where it was planted, when it was harvested and the winemaking techniques used.

If left on the vine to rot — this is a good thing — it can make a delicious dessert wine where the sugars are balanced by the grape’s high acidity. But if harvested in too large of quantity, the grape’s aromatic and floral characteristics are lost and the wine becomes blasé.

Chenin blanc grows well in Washington, and Kiona has done a great job of capturing its acidity, which translates to tart green apple flavors. Serve it chilled to bring out its tropical fruit flavors, which will pair nicely with the grilled nectarines.

This wine retails for $15.


Reviewing the 2012 Kitsap Wine Festival

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

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.


Kitsap Wine Festival is this weekend

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Brynn writes:

It’s that time of the year again, time to head down to the Bremerton waterfront for the annual Kitsap Wine Festival. The weather is set to once again be perfect — sun, sun and more sun — and we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our Saturday.

The event is from 2 to 5:30 p.m. at the Harborside Fountain Park next to the Bremerton Ferry Terminal. Tickets are still available. They’re $50 if bought by Friday (Aug. 17) and $60 at the door. Proceeds from the event benefit the Harrison Medical Center Foundation.

While the focus of the day will be on wine, for those who prefer a cold beer on a hot day there will be a selection of brews from local breweries. The event also includes small plates and bites from local restaurants and a chance to socialize in the sun.

Another nice thing about this event is the option to buy the wine. If you try something that you absolutely love you can head to the retail shop and buy it before heading home.

To see a complete list of wineries and breweries planning to be in attendance, visit the Kitsap Wine Festival site. You can also purchase your tickets from there.

We will be in attendance Saturday and like we’ve done in previous years will write up a review of our favorite wines tasted in the days following. If you do go, remember to slather on the sunscreen and drink plenty of water — it’s going to be a hot one!


Kitsap Wine Festival in review

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

The weather could not have been better for last weekend’s third annual Kitsap Wine Festival.

Luckily we didn’t listen to our own advice of leaving the sunscreen at home and bringing our umbrellas. Instead we slathered on the 30 SPF and hit the Bremerton waterfront for the three and-a-half hour wine tasting event.

The crowd seemed about the same from the year before, and the food offerings were just as delicious.

And of course the wine was good too.

Like last year we arrived at the gate and quickly made our way to the back of the tasting area, avoiding lines and seeking the cool breezes off the water.

But this strategy to get away from the crowds put a bit of a whammy in our plans to hit the wineries on our “Must Taste List.”

Anam Cara Cellars was the first winery on our list, and the first winery when we walked in. As a result there was a long line and we never made our way back to the front until it was time to leave.

So we started at the Summer Sippers Bar where we tasted Kana Winery’s Katie Mae White — a Riesling — Masset Winery Le Petite Blanc 2010, Vortex Cellars Rattlesnake Hills Rose, Maryhill Winery’s Rose of Sangiovese and an Italian sparkling Riondo Pink NV from the Veneto region.

Although these wines were refreshing, it was difficult to really taste them as they were chilled to the bone. But they were well chosen for the hot afternoon.

Our favorites of the bunch were the Riondo Veneto Pink NV for Brynn and the Maryhill Rose of Sangiovese for Mary. Both are refreshing dry pink wines with body and flavor. Both are made from the Italian red grapes, the first Corvina and the other Sangiovese. The Riondo was especially refreshing for the hot day with its bubbles that provided a nice effervescence.

Other wines we tasted and would recommend are Maryhill’s Zinfandel, Robert Ramsay Cellars’ 2008 Mourvedre and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and Pondera Winery’s Sericus, a 2008 Bordeaux blend that picked up a double gold from the 2011 Seattle Wine Awards.

Oregon was represented by Lange Estate Winery and Vineyard’s Chardonnay and Reserve Pinot, which paired wonderfully with Anthony’s salmon on a bed of roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

Mary thought Dubindil Winery’s 2008 Syrah was really good. This boutique winery out of Snohomish, doesn’t filter their Syrah but it’s still smooth and silky with layers of flavors. Situated in the heart of the Puget Sound AVA, they focus on small batches of handcrafted wines made from grapes in regions around the state.

Kiona Winery and McCrea Cellars were Brynn’s favorite wineries of the day. That’s because she loved almost everything they poured.

Kiona offered a 2010 Chenin Blanc, 2010 Rose of Sangiovese, 2008 Estate Lemberger and 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Her favorites of these were the Lemberger and Cab, although the chilled Chenin Blanc was nice for the hot day.

McCrea poured its 2009 Sirocco Blanc (a white Rhone blend), a 2009 Rousanne, 2008 Grenache and 2006 Syrah.

Once again these whites were Brynn’s favorite, especially the Sirocco Blanc, a blend of 43 percent Grenache Blanc, 41 percent Marsanne, 10 percent Picpoul and 7 percent Rousanne.

Robert Ramsay Cellars was another one of Brynn’s favorites, largely because of its Cab made from old vines and its Mason’s Red — a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre with a co-fermentation of Viongnier, which gave this wine a lovely nose.

All in all we had a wonderful time and are already looking forward to next year’s event.

Cheers!

Brynn and Mary


Get your tickets: Kitsap Wine Festival

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Brynn writes:

This year marks the third year of the Kitsap Wine Festival, held in downtown Bremerton at the Harborside Fountain Park. Like the last two years, this year’s event will feature 30-some wineries stationed around the fountains offering their wines. Local restaurants also will be peppered around the park providing bites to hungry attendees.

The event is Saturday, Aug. 20 from 2 to 5:30 p.m.

Something new to this year’s festival is beer. Local breweries, Silver City, Der Blokken and Hale’s Ales will all be represented at the festival, giving beer lovers something to try. Organizers also added a Summer Sipper Tasting Bar that will allow people to do side-by-side tastings of Rose, Riesling and Sparkling Wine. (My opinion? This is a great idea and the perfect way to compare wines so you know what you like, don’t like and why). The number of restaurants has also grown and the wine shop is back, so if you find a wine you love you can buy a bottle to take home.

A total of 35 wineries will be pouring — including many that were at last year’s event. In our review from last year, we felt Chinook Wines and Kiona Vineyards and Winery were the top two wineries of the 17 we visited. Both are back this year.

Other wineries scheduled to be pouring that made our ranked list from 2010 include Davenport Cellars and McCrea Cellars. (Forgeron Cellars also made our list, but they don’t appear to be attending).

Tickets are still available and cost $50 from now until Aug. 19. The price goes up to $60 if you buy them the day of the event. I know the event has sold out in the past, so you may want to buy your tickets now if you’re interested. You can purchase them at brownpapertickets.com, or by clicking here.

Visit the Kitsap Wine Festival website to see the full list of wineries and restaurants that are scheduled to be at the Saturday event. Proceeds go to support the Harrison Medical Center Foundation.

If you’re looking to refresh your memory with highlights from last year’s event, check out our review here.


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