Tag Archives: San Juan Vineyards

What we’re drinking: San Juan Vineyards

Brynn writes:

As I mentioned in our maple glazed pork tenderloin and Kiona Vineyards piece, my in-laws were in town earlier this month.

For part of their visit we went up to Orcas Island. While there we hopped over to San Juan Island to check out the sights. Part of our itinerary included a stop at San Juan Vineyards. Jeff and I visited the winery four years ago when we stayed on nearby Brown Island, so we were looking forward to enjoying a glass of wine in the sun on the winery’s patio with his parents.

Unfortunately, the woman manning the tasting bar wasn’t very inviting, so we left after just one sip of wine. I’m going to give the lady the benefit of the doubt — I’m hoping she was having a bad day and isn’t normally that rude, otherwise the winery needs to reconsider who they have greeting the public.

I was disappointed we didn’t get a chance to take in the beauty of the winery while enjoying the wine, but we salvaged our visit by stopping into the winery’s tasting room along the main street in Friday Harbor. The woman manning the tasting bar there was friendly and gave a healthy pour, something I’ll never complain about.

I was strategic in my tasting. I knew I wanted to try one of the wines grown on the island and one sourced from Eastern Washington vineyards. At the winery I tried the Madeleine Angevine, grown on site. This grape is from the Loire Valley of France, and does well in our state — specifically the cool climate of the Puget Sound region. It’s a great wine to have with raw (or grilled) oysters. I liked the wine, but I think it’s one you need to have a few times to fully appreciate. It’s a dry white wine and I prefer to have it with food.

The other wine I had a the winery was the Cab Franc, which comes from the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Eastern Washington. I prefer cab franc to Cabernet Sauvignon because it’s lighter. In this instance it had currant and tobacco leaf flavors.

When we went to the tasting room in Friday Harbor my father-in-law ended up buying a bottle of Riesling. We drank that once we got back home. We paired it with Chinese food, which the winery recommended. The Riesling was not too sweet, but not bone dry. It was filled with floral and citrus notes and I noticed honeysuckle. It was balanced and did well with the spiciness of the Chinese dishes.

Washington Sangiovese our choice for balsamic skewers, salmon and strawberries

Washington Wine Month technically ended when the clock struck twelve on March 31, but because there are so many great Washington wines out there we’re sticking with the local theme for this week’s wine pairing.

Normally we would recommend Chianti for this pairing; instead we’re going to recommend a Washington Sangiovese. But don’t let the names confuse you, Chianti is predominately made from the Sangiovese grape which is grown in the Chianti region of Italy. The region is formally recognized by the Denominazione di origine controllata — the second highest level of Italian wine appellations.

The main ingredient in Ann Vogel’s three recipes is balsamic vinegar — also a delectable Tuscan treat — and that is why we’re sticking with this Italian grape variety.

Sangiovese grapes have relatively thin skins, which means the wine features more of the fruit flavors than the tannins. As such Sangiovese is a fruity wine — notes of strawberry, blueberry and plum are noticeable — but its naturally high amounts of acidity lend a nice balance to produce a medium-bodied wine that can range from firm and elegant to somewhat of a powerhouse with a bitter finish, depending on how the wine is made.

The climate in Eastern Washington supports the Sangiovese grape, which means it’s a wine that should be easy to find in the store.

If you’re looking to support local wineries, Bainbridge Island’s Amelia Wynn Winery offers a Sangiovese, sourced from Eastern Washington vineyards. The winery’s 2008 Sangiovese was awarded a gold medal at the 2011 Seattle Wine Awards. Winemaker Paul Bianchi purchases his grapes from Kiona Vineyards in the Red Mountain AVA near Yakima.

Amelia Wynn’s wines can be purchased at the Island Vintners Tasting Room in Winslow, online or at Pane D’Amore in Lynwood Center on the island. Price is $25.

If you can’t make it to Bainbridge to purchase a Sangiovese for these dishes, we have some other suggestions. They include Arbor Crest Wine Cellars’ Sangiovese from Washington’s Wahluke Slope Vineyard ($22); Maryhill Winery’s award winning Sangiovese ($22); or San Juan Vineyards’ Sangiovese ($23).

If you’d like a wine to pair with the strawberry balsamic recipe, consider a rose of Sangiovese — which is exactly what it sounds like, a rose wine made from the Sangiovese grape.

Waterbrook Wines has a rose of Sangiovese with hints of strawberry and watermelon ($12-14) and so does Barnard Griffin ($12).

What we’re drinking: San Juan Vineyards Madeleine Angevine

Brynn writes:

This is the perfect wine for a hot summer day when your dinner menu includes a fresh catch from Puget Sound — especially oysters.

The grape, Madeleine Angevine, dates its origins to the year 1857 when a nursery in Angers, France crossed Madeleine Royale and Precoce de Malingre vines. The result was a white grape that grows well in France’s Loire Valley, but also the Puget Sound AVA — making it one of the few grapes that thrive during our cool, dry summers and cool, wet winters.

We bought a bottle of Mad Ang (as its called) while visiting San Juan Island last summer for a few days. We swung by the San Juan Vineyards winery and tasted this wine while on our stop. (You may remember we also tasted the winery’s Cab Franc, which I also recently reviewed.)

We liked it enough we bought a bottle. We chilled it Sunday and enjoyed it with a baked mahi-mahi I prepared with a Thai sauce that included lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Since it’s kind of similar to Riesling, I thought the wine would be a good compliment to the sauce’s spicier pepper notes, since it’s often recommended to pair Riesling with spicy Thai dishes.

The appearance of this wine is a faint yellow, almost clear color. The nose is crisp and the mineral notes blend well with hints of fruit, making a crisp finish that leaves your mouth watering and slightly puckered.

I’ve had this wine with raw oysters and would definitely recommend it as a pairing with oysters or a salad with a shallot/vinaigrette dressing. It would also go well with Dungeness crab, especially lump crab meat dipped in butter — the acidity would cut through that richness, making a nice compliment.

Here’s what the winery has to say about the wine:

Summer melon and a wet slate nose offers citrus and stone fruit flavors with a clean finish. This Puget Sound grown varietal is perfect with oysters on the half shell.

The 2008 Madeleine Angevine was harvested on October 18, 2008, and released on October 1, 2009. It received an Excellent review by Wine Press NorthWest and Silver Medals from the Riverside International Wine Competition and the Jerry Mead International Wine Competition.

583 Cases bottled April 7, 2009

Alcohol: 11.2% with residual sugar of .05%.

Retail Price: $12

What we’re drinking: San Juan Vineyards

Brynn writes:

Last summer the husband and I jetted away to the San Juan Islands to spend four days relaxing in peace at a family friend’s cabin on Brown Island (just across the way from Friday Harbor).

While we swam in the evenings and read our books from the deck overlooking the harbor, we spent our days exploring San Juan Island.
Returning from one exploration to Roche Harbor, we came across San Juan Vineyards.

It was a sunny day, so we thought it’d be fun to pop into the tasting room, try some wines and choose one to sip while sitting on their deck.

I tasted their Madeleine Angevine— one of the three varietals they grow in the 7 acres of planted vineyards they have at the winery. The other predominate grape varietal they grow on the island is Siegerrebe. (They also have an acre of Pinot Noir on island).

After trying the white we moved on to their reds — which are sourced from the Columbia Valley and Horse Heaven Hills AVAs in Eastern Washington.

We both enjoyed the winery’s 2007 Cabernet Franc enough to buy a bottle to take home. (We also bought a bottle of the Mad Ange too).

Fast forward 10 months. Last week I was preparing a sirloin steak with mushroom gravy and looking for wine that would be subtle enough to let the mushroom flavors come through, but sturdy enough to stand up to the richness of the sauce.

Enter San Juan’s Cab Franc.

The simple bouquet gave way to an earthy wine that matched perfectly with the mushrooms. The tannins were mellowed, balancing with a subdued fruitiness. The bouquet was minimal, but the flavor made up for it. The finish was subtle and not overpowering.

Here’s what the winemaker has to say about the wine:

This is our first production of Cabernet Franc, and it offers a nose of blueberry and cassis with earthy, forest floor fruit on the palate. The finish is balanced with nice tannin and fruit.

It is 100% Cabernet Franc from Alder Ridge Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills AVA, hand picked on October 3, 2007 with Brix at 26.

The 2007 Cabernet Franc received an outstanding review by Wine Press NorthWest. It has also received a gold medal with a Chairman’s award from the Riverside International Wine Competition in April, 2010. Along with the gold medal, it has recieved a silver medal from the Tri-Cities Wine Festival in November, 2009.

Bottling was on July 21, 2009 and 220 cases were bottled. Alcohol:14.5%. Retail is $20.00

While I’d recommend making the trek to San Juan Vineyard for the scenery and the relaxation that comes with being in the islands, if you don’t have the time to take two ferries to buy a bottle of wine, the Cab Franc is available at local wine shops and groceries.