Not Your Grandmother’s Grape Juice

Hold on to your britches because Rosé is no longer just your grandmother’s wine. Winemakers around the state have been changing the perception of Rosé as that jug of sweet White Zin passed around by old ladies. They are making a wide variety of beautiful, innovative Rosés with zest, experimenting with premium grapes of different varietals and taking risks that have come out beautifully.

I was introduced to this movement in the fall of 2013, when I tasted a lovely Grenache Rosé created by Jean Claude Beck at Woodhouse Wine Estates. The fresh, crisp taste and the tingle it put on my tongue instantly had me using it as a sparkling wine for holidays and other occasions. Since that experience, my eyes and palette have been opened to other pink-hued adventures.

Sarah Goedhart, now the head winemaker for Hedges Family Estates, make a lovely Rosé of Syrah that is subtle and smooth. Andrew Martinez of Martinez & Martinez makes a sexy Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé that sparkles like a gem. Others around the state are refining their traditional Rosés of Sangiovese and venturing into other varietals. This is what I call Wine Porn, OMG!

I am in total awe of how the Washington wine industry has stepped out of box with beautiful takes on single varietals across the spectrum. The pink rosés being only one shining example of this.

How do you breathe wine?

The other night Mike pulled a bottle from our rack for us to share while watching an evening movie. We opened it, poured a couple glasses and sat down to enjoy our night. While the taste was good it was also a touch harsh for our taste and left us trying to recall why we had selected that particular bottle for purchase. So we let it sit, re-corked it, and after pouring another glass the next night we were reminded of what we tasted at the winery. The experience also reminded me of some questions I am regularly asked: What is the proper way to aerate wine? What kind of wine needs to be aerated? When should I aerate my wine for my dinner party?

From Wikipedia: “Aeration is the process by which air is circulated through, mixed with, or dissolved in a liquid or a substance.”

“Letting it breathe” is the common phrase for aerating wine. While it may seem a little snobbish, aeration can enhance the flavor or boutique of the wine making the wine much more enjoyable. The typical reasons to aerate wine is to soften the tannin and to eliminate the bottle stink. Sometime tannins can be harsh, particularly in younger red wines and by allowing the air to filter through the wine it breaks down the tannins. Decanting the wine also eliminates that stale odor that sometimes lingers after uncorking the bottle. I must add that it isn’t a really good idea to aerate lighter white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc or older wines (40 years or older). Most red wines are good to aerate, young wines, and even thick Chardonnays. Really the length of aeration depends upon you. Always taste after opening the bottle and taste periodically thereafter till you achieve your acquired taste. I have had bottles of red taste amazing right after uncorking and others have evolved over night. I would say that if you are serving a younger wine uncork it the evening before your event and it always looks nice when serving from a decanter. A bit of advice is to put your empty decanted bottle of wine next to the decanter it has been poured into, so that people have access to the information of the wine that they are drinking.

While there are several methods of aeration, the most typical way is to use a broad decanter. Pour the selected wine into the decanter while allowing the liquid to circle against the glass, I have even noticed wineries pouring it through the decanter twice. Pour wine into your glass the same way you would pour it in your decanter, by allowing the wine to hit the side of the glass it allows the air to really circulate through. After tasting the wine and you still find it a little harsh, give the glass a few quick swirls to open the wine up and allow the flavors to blend.

For more information:

WineEnthusiast.com is a great source for finding aerators and decanters to meet your personal needs, style and budget.

http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-aerate-wine

Date night in the Valley!

FallCity_IconMy husband and I were finally able to have a long-awaited date night on Saturday! We chose to visit Mike, Candy, and Ryan Seal for the grand reopening of Sigillo Cellars and to check out their new tasting room in historic downtown Snoqualmie. The room was spacious, lovely and very busy. I really enjoyed the vibe and Mike was all smiles as he poured his wine to all his loyal customers. I was able to talk to Mike a little and I asked him how he came up with the name Sigillo, his response was that it was their last name in Italian. I thought that it was interesting and clever. We purchased a nice, crisp bottle of sparkling Viognier that compliments any summer day or festive event.

Our next stop was the Fall City Bistro. What a wonderful addition to the Snoqualmie Valley! While Chef Sean Langan has kept the exterior of the old Fall City Grill, he has brought the interior to a whole new level — a level of taste and sophistication that is welcomed in the valley. The entrees are amazing and exquisite, with a farm fresh feel that has been cooked to perfection. The service was delightful and extremely informative, our wonderful server Mathew was on top of things from the moment he approached our table.

From talking with Chef, I got the impression that he is the kind of chef that squeezes the melons, smells the broccoli, and tastes everything before it goes out. He has a natural perspective and I really wanted to portray that about him, so I told him I was going to steal his flyer and use his own words: ” All our dishes are made to order. The balance of flavors and the design of the menu is to incorporate the natural additives that mother nature has given us. Nothing is ever made ahead, the freshness in each dish is the guarantee of the Chef himself. Food is of balance and harmony, the flavors in my dishes are a melody of flavors, not to be over powered by any one thing, but of depth and the pursuit of natural organic layers!” Now that is some food dedication and the finished product is absolutely LOVELY!

However, the thing that caught my attention first and foremost was Chef’s wine list. It’s a very impressive list featuring many Washington State wines, including Snoqualmie Valley labels like Sigillo and Icon. I told my husband to just go ahead and choose, because I really enjoyed all the wine that was presented on the menu. Of course he chose the Porporina!  It just seemed appropriate since we were having a night in the Valley. Porporina, meaning purple in Italian, is bottled in Carnation’s own Icon Cellars by winemaker Jim Garner.

www.sigillocellars.com

206-919-2326

www.fallcitybistro.com

4050 Fall City Carnation Rd S.E.

Fall City, WA. 98024

425-222-3708

Please refer to my article “The Three Amigos” to learn more about Jim Garner and Icon Cellars.

A life of Charm!

Frichette_cabWhile visiting Red Mountain, Mike and I had the pleasure of stopping at Frichette Winery, owned and operated by Greg and Shae Frichette. Frichette is a small family owned winery that has been operating for approximately 8 months. Normally I would not write about such a young winery, but Greg and Shae were very charming and their wine was wonderfully amazing.

Greg was raised in Pasco on a wheat farm and Shae was brought up in South Carolina growing produce. They both returned from vigorous corporate lives in California to a life of familiarity and charm rooted in their agricultural upbringing . A life that will allow them to spend time raising their children with grandparents and in a community known as a wonderful place to raise a family.

Greg and Shae were able to purchase a lot at 39412 N. Sunset Rd, in Benton City after a long search and a lot of asking if  local land owners would like to sell a plot on which they could grow and open a tasting room. After securing the property, they were amazed at the support they received from the local wine community and how tight-knit everyone seemed to be. They gained valuable knowledge from local grape grower Dick Boushey and employed Charlie Hoppes, owner of Fidelitas winery, as a consultant to help produce the lovely wine that flows from Frichette winery. While their own vines mature, they source grapes from all over the Columbia Valley and Red Mountain.

I am so thrilled to be a part of this young winery’s growth and to have had the pleasure to sample quality Red Mountain wine through Frichette Winery. I do not have a favorite wine from Frichette, for they are all matchably yummy. I did walk out with a bottle of 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon that is to die for — I believe my note for this wine is simply “good wine!”

When you have the opportunity to visit this wonderful winery please tell Greg and Shae “Hi!” from Kimberlea at Sip in Washington. I can’t wait to revisit!

www.frichettewinery.com

509-426-3227

The Guardian!

Mike and I took a little vacation out to Prosser and Walla Walla this past week because Sip in Washington had been invited to tour the Hedges Family Estate on Red Mountain. As we were driving through the desert, I began to see all these small vineyards and my emotions ran so high I felt like a child in a fun center. I was so overwhelmed by the simple beauty of the rolling hills and a feeling of knowing that this was the place for me. I couldn’t sit still I was so excited and if I could have rotated my head in a 360, I would have so I wouldn’t have missed anything.

Hedges_Red_MountainWhen we reached Hedges, we were lucky enough to have Sarah Hedges Goedhart emerge from her laboratory and take us on the grand tour. She graciously poured us a tasting, explaining the rich history behind the graceful wines and the beautiful family estate. The deep Red Mountain hills were rolling, the vines were perfectly rowed and I could feel the love , the romance, and the passion radiating from Sarah as she talked about her family. Tom and Anne-Marie Hedges have brought a sense of  romance from Champagne France that is visually evident in the grounds and permeates the wine. The passion is overwhelming and the family loyalty is admirable. I was entranced with the family wines that are produced from the estate. I also learned that the Goedhart Family label was once separate estate and business that has since merged with Hedges.

Pete Hedges, Sarah’s Uncle, is the current executive winemaker for the estate; however, Sarah Hedges Goedhart will be taking the lead and producing her first harvest for the estate label in 2015 . I curiously asked Sarah what her secret was and her answer: ” Get your ingredients, move forward with them and never try to make the same wine every year because your vintage will always be different.” The wines hold fast to the Bordeaux style blends that Washington wine lovers-love so much.  HIP (House of Independent Producer) was created to highlight single varietal wines, wonderful Chardonnay. I really enjoyed the Goedhart Family 2010 Syrah, which they use as a source for their Rose, very lovely.  The story that backs their flagship wine, Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain, as stated from their site is a wine that represents all vineyard blocks farmed within the Hedges Family Estate Vineyard portfolio.

The family strongly believes in farming the land biodynamically, keeping the soil clean so that the grape can remain true to flavor.  John Gomez, vineyard manager, states that once you start farming you will never stop until the day you die. The beauty, the wine, and the family environment is amazing. Hedges Red Mountain is a staple in the Washington State industry and every wine lover must visit The Guardians of Red Mountain.

P.S.

Sarah thank you so much for taking the time to give us the wonderful tour of your beautiful home!

Kimberlea author of sipinwashington.com.

www.hedgesfamilyestate.com

Kestrel – The Functional Wine!

Mike and I went to the east-side warehouse district of Woodinville to check out the wonderful goodness they have to offer in that part of town. We took advantage of the opportunity to pay a visit to Kestrel since I always try to keep some of their cab on hand to share over a nice dinner. As we walked into the tasting room we were greeted immediately with a very bright smile and a big HELLO!  Sue Blackburn, tasting room attendant for Kestrel, was not only very attentive but also very knowledgeable about their product  and shared valuable information about each wine she represented.

Kestrel View Estate Vineyards took shape after John and Helen Walker came from Florida on a business trip. While visiting, they took advantage of our highly noted Pacific Northwest cuisine and became intrigued with the  heartiness of our beautiful Washington red wine. John knew then that he wanted to become part of our up and coming wine industry. Mr. Walker went on to purchase a 160 acre site and opened his winery in 1999. John and Helen named their new venture “Kestrel” in tribute to the native sparrow hawk that found its way into the Walkers’ hearts.

I share the same mission as the Kestrel staff — bringing Washington State wine to every table. I love that all their wine is highly functional and can be enjoyed on a everyday basis. A quote from wine maker Flint Nelson captures this philosophy: “I make wine for Birthdays, Anniversaries, and Mondays.”  How lovely is that!  I can say that Kestrel View Estate is a winery that is committed to value and quality. They represent Washington with the deep, rich passion that is being cultivated throughout the State.

Please check out the tasting room nearest you and enjoy these very fruit-forward wines. I really enjoyed the co-fermented 2009 Syrah as well as The Lady in White, a beautiful Viognier blend. The Lady in White is part of their artist series and is sister to Lady in Red, both very lovely wines. Visit their web site to learn more about the Walkers as pioneers of Washington wine and the interesting story of the sparrow hawk.

www.kestrelwines.com

A little History-Otis Kenyon!

Wow!! What can I say about a wine that is nothing other than WOW! My girlfriend and I went wine tasting a few Sundays back,we were having a really good time and I was excited to try a new winery. Otis Kenyon had been on my agenda for some time and I definitely made them my target.  Pat, our tasting room host immediately greeted us and we dove into some of the best Washington state wine that I have tasted to date!

OtisK_AnnThe Otis Kenyon name and label celebrates a storied family history steeped within the walls of the Walla Walla Valley. It’s a fascinating story that dates back to the early 1900’s and I invite you to visit their informative website and relish in an interesting tidbit of Washington Wine history.

Winemaker Dave Stephenson with owners, Steve Kenyon and Deborah Dunbar source their grapes from their own mature 10-acre Stellar Vineyard that bears Cab, Merlot and Syrah grapes. They prefer a more dry farmed varietal. Otis Kenyon also takes advantage of other gorgeous Washington slopes, such as Horse Heaven Hills.  The family has another 29-acres that is waiting to be cultivated and features Bordeaux and Rhone style varietals. Boy, I can not wait for that to mature into a beautiful wine product that I know will only come from Otis Kenyon. I have to say that I particularly love their 2009 Petit Verdot, it may be my favorite on the market. What a unique earthy taste with a sensual blend of deep spicy flavors that follow all the way through with a bitter chocolate.  Otis Kenyon also serves a nice bottle of 2006 Reisling that is a lovely crisp dry drinking wine, that would match any beautiful summer day.

Take an adventure and experience Otis Kenyon’s amazing history. Visit Pat in Woodinville at the Apple Farm Village and she will lead you into wine Heaven.

 

otiskenyonwine.com

Woodinville-425-949-7865

The Swirl Event!!

Mike and I went to the Legendary Swirl event at El Gaucho in Seattle last Saturday and we had a blast! I was able to talk with so many vendors, winemakers, and reps. They were all interesting and had a deep commitment to the wine that they created or represented. I had such a wonderful time talking to the people that I met, that I was not able to tour the full spectrum of the event. I was so intrigued with what everybody had to say about their wines, how they are produced, the stories behind the vineyards, and the passion involved!

I got a reEGS-Swirl2.jpgal sense about how wine is an art and a science rolled into one. One of the most intriguing things about the wine industry is the way it blends art and science together – the blending, the color, the taste, the smell, the processing, and the beauty. It is truly amazing how genuine works of art can be produced through a mastery of science!

The Swirl also showcased some really beautiful wines from Italy and South America. El Gaucho rolled out some lovely hors d’oeuvres for the wine event and if you chose to stay for dinner they had a beautiful five course wine pairing. This event comes once a year, check to see if your favorite winery is attending, make reservations and go! It is a lot of fun and we got to meet some really neat people, both those representing and those attending, who love wine as much as we do!!

Amavi Cellars!

Mike and I were out doing our favorite past-time, wine tasting! We had the pleasure of having his sister and a mutual friend with us, what a good time we had!

Our first stop was at Amavi Cellars and we had the pleasure of meeting Brian Dennis, the tasting room host.  He was very charismatic and knowledgeable about the wine he poured and was very willing to pass out any paraphernalia containing  information about Amavi. One interesting tidbit we learned was that Amavi Cellars is  a sister to Pepper Bridge Winery, they share a beautiful estate in Walla Walla near the Oregon border. They also source from their own estate vineyards, which consist of Seven Hills, Pepper Bridge, and Les Collines.  I enjoy the earthy taste that Jean-Francois Pellet, winemaker partner, produces in his wines! I can appreciate the great care he takes in cultivating his wines in a natural way that preserves the grape. I found the 2011 Merlot a very lovely social wine with a summery feel. I really wanted to try a nice white and I learned that they carry a beautiful Semillon, that earned 91 points in Wine Enthusiast-editor’s choice, but they were all sold out.

Read more…

The Three Amigos

Wow what an interesting tasting by accident! I was researching organic wines and I came across Pleasant Hill Cellars.  I gave them a call to retrieve information on organic wine only to find out that they didn’t produce organic wine. I had the privilege of speaking with Larry Lindvig, one of three winemakers that produce out of Pleasant Hill Cellars.  He was very invigorating and passionate as he spoke to me about their wines and I was sucked in just by listening to him.  Larry invited my husband and I to their industry tasting the following day at Sky River Meadery in Woodinville and we surely went as I was quite intrigued to see how three different labeled wine makers interpreted grapes from the same sources.

Read more…