- Tasting Notes
- Wine Destinations
- Wine Education
- Wine Events
- Winemaker Interviews
DeLille Cellars | Director of Winemaking and Viticulture
DeLille Cellars has been celebrated since its inception in 1992. Their Bordeaux and Rhone-style blends have earned them over 180 wines scored at 90+ points, totaling over 500 individual 90+ scores from leading critics, and was one of the first five wineries in Washington State to receive Robert Parker’s 5-star/Outstanding rating.
Jason Gorski leads the winemaking and viticulture helm at the new production facility and gorgeous tasting room in Woodinville, WA. He has earned numerous national and local awards, including a coveted position on the 2018 Wine Spectator Top 100 list for the 2015 Signature Syrah and recognition from Wine & Spirits “Top 100 Wineries of the World” awards for both 2017 and 2018.
Jason is guiding the legacy of DeLille with skill, attention to the detail and care for the people that help ensure DeLille will continue to be a leader in Washington’s and the world’s wine scenes.
Visit and shop DeLille Cellars
The region of Bordeaux is located in the southwest of France on the Atlantic coast. Near the city of Bordeaux, two rivers meet and form the Gironde estuary that flows out to the Atlantic. These rivers divide the landscape into three areas, the Left Bank, the Right Bank and the Entre Deux-Mers (between two rivers) which is situated in the middle of the two waterways.
We talk about the Big Six Bordeaux red varietals, the newly incorporated grapes due to climate change and the predominant white varietals. Bordeaux is famous for dry reds but they produce the finest dessert wines known as, “liquid gold” and we describe the general primary flavor profiles found in the region.
Sean P. Sullivan & Dr. Owen Bargreen
Sean P. Sullivan & Dr. Owen Bargreen, two of Washington State’s most revered reviewers, know what makes the Washington wine scene great. Sean has been exploring and reporting on his Washington Wine Report since 2005 and is a contributing editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine. He also writes for Seattle Metropolitan, Washington Tasting Room, Washington State Wine and Touring Guide, and other publications.
Dr. Owen Bargreen, a Level 2 Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers, is the founder and executive editor of the Washington Wine Blog, one of the most in-depth and well-organized resources for Washington, Oregon and California wine scenes. He’s been writing about wine for more than ten years, has reviewed thousands of wines from around the world, and also contributes reviews to International Wine Report.
Sean and Owen share how they taste and review wines, the best ways to expand your palate, current Washington wine trends and the most prevalent threat to wine . . . “cork taint.”
Explore the best of Washington, Oregon and California wine at Washington Wine Blog
Are all wine enclosures what they’re corked up to be?
“I look at cork taint as an existential threat,” says Sean Sullivan as recounts that approximately 3-6% of all wine has 2,4,6-tricloroanisole, a.k.a, TCA or cork taint.. There is no perfect enclosure for a wine bottle but technology provides winemakers with options to help eliminate this pesky mold. It is a common misconception that TCA forms from improper storage or from holding onto a wine for too long. In fact, TCA will be present at the time of bottling if the cork is inflected.
We discuss a few TCA-free options like technical cork (DIAM), synthetic cork (Nomacorc), screw top and the glass top. There is a romance with traditional cork, but next time you’re at a winery, ask if they use cork alternatives.
Sean P. Sullivan’s photograph is copyrighted and courtesy of Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
Tanya Morning Star Darling
Cellar Muse | Official Bourgogne Wines Ambassador
Tanya is an official Bourgogne Wine Ambassador, a faculty member at the Northwest Wine Academy, and educator for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, Wine Scholar Guild and the Certified Specialist of Wine courses. Additionally, through Cellar Muse, she offers focused, 2-hour wine Masterclasses and exclusive study trips to France, Italy and Napa Valley.
If learning about wine, and all of its complexities seems challenging and intimidating, we assure you, you’re not alone. We realized that taking this journey of wine would be more meaningful with tangible knowledge under our belts. We enrolled in the Portland-based Wine & Spirits Archive WSET 2 certification course held at the Northwest Wine Academy. It was here that we first met, Tanya Morning Star Darling and experienced the exceptional way she connects with her students.
Level up your wine knowledge with Cellar Muse
Our guide to notable Pacific NW wine events
Washington State’s wine industry offers its enthusiasts a vast array of events that bring thousands together all the way to intimate, exclusive experiences. February and March specifically keeps us on our toes on a weekly basis. We give your an overview of the more notable 2020 events in our state along with two must-do internationally known ones on Oregon and Vancouver B.C.
So, get out your calendar and follow along!
Brian Carter Cellars
Brian Carter is one of the most influential winemakers in Washington and specifically known as the ‘Blend King.’ Brian has a 40-year career, including having spent time at the legendary Chateau Montelena in California (Judgement of Paris!). Brian Carter Cellars has been a fixture Woodinville since establishing his winery in 2006 and is expanding to the waterfront in Vancouver, WA. He has recently garnered the 2018 ‘Winery of Distinction’ at the 23rd Northwest Wine Summit and many ‘Best of Category’ and ‘Best of Show’ awards.
On this episode, Brian describes why it’s important to recognize a balanced wine and provides a fascinating education on native vs commercial yeast and their impact. He describes his love of sight blending, his current food and wine pairing favorites and more.
Visit Brian Carter Cellars
Champagne (… and beyond) 101
Get ready for the New Year with sparkling wines! During this month of celebration, we want you to learn more about Champagne and other sparkling wines. We quickly breakdown the types of sparkling wines out there in the world and the Traditional Method for making Champagne. And we help you understand the sparkling styles you’ll find on bottle labels and what they mean.
Hand harvested, foot crushed, and pressed. Delicate aromatics with flavors of lime, green apple, passion fruit, white peach, and a hint of grass and minerality. Truly unique!
Beautiful white wine blend of estate-grown Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris and Riesling
Consistently good and pairs with a wider variety of food.
A full bodied Brut. with a golden color and ripe apple aromatics. A great Champagne for the price.
Learn more about André Jacquart Brut Expérience 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne
André Jacquart is a true “grower Champagne” – run by the 5th generation, the Domaine encompasses 24 hectares of vines in the Côte de Blancs. This 100% Chardonnay is vinified in a combination of stainless steel and old oak barrels. The wine is aged for 5 years on the lees before disgorgement.
Thank you, Taub Family Companies for sending us samples of sparkling wine from Champagne,the Loire Valley, Alsace, Italy and Spain.
Charlie & Will Hoppes
1st and 2nd generation winemakers, Fidelitas | Wine Boss
This episode is Part 2 about the heralded Red Mountain AVA and the generational stories that carry these wines into the future.
2019 marked Charlie Hoppes’ 32nd vintage in Washington State—and a wine making enterprise he and his son, Will Hoppes, now share together. Charlie has a storied journey having worked with Mike Januik, Waterbrook Winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Col Solare, and Three Rivers Winery before founding Fidelitas on Red Mountain.
Will heads up the Woodinville tasting room and he joined his father this year in the vineyards and cellar. Together, they are building a multi-generational team whose best vintages are yet to come.
Visit Fidelitas on Red Mountain
Visit Fidelitas in Woodinville
Red Mountain: A premier wine destination
Plan your trip to the Red Mountain wine destination here. Don’t miss Episode 29 for Part 1 where you’ll hear about our stay at The Lodge at Columbia Point, our interview with one of the people who started it all, John Williams, along with 3rd generation winemaker Tyler Williams. Plus our wineries to check out on your trip like the French inspired estate, Hedges Family Vineyards, Hightower and Tapteil.
Visit Hamilton Cellars
Visit Upchurch Vineyard
Visit Frichette Winery
Visit Purple Star
Thank you, Erin Osborne, President of Osborne Northwest Public Relations, a boutique PR agency specializing in lifestyle and hospitality public relations. AND thank you to Alicia Brown, the Executive Director of The Red Mountain AVA Alliance for helping to arrange the weekend’s events.
Tyler and John Williams
3rd and 1st generation winemakers | Kiona Vineyards & Winery
This episode is Part 1 of 2 about the heralded Red Mountain AVA and the generational stories that carry these wines into the future.
To pinpoint the origins of Red Mountain, you’ll need go back as far as 1961. That’s when GE employees John Williams and Jim Holmes met and struck up a friendship around their mutual appreciation of wine. By 1965, they had begun a side education with Washington wine legend Dr. Walter Clore, who planted the seed in their heads that Red Mountain was prime vineyard material.
By 1972, John and Jim had purchased land on Red Mountain, ignoring the jibes of those that thought they were crazy. Looking back, it did seem like a leap to invest in what resembled a dusty desert only suitable for growing sagebrush. Fortunately for wine lovers, they didn’t listen to the nay-sayers and planted the first Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Chardonnay on the mountain.
Kiona has been making wine since 1980 with John’s son Scott who followed his father as Vineyard Manager and Winemaker. Scott’s sons also joined the family business, with JJ taking the role of Director of Operations and most recently, Tyler taking on every aspect of winemaking.
Visit Kiona Vineyards
Red Mountain: Your next wine destination
Red Mountain is 15 minutes away from Richland, WA and may be the smallest AVA is Washington, but it’s full of more adventures and award-winning wines than visitors can experience in one day. Listen to our journey through this prized wine growing region’s must-see tasting rooms, nearby restaurants and the stories that started it all.
Plan your trip to Red Mountain wineries here.
Visit Hightower Cellars
Visit Hedges Family Estate
Visit Tapteil Vineyards
Book your stay at The Lodge at Columbia Point
Thank you, Erin Osborne, President of Osborne Northwest Public Relations, a boutique PR agency specializing in lifestyle and hospitality public relations. AND thank you to Alicia Brown, the Executive Director of The Red Mountain AVA Alliance for helping to arrange the weekend’s events.
Côte Bonneville | DuBrul Vineyard
Kerry gained experience in all areas of winemaking in California, Argentina and Australia before coming home to her family roots at DuBrul Vineyard. Fruit from this prestigious acreage and her gift of finesse delivers a bold elegance to her Côte Bonneville and Train Station labels. Kerry talks to us about her upcoming wines, her love the Mosel region of Germany and the ultimate wine cruise she has planned for YOU!
Visit Côte Bonneville
The Auction of Washington Wines set record-breaking generosity
Auction of Washington Wines celebrated its 32nd annual weekend of charitable wine events August 15 – 17, 2019, raising over $4.5 million and hitting a new milestone for the second year in a row.
Over 200 winemakers, vintners and growers attended the events over the course of three days to celebrate, pour wines and offer wine-focused auction lots to help achieve this goal. “The Washington wine industry and its community are the perfect pair for this annual event, which had a new, palpable energy this year that attracted a vibrant audience, including veteran attendees and newcomers alike,” said Executive Director of AWW, Jamie Peha.
Press Release—Auction of Washington Wines
Photography @Andrea Johnson & courtesy of Côte Bonneville
Private Barrel Auction lightening interviews
The Auction of Washington Wine’s Private Barrel Auction is an exclusive event that showcases the best Washington winemakers to raise money for Seattle Children’s and WSU Viticulture and Enology program. We whisked away Chris Peterson, Kevin White and Erica Orr down to a dimly lit cellar room at Novelty Hill Januik for lightening interviews. One question on the top of our minds— ”What does being a part of the Auction of Washington Wine mean to you?”
Avennia | Liminal Wine | Passing Time
Chris was named the 2017 “Winemaker of the Year” by Seattle Magazine and has helped to raise Washington’s national recognition within the industry. His most notable position was working alongside Chris Upchurch at DeLille Cellars for eight years until he co-founded Avennia.
Kevin White Winery
Kevin was named “Winemaker to Watch” in 2015 and “Best Emerging Winery” in 2018 by Seattle Magazine. You understand why at first taste. He focuses primarily on Rhone varietals like Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedré from the higher elevation vineyards in the Yakima Valley AVA.
Buy directly from Kevin White Winery
Baer Winery | Orr Wines
Erica earned her Master’s Degree from UC Davis and a biochemistry degree from UC Berkeley and has been working in the wine industry since 1998. Erica has been an independent winemaking consult working with wineries like Baer Winery, Mark Ryan, Guardian Cellars and Sparkman—garnering aclaim for her knowledge and talent.
Buy directly from Baer Winery
Find Orr Wines
Idilico | Pomum Cellars
Javier Alfonso grew up in Spain’s Ribera de Duero on a small family vineyard. Find out his journey from one of the best wine regions in the world to a winemaker and grower in Washington State. Hear how he thought he left his childhood vineyard life behind for an aerospace engineering, only to have it call him back. He also shares the long process of getting his Spanish Tempranillo clones into the US and how the demand for clay amphoras has left a world-wide wait list.
Visit Idilico and Pomum Cellars
Albariño blind tasting challenge: Washington vs. Rias Baixas
Albariño is one of the many great white wines you should be drinking this summer. Learn how it’s unique and what foods make it sing. Then we reveal the results of our Albariño blind tasting! We wondered, could Washington State hold up to the the Albariño masters of the world, Rias Baixas in Spain, and how different or similar would we be in comparison?
Thank you, Stefanie Schwalb, Senior Content Manager at GREGORY + VINE for providing selections of Albariño from Rias Baixas.
FOOD PAIRING & RECIPE
Sole with Albariño sauce
- 2 whole sole
- ½ onion
- bay leaves
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 glass of Albariño wine
- olive oil
- freshly squeezed lemon juice
Clean the sole, cut the fillets and set the bones aside. In a pan, mix the fish bones with 1 glass of Albariño wine, ½ an onion, 1 bay leaf and 1 clove of garlic and gently cook on low for 15 minutes before draining through a sieve.
Put the fillets in the oven with a few drops of oil and lemon juice. Let them cook for 5 minutes on medium heat and then pour over the Albariño stock.
When the stock starts to simmer, remove the fish from the oven and serve.
Find more Albariño food pairings here.
Pomum Cellars photography curtesy of Javier Alfonso | Recipe photo curtesy of RiasBaixas.com
The number one wine destination awaits
The Huffington Post recently named the Okanagan Valley, B.C. the number one wine destination in the world, followed by Bordeaux, France. The Okanagan offers more than 60 grape varietals, covering just under 9000 acres, and it’s natural beauty attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists year to their 185 wineries. Listen to Dave and Sandi’s travel north through the valley and what aspects make this region number one.
Plus, Sandi shares a couple of tips on how you can keep your wine from frying in a hot car during a wine tasting trip.
Thank you to Leanne Froese, owner of Town Hall Brands, a wine industry marketing agency in Vancouver, B.C. for helping us plan our trip. And a thank you to PR genius, Erin Osborne, for inviting us to the B.C. Wine and Food Experience with a masterclass and winemaker dinner at Tom Douglas’s Palace Ballroom in Seattle (with Tom Douglas!).
The easy way to buy Okanagan
It’s not easy, yet, to buy direct, however, we found a few. (Wineries, contact us if you ship directly to the U.S.)
French oak vs. American oak
Listen to the differences between French and American oak barrels in winemaking and how that impacts many of the wines you’ll find in the Okanagan.
Okanagan adventure 2019 *must-see wineries
Oliver & Pentiction
*Check Mate Winery (By appointment only) | *Painted Rock Estate Winery | Rust Wine Co. | Road 13 Vineyards
*Sage Hills Vineyard | *Dirty Laundry Vineyard | Okanagan Crush Pad
*Mission Hill Winery (Lunch or Dinner reservations) | *Summerhill Winery (Lunch or Dinner reservations) |*Tantalus Vineyards | *The Hatch | *Quail’s Gate (Lunch or Dinner reservations) | Rico Bambino | The Naked Cafe (Vegan breakfast & lunch—not a winery!)
*Arrowleaf Cellars | *50th Parallel Estate Winery (Lunch or Dinner reservations) | Ex Nihilo | Gray Monk
*Laughing Stock Vineyards (by appointment only) *Bench 1775 | Red Rooster Winery
*Clos du Soleil
Charlie & Lacey Lybecker
Cairdeas (pronounced, “Cardis”) was founded in 2009 by Charlie & Lacey Lybecker. Charlie pulls inspiration from the Rhône valley of France to craft traditional wines and blends from Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Counoise, Cinsault and Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul. Lake Chelan was an area that called to them and they’ve grown their business and family on their property overlooking the lake. Listen in as they offer advice for anyone dreaming of a business and their plans for a new 2-story tasting room.
Visit Cairdeas Winery
A different vantage point—e-Bike Wine Tour!
We decided to lug our own e-bikes for the Chelan Electric Bikes wine tour rather than to rent them. Our guide for the day was Caroline and she took us down paths along the river, the main road, through neighborhoods and scenic views on our way to a few wineries that we’ll talk about.
Thank you, Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring our e-bike wine tour with Chelan Electric Bikes!
Judy Phelps, Hard Row to Hoe
Happy 10th Anniversary, Lake Chelan AVA!
When we contacted the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce to plan our trip, they connected us to a woman who is one of the leading authorities on this region, Judy Phelps, owner and winemaker of Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards and Winery. Judy and her Vineyard manager husband, Don, are committed to promoting the use of locally grown fruit. Judy shares what makes the Lake Chelan AVA so unique and what varietals should be known. Plus, she reveals the whimsical, yet suggestive name of their winery and the background on the colorful historical events that inspired it.
Visit Hard Row to Hoe
Lake Chelan Upcoming Events
Play Your Stay
Winterfest—Jan 17-26, 2020
Play Your Stay (tickets available November 1, 2019)
Red Wine & Chocolate—Feb 2020 (dates to come)
Play Your Stay
Chelan Cycle De Vine—June 2020
Check it out
Lake Chelan Arts Festival—June 2020
Our top Lake Chelan wineries to visit
Lake Chelan has a little over 30 wineries and in three and a half days, we visited and tasted through 19 that were recommended by others or we discovered on our own. 19! (Decanted: Doing the hard work) Here are our picks to visit.
Succession Wines (Wine Press Northwest’s 2018 Washington Winery to Watch)
Rocky Pond Winery (Wine Press Northwest’s 2019 Washington Winery to Watch)
Fielding Hills Winery
Hard Row to Hoe Winery
Karma Vineyards (Wine, Méthode Champenoise bubbles, whiskey and food)
Tsillan Cellars and Sorrento’s Ristorante (book early for outdoor dining)
Siren Song Wines (outdoor bistro style food and wine tasting)
Tipsy Canyon Winery (new tasting room)
It’s rosé season again, but maybe we should be asking ourselves: Is there such a thing as rosé season, or should we be drinking rosé all year long? In this episode, we talk all things rosé, including a brief rosé 101, and we discuss our recent in-home tasting where we placed Washington state wines alongside those from international producers. Plus, we feature a couple of on-the-spot interviews with two of our guests, Rachel Fay and Cori Omundson who are NW Wine Academy guests and they discuss, you guessed it—ROSÉ! Learn about the Academy’s new rosé release and suggestions on a perfect food pairing.
4 Rosé production styles
Listen to the episode to hear about these styles.
- Direct press
- Maceration process
- Saignée Method
- Red and white blending
Thank you, Taub Family Companies
Taub Family Companies represent some of the most heralded wine regions of the world. They were kind enough to kindly provide us six 2018 rosés from their international portfolio—from New Zealand, Italy, France, and Argentina. We added more to the tasting from Washington, Oregon, France, and Portugal along with a “Mystery Bottle.”
Check out Taub Family Selections and where you can buy in your location.
Check out Palm Bay International to find more Taub Family Companies wine.
Washington Rosés from this episode’s tasting
Col Solare 2017 Shining Hill Rose
77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 9% Syrah | The Cabernet Franc and Syrah were fermented in once used French Oak barrels using Saignee Method juice.
Tranche Estate 2018 Pink Pape Rose
Grenache, Cinsault, Counoise blend | A gentle and rapid direct press cycle helped to avoid excessive extraction from the skins, yielding a juice pale pink in color with delicate flavors and aromas.
2017 Shining Hill Rose
77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, 9% Syrah
20187 The Magician’s Assistant Rosé
100% Cabernet Franc
A record-breaking number of food and wine lovers attended the 22nd annual Taste Washington festival. We chose three winemakers we want listeners to know more about and swept them away to the press room for lightening interviews. We gave them one shared question and they delivered three, very different answers: ”What life lesson has winemaking revealed to you?”
JB Neufeld | Gilbert Cellars
Justin has been the winemaker for Gilbert Cellars since 2007 and in 2009, he took over management of the estate vineyards as well. Since the moment he became interested in wine Justin knew he wanted to start his own winery. As he learned more about viticulture and enology the more he became obsessed with the process, rather than the product. When he started his side label, JB Neufeld, his goal was to create a Cabernet Sauvignon that truly showcased the place it was grown. Justin believes it to be one of the best varieties for communicating a sense of place without too many outside interruptions. He sources from some of the best vineyards up and down the Yakima Valley and Red Mountain like Andrew Will’s Two Blondes Vineyard, Red Willow Vineyard, and the acclaimed Ciel Du Cheval.
Buy directly from JB Neufeld
Buy directly from Gilbert Cellars
Not every Damsel is in distress. In fact, this damsel seems to have things pretty well in hand. Damsel Cellars is a boutique winery owned and operated by winemaker, Mari Womack. She spent several years in the restaurant business and transitioned to working in Washington wineries such as Obelisco, Baer and as the assistant winemaker at Darby Winery. Mary is cleverly blending sophistication with a playfulness and joy that comes from doing what she loves. Now releasing her sith vintage, this Damsel is amassing a loyal following and Damsel Cellars is quickly becoming a winery to watch.
Buy directly from Damsel Cellars
Goose Ridge Estate Vineyards and Winery
The spark that brought Casey to wine was speaking with a winemaker across the tasting bar at a small winery in Prosser in 2007. He described his work routine, and to her, it seemed to be the perfect marriage of intellect, creativity, and being physical. Casey took classes at the NW Wine Academy while she worked as a Lead Wine Educator at the Columbia Winery tasting room in Woodinville. After her course work was complete, she was chosen for a harvest internship at Betz Family Winery, learning under Master of Wine Bob Betz and then hired as Cellar Assistant until 2014. After a stint as Winemaker to Robert Ramsay Cellars, in 2018, she moved across the state to work as Winemaker for Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard and Winery. This extremely dynamic and growing family-owned winery has given her the opportunity to learn winemaking on a larger scale and has allowed her to be in the vineyard more often. This means that no two days are the same in her world and she loves the cyclical nature of the wine industry.
Buy directly from Goose Ridge
You got to have Taste
We’ve caught up on our sleep now that the plethora of Washington Wine Month events has come to a close.
Taste WA, held at CenturyLink Field Convention Center, was the big kahuna. This year’s festival featured more than 240 Washington wineries and more than 70 celebrated restaurants. Per tradition, we call attention to newer wineries or ones we were less familiar with and winemakers with side label projects. This is not an exhaustive list so we encourage listeners to attend and adventure for themselves.
The NW Women Stars of Food and Wine was held at “The Sanctuary,” a converted church in downtown Seattle. Maybe it was the ascending escalator ride to the space of wine worship or the cool lighting inside the sanctuary, but we think that was the best “church service” we ever attended!
Check out the list of our favorite wines below the photo gallery and support these boutique winemakers.
Wines to Taste
Book and Bull
Buy 2016 Come Hell or High Water GSM
Rocky Point Cellars
Eagle Harbor Wine
Buy 2017 Merlot
Buy 2015 Red Excuses
Two Vintners, Owner & Winemaker
Covington Cellars, Winemaker
Morgan’s story is somewhat a tale of two vintners, as he actively oversees not only his own winery, aptly called Two Vintners, but he’s also head winemaker for the revered Covington Cellars label.
Morgan takes us back to his humble beginnings in the midwest and what sparked him to become a winemaker, his philosophy, family and what he’d like Washington State to be known for.
His work with these labels has earned Morgan numerous accolades from diverse sources like Sunset Magazine, Seattle Met, Great Wine, The Washington Wine Report, Wine Press Northwest, United Airlines Rhapsody Magazine and Seattle Magazine who named Morgan one of their Winemakers to Watch.
Visit Two Vintners
Visit Covington Cellars
It’s Wine Event Season!
To us, February and March is Wine Event Season. We celebrated the best of Washington at the Washington Wine Blog 2nd Annual Critics Choice where we met wine unicorn, Christophe Baron of Cayuse and enjoyed the Top 100 of 2018. We also attended the Walla Walla Wine Alliance event in Seattle and raided Amber LeBeau’s (Spitbucket.net) impressive wine collection.
Old World Meets New World
A first in a new series, we compare and contrast an old world Brunello Di Montalcino with Morgan’s new world Sangiovese. We use the Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine and if you haven’t heard of that, you can learn by listening to Episode 21 and check out an easy guide on the episode page.
Where noted, images copyright of Marianna Jamadi
Richard Duval, Duval Images
In this episode of Decanted, we interview Richard Duval, who has become one of the most well-renowned photographers in the Washington wine scene. He recalls his adventures in some of the most awe-inspiring vineyards in our state, offers practical photography advice and lists his picks of the most scenic wine destinations.
Richard’s work is frequently found in Great Northwest Wine, Wine Press Northwest, Sean Sullivan’s Washington Wine Report, Wine Business Monthly, Good Fruit Grower, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator and numerous blogs, wine sites and books. His images are used extensively in wine marketing guides for Walla Walla, Woodinville, Yakima Valley, Cascade Valley, the Columbia River Gorge and Red Mountain regions, the annual Washington Wine Guide, and he stages the “Art from the Vine” fine art exhibit in wine venues around Washington—well, you get the picture of Richard’s reach into Washington’s wine and art circles.
Learn more about Duval Images
Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine ®
We’ve mostly relied upon second-hand knowledge and gut instincts about how to react to the wines we’ve been served, which always kind of left us feeling like we were missing something. Over time, we’ve developed a palate by trial and error.
Learning the Systematic Approach helped us learn how to analyze the merits of a wine, regardless of what the winery, wine critics or other tasters think. This approach, we feel, will up your game and broaden your horizons through the understanding of BALANCE of certain criteria. Great wines have a good balance between acid and body, otherwise known as sweetness, which results in a superior wine. Too much acid and the wine becomes austere, too much sweetness or residual sugar and the wine becomes boring or “flabby.” In addition, a good structure with quality fruit and tannins (for reds) plays into creating a complex wine with different flavors activating your brain.
The Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine is broken down into four basic categories, each with characteristics to analyze:
- Clarity: clear or hazy?
- Intensity: pale, medium or deep?
- Color: White—lemon, gold or amber? Rosé—pink, salmon or orange? Red—Purple, ruby, garnet or tawny?
- Condition: clean or unclean?
- Intensity: light, medium or pronounced?
- Aroma characteristics: e.g. fruits, floral, vegetal, spices, oak, earth, etc? Try and find 3 characteristics.
- Sweetness: dry, off-dry, medium or sweet? Tip: Tasting fruit doesn’t mean it’s sweet.
- Acidity: low, medium or high? Is your mouth watering?
- Tannin: low, medium or high? Is your mouth drying out?
- Body: light, medium or full? Is it silky?
- Flavor characteristics: e.g. fruits, floral, vegetal, spices, oak flavors, smoke, meaty, etc?
- Finish: short, medium or long? Tip:
- Quality: faulty, poor, acceptable, good, very good or outstanding?
We walk you through this system and their sub-categories along with two tastings.
Learn more about the Wine & Spirits Education Trust WSET Global
Real Wine Alliance
This episode is sponsored by Real Wine Alliance. With over 100 years of combined winery expertise, they supercharge wineries with distribution, direct to consumer, marketing, branding, web development, eCommerce, photography and awesome events!
Images courtesy and copyright of Richard Duval Images.
John Bigelow, JM Cellars
In this one-year anniversary episode, winemaker, John Bigelow shares his transition from tech to wine and tells us about a day in the barrel room that ended in a medical emergency. He also reveals the collaboration and details of JM Cellars new tasting room and production facility, coming soon to Maltby, Washington.
We describe our experience at JM Cellars in Woodinville, WA on our first episode. The tasting room was voted The Best Tasting Room by Seattle Magazine in 2017—it is a beautiful converted 2-story home, hung with strings of lights, with multiple tasting rooms, a fire pit, wine barrel chairs and tables, and a cavernous members-only area gated by large doors wrapped in hammered metal sheets. The collective effect is an artistic and appealing feast for the eyes. The grounds and outdoor tasting area are dog-friendly so it’s OK to bring your Châteauneuf-du-PUP.
Visit JM Cellars
Decanted discusses Decanting
We deliver the whats, hows, and whys of decanting wine. Decanting has the power to make great and/or expensive red wine more refined or an adequate wine more enjoyable. Sometimes those cheap-o bottles can come down with a case of sulfur dioxide, so aerating can be the cure.
We’ve heard the “decanting” practice of uncorking a bottle and letting it sit out on the counter while cooking, believing that will do the trick. Ok, we’ve done it too. However, it is difficult for oxygen to reach the wine inside and will have minimal effect. Listen to more tips and about the wine aeration devices we use.
Wine decanting devices we love
Menu Wine Breather Carafe
This device includes a built-in, removable aerator at the top of the neck. Simply turn the empty carafe upside down, connect it to the bottle and flip everything over to watch the aerated wine gurgle down into the carafe. And you can flip it back over and put it BACK into the bottle…which we do at our wine parties when we want to serve from the bottle.
Le Chateau Decanter
This is a lovely, traditional, wide-bottomed decanter that is constructed of 100% hand-blown lead-free crystal. The wide diameter allows the maximum amount of aeration and it’ll look sexy while doing it.
Rabbit Wine Shower-Funnel with Strainer
Rest it on a decanter opening and pour—it strains and gives quick aeration.
Host Adjustable Aerator
Adjust the dial to represent the equivalent of 0-6 hours of decanting. We haven’t done a side by side comparison on those dial settings but before we used a traditional decanter it was the fastest way to aerate. Simply place it over your glass, pour through it and via la!
Riedel Amadeo Decanters (several varieties)
These feature a handblown, artistic “swan” type shape with dual spouts—one for pouring wine into the vessel and a skinnier spout for pouring into your glass. Be prepared for the price tag.
A year to remember
On this episode, Dave and Sandi highlight some of the “best-of” interview clips from our first year.
Bart Fawbush (Episode 1)
Lisa Packer (Episode 5)
Chris Upchurch (Episode 8)
Jarrod & Ali Boyle (Episode 10)
Kent Waliser and Lacey Lybeck (Episode 12)
Seth & Audrey Kitske (Episode 17)
Roy Hersh (Episode 18)
We also share the growth of the wine concept hotel, The Lodge at Columbia Point and offer a few wine recommendations that are stocking our fridge.
We feel much gratitude for the winemakers and wine industry professionals who have partnered with Decanted for our interviews or mini-episodes—we greatly appreciated your generosity.
And lastly, we thank one of our listeners—Dan.
Quinta do Mourão
S. Leonardo 20 Year Tawney
This is SUBLIME and one of the best port producers in the world.
2016 Counterpart | 65% Merlot 35% Cabernet Sauvignon
2016 LTL | 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
2014 Stars in a Row, Cabernet Sauvignon | 2016 Without Rehearsal, Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon | 2016 Carving Blocks, Dry Riesling
Founder—For the Love of Port | Port and Madiera Brotherhood
Roy Hersh is a professional wine judge, writer and educator who generously shares his knowledge and passion for Port and Madeira. Yearly, he conducts unparalleled tours to Portugal where guests spend time with winemakers, taste exceptional Port, stroll through vineyards stomp on grapes and dine at first-rate restaurants.
On this episode, Roy Hersh recounts when his love of Port began and describes the kinds of memorable experiences his tour groups typically encounter. He also opens up about being the only person outside of the Portuguese wine industry who has been inducted into both the Port and Madeira Brotherhoods.
Learn more about Port wine at, For the Love of Port: Collective Port Wisdom
For the Love of Port
Port Harvest Tour 1, 2018
Our whirlwind tour took us through Porto, Gaia and the heart of the Douro Valley wine country. It’s an “eduvacation” that we highly recommend to anyone serious about learning about Port and table wine. Where else can you taste a Port from 1827 from the family home of multi-generation winemakers? Where else can you walk through one of the top 10 vineyards in the world or tread on grapes in the traditional way?
Join the next Ultimate Portugal Wine Experience
For more information or reservations, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We learned a stunning amount of information in 10 days and we are excited to share it. We break down the different types of Port so you can feel more confident when choosing a bottle to open with friends or age in the cellar. Port 101 is in session!
*See below for the Ports we liked, that are readily available in the U.S.
10, 20, 30 and 40-year ports readily available in the U.S., all are good so choose the one that best serves your price range. If you’re feeling a little spendy, the 2000 vintage classic blend is excellent.
Quinta do Noval
10 and 20-year tawny, Noval Black, the 2012 LBV, and the powerhouse 2015 Quinta Vintage Port.
10 and 20-year tawny, the 2000 vintage port, the 2008 vintage port even though it is still pretty young and features gripping tannins, and the best of the best: the 1985 vintage port.
There is a wide range of tawny, vintage and colheita port to explore here.
Seth and Audrey Kitzke, Upsidedown Wine | Kitzke Family Vineyards
A young duo is carving out vineyards and spectacularly crafted wines from Candy Mountain. If you haven’t heard of Candy Mountain, it’s not the place where Halloween sweets are churned out. This unique terroir in Richland, WA is the birthplace for the Seth and Audrey Kitzke’s family vines and will soon be granted AVA status.
In this episode, Seth opens up about his dream of being a professional snowboarder and his call to become a winemaker. He and his wife Audrey talk about the history of their label, Upsidedown Wine, giving back, their tasting room in Hood River, OR, and how they’ve built an engaging social media presence.
Watch Seth and Audrey’s Instagram story at @USdoingWine
Join the Movement and Drink Upsidedown
Upsidedown Wine gives back 20% of their net proceeds with every bottle sold. That’s generous for a boutique winery, but Seth and Audrey’s giving spirit is at the heart of this passion project. Become a member, and they are able to give back double. Sounds like a good deal—you get great wine from an emerging, talented winemaker and you can support organizations that fight human trafficking, help youth fight cancer, and animal rescue.
2018 Wine Bloggers Conference, Walla Walla, WA
The Wine Bloggers Conference gathered citizen bloggers, industry writers, new media innovators, and wine industry members and has been going strong for 11 years. This year’s event was held at the iconic, Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center located in Walla Walla’s historic downtown. Attendees dove deep into what makes the Walla Walla AVA one of the most desired growing areas in the world, dined with winemakers and chose from numerous learning sessions. In this packed episode, we share our experiences, tips for pairing food with bubbly, and recommendations of wines to try.*
*See below for the wines we loved at the Wine Bloggers Conference
Wines we loved from the 2018 Wine Bloggers Conference
Cà Maiol Lugana DOC ITALY
100% Trebbiano | Carefully selected grapes from the oldest vines of the Molino vineyard. The crushed grapes are then held in stainless steel tanks at a low temperature, a process called cryomaceration, to develop its flavor.
2016 Bodegas As Laxas, Rias Baixas SPAIN
Paco & Lola Albariño, SPAIN
2010 Gloria Ferrer Anniversary Cuvee
Blend | Rich and creamy with crème brûlée and stone fruit with a touch of ginger.
2010 Bodegas LAN Gran Reserva, SPAIN
2016 Bodegas LAN Edicion Limitada, SPAIN
Gard Cellars 2015 Grand Klasse Reserve Roussanne
Inspired by the French Grand Cru wine, this is full-bodied and complex with a beautiful use of oak.
L’Ecole No. 41 2017 Semillon
Flavors of apple and lemon and wonderfully balanced.
Peter Yealands 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, NEW ZEALAND
Tropical fruit, crisp minerality
Guest Services Manager, Col Solare Winery | Chief Judge, 2019 Cascadia Wine Competition
Tasting Room Etiquette and Leveling up your Game
This episode is Part 2 of 2 with April Reddout and she’ll get you ready for your next wine adventure with her insights around tasting room etiquette. No perfume, really? Not if you want to interfere with the true essence of the wine, or anyone else’s experience. Learn more about April’s suggestions for seriously enjoying your favorite tasting rooms.
What Goes into Wine Scores?
April reveals what goes into judging a wine and how to react to wine scores as a consumer.
And if that wasn’t already enough great information, April clarifies five commonly held beliefs about wine.
What is Palette Fatigue?
But first, Dave and Sandi talk about the ultimate enemy of any extended wine tasting experience, Palette Fatigue! Most wine lovers assume that it occurs when your nose and taste buds get tired, but there’s research that it may be a result of your brain being overloaded with too many similar and overly familiar inputs within a short time span. Listen and learn tips on what you can do to stave off this affliction.
April Reddout started in wine in 2008, curious and ready to learn. A part-time job in a tasting room in Prosser led to full-time, which led to management and the desire to keep learning. April enjoys helping other people learn about wine in an approachable and non-intimidating setting and strives for each guest experience to be positive and inspiring.
April judges on panels for Great Northwest Wine, Winepress Northwest and the San Francisco Chronicle. She enjoys sharing her enthusiasm for great wines and telling the story of Washington wine, in particular.
On a mission to make an impact
The Auction of Washington Wines is a nonprofit wine event that has been around for 31 years. This year’s Auction events raised over 4 million that benefits the WSU Wine Sciences Center for research and Seattle Children’s. Their focus is on elevating the awareness of Washington State wines through a series of events over a weekend every August.
Dave and Sandi were invited to attend the Private Barrel Auction held at Novelty Hill-Januik Winery and taste wines from 31 premier wineries. The barrels were auctioned off in a battle between collectors, restauranteurs and retailers vying to be the exclusive purveyor of what will be, one-of-a-kind bottles.
Your hosts then participated in the public Winemaker Picnic and Barrel Auction at Chateau Ste Michelle. A plethora of small bites and more wine than you can shake a stick was the perfect accompaniment to the auction excitement. Picnic attendees could meet winemakers, bid in the silent auction lots and a frenzied barrel auction.