Kent Betts and Chris Gorman - by Caylee Betts

Chris Gorman says he isn’t a smart wine maker. Don’t  believe him,  he is like the Columbo of wine makers without the wrinkled rain coat. On a gorgeous, sunny Wednesday evening Gorman Winery threw a party on the back patio of Italianissimo. Now at first glance it might have looked like a release party, but two of the wines won’t be released for months and the other wines had been released months ago. With the Gorman Winery tasting room only open a few times a year, it was a great excuse to enjoy Gorman wines on a summer evening, talk with wine maker Chris Gorman and to sample Italianissimo cuisine. It was also a sure fire way to build excitement and buzz about the upcoming releases  (teaser) as well as tempting the party goers into buying current releases.

42-39-56 Rosé

Created by Saignée, this wine  is  a combination of grape varietals as they come into the winery during crush. This rosé is a deep raspberry red and the nose is ripe strawberries. I am talking REAL ripe strawberries, fresh from the garden not the plastic wrapped berries shipped from California. There is a bit of vanilla on the nose as well. This has a bold and bright acidity that is as assertive as its color. I call this a rosé for red wine drinkers as it has some body and bravado about it. The body and acidity make this Washington rosé more of a wine to enjoy with a summer meal than simply a patio sipper.  It  paired really nicely with the summer pasta salad but also it didn’t cower at the rich Chateaubriand served with Chimichurri sauce. This Gorman rosé has a nice refreshing finish that makes me eager for the next sip.

Big Sissy 2008 Chardonnay

Clear pale lemon colored Washington Chardonnay emits buttered almond popcorn with each sniff. The glass needs a swirl for the subtle pear aromas to rise. Chris is a match maker between grape and wood, searching for a match that will bring out the best of both. Like all relationships, some make more sense to me than others. For me the last vintage seemed a better match than this vintage. Pear peeks out between the wood slats. The woody tannins ground the wine, and add body, making this a substantial Chardonnay.   This is a Washington Chardonnay that will appeal to the oak lovers.

Zachary Ladder

This red wine is the Gorman properitary blend full of black berry fruit on the nose and palate. Fruit forward but not a fruit bomb, this is a great wine to sip and savor. Without pretension, but full of charm and character this is a red wine that I can drink year round.

  • 42% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 25% Merlot
  • 25% Mouvedre
  • 7% Syrah
  • 1% Pinot Verdot

Bully 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

The Bully is a big wine but it doesn’t push you around. Recently released, this wine is still a bit tight. Let it open up a bit and aromas of black fruit, chocolate, vanilla and spice emerge. Subtle hint of tobacco and leather follow.  On the mouth it is lush with rich and intense black cherry at the front. It is has a velvety mouth feel that betrays the sturdy tannic structure. The finish is where the tannins assert themselves. Aged in 100% French oak, this is the Gorman wine where the fruit and oak  marriage really works for me.  It was superb with the Italianissimo Chateaubriand with Chimichurri sauce.

  • 80% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 15% Merlot
  • 5% Pinot Verdot

Alabatross 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

I got my first sneak peek of the Albatross when Chef Steve Cain of El Gaucho Bellevue motioned me over at Taste Washington. He shared his glass of this deep, dark enticing elixir with me.  Let me tell you, it keeps getting better and I eagerly await its release sometime this fall. Now it is a study of contrasts with bold and subtle flavors. I get layers of violet, licorice, cassis and spice. This Washington red wine has exceptional acidity. It is a big chewy wine that I want to crawl into a corner by myself, so I can savor it in solitude without pesky distractions like conversation. I couldn’t fin a solitary corner at the party but I did wedge my walker into the corner next to Chris which won me a taste of an extra red, the Pixie. (teaser)

Pixie 2008 Syrah

The Pixie had only been bottled 8 days ago, but Chris brought a bottle for those that wanted to be brave.  An inky, almost black colored Syrah. Tar was predominant on the nose but I anticipate more juicy black fruit emerging as the bottle shock wears off.  The palate is restrained black fruit balanced with pepper and a hint of smoke. I can’t wait to taste this wine after a bit of time to let it come into its own.  (teaser)

Cry Baby 2009 Late Harvest Chenin Blanc

If there was a star of the party, it would be this late harvest wine. Carefully crafted from the fruit from 30 year old vines, this honey colored wine had a suprisingly subtle nose of peach and pear. The palate was rich with pear, cinnamon, clove and a bit of pineapple. The finish was sweet and summery, not syrupy. The Cry Baby is another sneak peek wine. It has not been released. (teaser)

Ken Betts, chef/owner of Italianissmio, poached pears in a gallon and half of the Cry Baby wine, then created a creamy and delicious gelato from those poached pears.  I really appreciated that Ken let the poached pears drive the sweetness of this gelato, it was reminiscent of peaches and cream instead of sweet ice cream. When paired with the Cry Baby Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, both the wine and gelato sung!

It was great summer evening of food and wine. I only wish that I had known ahead of time that Italianissmio was waiving the party entrance fee if attendees stayed for dinner. I couldn’t talk friends out of their homes to drink wine on a hot Seattle evening, but if they had known the party was shaded and they could attend the great party for free if they stayed for great Italian food in the lovely and air conditioned restaurant…