With over 200 wineries in Taste Washington participating, pouring an average of 3-4 wines, there are more wines than a single person could cover. We had three people covering the Taste Washington event and we STILL couldn’t cover all of the food, wine, cider and even beer at this Washington showcase. Over the next week or so we will be posting about our various experiences at the Taste Washington seminars and Grand Tasting.

I still managed to taste about 60 wines (yes it is hip to spit) but I didn’t have time to take notes on them all. Some wines I didn’t need to write notes because they were such a surprise, that they still burn brightly in my memory. The whites dominate because Ed wasn’t at this event covering the white wines so I got to taste them this time!

Wine Surprises

Bainbridge Island Winery

Bainbridge Island Winery

Bainbridge Island Winery Pinot Noir

I will probably get in trouble for saying this, but I am not a big fan of Washington Pinot Noir. They tend to be flabby and flat but the Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery Pinot Noir blew my socks off. Gorgeous deep bing cherry color, this Washington Pinot Noir was bright with fruit and grounded in the earth. It had a body and acid balance that was a big surprise! Very impressive  wine created from a single acre of estate Pinot Noir.

Brian Rudin

Brian Rudin

The Buried Cane Chardonnay

The Buried Cane Winery calls themselves a varietal winery with a twist. The twist is the burying of the canes in winter and the tiny bit of blending. This Chardonnay is composed of 95% Chardonnay with 4.8% Riesling and a touch of Sauvignon Blanc.

The Buried Cane 2007 Chardonnay is bright and balanced with lots of green apple notes. Citrus and melon flavors add complexity and depth. It has an exceptional mouth feel offering smooth body and refreshing crispness. That might sound like an impossible combination, that is, until you try this wine. The finish is clean with shades of minerality.

Cedergreen Cellars Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc can be elegant or it can be cloying. In the hands of Kevin Cedergreen, it can be something special. His 2008 Chenin Blanc clocks in at 4% RS but is so balanced that that I thought it was less than half that. Beautiful balance moderates the sugar so it becomes a whisper instead of a shout.  I had the good fortune to taste the yet to be released  2009 Chenin Blanc.  This wine as a classic example of a dry Chenin Blanc with only .7% RS. The surprises here were two fold. The first was the exceptional balance achieved on the sweet Chenin Blanc. I am not a sweet wine lover but I loved this one. The second surprise was the night and day difference between the two vintages of  Chenin Blanc, from the same vineyards. A great showcase of Kevin’s winemaking skill.

Côte Bonneville Rosé

Cote Bonneville

Hugh and Kathy Shiels of Cote Bonneville

The Côte Bonneville 2009 Cabernet Franc Rosé was a delightful surprise on several levels. First, I find many Cabernet Franc Rosé are not a good match to my palate. When I got a hit of the distinctive  Jolly Rancher watermelon candy on the nose, I was worried that this Washington rosé would be way to sweet for me. It only took one sip to win me over.  This is an elegant strawberry colored wine with layers of flavors. A dry, delicate rosé that I took my glass to a quiet corner so I could truly appreciate it apart from the crowds. The third surprise was the price point. Côte Bonneville is well known for being unapologetic about the prices that their wines garner. At $30 it is definitely high end, but still manageable with a recession wallet. This is a very limited release so don’t delay in getting yours.

O·S Wines Riesling

The O·S Wines 2009 Riesling, from Horse Heaven Hills, is proof that less is more. The surprise here is that this riesling is such a great example of melding old and new world. The alcohol and sugar are restrained, letting the nuances of the fruit and terroir to shine.  It has fruit and flowers well grounded in minerality and acid, complemented with an ABV of less than 10%.  Crisp and refreshing it is ready for the patio but it also has enough sophistication to pair with a gourmet meal. Eric Hwang also praised this wine, describing it as “ Crisp, minerally with lemon and apricot flavors.  At only $15, I will be stocking up on this wine.

Food Pairing Surprise

Terra Blanca

Terra Blanca

Gordon Biersch and Terra Blanca

Who would think of pairing Lobster Bisque with a bold Merlot?  Whoever in the Washington Wine Commission that placed  Gordon Biersch and Terra Blanca next to each other is a genius. The lobster bisque was rich and creamy, lush with lobster flavor and accentuated with sherry. The 2005 Arch Terrace Merlot is bold fruit and spice on the nose and the palate. The wood supports but not overwhelms the wine. The creamy lobster bisque softens the the boldness and highlights the softer nuances of the wine. The bisque felt richer and smoother, losing none of the lobster delicate flavors.