The annual Debuts and Discoveries, produced by Seattle Uncorked,  is a great opportunity to taste wines side by side from some of Washington’s newest wineries. Four of the contributing writers to the Wine Beer Washington Blog attended the event and three of us were on the judging panel. We all have slightly different palates and preferences, so all had our own favorites, but a number of wines really sparked our interest. In a previous post, we listed the Judges Favorites and the Peoples Choice Winners for Debuts and Discoveries. Here, we want to talk a little bit about the other wineries and the specific wines that captured our attention last week, as well as the event itself.

aquarium[singlepic id=34 w=320 h=240 float=right]First, the Seattle Aquarium is an amazing spot to have a wine event in June. Last week, the sun came out, beckoning guests to enjoy their wine out on the pier as the sun was brightly shining before making its lazy retreat into twilight. You can’t count on summer sun in Seattle in June and the inside of the Aquarium is a mystical place for a wine tasting. Yes, you can play with sea anemones while you sip your wine, walk amongst jellyfish or share game predictions with an octopus!

[singlepic id=38 w=320 h=240 float=left]Instead of wineries lining a box like room, guests at Debuts and Discoveries wind their way through three rooms of aquarium exhibits. Wineries line the walls amongst the tanks and food tables are mixed amongst the wineries as well as two large appetizer buffet tables. Live music in the front room provided atmosphere without competing with your conversations with the wine makers or your friends.


Washington Wines to Watch

As judges, we had the task of evaluating the wineries as a whole: wine line up, labeling, service, quality price ratio (QPR) etc. After reviewing our notes, we wanted to acknowledge some of the individual wines that we enjoyed from these new wineries.

C&C Vintage Cellars was featuring their Dumb Blonde label. We aren’t usually a big  fan of the cute wines. You know the ones with puppies, kitties and cartoons and the names to match. Too often the business’s creativity is too focused on the packaging and not the content. Dirty Blondes White Wine Blend was a big surprise when the first sip showed a refreshing acid-fruit balance. This white Rhone blend of 10% Rousanne; 35% Marsanne and 55% Viognier proves that beauty is more than skin deep.
Did you think all Washington Rieslings are sweet? Try the Convergence Zone Cellars Dewpoint Riesling. Scott Greenberg, winemaker, claims it has the least amount of residual sugar of any Riesling in the state, only .1%.  It might be bone dry but it still has the bright fruit that makes our sweet white wine lover Ed smile.
This shiny new Washington winery,Dubindil Winery located in Snohomish, brought only one wine to Debuts and Discoveries but the 2008 Dubindil Syrah is a doozy. I really enjoyed this full flavored Syrah that only had 13.3% ABV!!!! Yes Virginia there is such a thing as a low alcohol Washington Syrah!
Kitzke Cellars first impressed me at Taste Washington. They have a diverse line up from the fruity red table blend Upside Down Blend to some lovely red wines with structure and elegance. The Nebbiolo impressed us.  There are not many good Nebbiolos in Washington state but this is one of them.
Open Road Wine Company was a favorite for Ed and Nancy, especially the 2009 Old Vines Semillion. It was Ed’s favorite wine of the night. Nancy was surprised they didn’t win a judges honor for best new Washington winery because she was really impressed by the entire line up of white wines that they were pouring.
Talking with several of the judges, the Purple Star Wines Syrah was the big surprise of the night.  This looks like a bargain wine and it is priced as a bargain wine but it tastes like so much more. The inky purple is a dead give away to its origins in Olsen Estates Vineyards. More luxurious than bold, this Syrah displays an intriguing balance of fruit, tannin, oak, acid and alcohol. At $15/bottle I want more of this Washington Syrah and I want it now!
Ed is a HUGE Viognier fan and says the Tempest Sol Winery 2010 Viognier was great on a sunny summer evening.
Thomas O’Neil Cellars Fusion Red Blend was a big, bold Syrah blend favored by Ed and Jeramie. There was nothing shy about this red wine from the first winery in Richland, Washington.
Treveri Cellars is the only Washington winery that exclusively creates sparkling wines. The sparkling Gewurztraminer remains my favorite but they were also pouring a sparkling Muller Thurgau that was delightful as well. The Gewurtztraminer Blanc de Blanc is my favorite sparkling wine to serve with salads on special occasions. Several judges told me that the sparkling Pinot Gris was their favorite. The range of sparkling wines produced ensure that you can find a Treveri to match your sweetness level.

There were several other exceptional wines that weren’t mentioned above like the Glencorrie Winery Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the Northwest Totem Cellars Grenache that Ed and Jeramie LOVED. We didn’t focus on the wineries that have several vintages under their belt. In this post, we really wanted to highlight the newer Washington wineries. Read more about Nancy’s opinions on the top new Washington wineries at the DeVine Table.