The King of Wine Events

There are not a lot of wine events around Seattle that actually roll out the red carpet. The upscale Cabernet Classic is the exception to the rule. This 8th annual grand tasting of Washington’s Premiere Cabernets took place on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Porsche Bellevue.

As we arrived at the venue, the tone was immediately set. There’s just something about pulling up to a Porsche dealership that makes the pulse race. I even say that as someone who typically doesn’t pay much attention to cars. Greeted by an army of valets, we exited our humble vehicle and walked the red carpet into the Porsche showroom where some of Washington State’s top Cabernet producers lined the perimeter of the room. The crowd was dressed to wow. That may not sound unusual to you, but for someone who lives in decidedly casual we-can’t-get-over-the-grunge-era Seattle it is a sight to behold. Enthusiasm builds as I peruse the list of impressive wines being poured.

Now, it’s time for true confessions. I have no tasting notes from the evening. Maneuvering through the venue juggling wine glass and phone (to take pictures of course) was all I could manage. Besides, with 29 wineries pouring multiple wines, there was no way to taste each one. With price points ranging from $35 to $160 a bottle, my strategy was to start out with wines on the higher end of the tier. Do you blame me? Although price isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality, a friend affirmed that the wines seemed appropriately priced. After indulging in some decadence, the next step would be to check out wineries new to me. Here are some photos to show how that went.

Long Shadows Vintners
With glass in hand, I made a beeline to the Long Shadows Vintners table for some Pirouette, a left bank Bordeaux style blend. This is Washington State wine made at the hands of renowned Napa Valley, California winemaker, Phillipe Melka. Long Shadows founder Allen Shoup, former CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle, came up with this idea to partner with internationally acclaimed winemakers and give them access to the best grapes coming out of Washington. If you’ve ever wondered whether world class wines can be crafted with Washington fruit, this is a great starting point. We always have Long Shadows in our cellar.

Cote Bonneville
The 2009 Cote Bonneville Carriage House had more age on it than any other wine being poured, so that was not to be missed. Plus, this Cabernet Sauvignon dominant red blend was Bean’s favorite wine at the event last year. To see that winemaker Kerry Shiels made the trip from Yakima to pour the wines in person just speaks to why this is a family winery for which I have great respect. We had a great conversation about the complex nature of the 2010 vintage of the flagship Cote Bonneville wine that she was pouring. Then I realized a line was forming behind us and it was time to move on!

J. Bookwalter Winery
We recently opened up a 2006 J. Bookwalter Novella Sauvignon Blanc dessert wine at home (check out my Instagram page for tasting notes!). I’m always drawn to a winery that crafts wines that age with elegance, so I had to go for broke and taste the J. Bookwalter Chapter 8.

Damsel Cellars
I didn’t know about Damsel Cellars until the winery started engaging with me on Twitter (wineries take note – social media is a powerful tool to attract people to your brand. It’s FREE and it works!!!). This was my first time meeting Mari Womack, the winemaker, and tasting her wines. You can bet I’m going to go visit Damsel Cellars in Woodinville Wine Country soon.

J. Bell Cellars
Although this winery has a tasting room in Woodinville, I hadn’t previously heard of them. The incredible Riedel decanter they were using lured me over to their table. They were pouring the 2012 vintage which was a stunner in Washington State.

Walla Walla Vintners
The award for most intriguing wine of the evening goes to the Walla Walla Vintners Bello Rosso. Featuring 50% each Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon it emulates a Super Tuscan blend. We purchased a couple of bottles of this wine. After all, purchases at the event not only supported the Washington wineries pouring, but also non-profit TalkItUpTV. This is an easy drinking wine priced at $42 that I will uncork next time we feast on spaghetti and meatballs.

Many thanks to the wonderful wineries who poured at this classy Cabernet event, and to David LeClaire of Seattle Uncorked. I’m already looking forward to the 9th Annual Washington Cabernet Classic!

About the Author

Nancy Croisier is an enthusiastic advocate for exploring the world of wine. She holds the prestigious designation of Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) from the Society of Wine Educators, and has graduated from the Northwest Wine Academy with expert training in wine sales and marketing as well as wine and food pairing. She specializes in bringing wine brands and consumers together. Follow Nancy’s wine and food adventures on Twitter and Instagram:  @NancyFeasts and DM for collaborations.