Taste Washington’s Grand Tasting 2016 provided the showcase for Washington state to show off her talents this weekend. The Taste Washington Grand Tasting highlighted Washington’s glorious agriculture and her people’s expertise and creativity in food, wine, beer, spirits and organization. Although I certainly found some things that were more to my personal flavor profile than others, I didn’t have a bad sip of wine nor bite of food. Taste Washington was a great sampling of what Washington has to offer.
You would think that I would spend most of my time at a Taste Washington’s Grand Tasting actually tasting food and wine. That wasn’t how it played out this year. I usually zoom about the VIP hour taking my photos, telling folks I will chat with them later but that didn’t happen this year either. This year’s Grand Tasting was all about reestablishing old connections and making new ones. I didn’t spend my time sipping and spitting dozens of wines this year. Instead, I savored several glasses of wine with people while they told me their stories of how they were impacting the Washington wine industry or how the Washington wine industry had impacted their lives. Some of those people that I spent my time with were wine makers, others were sales reps, some were science geeks and some were beer lovers. A few people had retired from their primary careers and had embarked on wine as new adventure that now encompassed their lives more than their primary careers! I didn’t taste a lot of different wines this year but I did get to savor a lot of wine stories. It was a very different Taste Washington experience for me but one that I richly enjoyed.
My personal food favorite of the Taste Washington Grand Tasting came from Palisade Restaurant. Palisade served their Scallop Tartar with honey crisp apple and strawberry puree on a wonton crisp. I loved the textures and the care they took to ensure that the strawberry puree enhanced, but not overwhelmed the delicate scallop flavor.
Swiftwater Cellars won the 1st Annual Grand Tasting Best Bite Award by serving several delicious bites of which I tried two. I tried the Duck Confit on a Wonton chip with an Asian plum sauce and Braised espresso-crusted Kobe short ribs on a Brioche crouton with a Cabernet reduction. The duck confit was very good and I agreed with the chef that it was better than short ribs.
Smoked salmon cake with red pepper sauce from Urbane Kitchen was addictive. Ed Amato wanted to pair it with a lot of the white wines he was tasting and kept wanting to go back for seconds!
It was a good thing Purple Cafe & Wine Bar was placed so close to Bartholomew Winery because their Goat cheese gougères with sweet pea mousse, micro-arugula and piment déspelette was a dynamite pairing with Bart’s Rosé of Carmenere.
I’m not big on sweets, especially when it comes to drinking wine but I did have a favorite. Bluebird Microcreamery served a really tasty bite of Merlot ice cream topped with Raspberry sauce.
Since I listened to talk more than I tasted, some of the wine highlights listed are second-hand information. I did manage to come up with a few wine highlights of my own.
Pink bubbles are the ultimate in frou frou but Trevari Cellars Sparkling Rosé was so clean and crisp. I wish I had had better lighting for a photo, it was a beautiful light pink with nice tight bubbles. I could envision myself sipping this delightful and refreshing wine all spring and into the summer. I wanted to buy a case of this Washington sparkling wine on the spot.
Fidélitas 2013 Malbec was full bodied, elegant, juicy and delicious. Sourced from Red Mountain, this Malbec expanded from the standard blueberry profile of most Washington Malbec wines, bringing in blackberry-raspberry hybrid notes like boysenberry and tayberry. I felt like I was in my own berry patch at home when my nose was deep in the glass.
Industry folks were lining up to get a taste of the Aniche Cellars Come & Go 100% Albariño. Once the word was out, winemakers, tasting room managers, vineyard owners and wine writers flocked to sample this clean and crisp white Washington wine.
David LeClaire, Sommelier and founder of Seattle Uncorked, declared Avennia 2013 Boushey Vineyard Arnaut Syrah as his favorite wine of Taste Washington 2016.
I was impressed with how well the Grand Tasting portion of Taste Washington was organized this year. My wait in the entrance line was very brief. I didn’t encounter any lines in the restroom nor coat check. Really the only lines I encountered of any consequence were for oysters and chowder at AQUA by El Guacho and at Swiftwater Cellars. You could eat up two oysters as you waited in line for the next oyster variety and an assortment of white wines was offered at the beginning of the line as it wound through the AQUA by El Guacho section which removed much of the pain of line waiting. Swiftwater Cellars had limited counter space in a corner and they ended up serving the Best Bite so a line was to be expected.
Congratulations to Visit Seattle and to the Washington Wine Commission for a job well done. I am already counting the days to next year’s Grand Tasting. Next year, I will definitely plan on tasting more Washington wine though!