How Writing Plays a Role in Wine Competitions

Guest author Dana Van Nest shares a behind the scenes look into the Great Northwest Wine competitions.

“Intriguing nose of cherries jubilee, sweet herbs, and chocolate-covered blueberries,” I noted about the 2017 Siren’s Reserve Beijo Red Wine from Siren Song Wines. “Juicy red berries and plum greet you in this smooth and very drinkable blend, and later give way to chocolate and hints of tobacco.”

The Columbia Gorge Hotel where the Great Northwest Invitational takes place

At the Great Northwest Wine Invitational, held this past October at the Columbia Gorge Hotel, I tasted 67 Gold medal-winning wines and wrote tasting notes for each in less than two days. Eric Degerman, journalist and owner of Great Northwest Wine, had invited me to return for a second time as a Chief Judge for this competition (I also served as a Chief Judge at the Cascadia International Wine Competition last May).

With approximately 800 wines entered in this invitation-only competition, we start early with the panels of wine judges receiving their first flights at 8:30 am. The panel is comprised of a number of the region’s most respected wine buyers and merchants. They are a knowledgeable and generous crowd with whom I seriously enjoy getting to work, eat, and drink with for two days. After the panels have chosen the Golds for each flight, the Chief Judges (typically two or three of us) get to work.

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Let’s Talk About Washington Wine Month

It happens twice a year. This time, there are some twists. So let’s talk about Washington Wine Month,
new ways to celebrate with the Auction of Washington Wines, and how to win a weekend getaway to Washington.

Before we dive in, feel free to review my hashtag guide to Washington Wine Month which offers some explanation as to why we have two months dedicated to vinous celebrations.

Let's talk about Washington Wine Month
Check out the Sip Around Seattle auction lot (number 171) and place your bid!

Celebrate the Auction of Washington Wines

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Washington Wine Month”

Taste Cava in the Kitchen with Ray Isle

To know me is to know I love bubbles. So how could I refuse an offer to participate in and promote the virtual event, Cava in the Kitchen with Ray Isle? Read on to learn more.

About Cava

First of all, a bit about Cava. This is Spain’s answer to Champagne. In other words, it’s a sparkling wine crafted in the traditional method like Champagne, but made in the Cava DO region of Spain. Although the method for these sparkling wines is similar, the grapes used are not. Cava relies primarily on the Spanish varieties Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarello. Nevertheless, these are wines made with care, yet available at a fraction of the price.

In fact, should you choose to fully participate in this tasting, the bundle of five wines is available from Gary’s Marketplace for a mere $86.95. Purchased individually, the wines range from $12.99 to $22.99 a bottle. If you’re into sparkling wine at all, you know that’s an incredible deal. When the wine samples arrived at my door, I was so excited to taste them!

Cava in the Kitchen Event Details

Cava, the longtime darling of sommeliers and bartenders around the world, is positioning itself internationally as the quality-driven wine that offers a glass of sparkling for every occasion.
This virtual tasting led by Ray Isle, executive wine editor of Food & Wine Magazine, will focus on the versatility of Cava—this traditional method sparkling wine offers a perfect pairing to a myriad of dishes that enhance every occasion, from everyday cuisine to celebratory meals. This tasting will explore the wide array of styles with distinct flavor profiles of Cava … whether you’re a novice or expert, this session is sure to unveil something new about why this Spanish sparkling wine is so in demand around the world. Featured wines include:

• Alta Alella Mirgin Rosé Reserva
• Bodegas Langa Reyes de Aragón ‘El Castro’ Reserva Brut
• Canals & Munné Dionysus Reserva Brut Nature
• Naveran Brut Vintage
• Roger Goulart Gran Reserva 2015
• Segura Viudas Brut Reserva

Don’t miss your chance to taste these wines along with Ray!

Jun 10, 2021
1:00 PM Pacific

Join live or register for the Zoom webinar.

Secure your wine selections at Gary’s Wine & Marketplace.

Celebrate Walla Walla Valley Wine Month

When I posted about Walla Walla Valley Wine Month on Instagram, a friend commented that she wasn’t even aware that such a month had been declared. So, here’s some insight as to why you may not have heard about it, a run-down on what to know about the month, and recommended bottles to open.

First, let’s solve the mystery of why this vinous month is less than well known. Consider that April 2020 was the first Walla Walla Valley Wine Month. Well, the pandemic unexpectedly threw a monkey wrench into the inaugural event. It was a fine idea when originally planned, however, born from the notion that the vineyards come back to life in April. It’s also tied to Spring Kick-Off Weekend. That’s the special time of year when many wineries open their doors to showcase their latest releases. The hubby and I have certainly enjoyed our share of winery visits during April. I mean, it’s our duty as Washingtonians, right?

Photos courtesy of Richard Duval Images

 

2nd Annual Event Offerings

“Walla Walla Valley Wine Month is an unparalleled opportunity to experience Walla Walla Valley Wine, whether you are near or far,” says Robert Hansen, Executive Director of Walla Walla Valley Wine. If nothing else, simply follow along on social media to learn about the Walla Walla Valley AVA.

For those interested in a visit to the region, wineries have special offers for intimate experiences including elevated tasting options. If you plan to visit a winery in person, be sure to make a reservation due to limited capacity.

Alternatively, those who prefer a virtual visit at this time may explore the Walla Walla Wine Alliance website buying guide for special packages and discounted shipping while available.

Celebrate at Home

At VinoSocial we’ve been celebrating Walla Walla Valley Wine Month while simultaneously tackling the Washington Syrah Challenge! First, with a Gramercy Cellars 2010 Walla Walla Valley Estate Syrah. The 2010 vintage was a cooler one. The result is a wine that is still vibrant and loaded with mouth-watering, spicy goodness. If I had to use one word to describe this wine it would be, “Mmmmmm!”

A bottle of 2018 Proper Walla Walla Valley Estate Syrah was our next selection. With less age, this one needed to decant several hours before dinner. Plum, baked blackberry, and cinnamon were part of the intensely colored wine’s beguiling profile.If you’re a Syrah fan, Walla Walla has numerous delectable options that are worthy of a celebration.

Next up, we’ll open a bottle of Northstar Red Blend received as a gift from the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

With over 120 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley, there are a lot of exciting Walla Walla wines to get to know.

Are you thirsty for more? Explore more exciting Walla Walla wines. Or check out the Walla Walla Valley Wine website to plan your next wine country trip.

Best Quips and Tips from Online Wine Events

Yes, there have been silver linings to our time at home! One is the ability to connect with wine enthusiasts, winemakers, authors, and other folks in the wine industry via myriad online wine events. Here are some of the best quips I heard and tips I learned in recent months.

Alta Colina Syrah Virtual Tasting

My introduction to virtual tasting featured Paso Robles winery Alta Colina. The organically farmed estate based in the Adelaida District AVA specializes in Rhone varieties. An amiable panel included the winery’s founder, grower, and winemaker emeritus Bob Tillman, his daughter Maggie Tillman, and winemaker Molly Lonborg. Following this terrific introduction to the winery, I am eager to explore the rolling hills of their vineyard in person!

Fun fact:  Paso Robles is about three times the size of Napa in terms of acreage planted.

Pro tip:  At the Alta Colina Vineyard you can book a stay among the vines at one of 5 cool looking boutique vintage trailers.

WineSmith Wine

I wrote a full post about an intriguing virtual tasting with Clark Smith, who boldly discussed his manipulation in winemaking. Continue reading “Best Quips and Tips from Online Wine Events”