Upon hearing, “Auction of Washington Wines” it’s easy to conclude it is a singular event. However, it is actually the name of an organization that works year round to produce a number of programs. If you’re a wine lover, here’s a little rundown on the Auction of Washington Wines events you need to know about.
Last month we had a “Latta fun” at an Auction of Washington Wines Spring Winemaker Dinner with winemaker Andrew Latta of Latta Wines (sorry/not sorry!). Initially arriving at Rider Restaurant, we were whisked away up the elevator. Then the doors opened to a penthouse suite revealing a unique setting for the multi-course extravaganza. Throughout the night wines were poured, courses followed, and conversation flowed as freely as the wine. Andrew spoke pointedly regarding his preference for single variety, single vineyard wines, native fermentation, and minimal handling leaving wines unfined and unfiltered. The array of spectacular wines included Rousanne, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Malbec. In short, the entire experience was fantastic and far exceeded my expectations.
National Moscato Day takes place on May 9th. Will you be celebrating the bubbly beverage? If so, here’s what you need to know to make the most of the occasion.
Moscato is light, slightly fizzy (technical wine word: frizzante), and delightful to sip! It makes a great day drinking wine if you’re looking for an adult beverage to serve with brunch. However, at our house, we enjoy uncorking a bottle at the end of a meal to enjoy with dessert or on its own. Most bottles we purchase range in 5-7% alcohol by volume as compared to 12-14% for typical still wines. So, even if we’ve had wine with dinner, a little Moscato won’t put us over the edge.
Moscato is the Italian word for the Muscat Blanc grapes from which the wine is made. This variety is one of the oldest in the world!
Delicate honeysuckle and orange blossom aromatics are trademarks of this quaffable wine. Thankfully, it tastes as pleasant as it smells. While sweet, it is not weighty or cloying.
Personally, I adore almost anything lavender with Moscato, such as lavender shortbread or lavender ice cream. Likely because the lavender echoes the floral characteristic of the wine.
Tiramisu, however, is hands down the penultimate pairing.
So, how will you celebrate National Moscato Day? As with all social media wine holidays, be sure to use the right hashtag and share on social media. Head on over to Instagram and #LetsTalkAboutWine and #MoscatoDay!
Have you ever wondered about behind the scenes details at wine awards programs? On Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, the Taste NW Wine & Cider Awards took place at the historic Swedish Club in Seattle, Washington. Advanced Sommelier and Taste NW Executive Director, Christopher Chan, extended an invitation to be a member of the Tasting Panel. Extremely honored, I accepted, of course. The following is some insight gained as to what goes into a program of this scale.
The Taste NW Wine & Cider Awards encompass the Seattle Wine Awards, Oregon Wine Awards, and Idaho Wine Awards. Celebrating its twelfth anniversary this year, it is lauded as the premier Pacific Northwest wine and cider evaluation and awards program. Each entry is evaluated for aroma, flavor, typicity, balance, complexity, and overall impression. In the end, the top expressions earn Double Gold, Gold, Silver, and Bronze Grand Awards of Excellence.
Do you believe you can taste terroir? Red Mountain AVA is the smallest and warmest wine grape growing region in Washington State. Wines crafted with fruit grown here are known for their structure and concentration. Often, I sense a bit of smokiness in the wines. Whether or not you believe it’s due to the terroir, one thing is for sure – there are phenomenal wines being crafted with Red Mountain AVA grapes.
Last week the Taste Red Mountain event took place at the World Trade Center in Seattle. Read on for a few highlights from that experience.
Now you might be thinking, “There’s Nancy going on about Washington State Wine again!” However, people from all over gush about wines from Red Mountain. In fact, here’s what Texas based Kat René, Certified Specialist of Wine and author of The Corkscrew Concierge, says about her experience with the region:
Tasting wine from Red Mountain was one of those “aha” moments for me. I don’t drink a great deal of Cabernet Sauvignon and I was convinced that I would never love Syrah. Red Mountain changed that for me. I was like, “who knew?!” It does an amazing balancing act between power and elegance.
The Canvasback 2016 Grand Passage Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a show stopper! For those not familiar with this brand, it is part of the Duckhorn portfolio. This bottling of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot is composed of their very best lots. Admittedly, at $84 it’s not cheap but dang, it’s worth it!
2017 Optu White Wine ($30) Sure, many associate Red Mountain with red wine. However, for a refreshing change of pace try the 2017 Fidélitas Optu White Wine, a Bordeaux-style white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon sourced from Klipsun Vineyard. It spends time in 50% neutral oak, 25% new oak, and 25% concrete egg, making it a textural delight on the palate. I’m suddenly craving seafood!
2015 Merlot ($30) After recently hearing a local wine buyer wax poetic about this under the radar winery, I just had to have a taste. Am I glad I did! At $30 a bottle, the Hightower Cellars Merlot is a steal of a deal for the level of quality. This juicy wine offers bright fruit on the palate wrapped up in velvety tannins. Pair this wine with Friday night and Netflix.
2016 Estate Red Mountain Sangiovese ($30) The Kiona tasting room was the first one I visited on Red Mountain way back, so the wines – and the family behind the wines – have a special place in my heart. This Sangiovese is a delectable easy drinker with characteristics of sweet tobacco along with chocolate notes. Will somebody please bring me some pasta?
2013 Syrah ($50) I have been partial to the wines of talented owner/winemaker Kyle Johnson ever since I became familiar with them as a wine buyer for a small shop. If there’s a variety that reveals a sense of place more than any other, it has to be Syrah. The Muret-Gaston Syrah showcases the intensity of the region with its rich black fruit profile. Uncork a bottle and put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door!
There is an exciting experience coming to Seattle for fans of Washington Wine! We’re talking about phenomenal winemaker dinners. What’s the big deal? Well, my friends, these dinners involve five of Washington’s favorite winemakers paired with five talented Seattle chefs including two James Beard Award Nominees from this year! There’s wine and food pairing, obviously. Plus, it’s all in the name of fundraising. So read on for more details about this special Dinner Series happening for one night only.
Presented by the Auction of Washington Wines, the dinner series benefits Seattle Children’s and the WSU Viticulture & Enology Program. “Spring Winemaker Dinners are a great way to connect winemakers with wine lovers”, says Jamie Peha, Executive Director. “We enjoy kicking off our event series with these one-night-only meals highlighting the best of the season in Seattle-area restaurants.” Guests have the opportunity to learn about each wine as they are poured with each course, directly from the Winemaker and Chef who created the pairing.
Dinner Series Details
These five dinners run concurrently Thursday, April 25th, 6:30 p.m. Seattle locations All tickets $150 each, including wine, food, and service More details available on the Auction of Washington Wines website.
Invite a friend, choose from one of these five memorable spring dinners, and enjoy the evening for a good cause!
Dusted Valley at Sawyer Restaurant: Sawyer – 2019 James Beard Semifinalist for Best New Restaurant Location: Ballard Chef: Mitch Mayer Winery: Chad Johnson of Dusted Valley
Kevin White Winery at FlintCreek Cattle Co. Restaurant: FlintCreek Cattle Co. Location: Greenwood Chef: Eric Donnelly, 2019 James Beard “Best Chef in the Northwest” semifinalist Winery: Kevin White “Winemaker to Watch” of Kevin White Winery
EFESTÉ at Lark Restaurant: Lark Location: Capitol Hill Chef: John Sundstrom 2007 James Beard “Best Chef Northwest” Winery: EFESTÉ
Latta Wines at Rider Restaurant: Rider Location: Downtown Chef: Dan Mallahan Winery: “Washington gamechanger” Latta Wines