Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #34 - Welcome Fellow Bloggers!

My Washington Cabernet Sauvignon summary reads like the old carol, "Twelve Days of Christmas:

32 Blog entries
45 Reviewed wines
3 International blogs
9 Cabernet blends and one Merlot
17 From Walla Walla and - -
One Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle

Thanks to everyone for their entries! The results were wondeful and even better than I hoped for!

Cheers and thanks again!
C~ (6/19/07)

Greetings to my fellow wine (and foodie) bloggers!

I was thrilled to be asked to host Wine Blogging Wednesday #34 for the month of June! This month's theme is Cabernet Sauvignon from the State of Washington. Known for its warm and extended growing days with cool summer nights, Cabernet Sauvignon loves the climate of Washington State.

I also challenged my fellow bloggers to see if they could discover a Washington Cab that was not from Ste. Michelle or Columbia Crest -- not that there is anything wrong with these wines, but they are largely produced and distributed. I wanted to challenge wine lovers to truly dig for these Washington jewels from the second largest wine producer in the nation. I am very anxious to see what has been discovered. Extra stars and virtual pours go to those wine bloggers who went above and beyond the call of duty and found a Walla Walla wine!

The history of WBW was proposed by Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours and fashioned after a similar foodie-blog event. WBW been growing since it's start in September of 2004. I have visions of full glasses of wine and empty bottles next to burning keyboards from all over the USA and other parts of the world.

The first blog to arrive is from Alex at Huevos con Vino. Alex claims that he has never been a fan of Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon, even though he is living in Seattle! However, after you read his blog you will discover a very happy ending. And what wine did Alex choose to blog about? Reininger Winery Walla Walla Valley Cabernet - 2002! In his email to me, Alex sums up his verdict in two words: " It rocks!"

Extra stars go to Alex along with some generous virtual pours for making a reference about Walla2's Sweet Onions and the famous Walla2 reference from Bugs Bunny!

Joe in Montreal had no experience with the Washington Cabernets. Many stars and virtual pours to Joe's Wine for scoring a L'Ecole #41 Cabernet -2003 from the Walla Walla Valley! Joe thinks the Canadian Border patrol must have let this wine slip through because of the French name.

Me thinks he overall enjoyed the wine as he bought four more of the wines that L'Ecole #41 has to offer.

Michelle from My Wine Education in Cincinnati claims that she and husband, Kevin, cheated a little as they chose a Claret from Matthews Cellars. Michelle, as long as there are Washington grapes stuffed in that bottle, you are good with me!

I particularly like their way of thinking when tasting a red wine - do it with a perfectly seasoned steak and make it last to the dark chocolate for dessert.

All the way from Florida, Deb's Key West Wine and Garden says that her husband Mike's favorite state for Cabernets is Washington. I salute you Mike - you're a good man! In fact, Mike is a fan of Columbia Crest, but they decided to go for my challenge and brought home two Washington Cabs that were not labeled Columbia Crest or Ste. Michelle. Deb did some homework and well -- I'll let you read their discovery for yourself.

Neil from Brooklynguy Wine and Food Blog says that west coast wines are daunting to him - referring to California. Being a fan of Oregon's Pinot Noirs, he thought that he might find some wines from Washington State he would love. It wasn't exactly a 100% Cabernet he drank, but I aint going to argue with a guy from Brooklyn.

Want the good news or the bad news first? The bad news is Neil wasn't a fan of his choice, but the good news is that he wants to continue trying more Washington wines! Give this man your suggestions. I know I will.

BP of In Bottles is a first-timer to WBW. Welcome! BP's home base is in San Francisco and noticed that Washington wines are very under-represented there. However, there is a decent and expensive selection of Walla Walla wines. BP chose to get more wine for the buck and selected three wines - a Cabernet from Hogue Cellars and an RTW and Syrah from other WA State labels. BP notes that there is a touch of Lemberger in the Cabernet. Lemberger is one of my favorite obscure varietals. (Maybe someday we should have a WBW on Lembergers - - Lenn?)

After he read the May’s edition of the Wine Spectator’s “A Master Class in Cabernet", the timing was right for my neighbor Gene of the Seattle Wine Blog to write about Washington Cabernets. A wine writer, wine educator, and former publisher of the Northwest Consumer's Wine Guide, Gene didn’t chose just one, but five Cabernets! (I am hoping to do some Walla Walla wine tasting with him next week)

You will enjoy reading about Gene’s terroir discussion regarding these wines as he asks the big question: Terroir - scientific data or mythology? I believe in Bacchus. Doesn’t he climb down your chimney and leave you gifts of wine?

Megan of Wannabe Wino, my sistah in wine blogging, has been a WBW slacker for awhile, but she’s back in the saddle! Believe it or not in the state of Virginia, she found a couple of bottles of Walla Walla Cab. Umm...but to keep peace in the family, she opted for a less expensive Cab, from the Yakima Valley that she felt went well with brautwurst on the grill.

Megan, tell Matt you want a Cabernet from Walla Walla for your next birthday or anniversary.

Jill from Domaine547 is a newbie to WBW (love the talking wine bottle and cheese on their web banner)and believes there should be more wine and less attitude. There was a problem locating any wines from Walla Walla (sending her the name of a distributor in LA who sells nothing but Walla2), but giving it the old college try she eventually found an Abeja Cabernet which is a Walla Walla winery. There seems to be some confusion when there is "Columbia Valley" printed on a Walla Walla winery label. Walla Walla is a sub-appellation of the larger Columbia Valley region.

Also, Jill chose two other Cabernets that were produced in Oregon, but from Washington grapes (a close border separated by the great Columbia). All's fair in love, war and wine. Extra stars and virtual pours to Jill at Domaine547 for finding a Walla Walla wine.

Another Washington State neighbor, Brenda of the Culinary Fool gave me hope when she selected a Seven Hills Cabernet from the Walla Walla Valley! Seven Hills, established in 1988, is one of the original five wineries of the Walla Walla Valley.

Word of warning! Do NOT you enter the Culinary Fool website when you are hungry. Brenda's food and wine photos are gorgeously-delicious!

Serge the Concierge from New Jersey didn't want to rest on his laurels and repeat a blog he wrote on a Walla Walla Cabernet a while back (however, he did give the link). Instead, he shared with us a most interesting Cabernet, "Ex-Libris." A wine-negociant project from New York where they make their own wine from purchased juice from some of the best vineyards in Washington State. The goal is to produce high-end reds, for half the price. Interesting concept and thanks for the info, Serge.

Drop by Marta's Postcards from the Trail. Marta didn't choose a Cabernet from Walla Walla, but she did pair her Cab of choice with organic lamb from the Walla Walla Valley and suggested a stay at a Walla Walla B&B overlooking a vineyard (which is worth a couple of stars in my book). Check in with Marta often to read more about her journeys on Slow Traveling.

John in Connecticut from Walk The Wine, not only walks the wine, but he walked down to his cellar and grabbed a Walla Walla Cabernet from Seven Hills. In the summer of 2003, he visited the area and brought Washington wine-treasures back home with him. I see extra stars and virtual pours in his future.

This is too easy - his name is John and because he dines, he walks the wine. Wasn't there a song...

Sam-I-am at $10 Cabernet spent more than $10. Hailing from Virginia, Sam tasted two Washington Cabernets. One from the Yakima Valley (the same as Megan) and the other Cab was from Walla Walla. He shared his wine and while he preferred the Bridgman Cab from Yakima, the "girls" preferred the Nelms Road (Woodward Canyon second label) from Walla Walla. Goooo girls! Sam sums it up like this: "Washington State Rocks - Columbia Crest Rules"

Seconds before opening Tim's email from Winecast, I had been thinking it odd that I hadn't seen a wine from Barnard Griffin, yet. It's a wine we see a lot of in the state of Washington with the colorful tulip label and a good reputation for quality. And-there-it-was! Tim was fortunate to find an older Barnard Griffin Cabernet -- a 1998. And how did this almost-ten year old wine taste? See for yourself at Winecast. It's a great read - thanks Tim.

Way down yonder in South Carolina (here up north it's yonder to me), John from Brim to the Dregs, recently read an article about the turning point for Washington’s wine industry and it's world-class wines. Inspired by the article and this month's theme - - John went searching and discovered a bachelor's button - a wild flower - a Walla Walla wildflower tucked away down south. That's right -- John found a 2001 Bachelor's Button Cabernet Sauvignon from Isenhower Cellars produced here in the Walla Walla Valley.

Thanks John -- extra stars and virtual pours for you.

From up north in Montreal, Canada and moving down south to Richmond, VA a second bottle from one of Walla Walla’s oldest winery was discovered - L'Ecole #41 ! Tripp from Richmond Cellars enjoyed a 2004 Cabernet. 2004 was a tough year in Washington for many of the vineyards. Frost! Historically - a frost with consequences seems to happen every seven years around here. However, we survived and made due. While production may have not been the usual high, we were able to still make some excellent wine. Charcoal grilled rib-eyes were paired with Tripp's wine choice.

Dr Debs sent an email from London pointing me to the direction of her WBW #34 entry. Okay - - I won't give her too bad of a time for her choice of WA Cabernet. I am always telling wine newbies and those looking for an affordable everyday-sipping wine - go Ste Michelle and/or Columbia Crest. Afterall, she is keeping true to her blog Good Wine Under $20. Dr. Debs chose a 2003 Chateau Ste. Michelle from the Indian Wells Vineyard. This designated vineyard wine comes from the Wahluke Slope AVA. Wahluke is really a beautiful part of the desert. Who knew that grapes could grow there? And keeping with her theme of "good wine under $20" -- only $14!

Of course I'm gonna love the spirit of this next entry - Wild 4 Washington Wines! And of course, since Will lives in Richland, WA, his partiality to Barnard Griffin, also located in Richland, is a natural! So far we have Tim from Winecast offering a 1998 Barnard Griffin and now Will offers up a 2005. This is great to see the comparisons of their vintages. Is it a coincidence that William, a Washington Wine Ambassador, recently moved closer to be next to those Barnard Griffin Cabernets? Ummm - 3 minutes from the winery?

Aww - Bill from Podcast: Wine for Newbies says he feels so ashamed because he chose a 1999 Chateau Ste. Michelle! Okay -- now he's pushing my sympathy button a little. Shall I let him off the hook? Should I start feeling guilty because of my challenge and tenacity about Washington, and especially Walla2 wines? Alright - I'll give him credit for scoring an older wine. I might even give him some credit for selecting a designated vineyard Cab. Okay-Okay I'm a softie.

Jerry-Jerry-Jerry, what are we going to do with you? We ask for a Cabernet from Washington State and challenge you to go further than Chateau Ste. Michelle? And what do you enter? A Riesling from Ste. Michelle??? Jerry from Wine Waves at least got the state right. Actually, I can hardly wait to try this dry Riesling! But a word from the wise -- Jerry, please be careful out there in that Columbia Valley ice fog. It appears that it makes us think Riesling when we should be thinking, Cabernet.

Now that Jerry's contribution has me forgetting where I am, Margot's entry from Washington State Wine Blog came just in time to calm me. Yup, she gets extra points, alright. Margot has listed several great Washington Cabernets, but her favorite one is from Forgeron Cellars 2003 Pepperbridge Vineyard Cabernet from Walla2! I love that wine! Also, I work there! Honest -- she didn't know. Honest. (Is my boss reading this?)

Just when I think I have seen just about every wine label from Washington State, somebody discovers a new one. Snekse of the Gastronomical Fight Club found a new label that I'll be doing some homework on. There doesn't seem to be any place of origin, other than a name - Hurricane Ridge - 2002. The chief of mischief, mayhem and soup gives great tasting notes - check it out.

Mucho stellas goes to Catherine of Purple Liquid for choosing a real star - a Walla Walla star from the Northstar Winery. Named "Stella Maris" (Star of the Sea), this blend is 51% Cabernet with Merlot(44%) and Malbec (5%). It's a great wine. The Northstar Winery is known for making world class Merlots. Nice choice Catherine.

There's a reason why Alder at Vinography is a wine cyberstar. He not only chooses a wine from Walla Walla (I dream about this wine - "s_w_o_o_n"), but "encourages" his San Francisco readers (and not with a gentle hand) to go beyond Napa Valley for their wines and look at Washington. Alder chose Frederick", an Estate Cabernet blend from the Spring Valley Vineyards. Endless virtual pours for Alder.

Listen up people! If Thomas from Winzerblog can find a Walla Walla wine in Germany... well, I will let you read between the lines. Wouldn't you say that Thomas met the challenge in spite of the big sea as an obstacle - - he pulled it off! Thomas tasted a L'Ecole #41 and a Chateau Ste. Michelle. Be sure and read his dialogue he had with the wine merchant. Extra stars for Thomas!

Another big sea obstacle from Great Britain - - Garry from Tales of a Sommelier types a sommelier tale about his first experience with a Washington wine and you will never guess where it was from? Woodward Canyon Winery Cabernet from the Walla Walla Valley! However, his WBW #34 entry happens to be about a Merlot, but since the Merlot is from the Walla Walla based winery, Canoe Ridge, we will let the Merlot entry slide.

Ta-da-dada-dahh!!! Announcing our WBW Founder, Lenn of LENNDEVOURS selection --- he also went "from the library" and chose the Ex-Libris - 2005. From my research this negociant blend, made in New York, equals bargain for those every-day-sipping wines. It sounds like Lenn thought the wine okay, but nothing to write Robert Parker's home about.

Holy Quilceda Creek Batman! (Trivia - did you know that the original Batman, Adam West, from the popular TV series was born and raised in Walla2? ) If you must choose a bottle of Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon, you might as well go with one of the finest in the state. Joanne and Jack from Fork & Bottle chose a Quilceda Creek - 1999. It's a favorite of Steiman, Parker and others. Be sure to check out Jack and Joanne's tasting notes of this wine that comes with a legendary winemaking family history.

Andrew from Rouge and Blanc made it just in time and with the right wine, too. "Pitch" is a red blend (large percentage is Cabernet) from Dusted Valley Vintners in the Walla Walla Valley. I noticed something interesting when reading Andrew's blog (and there were others) that there seems to be some confusion about Columbia Valley grapes on a Walla Walla label. Walla Walla is a sub-appellation of Columbia Valley, so it could be a combination of Walla Walla, Red Mountain and other Columbia Valley sub-appellations. Andrew, Pitch must be a new label. While I am familar with Dusted Valley, Pitch is a new one for me. Thanks for discovering a new label.

Molly Evans came late to the party, but better late than never. At this time Molly's new wine blogging site is still under construction, ( Noble Grape) so she sent me her WBW notes via email. As she was typing her email to me, she was enjoying a Champoux Cabernet Blend from the Andrew Will winery in the Vashon Islands, WA. She writes that "this wine is serious." Keep an eye out for Molly's new site.

When you live in a valley with some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon, it was a task to choose which Cabernet to enter for WBW. I decided to enter three Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignons. However, it was difficult to choose which winery, so it became the luck of the draw. Names of wineries were tossed in an ice bucket and I drew: Fort Walla Walla Cellars, Waterbrook Winery and Whitman Cellars. You can read more about my choices here


Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing your E-mail in your post!

Just wrote my piece and sent you the link.


Serge the Concierge

JD said...

I keep getting an error message using the e-mail link. Here's my post:

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon this great video of the Nantucket Wine Festival. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

sansakana - bettina said...

hey catie - congrats on hosting your 1st WBW, great job. i read the posts with great interest, we're headed to Walla Walla for some winery/vineyard sourcing tours in late august.

i enjoy reading your posts. teaches me about Walla Walla, a new area for us to hopefully source some grapes.

thanks - Bettina
owner, winemaker
san sakana cellars

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, Catie. Great theme, and lots of great new wines to try!

RougeAndBlanc said...

Thanks for your correction and acceptance of my late entry.
Great job!

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