A WAwineman favorite, 1st posted on June 22, 2010:
First off, a little about my habits. I do not believe in doing a wine tasting “blitzkrieg” for evaluations. That may work for the major publications because they cater to the old folks who are due to be six feet under soon. These “raisins” also follow as fact, movie reviewers and are avid loyalists to Oprah and Dr. Phil. G-E-T-A-L-I-F-E.
So, why do I (1) stay anonymous as I snake my way through the tasting rooms of life; (2) prefer to PAY for my wines; (3) review a wine by the bottle and not the ounce; and (4) lead the sledgehammer crew that is disjointing the “old boy network” that is the fading wine establishment?
In a nutshell, (1) I want you, the intelligent reader, to get some of your wine experience through me. I will make the mistakes for you. I will unearth the deeply hidden gems for you. I will educate you on the trends that are coming months later. And, I will debunk the fads that other bloggers succumb to. (2) Wineries are a business, not a charity. Wines convert time and place into a memorable experience. I’m not some old goat that calls a winery ahead of time, telling them how great I am, how many books I’ve written and how influential I THINK I am, so that I expect them to deliver an experience the regular customers do not receive. Paying for wine at a tasting room is part of the experience for us customers. It’s also my way of saying ‘thank you’ to the staff for spending time with me talking about the wines they poured. (3) Even a half-wit will admit a bottle of wine, once opened, has a limited window of pleasurable drinking and in that brief period, something wondrous occurs that cannot be found in any other fine beverage…the wine evolves. Aromas constantly twist and turn. Colorful, alternating flavors light up the palate like a Las Vegas casino marquee. Lingering residue evokes deep inflections of thought. And a quarter move of the clock forward, the wine’s entire landscape is remodeled like a change of seasons. (4) The call is out: complete the demolition that WAS the aged, unwritten rule of the wine reviewers. These cowards solicit for free wine as a requisite for a write-up. Pay to play. Some claim to be about “Washington wine” then squirrel away most of the praise to one small region (read: Walla Walla) while giving absolutely minimal coverage to the other ten AVAs. When was the last time a print publication raved about Adams Bench Winery? About Full Pull Wines? About the highest consistency in value with Januik/Novelty Hill wines? HOW ABOUT NEVER?
This is why today’s wine appreciati (sic) have turned to wine bloggers for information. BECAUSE THE OLD BOYS HAVE FAILED. Make a statement and stop paying cash to subscribe to these media. Instead, use up your jet miles from an airline you no longer fly with or go through a consolidator. Or, just follow your favorite wine blogger!
Onto the awards! (Wineries are all are worth a visit)
Cowan Vineyards best tasting room that has the best of nothing but still memorable for its homeliness.
Davenport Cellars: best value in a syrah. The Jirkas are one of the most pleasant couples in the wine industry. However, gotta get rid of that fizz in the Snowflake…
DeLille Cellars best red wines that I have not opened for review at this time
Dusted Valley Vintners best overall lineup of Rhones
@NWTomLee (Twitter): best tweeter on wines that is blogless (Hint: dude, blog.)
Efeste: best tasting room to throw a party or watch sports
Facelli Winery: most venerable of all the boutique Woodinville wineries
Obelisco Estate: most anticipated tasting room opening in Woodinville
Pondera Winery: best artwork in a tasting room
Tefft Cellars warmest greeting of customers in a tasting room
William Church Winery: a great WA malbec.
Best cabernet franc: Barrage Cellars 2005 ($35)
Best chardonnay: still waiting for someone to join Buty and Abeja. Face it, when Arbor Crest can pull off a delicious Conner Lee version for $16, all the non-Conner Lees became instantly grossly overpriced.
Best 6th Bourdeaux grape: Beresan 2007 carmenere ($29)
Best blended wine (red or white): Cooper Wine Company 2007 L’Inizio
Best gewürztraminer: Dowsett Family 2008 ($18)
Best grenache: Maison Bleue 2008 ‘Le Midi’ ($29) Jon, please come back.
Best merlot: Seven Hills 2006 Walla Walla Valley ($30)
Best pinot gris: King Estate 2008 Signature ($16). Yes, I know it’s Oregon. Point.
Best riesling: Januik 2008 Bacchus Vineyard ($20)
Best syrah: Bunchgrass Winery 2006 Lewis Vineyard syrah
Most adventurous wine of 2010: Chateau Ste. Michelle’s “Tempestade” ($32)
Most cluttered address: D-500 19501 144th Ave NE. (4 wineries)
2nd most cluttered address: D-600 (next door). (3 wineries)
Most enthusiastic wine server in a tasting room 2010: Jessica Turk of Gifford-Hirlinger Winery (a million dollar smile)
Most enthusiastic winemaker in a tasting room 2010: Kevin Correll (Barrage)
Best 1-2 punch for wine tasting: Mark Ryan Winery and Ross Andrew Winery
Best international retailer of WA wines 2010: Orca International (Japan) Hint: wineries, if you’re thinking of entering the 1-point-huge billion Chinese market, it’s a wise plan to test the waters in the Japanese market first. See who has here.
Best e-tailer of WA wines 2010: Full Pull Wines
Best plot of land for a winery/tasting room 2010: JM Cellars
Best re-invented wine district: Woodinville warehouse(144th Ave. NE)
Best traditional retailer of WA wines 2010 (supermarket): Olson’s Food Emporium
Best traditional retailer of WA wines 2010 (only wines): McCarthy & Schiering
Best vineyard overall in its prime 2010: Red Willow
Best winery you have never read about: Adams Bench
Best wine of 2010: Adams Bench 2007 Red Willow cabernet sauvignon ($48)
Holes waiting to be filled:
1. Will someone make a true (at least 85% varietal) tempranillo that delivers?
2. Will someone tell Alder Ridge to hire me as their consultant? Ah, on second thought, just tell them to read my reviews. What? They let go their winemaker? I guess they did.
This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth. Congrats, winners!