Columbia Winery 2008 barbera

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on January 4, 2010:

Who in the world would name their cat “Snag L. Tooth” or their dog “Doogie Schnauzer Md”?? Those were the top unusual names in 2009 by Veterinary Pet Insurance. If that’s the pet name of your girlfriend/boyfriend, you may want to start packing your things now if they read this. The 2009 Darwin Awards winner was announced but I don’t know what’s funnier, the winner or the combined stories of all the losers. We’re talking about a couple of Belgian bankrobbers who used too much dynamite to blow up a vault (and ended up dead) versus a box of tools like the 50-year old NC woman who died trying to rescue her moped in a swollen creek AFTER being initially rescued from the creek by a cop. If ever you have a rough day, go to and you will feel much better about yourself.

Ah, Columbia Winery! Continuing my foray back into the foundations of Washington State wineries, I opened this club offering to pair with my second attempt at reviving the lettuce wraps recipe from Twitter’s @TheFauxGourmet. I had a hunch that the ground pork with cumin/coriander would be a bellissimo! pairing and I was right!

Columbia Winery started up in 1962 by ten buddies, six of whom were Univ. of Washington professors, and was originally known as Associated Vintners. The original location was in UW’s nearby ‘hood of Laurelhurst, in Dr. Lloyd Woodburne’s garage…hmmm the original ‘garagiste’? The winery’s claim-to-fame is “Washington’s first premium winery.” Columbia is best known for two items: David Lake MW, the former head winemaker, and their gorgeous chateau located just south of Januik/Novelty Hill wineries. What I also know them for are the outrageously divine wines across their entire portfolio. The wines are not just a good value, they are just plain and simple good wines that can be consumed for all occasions. The stereotype of their wines being more “European” (subdued) compared to their neighbors can be misleading as I personally consider the gewurztraminer to be a step brighter than any other traminers put out in Washington. Overall, the wines may lack the “inyaface” power but the balance and finesse speak volumes that are a challenge to replicate at other wineries. This is called “solid winemaking”.

Disclosed: yes, I am a recent admittee to their wine club, but only due to their latest offerings being so dern delicious, I could not sensibly pass up on the opportunity.
What to do about barbera? The great northern Italian red that is often overshadowed by that big bomber called nebbiolo. With the newer generations wanting to discover “new” varietals outside the old-school cabernets and merlots, one can reasonably expect more buzz coming to these normally blending-type wines in the coming years.

Barbera brings an interesting (and tarty) twist to food pairings. While admittedly not the best choice for steaks or even thick, tomato-ey pizzas and bloody-red pastas (stick to sangiovese) a well-vinified barbera will do nicely in a dance with simple pork and spice dishes. Sure, pork goes well with both reds and whites. That’s why you should experiment more with these formerly background grapes that seem to be the latest status symbols for the low self-esteemed wine bloggers who have nothing else to meaningfully contribute to our wine knowledge so they have to stake out their star-appeal on places that tout tasting 100 different wine grapes. (I’m kidding, gang! Relax 🙂 )

Color: Caribbean-clear youthful purple-red. Nose: early ripening red plums and August raspberries. Mouthfeel: bouncy, lively tart. Tail trail: 4 seconds. Flavors: red berries, red flowers, acerola cherry. Alcohol: 13.0%. Balance: even. Power: medium. Dimension: several layers of evolution, nice depth. Finesse: just tart enough to pair very well with ground pork with spices. Pairs best with subtle foods.

Columbia Valley AVA. Rated: 91. Retail: $30 only at the Winery. Value: $30. Paid: $24. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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