Welcome to the fourth reincarnation of what is becoming a tradition of microscopic proportions… it’s the annual Woodinville Wine Honors! We are celebrating the culmination of another fine vintage year in Washington that will lead to some damn fine wines in a couple of years and, let’s hope, with a little more high-grade consistency than this past year’s releases…
Wrapping up 2012 in Woodinville, we saw the emergence of the south warehouse district (SoWaDi) as wineries flocked to occupy cheaper space with less of the clutter that is now plaguing the warehouse district, what with all the alcoholic tour buses congesting the filled parking rows. Throw in a few food trucks on release weekends and you may as well park in a neighboring warehouse park or just head south.
At the end of 2012, here are the current tenants on 142nd Ave NE: Aspenwood Cellars, Auclair Winery, Avennia, Barons V, Chatter Creek Winery, Convergence Zone Cellars, Covington Cellars, DFG Winery, Fratellanza Country Wines, II Vintners, Kaella Winery, Matteo Wines, Pomum Cellars, Script Cellars, Sheridan Vineyard, Stevens Winery, and White Heron Cellars.
We lost a few wineries around town (Edmonds Winery, Challenger Ridge Winery) but gained a few more in Patit Creek, Forgeron Cellars, Avennia, Bunnell Family Cellar/Riveraerie Cellars, DFG Winery, J&A’s Winery, Lawrence Cellars, Plain Cellars, Sfida Cellars, Sky River Meadery, Sleeping Giant Winery, Upchurch Vineyard, Upland Winery, Vessel Wines, and William Grassie Wine Estates.
Movin’ on to the awards!
Retired wine word of 2012: KIRSCH. Seen in several publications this year, wine snobs continued to prove their worthlessness by trying to reinvent another flavor descriptor of sour, dark cherry-almond. Kirsch is a type of colorless brandy made from double-distilled whole morello cherries and routinely favored by crunk alcoholics as this is the only “cherry” they can wrap their lips around. Forever alone.
Best WAwineman blog post: Kiona Vineyards Winery 2009 riesling. Seriously, if you cannot admit you laughed at this post, we cannot be friends. Runner-up: Adams Bench Winery 2009 ‘the V’. This post proved Washington wines make you smarter.
Best tasting room experience: Long Shadows. Why? (1) The wines. Every wine is made by a different winemaking stud from around the world. (2) The setting. You are in a warm library room right out of Masterpiece Theater. (3) The tasting. Your server makes sure you enjoy the wines. Selling is mostly a secondary task. Each wine is discussed in detail, with full winemaking notes, in an unhurried atmosphere. The high tasting fee ensures no out-of-state yahoos or obnoxious wine bloggers will spoil your moments of glory.
Rookie of the Year: Auclair Winery. This one had the longest, most drawn-out debate amongst the staff. Half of the constituents voted for Avennia for its mesmerizing syrahs and Bordeaux riffs. The tiebreaker category was accessibility. Avennia is only open on release weekends (twice a year). Auclair Winery is open EVERY SATURDAY, noon-4pm. So what if Charlie only focuses on Bordeaux-grape blends… have you tried them? His entire lineup of six whites and reds are silky smooth and are priced to overperform. Charlie’s second label, 96 Cedars, is one of the best deals in Woodinville. Where else are ya gonna get a vibrant Artz Vineyard (Red Mountain AVA) sem/sau blanc for $15??? Well done, Charlie!
Winery of the Year: Adams Bench Winery. Gang, get on this one. Now. Tim and Erica Blue’s winery has since busted through its original plan of only producing 1000 cases/year of ultimate-premium red Bordeaux compositions by adding new vineyards and discovering some magic in single varietals while still in barrel. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a 3500 cases/year winery by the end of the decade. While you may smirk at this advisement, consider that right now, their wine club (each member received only ONE bottle) devoured the 25-case production of their most coveted wine that has only been thrice produced (2005, 2006, 2009). Swami says this: allocations for such miniscule production wines will go, in chronological order, to those on the list. But, that’s only a secondary reason why your name should belong on the roll call at this cult winery. Their cabernet wines have clear trademark flavors of sultry violets and black-berried fruit with true vineyard expression. We know what’s on the horizon with next year’s releases so this is your last chance… Get in. Now.
Wine of the Year: Adams Bench Winery 2009 ‘Ursula’ sangiovese. An instant sellout upon release, this 25-case jewel had Tuscany-philes clamoring for more. Many at the tasting previews were caught off-guard at how such a stellar sangiovese could be made from Washington grapes. Here are the answers revealed: winery– Adams Bench, winemaker–Tim Blue, and vineyard–Red Willow (Yakima Valley AVA). Pair this with a meaty, red-sauced pasta and you will be making babies all weekend. Il cielo in una bottiglia! Runner-up: Betz Family Winery 2009 ‘Chapitre 3’ syrah.
White wine of the Year: Guardian Cellars 2011 ‘Angel’ sauvignon blanc. If you only savor Jerry Reiner’s version of plush, tropical sauvignon blanc, then you would think everyone does this. I mean, it’s only $20, right? Wrong. With barely a handful of exceptions, Flying Dreams Winery being one of them, Washington sauvignon blanc is usually a sour, diluted, lemony mess best used for impressing buddies by cooking raw meat in the glass. Not ‘Angel’. Never has been. This is the quintessential Washington “summer in a glass.” Excellent with white meat– chicken, turkey, and Polish women. Runner-up: DeLille Cellars 2010 Chaleur Estate blanc.
Music pairing for ‘Ursula’ and ‘Angel’: “The Champ” by Nelly. This is WAwineman… wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kickin’ Kwanzaa, and a New Year filled with Washington wines at the dinner table.