Impressed. This single word describes my entire experience at The Red Lion Hotel in Pasco. Hungry. This is the word that describes how I’m feeling right now, re-living the culinary experience at the hotel restaurant, Bin No. 20. Jealous. This is the word that you’ll be thinking after reading this post, looking at the pictures and watching the accompanying video. Living in Spokane, I’m very fortunate to have access to some top chefs, quality food, and top notch experiences. My first thought would not be to make the 120 mile drive to the Tri-Cities to have those experiences elevated to a new level…but I was open to be proven wrong.
When I was invited to a winemaker dinner at Bin No. 20, I was in from the mention of the word “Fidelitas.” Fidelitas Winery, situated in the Red Mountain growing region outside the Tri-Cities, has been a longtime favorite of mine. Regardless of what the food experience was going to be, I knew that the wine experience would be off the charts. Watch the video for my interview with owner/winemaker Charlie Hoppes for more information on Fidelitas Winery.
While the Pasco Red Lion is getting along in years, the hotel is timeless in its architecture and has a grand entrance to accompany its three restaurants and well appointed rooms. We were fortunate enough to be put up in the Presidential Suite and were impressed with the spaciousness of the room, separated bedroom / living space, large bathroom with separate shower and jetted tub and a balcony. I’m not a hotel room snob. The room was spacious and clean, the bed was comfortable and I slept well.
Having had a preview of Chef Jonathan Gilbertson’s menu, we entered the restaurant in eager anticipation of the night. My how our expectations were exceeded. Chef Jonathan brings a vast restaurant experience to Pasco by way of top restaurants in Vail, CO, Palm Springs and San Diego, CA. Having him at Bin No. 20 in the heart of Washington wine country is a stroke of brilliance.
Course One (not pictured)
Pan Seared Diver Scallops served with vanilla bean savory grits and Maryhill peach coulis. This was my favorite dish of the night. Sadly, I missed taking a picture of it because in my excitement, I devoured it. The scallop was perfectly prepared and the combination of the creamy grit and the sweet coulis matched amazingly with the Fidelitas Optu White (blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon).
Hudson Valley foie gras and Key West spiny lobster Napoleon. Served with malbec infused mission fig and mallard remoulade. The lobster was flown in from Key West overnight and once again the marriage of flavors was succulent. This wine was paired with the somewhat earthy vanilla and blueberry Fidelitas Malbec. The wine provided more structure and content for the foie gras than I expected.
Intermezzo of Gialla Watermelon Consomme & Raspberry Sorbet
Beautiful palate cleanser as we moved into the final two more hearty dishes.
Majoram Venison Loin served with celery root puree and rabbit saddle jus. I’m not a huge venison eater but this was cooked very nicely. The meat was exceptionally tender and was easily cut with the fork. The Fidelitas Columbia Valley Merlot was, once again, a great pairing.
Queen Charlotte BC Salmon served with saffron pancetta risotto and el maiz-fennel compote. I liked the combination of the pancetta risotto with the marble laden salmon. While my serving of fish was slightly dry, the flavors were still well balanced in the dish. The tricky part here was the pairing of the Fidelitas Columbia Valley Cabernet. While I’m all for breaking the molds when it comes to wine pairing, the curious combination did come across as slightly disjoined to me and my guest. Others at the table raved. The wine, stand alone…beautiful.
I’ll let the picture speak for itself. This artistic creation was as tasty as it was beautiful. Charlie Hoppes opened a special treat with their award winning Champoux Vineyard Cabernet. This highly extracted dark fruit wine was a little big for the chocolate…but at this point…who cares! Both were spectacular.
Bin No. 20 Wine Dinners
Red Lion and Bin No. 20 will continue hosting winemaker dinners each quarter. The price tag on this dinner was a mere $80 per person (easily worth it). Visit their website for a schedule and plan a visit to the hotel as soon as you can. With over 160 wineries within an hour’s drive, this is a great location to call base camp while you explore the amazing variety of Washington wine.
We were so excited by Chef Jonathan, the hotel staff, and the wine tasting experience, we have started the talks to bring Chef Jonathan to Spokane for a preview dinner and then a wine tasting journey through the Tri-Cities. Tickets will be limited, join our mailing list (top right of this page) to be the first to know.
30 Aug 2011
Every time I drink wine it is a celebration and let’s just say I celebrate quite a bit. Luckily for me, Cabernet Day is right around the corner and invites another reason to raise my glass. This Thursday, September 1 marks the second year of celebration with interest and excitement up tenfold from 2010. Founded by Rick Bakas, formerly the social media director for St. Supery in Napa Valley and now the VP of Marketing at PressPay, Cabernet Day will involve a hell of a lot of folks around the world drinking Cabernet Sauvignon and discussing their experience through social media.
Many wineries are holding events and parties onsite (you mean people still hang out in person and…talk?), but most people will compare notes online via hashtags such as #Cabernet and #Cabernetday on Twitter. One might ask, now what’s the point of celebrating a wine that is, realistically, already the king of vino and destined to sell like crazy without any promotion at all? But you see, that’s the point! Cabernet, the beautiful and successful child of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, has done wonders aiding the exponential growth of the wine industry over the years and we all owe it more than some care to admit. Clearly one of the world’s most recognized red grape varietals, its ability to grow well in almost every wine growing region yielding consistently approachable fruit and exceptional value is certainly cause for celebration.
I’ll be the first to admit, Cabernet was my first love simply because I could pronounce it confidently at restaurants. Did I attempt “sauvignon”? Not so much, but everyone knew what I meant. Seeing names like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo scares most newbies, but seeing a Cab on the wine list brings the heart rate back to normal and paves way for easy ordering on a first date. I love everything Rick Bakas does for the wine industry. He’s innovative, smart and brings a sense of simplicity back to wine when most people try to complicate things to the point of frustration. With Cabernet Day, he has proven me right yet again and it’s exactly the style of social networking that enforces twitter’s stronghold on this beautiful, new circuit of interaction. Get involved! Even if Twitter makes you cringe, investigate your local wineries to find out who is participating or, better yet, make a night of it and plan a dinner party with guests bringing their favorite cabernet to compare. Life is all about enjoying yourself, so don’t pass up this great opportunity to share wine notes and feel like you’re having a glass of wine with people all over the world.
For more information on #CabernetDay – visit here >> http://cabernet.eventbrite.com/
Cabernet Day At Nectar
Join us at Nectar Tasting Room. As one of the 2011 host spots we will have deals on all of our Cabernet and Cabernet based blends. You can enjoy 1/2 price appetizer plates with the purchase of a bottle AND we’ll have some fun surprises that we can’t tell you about, but trust me – you’ll like it! See you Thursday for #CabernetDay.
About The Author
Ben Hilzinger is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and at the Arbor Crest Winery. During the day he masquerades as an aspiring drum teacher seeking to instill a sense of rhythm in wanna be rockers. In the evening Ben dons his rock star cape as a drummer for a local band. Ben hopes to share the love of wine with his generation and has aspirations to be a wine maker.
Nectar Tasting Room is pleased to announce the selection of American Childhood Cancer Organization INW for their quarterly Cheers for Charity partnership. The ACCO offers a network of support for children with cancer and their families living in and travelling to the Inland NW for treatment.
The ACCOI, formerly Candlelighters Northwest, exists to educate, support, serve, and advocate for families of children with cancer, survivors of childhood cancer, and the professionals who care for them.
“September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and everyone is encouraged to join us in our wholehearted support to bring awareness to and raise funds for this great organization,” says owner Josh Wade. Nectar members and guests are encouraged to support the ACCOI in one of several ways:
August 27: 2nd Annual Childhood Cancer Awareness Walk; join us at Medical Lake Waterfront Park in Medical Lake, WA at 11AM. After the walk you can enjoy a FREE picnic, face painting for kids, and music from The Vagabonds Traveling Show. Bring your walk shirt back to Nectar and get 1/2 price entry to The Final Sip at 9pm (reg $10). Find out more here.
September 29-October 1: $1 from every bottle sold this weekend will be donated back to American Childhood Cancer Organization. Stop by and show your support. Stock up your cellar, buy wine for a friend, buy and support with every sip.
September 29: Join us for an ACCOI awareness night at Nectar where we will donate 10% of all proceeds PLUS $25 of every membership sold back to the cause. Please help spread the word and join us for this special night.
Cheers for Charity is a quarterly partnership with one select non-profit organization. “We’re excited to partner with these various organizations and provide what we can to make a difference in the world,” says Josh.
15 Aug 2011
12/14/12 UPDATE: NACHES HEIGHTS OFFICIALLY APPROVED AS WASHINGTON’S 12TH VITICULTURE AREA
While looking at a map of Washington State’s American Viticultural Areas with a couple of customers at Nectar Tasting Room the other night, I came across a soon-to-be AVA just northwest of the city of Yakima called Naches Heights. Due to Washington’s abundance of distinctive microclimates, landscapes and soils, eleven official AVAs have been added to the state’s map since 1983. One thing intrigued me about Naches Heights: it will be the first 100% organic AVA in the entire United States. Being the secret Hippie that I am (I buy organic produce whenever possible, and read the ingredient labels on EVERYTHING I buy at the grocery store), I excitedly decided to dive head-first into the subject of just what it will mean for Naches Heights be an organic AVA.
I was immediately surprised that a 100% organic AVA didn’t already exist in California, which pioneered the practices of organic and biodynamic grape-growing and winemaking in the US. In fact, Mendocino County has branded itself as “America’s Greenest Wine Region®,” as the numerous AVAs within it contain the largest number of certified organic vineyards in the country.
So, what makes Naches Heights unique? Located within Yakima County and the greater Columbia Valley appellation, the area consists of a 13,254-acre plateau ranging in height from 1,200 to 2,100 feet. One million years ago, the region was formed by a volcanic eruption from what is now the Goat Rocks of the Cascades. Left behind were rocky deposits of Andesite lava. Since then, other volcanic eruptions have filled the pockets in between the Andesite “pillows” with fertile loess soil. Due to Naches Heights’ high elevation and gradual westwardly decline, the grapes enjoy ample sunshine during the day but cool off at night as potentially damaging, freezing cold air flows away. Grapes thus ripen slowly, and the wine produced from them is ultimately more balanced, with less sugar to convert to alcohol and a natural acidity.
The landscape on Naches Heights facilitates organic grape-growing. Phil Cline is a third-generation farmer from the area, and currently oversees all 35 planted vineyard acres. Included are his own Naches Heights Vineyard and plots belonging to Wilridge Winery and Aecetia Vineyard (scheduled to open a tasting room on-site in 2012). Cline says that the rocky Andesite deposits naturally partition the plateau into 15-20-acre plots of farmable land. Because large-scale commercial farming and the use of mechanical harvesters are not really possible, attention to detail is easier, and all of the grapes are picked by hand. Organic farming, says Cline, requires being more proactive and observent, “which makes us more astute… We have to catch things before they get out of hand, and think about the weather more.”
The soil and climate also contribute to the success of Naches Heights’ organic grapes. Paul Beveridge, Owner and Winemaker of Wilridge Winery, planted a 10-acre test plot there in 2007. Included are 23 different varietals, among them the Spanish Tempranillo, Italian Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, all five red Bordeauxs, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Muscat and two types of Port. All survived 2010′s record cold temperatures, and this year will yield the first full crop. Both Beveridge and Cline believe that nearly any type of grape will thrive, with the exception of warm-climate varietals like Grenache and Mourvedre, and late-harvest.
How is organic farming distinct from conventional methods? According to Beveridge, organic farming is “more about what you don’t do: no pesticides, no synthetic anything.” What truly defines the methods used, however, are the certifications obtained by the individual growers. Currently, all of the vineyards on Naches Heights are certified with at least one of the following designations: National Organic Program, Demeter Biodynamic® or LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology). These rather expensive certifications will ultimately protect the credibility of Naches Heights as an organic AVA because, as Cline says, organic farming is “not the easy path,” and it is unlikely that a grower will go to the trouble of obtaining them under false pretenses.
A common reaction to the mention of the word “organic” in association with wine is to turn up one’s nose — and perhaps for good reason. Wine is made from fruit, and, like any fruit, will tend to brown and go bad. To preserve it, Beveridge and Cline believe that it is essential to add sulfites. In fact, says Beveridge, that is why less than 1/2% of wines on the market are organic [a wine may bear the "USDA Organic" seal only if it contains 95% organic ingredients and less than 10 ppm (parts per million) of sulfites]. While sulfites are a natural preservative and byproduct of fermentation, an additional “dose” is needed to protect wine’s color and flavor, and improve shelf life by preventing oxidation, spoilage and further undesirable fermentation. Without them, says Cline, there would be no margin for error. (And if sulfites are getting a bad rap for purportedly causing “wine headaches,” Cline believes that the histamines in wine are the actual culprit!)
Cline and Beveridge fully expect that the Naches Heights AVA will be signed into existence this month by the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau). In fact, they’ve already planned a party in September. Although Naches Heights will make history by becoming the first 100% organic AVA in the country, it will remain so only if all of the growers within it continue to use organic farming practices. Several factors might aid in the process: the uniformity of the soil across the entire plateau combined with the success of the existing vineyards at organic farming; clean water from the same mountains that feed the Yakima-Tieton Irrigation District; and the high amount of silica in Andesite lava, which is of benefit to biodynamic farming. Due to the amount of acreage not yet planted, to impose organic practices on all future vineyards might be a daunting, if not impossible, task. The hope is that the organic growers of Naches Heights have started a trend that will catch on. Says Cline, “This is a lifestyle choice. We hope that we’ll lead by example and that others will want to follow.”
About the Author:
Sulo Abeid is a wine slinger at Nectar Tasting Room and the mother of two. Sulo is a graduate of Gonzaga University and is currently studying for her Masters in business administration at Whitworth University. Sulo’s wine experience comes from her years as the tasting room manager at Lone Canary and work at other Spokane wineries.
04 Aug 2011
The patio is open, the patio is open! After about 6 weeks of delays (mostly due to waiting for the fence), we’re finally excited to celebrate on the patio. With temperatures soaring close to 90 degrees, grab a bottle or two of Rose, bubbly, or Sauvignon Blanc and head out with friends to enjoy the weather and the wine. As the hot summer nights continue, don’t miss out on a single sip at Nectar Tasting Room.
Two Important Announcements:
Do you own a home based business (jewelry, candles, cosmetics, etc)? We have a deal for you. Contact us for an awesome opportunity for you to use our space for your next meeting.
Did you see our press release on the Quarterly Cheers for Charity? No? Check it out. We’re pleased to do our small part to give back. Nominations are open through August 12.
Have you seen and heard the incredible talent in Spokane? For one night each month, Spokane shines a little brighter in downtown. Nectar is a proud participant in the Downtown Partnership’s popular First Friday event.
- THURSDAY – Thirsty Thursday continues with 1/2 price appetizer plates when you purchase a bottle of wine. Glass prices start at $5 too.
- FRIDAY – First Friday activities begin at about 6:00 with live music from Maxie Ray Mills and music from the very talented Bill Werle
- SATURDAY – Don’t miss out on the sale wines from Northwest Cellars and The Final Sip (from 9-10pm).
- THURSDAY – MonaVie healthy energy stops by to showcase their Acai berry products.
- FRIDAY – Karrie O’Neill graces us with her beautiful personality and voice 6:30-9:30
- SATURDAY – Tipsy Muse Painting With Spirits: Learn to paint this beautiful Tuscan Landscape while you sip. Bring a friend or two and make a day of this event. $55; register here
>> The return of the RESERVE FLIGHT – Enjoy five of our highest end wines for just $10 <<
- THURSDAY – Second annual Pinot Noir day. Join us online or at Nectar as we celebrate the world’s most expressive wine grape. Which region will win the battle
- FRIDAY – Acoustic variety from Joe Davis 6:30-9:30
- SATURDAY – We welcome Coeur d’Alene Olive Oil Company back for a vinegar and oil tasting from 1-4pm. Fingerstyle blues and flamenco guitar from Joe Caruso 6:30-9:30
The QUARTERLY SIP is almost here. Sign up for our quarterly wine club and get 20% off of 5 select wines, 4 complimentary wine tasting passes and 10% off of all other wines purchased. The QUARTERLY SIP is only $99per quarter. Trust me, you’ll love this quarter’s wine selections. The last of an iconic Nectar wine, a pre-release of a unique varietal, and a super award winning wine that is not stocked at Nectar. To sign up, stop by or email us at mailto:email@example.com?subject=Quarterly Sip Sign Up
- SATURDAY – Music from a Nectar favorite, Mike Dwyer; 6:30-9:30 and The Final Sip from 9:00-1000