08 Nov 2012
Looking for the ultimate excuse to go wine tasting in Spokane. Join us for the 27th annual Holiday Wine Festival. This year you can enjoy wine from 24 wineries at 18 different locations. As always the event is the weekend before Thanksgiving so you can stock up on all the wines you will need for dinner and you can get a head start on your holiday gift shopping.
Nectar Tasting Room will feature eight wines (including 5 under $16) and several great deals for your shopping pleasure.
MODIFIED HOURS: Friday Noon-10pm. Saturday and Sunday Noon-6pm
HARD ROW TO HOE: Get a little playful with 25% off of six packs of Afternoon Delight and Lickity Split (1/2 bottles). These are fun conversation starters about fun story of Hard Row to Hoe. We’ll also be pouring the Pinot Noir and Zinfandel (both great Thanksgiving wines).
NORTHWEST CELLARS: Enjoy two great wines at a phenomenal price. Enjoy the newly released 2008 Merlot ($15) and the 2011 Chardonnay ($12). Both are a great value for your holiday imbibing needs.
SKYLITE CELLARS: Hiney returns for the holidays. The popular Walla Walla red blend is back for only $15 a bottle, $80 for a six pack and $120 per case ($10 per bottle). Having a big party, or need a lot of gifts, this is a perfect wine for that. Who doesn’t want a little hiney for the holidays. Also pouring the 2007 Skylite Syrah.
TERRA BLANCA: Every holiday table needs a dry Riesling to cut through all the flavors. Enjoy the 2011 Terra Blanca Riesling for only $11. Go bold or go home with the 2008 Red Mountain Cabernet at only $16 a bottle. The rich fruit forward Cabernet will please your wine loving crowd.
OTHER PLACES TO TASTE
Mike Conway, Owner/Winemaker at Latah Creek Winery, says that the spirit of Holiday Wine Fest really hasn’t changed, as it has always centered around gift-giving and exciting new food-and-wine pairings. Now President of the Spokane Winery Association, Mike Conway incorporated Latah Creek in 1982 (the same year as another mainstay, Arbor Crest Wine Cellars), and was part of the original HWF event in 1986. Each year, his wife, Ellena, creates a special 4-5-course meal, a different course to be featured at each pouring station. Latah Creek also boasts one of Spokane’s best winery gift shops, which Ellena will stock with brand new holiday items.
Nodland Cellars is a micro-boutique winery in the Spokane Valley that consistently makes some of the best wines I’ve tried. Tim Nodland (owner and winemaker) is on hand to guide you through the tasting and educate you on the joys of his old world style Bordeaux blend. Noland is also home to the popular ‘Bad Attitude” blend that can help turn any holiday bad attitude into something quite a bit more enjoyable. Join Tim and his team at 11616 E Montgomery in the Spokane Valley (look for the signs).
Come downtown and discover the 13 tasting rooms housing 18 of Spokane’s wineries. Enjoy the hidden gems at Robert Karl Cellars (Pacific and Brown) or stop by the Broadview Dairy building (905 N Washington) where you can try wines from Caterina, Lone Canary, and bubbly from Mountain Dome. Exploring downtown is a fun way to enjoy Holiday Wine Festival. There are many places to stop to eat and you can take a break from your day with some shopping or a stroll through the park.
Visit these and Spokane’s many other wineries this holiday season. Holiday Wine Fest 2012 runs November 16th-18th, Noon-6pm. Remember, if you are planning to taste with a group of 10 or more, please be courteous and call the winery ahead of time. Tasting fees may apply. For more information about this event and all participating wineries, visit www.SpokaneWineries.net. Visitor information can be obtained at www.VisitSpokane.com. For wine tours, visit www.GroupCoordinators.com orwww.SpokaneWinerytours.com.
The Seattle Wine Awards is the largest independent judging competition of Washington wine. The tasting panel consists of Master Sommeliers, Master of Wine, wine merchants, professors and prestigious wine writers from across the state. Hundreds of wines are submitted and only the best of the best are awarded with medals. We are excited to announce that all five Nectar Tasting Room wineries, Cougar Crest and four Spokane wineries were awarded with medals.
In total, 22 of the 42 wines stocked at Nectar received awards!
Congratulations – view the full winners list at the Seattle Wine Awards web site
Anelare (Benton City, WA)
- 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – SILVER (Cabernet over $35)
- 2009 Syrah – GOLD (Syrah over $35)
- 2009 Nonna Viola – GOLD (Red Blend $20-$35)
Hard Row to Hoe (Chelan, WA)
- 2010 Good in Bed Sparkling – DOUBLE GOLD (Sparkling wine)
- 2011 Nauti Buoy – SILVER (White blend $20-$35)
- 2011 Viogner/Rousanne – DOUBLE GOLD (White Rhone style)
- 2010 Marsanne – GOLD (White Rhone style)
- 2011 Dry Rose – SILVER (Rose blend)
- 2009 Cabernet Franc – SILVER (Cabernet Franc $20-$35)
Northwest Cellars (Kirkland, WA)
- 2010 Viognier – GOLD (Viognier $20-$35)
- 2009 Sonatina – GOLD (White Blend under $20)
- 2008 Petit Verdot – GOLD (Red Varietal $35 and over)
- 2009 Cadenza – GOLD (Red Blends $20-$35)
- 2008 Intrigue – GOLD (Red Blends $20-$35)
Skylite Cellars (Walla Walla, WA)
- 2008 Soiree – SILVER (Red Blends under $20)
- 2007 Cabernet – SILVER (Cabernet $20-$35)
- 2007 Merlot – SILVER (Merlot $20-$35)
Terra Blanca (Benton City, WA)
- 2008 Onyx – GOLD (Red Blends over $35)
- 2008 AT Cabernet -BRONZE (Cabernet under $20)
- 2007 Signature Series Cabernet – DOUBLE GOLD (Cabernet $20-$35)
- 2008 AT Merlot – BRONZE (Merlot under $20)
- 2007 AT Syrah – DOUBLE GOLD (Syrah under $20)
- 2007 Block 8 Syrah – DOUBLE GOLD (Syrah over $35)
27 Sep 2010
“It’s definitely a ‘come to Spokane’ for me. The visit exceeded my expectations,” says Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report. “The people here are passionate about wine, a lot of interesting stories, a lot of interesting (wine) going on here.”
For months I’ve been trying to coax some west side writers to Spokane to experience the quality that I get to experience every day. In June, I was honored to be a part of a trip that included Joe Roberts (1WineDude), Ben Simons (Vinotology) and Eric Hwang (BricksofWine). For the last two weekends, I’ve had the privilege of drinking wine and touring wineries with Sean Sullivan (Washington Wine Report) and Bean Fairbanks (Wine Beer Washington). This weekend was my turn to play host here in Spokane.
Spokane IS a destination for wine and is earning recognition for quality and value production. 90% of Spokane wines are under $30 and are receiving many 90+ scores in trade magazines. Robert Parker recently called out Spokane’s Arbor Crest as one of the best in the state for value and quality. With 20 wineries pouring at 17 tasting rooms, you can experience a wide variety of styles.
For Sean and Bean’s trip, I was able to show them some key wineries and give them a tour of the area. In all, we explored 8 of the 18 wineries from Downtown to Liberty Lake.
Sean and Bean arrived in Spokane around 6pm and Sean hosted the first Spokane focused tasting for his monthly virtual tasting on twitter. A handful of people tasted through the Townshend Vortex NV Red Blend. As we drained that bottle, we moved on to wine from Smasne Cellars and Nodland Cellars before calling it a night around 1AM.
Bean’s focus was the Spokane Oktoberfest happening in Riverfront Park, but she joined Sean and me at Latah Creek. Sean, with clipboard and temperature pen in hand, is a machine when it comes to wine reviews; sipping, spitting, jotting down notes with every wine. Mike Conway and team were bottling their popular Huckleberry Riesling. Mike’s daughter, Natalie and wife, Ellena gave a grand tour of the wines and we even got a sneak peak at Latah Creek’s new label direction (see picture). Latah Creek was the 18th winery in the state. Their leadership and direction has paved the way for all the other Spokane wineries. Our next stop was Arbor Crest for a chat with Jim van Löben Sels, director of operations and viticulture manager. Progress on restoring the Cliff House mansion after December’s fire is coming along quickly. The renovations should be complete in November. Arbor Crest is the city’s most majestic space to enjoy wine with views of the entire Spokane Valley. A stand out wine during the tasting was the 2008 Malbec and 2005 Dionysus Bordeaux style blend.
After lunch we headed to Robert Karl where we chatted with Joe and Rebecca about their focus on old world flavored Bordeaux wines. Joe and Rebecca Gunselman moved to Spokane in 1998 to open their family winery using the greatest grapes in the world, which they believe to be in Washington State. With grapes grown in Horse Heaven Hills, Robert Karl has garnered major acclaim for consistent quality being recognized with 90, 91, 92, and 93 point scores in Wine Enthusiast. One stand out wine was the 2006 Inspiration, a Bordeaux style reserve blend.
The final winery stop of the day, but far from the end of the evening activities, was Spokane’s newest winery, Overbluff Cellars. I wanted to make sure the trip included a variety of experiences that included heritage, majestic views, and fresh energy. John Caudill and Jerry Gibson shared their story and we tasted through what little of the wine they still have left (sold out of the Reserve Cab and the Duality Cab). While not quite ready for release, we did get to try their newest wine, Hip Hip Syrah.
As if these four stops were not enough, we ventured to Vino Wine Shop because we got wind that they were pouring Maison Bleue wines. Sean’s excitement about the wines meant that I had to experience them. The Rhone focused wines were incredibly well made. I was especially impressed with the white wines Chardonnay, Viognier and Roussanne. With my newly acquired Roussanne in tow we headed home for pizza and, presumably, more wine. Sean and I polished off the Roussanne while tweeting and chatting by the fire and then headed downstairs to watch a movie. Admittedly, I’ve never seen Sideways, so we tried to find it On Demand. With no luck, we settled on the classic Napoleon Dynamite and after my step-son beat Sean in two games of air hockey, we laughed our way through another bottle of Smasne Cellars wine. Sleep.
I’m a fan of each of the areas I took Sean and Bean, but I was particularly excited about Saturday’s visits to Barrister, Nodland and Liberty Lake. Each winery was buzzing with fun activities. Before starting our day, I took Sean on a tour of downtown pointing out the wineries we were not able to visit, key restaurants and other tourist spots. A highlight for Sean was the Davenport Hotel. The beauty cannot be captured on film. Sean, obviously a wino rock star, was spotted by an adoring fan in the lobby. “Are you Sean Sullivan?” Slightly embarrassed, but mostly flattered, Sean chatted with the blog reader for quite some time.
At Barrister Winery, the first grapes of the season had arrived. Volunteers were helping de-stem the Merlot to prepare it for fermentation. Greg and Michael treated us to barrel tasting in their amazing barrel room and a host of wines including a “sold out” library wine, the 2005 Syrah. A-MA-ZING. Probably one of the 10 best wines I’ve ever had. In chatting with Sean, it was obvious that Barrister made an impression on him.
After a long visit at Barrister, we headed to the Valley for a stop at Nodland Cellars. Tim and Tracy Nodland have made a name for themselves with their one red wine, the Red Blend. The Bordeaux style wine includes all six of the original varietals, including Carmenere. The Nodland’s also produce a classic Riesling and are branching out into very small productions of reserve Cabernet, 100% Carmenere, and a new Rockin’ Red Blend. Tracy was in the middle of punching down their Merlot and let Sean get in on the action. Luckily, Sean didn’t embarrass himself by falling in and ruining the 2010 vintage.
The final stop of the weekend was Liberty Lake Wine Cellars. This small 500 case production winery is on the edge of beautiful Liberty Lake and makes for a fantastic destination to enjoy wine. Impressed with their Red Mountain fruit, Sean chatted with Doug and Shelly Smith about their story and wine making philosophy. The Smith’s were celebrating the release of their first reserve wine, a blend of Cabernet and Syrah, called the Heritage. At $28, the wine is an over achiever at its price point and a stand out wine.
I was honored to share my home with Sean and Bean and extend an offer to any wine writer to come enjoy the beautiful surroundings, fun activities and quality wine that Spokane has to offer. While Spokane may not have the number of wineries that are in Walla Walla or Woodinville, it certainly is deserving of adding to your day or weekend trip plans.
There is a geeky side to grape farming. A little bit of science is blended with hard work to create each artistic glass we drink. As we follow the 2010 Barrister Winery Sagemoor Cabernet Sauvignon from the grape to the glass, we dive into the science inside the grape. In part one of the series (From the Grape to the Glass Pt1 Progress Reports) Greg Lipsker, co-owner and winemaker of Barrister winery, visits the vineyard for a status check on the 2010 fruit. The grapes are undergoing veraison (a process where the green fruit turns purple) and vineyard manager, Derek Way is thinning the shoots to direct more energy to the grape clusters. As harvest nears, Greg makes several trips to Sagemoor, and watches stats online, to monitor the ripening of the fruit and determine the perfect time to harvest.
Part 2 – The Science of Grapes
PH, total acidity, refractometer, and pyrazines; these are not the typical sexy or romantic words you associate with wine, however, they are important terms monitored and used in the process. Sagemoor Vineyard group, north of Pasco, WA, works with 70+ winemakers, including Spokane’s Barrister Winery, in this process. Planted in 1972, the 900 acres along the Columbia River contain some of the oldest vines in the state. General Manager Kent Waliser, and Vineyard Manager Derek Way, provide lab services as the grapes near harvest. The measurements are tracked and made available online so that every winery and winemaker can stay informed on the progress.
During this visit, Greg has his eye three key measurements that will help determine when to harvest the block 9 Cabernet; sugar levels, total acidity, and PH. These three measurements work together and affect the flavor and balance of the wine we enjoy. “In the end it’s all about balance and flavor,” Greg says. 2010 has been unseasonably cool. Way has worked hard to ensure good ripening fruit through aggressive shoot thinning, and cutting out hanging fruit. These efforts allow maximum sunshine on the clusters and drive more energy to the remaining grapes.
While in the vineyard, Greg takes several sugar level readings with a refractometer. The refractometer measures the sugar level (brix) in the grape juice. During fermentation the sugar is converted to alcohol. A grape that is harvested under-ripe can have poor flavor and feel astringent or taste more vegetal. Greg typically harvests his Cabernet Sauvignon at 25 brix. Today’s readings range from 18-20. More sun and more hang time over the next 2-3 weeks will help ripen the grapes to the desired level.
TA (Total Acidity)
Greg collects several clusters of grapes from various sections of the block to be taken back to the lab to measure TA and PH. As grapes ripen, acidity levels drop helping to create a balance in the sweetness and tartness of a wine. These acidity levels also play a large part in balancing the alcohol feel in your mouth. If a wine is high in ABV (alcohol by volume) and low in acidity it can come off feeling hot and disjointed.
At the lab, Horticulture Technician Eddie Garcia presses the collected clusters and uses a sample of the juice to measure the TA. Eddie takes a solution of distilled water and five milliliters of juice and slowly adds sodium hydroxide until the pH meter reads 8.2. Reading the total amount of sodium hydroxide used and multiplying by .15 provides the total acid reading. During this visit TA was still over 1. Greg is looking for this number to be under 1 and preferably in the .80-.89 range.
The final measurement is pH. As the grape ripens, winemakers are looking for the right balance of pH in relation to the acidity. pH can play a role in the longevity of a wine as well as how it feels in the mouth. To get this reading, Ramirez takes a new sample of juice, and uses a pH reader to measure the sample. The pH reading is just over 3. This number will rise to between 3.5 and 3.7 providing the balance that Barrister Winery is looking for in their wine.
Overall, Greg is pleased with how the grapes are progressing. The flavor is nice and the sugar levels are coming along, in spite of the cool year. The 15 day forecast is calling for an extended period of temperatures in the mid and upper 70’s. The grapes love the sun.
31 Aug 2010
Ahhh, Cabaret…what’s not to love about a good French Cabaret? Singing, dancing, fishnet stocking…some Cabarets even tease with a hint of nudity…the whole thing can be quite a fun experience…
What? Cabernet…oh…that’s a completely different thing! Let’s try this again!
Attention, cows! Run in fear! Thursday, September 2 is the official international Cabernet Day. For 24 hours thousands of people across the world will celebrate with the king grape of Bordeaux. Left Bank lovers will longingly lap up the thick juice and their food accompaniment of choice will be a perfect cut of filet mignon or NY strip steak.
Cabernet Day is happening wherever you and Cabernet Sauvignon can be found. You can join at hundreds of Morton’s Steak Houses, dozens of participating wineries, or open your favorite Cabernet and join the online conversation using Twitter or Facebook. Visit the event site for specifics and additional information.
Participate using Twitter:
- Sign in to Twitter
- Talk about your wine
- Make sure your tweet uses the #cabernet hashtag
- Follow the conversation by using http://search.twitter.com/ ( or a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck) and search the hashtag #cabernet
- Engage, connect, learn, and have fun
Participate using Facebook:
- Sign in to Facebook
- Go to www.facebook.com/tasteandtweet “like it”
- Talk about your wine by writing on the wall and commenting on others wall posts
- Engage, connect, learn and have fun
Cabernet is so much fun. If you have enough you just might end up with some singing, dancing, fishnet stockings and a chance of nudity too…
Spokane Cabernet Sauvignon
For those of you in the Spokane area, 12 of our local wineries have you covered with 16 different big full bodies Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve had the privilege of enjoying 13 of these wines and Spokane does Cabernet right! I encourage you to drink local for #Cabernet day and together we can show the world what Spokane winemakers are doing! If, for some reason you need another reason, check out “Eleven Reasons to Participate in #Cabernet Day” from my friend Ben Simons of Vinotology.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon; $20 – This complex and full-bodied Cab is a delicious blend from five unique vineyard sites in the Columbia Valley. A great value at $20. 3+/5
2007 Sillwater Creek Cabernet Sauvignon; $32 – Fruit from the well- regarded Stillwater Creek Vineyard lends intense concentration and depth to this wine’s black cherry, current, chocolate and cedar flavors. A nicely layered wine that doesn’t go over the top with tannin and pairs well with full bodied food. 4/5 (Recommend)
2006 Kipsun Cabernet Sauvignon; $32 – From one of the warmest, driest and most respected vineyards in Washington State. Sadly I have not experienced this wine.
*This wine is on Paul Gregutt’s “Best Varietally Labeled Cabernet Sauvignon” for Washington State list.
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon; $22 – Made from grapes from Dineen Vineyards and Seth Ryan Estate Vineyards, this 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon is the good blend of fruit and structure. Boasting chocolate, black raspberry, and a hint of cracked pepper, this wine delivers. Enjoyed this wine during release weekend. Comes across as a big sipper would recommend with food. 3+/5
2007 Sagemoor Cabernet Sauvignon; $33 – This Cab is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon from Sagemoor’s Weinbau Vineyard blended with 15% Merlot and 10% Syrah, both from Sagemoor’s Bacchus Vineyard. The wine has a nose of black cherry, red raspberry and dark cocoa with a hint of vanilla in the background. The Cab has a soft but full mouth feel, a nice mid palate and a finish that will last until your next sip. One of my favorite Cabernet offerings. 4/5 (Strongly Recommend)
*This wine is on Paul Gregutt’s “Best Varietally Labeled Cabernet Sauvignon” for Washington State list.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon; $19.95 – This elegant Cabernet Sauvignon sets out a smorgasbord of flavors: plum, cassis, smoke, loam, a hint of the barnyard. It’s nicely balanced, with polished but astringent tannins that carry the flavors into a lingering finish (Wine Enthusiast 90 pts). An incredible Cabernet value. Open and decant to smooth out the finish and aroma. 3+/5 (Value buy)
*This wine is on Paul Gregutt’s “Best Varietally Labeled Cabernet Sauvignon” for Washington State list.
2008 Bridgepress Cabernet Sauvignon; $39.99 – Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley. 60% New French Oak, 40% one year old French barrels. I have not had the opportunity to try this wine.
2005 Pepperbridge Cabernet Sauvignon; $29.99 – An intense Cabernet that competes with the big boys from Walla Walla. I really enjoyed the full bodied fruit on this wine. It is aging nicely and could see an additional 2-3 years in the bottle before reaching its prime. Recommend decanting. 3+/5
LIBERTY LAKE WINE CELLARS
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon; $28 – This bold Red Mountain Cabernet is loaded with blueberries, plums and cherries. Ample acidity and tannins of green tea strike balance and there is a finish of milk chocolate and more cherries. Love Red Mountain fruit. Big and bold with a little bit of chewiness on the finish. 3+/5 (Recommend)
2006 Walla Walla Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; $45 – This is a classic Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon with big upfront fruit, an amazing mouth feel, and a long finish. Two years in French oak. Only 50 cases made. Limited quantities remain available. One of the finest offerings out of Spokane. It may be pricy for most, be definitely worth it. Drinking well now but will drink even better in 5-10 years. 4+/5 (Strongly Recommend)
2007 LaTour Cabernet Sauvignon; $24 – This is a single vineyard, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Made in the new world style, your palate will sense cherry, caramel, chocolate and spice. Exhibits bold front and mid-palate with an elegant and lingering finish. Nicely done. 3+/5
2007 Duality Cabernet; $31 – The Walla Walla Valley terroir shines through in this incredibly complex 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Chocolate, coffee, cherry, spice, toffee and blackberry notes in perfect balance. A well made wine that is still showing a little young. If opening now, decant for 30 minutes or buy and hold for 3-5 years. 3+/5 (Recommend)
ROBERT KARL CELLARS
2006 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon; $30 – Pure varietal, this captures the house style perfectly, with a ripe blend of brambly berries set against crisp natural acids. Almond candy and chocolate graham cracker flavors appear, reflecting 28 months in 75% new oak barrels. The transition to the silky finish brings a refreshing minerality. -P.G. (Wine Enthusiast, 92pts). Loved this wine. 4/5 (Highly Recommend)
2002 Cabernet Sauvignon; $27.95 – Aromas of black cherry cola & blackberry introduce flavors of bright plum, blackberry & cherry with an earthy, smokey lingering finish. The oldest “new release” I’ve had. After spending 30 months in oak and FIVE years in the bottle the wine is showing beautifully with several years of life still to come. 4/5 (Recommend)
VINTAGE HILL CELLARS
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon; $25 – I have not had the privilege of having this wine.
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon; $28 – Spokane’s only fully estate vineyard operation, Michael Haig grows and produces a well balanced Cab that offers medium body, dark cherry fruit, coffee, and a slight minerality. The wine reminds me of an old world presentation of Cab. 3+/5