The Taste Washington Experience
After several seminars on Saturday and an afternoon of tasting on Sunday, I definitely feel more connected to the who, what and where of Washington wine. Overall, Taste Washington exceeded expectations in terms of the people met, the stories shared, and the wine enjoyed. In previous years, I had only attended the Sunday tasting event, never realizing how much I was missing by not going to the Saturday seminars.
Seminars are one of the best ways to taste wine and learn more about the people and places behind each glass in front of you. Each session included a diverse panel of winemakers, sommeliers, viticulturists, and columnists who offered commentary and insights on the featured wine flight. Combined with the winemakers in the audience commenting on their wines, the discussion went well beyond the bottle in terms of context.
One theme that repeated itself throughout the Saturday seminars was how food friendly many Washington wines are, especially our state's white wines. I heard it mentioned on several occasions from more than one panelist, especially the sommeliers, that Washington has world class food wines. In fact, it was repeated enough by folks in the Washington Wine Commission that it seemed like this was becoming a new tagline.
This potential tagline was certainly validated during a luncheon featuring five different Washington wines paired with a three course meal. And this was further confirmed during the afternoon seminar on riesling when six different wines were paired with a plate of food from Wild Ginger. These two sessions were standouts, for they provided a great opportunity to experience Washington wine while enjoying some deliciously prepared food.
I only wish the seminar featuring David Lake's wines had been accompanied by food as well. The flight featured eight wines, including an '83 Cellarmaster's Riesling, a '91 Otis Vineyard Cab, a '92 Red Willow Cab, and a '95 Red Willow Syrah, each matched to a more recent release. David was hailed throughout the session as a winemaker focused on crafting food-friendly wines. It's too bad these wines could not have been enjoyed over a meal. Regardless, it was special being able to taste these older wines and hear the many stories about David's impact on the Washington wine industry.
Sunday's main tasting event served as quite a contrast to Saturday's seminars. The Grand Tasting lived up to its billing with hundreds of wineries pouring wine and dozens of restaurants serving small plates of food. During the two hours I was there, I had the opportunity to sample about two dozen white wines (mostly riesling and sauvignon blancs) and a dozen reds (various). Highlights included discovering new wineries, experiencing delicious wines, and meeting some truly passionate winemakers.
As a result of Taste Washington, I now have a long list of wines to bring to my table and wineries to visit in the months ahead. Which will provide for more posts in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.