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Looking for a good Washington wine?

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According to the Washington Wine Commission, our state is now home to over 540 wineries, producing wine from more than 20 varieties of grapes cultivated on over 31,000 acres of vineyards. This adds up to a lot of bottles, which represent an ever expanding selection of wine for the consumer. It is easy to become overwhelmed by it all, as evidenced by the confused and confounded faces I often see at the grocery or wine store.

There is hope for those needing help in choosing a Washington wine that suits their personal taste, for there are several bloggers who focus a better part of their wine consumption and subsequent reviews on producers from Washington state. These blogs include The Wine Commentator, WineFoot, and Washington Wine Report.

As a result of following these sites, I regularly discover something new or revisit something tried before, for each offers a unique perspective on the Washington wines that grace their tables. Granted, there are many others in our region blogging about Washington wine, but these three appear to offer the most frequent and diversified reviews covering our state's producers. They also distinguish themselves by covering both the good and the bad, rather than following the "unspoken code" practiced by most folks writing about wine.

Fowler Martin at The Wine Commentator has been blogging about wine for several years now, with a focus on producers from the Pacific Northwest. I really like the approach Fowler takes toward reviewing, which includes a panel of family and friends tasting each wine with and without food. This offers a broader assessment of each wine, both in terms of palate (e.g., multiple tasters) and pairing (e.g., alone or with a meal).

I also like how Fowler will focus on a single variety, comparing wines produced by different wineries. This provides some very useful insights into the various winemaking styles that span our state. Best of all, Fowler keeps his assessments simple with each bottle receiving a "Recommended", "Worth Considering", "Problematic", or "Not Recommended". The Wine Commentator clearly gets a "Recommended" from me.

Duane Pemberton at WineFoot has only been blogging about wine since February, but has amassed quite a library of reviews covering Washington producers. Similar to The Wine Commentator, Duane puts an emphasis on tasting wine with food, and even takes this a step further by recommending dishes that would pair well with each bottle.

Duane has recently introduced an ingenious wine rating system, which focuses on a price-to-quality ratio. Better wines will score above 100% of their retail price while less than desirable wines will score below. I think this is an interesting approach toward rating wine, especially in Washington, where over-priced, mediocre wines abound.

Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report has been covering our state's wine producers for about a year now. In addition to covering wine, Sean also provides detailed reports on various wine events in Washington. Many times, Sean will cover several bottles from the same producer, offering readers a broader view into a winery's portfolio.

Sean's reviews offer concise notes on each bottle and features a simple rating using a five point scale ranging from exceptional to flawed. It is unknown whether or not the Washington Wine Report reviews wines as a stand-alone tasting or with food. Like The Wine Commentator and WineFoot, Sean provides retail pricing and sporadically offers alcohol levels in each bottle.

Whatever your preference in wine might be, I am confident you are going to find something useful by following the Washington wines reviewed at these three sites as well as those offered here at BeyondtheBottle.com. For me, there is nothing better than discovering a new Washington wine from one of my fellow bloggers and then to try it to see how my experience compares to theirs.

Comments

Great post! And don't forget how incredibly insightful your blog is ... and please don't forget Write for Wine! We've been writing about Washington state wine for more than a year now. We don't consider ourselves critics, because we believe everyone's palate is different and valid to his/her tastes. So we simply write about what we like,in case others want to taste it and make up their own minds. We're always on the lookout for new wines, but right now our favorites are from Woodhouse Family Cellars, JM Cellars, Fall Line and a host of others that you can find on the Write for Wine blog. How's that for a shameless plug? :) Thanks and cheers!
Margot

I appreciate your comments, Margot, and Write for Wine remains on my list of blogs I regularly read. I agree with your statement about wine being subjective, which is why folks should read a variety of reviews to find those that match closely to their palate. At the same time, I hope folks will take the "wine road less traveled" every now and then to discover something new. Keep up the good work connecting folks to Washington wine.

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