Taste Washington 2010: The Complete Recap



By Kori ~ April 2nd, 2010.

Hosted annually by the Washington Wine Commission, Taste Washington is dubbed “the ultimate wine experience.” This past weekend brought Washington wine lovers from around the country to Seattle to drink, eat, and be merry. The event is a wine and food lover’s paradise.

The festivities kicked off on Friday with the Washington Wine Restaurant Awards, picked up steam on Saturday with Education Day, and launched into overdrive on Sunday when the doors opened at 2pm for the Grand Tasting.

The Grand Tasting is the showcase event of Taste Washington. This year’s event featured over 200 wineries pouring their wines and over 60 restaurants serving small bites. With more than 650 wineries now open in the state of Washington, this event offers attendees the opportunity to try a large number of them in one place at one time. Considering the time and gas money you save not having to crisscross the state visiting tasting rooms and making appointments, the $125 for VIP tickets or $75 for general admission tickets is money well spent. Now, don’t get me wrong, once you attend an event like this and discover some favorite new wines and wineries, you will definitely want to make plans to travel to the wineries to visit and taste again. There is nothing like spending a long weekend in Washington wine country.

With 200+ wineries pouring close to 1,000 wines, it is impossible to taste all of them. Therefore, we always try to put together a “plan of attack” before the event. This year we decided to focus on new wineries or wineries that were new to us. As I mentioned on Wednesday, we had the opportunity to get a head start and taste some wines during the trade tasting at the Restaurant Awards on Friday and a few more during the seminars on Saturday. Those wines along with the ones we tasted at the Grand Tasting on Sunday totaled 116 different wines. As you’ll see from the complete breakdown of wines below, of those 116 wines, we rated 22 of them as 4-star quality or higher and 19 of them have a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck. As we’ve said over and over: Washington State is producing outstanding wines that deliver the most bang for your buck.

Of the wineries whose wines I had not tasted prior to this weekend, the most exciting discoveries were Tranche Cellars, a relatively new winery in Walla Walla affiliated with Corliss Estates, and Steppe Cellars, a winery located in Sunnyside that opened in 2005. One of the best aspects of Taste Washington is that often you will find either the winemaker and/or winery owner pouring that winery’s wines. We enjoyed the opportunity to visit with some of the winemakers/winery owners whose wines we have enjoyed in the past including Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery, Dean and Heather Neff of Nefarious Cellars, Mike and Karen Wade of Fielding Hills, Rich Funk of Saviah Cellars, Hugh and Kathy Shiels of Cote Bonneville, and Tim and Erica Blue of Adams Bench as well as meet a few who we had not had the chance to meet previously including Alex Golitzin of Quilceda Creek, Denise Slattery and Steve Michener of Trio Vintners, and Kay Simon of Chinook Wines.

Here’s a breakdown of the wines that we tasted during the Taste Washington weekend. Under each Quality heading, the wine name and region will be listed along with price and QPR rating. Wines in bold type received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
2006 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $150, QPR: 5
1999 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $200, QPR: 5

Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Fielding Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, Wahluke Slope, $38, QPR: 5
2006 Quilceda Creek Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $98, QPR: 5
2005 Quilceda Creek Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $110, QPR: 5
2007 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $125, QPR: 5

2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $175, QPR: 4

Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
2008 McKinley Springs Chenin Blanc, Horse Heaven Hills, $12, QPR: 5
2007 Owen Roe Sharecropper’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $14, QPR: 5
2007 Steppe Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 5
2005 Tranche Cellars Barbera, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 5
2007 Adams Bench “V” Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $42, QPR: 5

2007 Castillo de Feliciana Tempranillo, Wahluke Slope, $28, QPR: 4
2006 Bunnell Family Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $38, QPR: 4
2007 Saviah Cellars Malbec, Walla Walla Valley, $30, QPR: 3
2007 Fidelitas Malbec, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 3
2007 JM Cellars Boushey Vineyard Syrah, Yakima Valley, $40, QPR: 3
2007 Quilceda Creek Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $98, QPR: 3
2006 Cote Bonneville Carriage House Red Wine, DuBrul Vineyard, Yakima Valley, $50, QPR: 2
2007 Andrew Will Champoux Red Wine, Horse Heaven Hills, $55, QPR: 2
2007 Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Red Wine, Red Mountain, $55, QPR: 2
2005 Cote Bonneville DuBrul Vineyard Red Wine, Yakima Valley, $120, QPR: 1

Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Buried Cane Riesling, Washington State, $12, QPR: 5
2007 Columbia Crest H3 Merlot, Horse Heaven Hills, $14, QPR: 5
NV The Surveyor Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $14, QPR: 5
2007 Boomtown Syrah, Columbia Valley, $15, QPR: 5
2008 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, California, $17, QPR: 5
2005 Eagle Haven Sangiovese, Yakima Valley, $20, QPR: 5

2007 Mercer Estates Off Dry Riesling, Yakima Valley, $15, QPR: 4
2007 8 Bit Vintners Player 1 Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $18, QPR: 4
2007 Plaza Winery Royalty Red, Red Mountain, $18, QPR: 4
2007 Soos Creek Commander Comet Syrah, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 4
2007 Davenport Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 4
2007 Chinook Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley, $22, QPR: 4
2007 Sojen Cellars Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, $22, QPR: 4
2007 Davenport Cellars R.H.D. Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $24, QPR: 4
2007 Davenport Cellars Continuity Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $24, QPR: 4
2007 Southard Syrah, Columbia Valley, $25, QPR: 4
2007 Tildio Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $30, QPR: 4
2004 Tranche Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 4
2009 Trio Vintners Tres Rose Rosé, Yakima Valley, $15, QPR: 3
2008 Mercer Estates Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, $15, QPR: 3
2007 Wines of Substance Malbec, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 3
2007 Memaloose Cabernet Franc, Columbia Gorge, $25, QPR: 3
2006 Steppe Cellars Artemisia Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, $28, QPR: 3
2006 Walla Faces Red Bordeaux Blend, Walla Walla Valley, $30, QPR: 3
2007 Bunnell Family “a pic” Red Rhone Blend, Stonetree Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, $32, QPR: 3
2007 Bunchgrass Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $32, QPR: 3
2007 Cadaretta Syrah, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 3
2007 Nefarious Malbec, Upland Vineyard, Snipes Mountain, $28, QPR: 2
2008 Isenhower Cellars Snapdragon Roussanne/Viognier, Red Mountain, $19, QPR: 2
2007 Adams Bench “Reckoning” Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $34, QPR: 2
2007 Gramercy Cellars Syrah, Columbia Valley, $38, QPR: 2
2007 Bunnell Family Boushey-McPherson Syrah, Yakima Valley, $43, QPR: 2
2006 aMaurice Cellars Malbec, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 1
2007 Sparkman Cellars The Darkness Syrah, Yakima Valley, $50, QPR: 1

Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
NV Seeing Red Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $10, QPR: 5
2007 Powers Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $12, QPR: 5

2007 Buried Cane Chardonnay, Washington State, $12, QPR: 4
2008 Cimicky Trumps Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia, $17, QPR: 4
2007 Corvus Cellars Ruckus Red Blend, Columbia Valley, $18, QPR: 4
2008 Sojen Cellars Syrah, Yakima Valley, $18, QPR: 4
2007 Ott & Murphy Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $18, QPR: 4
2007 Castillo de Feliciana Miercoles Red Wine, Walla Walla Valley, $19, QPR: 4
2007 Mercer Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $24, QPR: 4
2007 Southard Whipping Boy Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $25, QPR: 4
2007 Palouse Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Rattlesnake Hills, $29, QPR: 4
2007 Dopf & Irion Riesling, Alsace, France, $16, QPR: 3
2006 Seia Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills, $20, QPR: 3
2006 Powers Reserve Syrah, Cougar Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, $20, QPR: 3
2007 Eagle Haven Syrah, Yakima Valley, $20, QPR: 3
2008 Naches Heights Syrah, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: 3
2007 Plaza Winery Super Tuscan Sangiovese, Horse Heaven Hills, $22, QPR: 3
2007 Memaloose Mistral Ranch Red Wine, Columbia Gorge, $23, QPR: 3
2006 Walla Faces Syrah, Walla Walla Valley, $25, QPR: 3
2006 CAVU Cellars Horizon Red, Walla Walla Valley, $26, QPR: 3
2007 Glencorrie Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 3
2006 Walla Faces Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $35, QPR: 3
2006 Corvus Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $39, QPR: 3
2007 Glencorrie Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $40, QPR: 3
2008 Domaine Alary Grange Daniel Roussanne, Vins de Pays, France, $15, QPR: 2
2006 Domaine de la Berangeraie Cahors, France, $18, QPR: 2
2006 Ksana Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina, $18, QPR: 2
2007 Pacific Rim Wallula Biodynamic Riesling, Horse Heaven Hills, $18, QPR: 2
2008 El Corazon First Crush Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, $26, QPR: 2
2007 Ott & Murphy Mystique Red, Columbia Valley, $27, QPR: 2
2006 Agate Field Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley, $28, QPR: 2
2007 Glencorrie Merlot, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, $28, QPR: 2
2007 Madsen Family Cabernet Franc, Washington State, $28, QPR: 2
2007 Seia Syrah, Wahluke Slope, $30, QPR: 2
2007 Bunchgrass Syrah, Columbia Valley, $32, QPR: 2
2006 McKinley Springs Malbec, Horse Heaven Hills, $20, QPR: 1
2008 CAVU Cellars Barbera Alder Ridge, Horse Heaven Hills, $30, QPR: 1
2008 El Corazon Tigers Blood Carmenere, Walla Walla Valley, $32, QPR: 1
2005 Portrait Cellars Merlot, Red Mountain, $32, QPR: 1
2007 Dusted Valley Malbec, Columbia Valley, $35, QPR: 1
2007 Gramercy Cellars Tempranillo, Walla Walla Valley, $40, QPR: 1
2008 Maison Bleue Liberte Syrah, Yakima Valley, $40, QPR: 1
2007 Andrew Will Two Blondes Red Wine, Yakima Valley, $48, QPR: 1
2007 Obelisco Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $59, QPR: 1

Quality: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
2007 Buried Cane Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State, $13, QPR: NR
2008 Memaloose Estate Barbera, Columbia Gorge, $20, QPR: NR
2006 Fontaine Estates Dry Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: NR
2008 El Corazon Supernova Malbec, Rattlesnake Hills, $21, QPR: NR
2006 Two Mountain Winery Merlot, Yakima Valley, $22, QPR: NR
2005 Severino Cellars Syrah, Yakima Valley, $25, QPR: NR
2006 Madsen Family Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, $30, QPR: NR
2007 Irlandes Reserve Syrah, Columbia Valley, $34, QPR: NR

Quality: 2 stars (out of 5)
2008 Simply Seductively Smooth Red Syrah, Columbia Valley, $10, QPR: NR
2005 Christian Mouiex Merlot, Bordeaux, France, $15, QPR: NR
2005 Illusion Apparition Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, $16, QPR: NR
2007 Snowgrass Roaring Creek Red, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: NR
2007 Eliseo Silva Syrah, Columbia Valley, $20, QPR: NR
2005 Agate Field Syrah, Yakima Valley, $25, QPR: NR
2007 Irlandes Reserve Merlot, Columbia Valley, $36, QPR: NR
2007 Swiftwater Proprietary Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley, $50, QPR: NR


Filed under: American Wine, Argentine Wine, Australian Wine, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Five-Star Quality Wines, French Wine, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Red Wine, Riesling, Rose Wine, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Shiraz/Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wine Activities/Events, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Over $25, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. JimD | April 2nd, 2010 at 8:09 am

    What wineries make the Seeing Red Cabernet, and The Surveyor.

    Thanks,
    Jim

  2. Chris | April 2nd, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Great Review Peeps! I’ve been telling everyone I know and meet about Steppe Cellars. The one problem is they only make 1000-1200 cases per year and if folks find out about this place my share might get sold to somebody else.

    One thing that jumps off the page for me is that your top four 4 star wines can be purchased for $20 or less. That’s what QPR is all about.

  3. Eric | April 2nd, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    I tasted through a number of these wines as well and I just don’t agree with many of your selections. I would personally stick to critics with real credentials, not consumers trying to blog.

  4. Melinda | April 2nd, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Wonderful write up. Good idea, you guys spliting up to cover more ground. I enjoyed reading your perspective on some of the wines I tasted. I too enjoyed the Fielding Hills Cab Sauv & the Adams Bench V Cab. However, I am in love with the Agate Field Cab Franc which you only rated 3 out of 5. That is what is so great about the wine lover community, we each have our own tastes & preferences. Personally, I love reading about all people’s (whether a consumer or a professional) experiences with wine. It’s the way I learn and enrich my own experiences.

    Keep up the great work peeps!

  5. Kori | April 2nd, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Jim,
    Seeing Red and The Surveyor are produced by the Cartel Wine Group.

    Chris,
    Sorry to let the cat out of the bag about Steppe. :) I too was glad to see that there were four sub-$20 4 star wines. Thanks for seeing the value in our QPR ratings.

    Eric,
    I’m sorry to hear you feel that way. No one is going to agree with any wine reviewer 100% of the time. The most important thing is to find a reviewer to follow whose palate aligns with yours. Unfortunately, it sounds as if that is not mine for you, but I believe that it is for others.

    Melinda,
    Thanks so much for your kind words. Glad to hear you enjoyed the Fielding Hills Cab and Adams Bench V Cab too. You are exactly right, though; the great thing about wine is that there is no right or wrong answer. Different people have different palates and that’s what keeps things interesting.

    Cheers!

  6. mrzitro | April 5th, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Did you taste these at the Washington Wine Restaurant Awards?

    2008 Cimicky Trumps Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
    2007 Dopf & Irion Riesling, Alsace, France
    2008 Domaine Alary Grange Daniel Roussanne, Vins de Pays, France
    2006 Domaine de la Berangeraie Cahors, France
    2006 Ksana Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina
    2005 Christian Mouiex Merlot, Bordeaux, France

  7. Kori | April 8th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    mrzitro,
    You are very observant. Thanks for reading the entire list. :) The six non-Washington wines were wines we tasted during the Malbec and Value Challenge seminars on Saturday. Cheers!

  8. Denise Slattery | April 9th, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Reading your list makes me sad that I could not get around and taste more myself. What a great write up. Your focus and discipline is admirable. Now – while we are on the topic of pouring wine and discipline…I want to register my concern over how large I think the pours are at Taste WA and most other events of this sort. It seems crazy that the winery representatives pour so large an individual taste. I’m on a crusade to reduce this practice because I think it ruins most peoples palates, increases odds for over drinking and does not allow for more tasting and trying. I may sound like an old, drab, wet napkin here – but people need to minimize the oz’s in order to enable John Q. Public to experience more wine. OK – Rant done! Thanks!

  9. Kori | April 10th, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Denise,
    Thanks for your kind words. And, I appreciate your sharing your thoughts about the size of pours at large tasting events like Taste WA. You make great points. Unfortunately, I think part of the problem is that you get two very different kinds of people attending these events, the serious wine lover who wants to taste and learn and the not-so-serious consumer who just wants to drink and have a good time. The not-so-serious who are drinking without spitting won’t be able to discern what they are tasting after a few pours anyway. To your point, though, I’m not sure why the wineries would choose to pour such large pours anyway since they will probably either pour more wine than they would like or run out sooner than they need to. That’s one of the frustrating things for the serious wine lover who has taken the time to research and select the wineries they’d like to try only to find that they’ve run out of wine before the end of the event (possibly a result of the large pours you speak of). Not sure how this can be remedied though. Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Cheers!