Wednesday, August 31, 2005


A bit east of Seattle and south of where I stayed over the weekend in Bellingham, is the Woodinville Wine Country area. Our time was somewhat short, but we were able to take in a few of the wineries in this area. We didn't have a lot of insight into the wineries of the area in advance, so just picked a few that happened to be fairly close together. I know, not the best of planning, but we still had a fun afternoon.

We started with a few wines from Silverlake Winery. A couple of these I liked. Of the whites, the 2000 Grand Reserve Blanc (@ $13.99) was 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillion. Very light with just a hint of oak on it. I tried several others, but of them, the favorite of the group they were tasting that day was the 2002 Reserve Zinfandel. A big, juicy red with a bit of toastiness to it. Balanced tannins. You can read their own tasting notes for it here.

They were also tasting 3 Syrah wines from their sister winery Glen Fiona. Unfortunately, none of these really met expectations. Beth pronounced 'cough syrup' for one and another had a distinct sulfur note in the nose. Perhaps better luck next time.

Very close by was what turned out to be our favorite tasting of the day. Those were the Kennedy Shah wines from Woodhouse Family Cellars. The tasting room was in what looked like an office park so it's easy to miss. But I was glad we stopped in. For $5, they were tasting all four of the wines described on their web site here. Of these, my favorite of the group was the 2000 Merlot. It's actually a blend of 78% Merlot, 17% Cab Franc and 5% Syrah. A bit toasty with ripe dark fruits and a hint of cocoa. We snagged a bottle for dinner later. The other three we tried there were also excellent.

Down the road a bit further it was hard to avoid checking out both Columbia Winery and Chateau Ste Michelle. By comparision to the solitary tasting we experienced of the Kennedy Shah wines, these places were just packed with people. People were two-deep at the ample tasting bars. Chateau Ste Michelle had a free tasting, but for $5 you could taste some of their better offerings. The cost for tastings at Columbia were $5.

Of the Columbia wines, my two favorites of the group were the 2002 Otis Vineyard Block 6 Chardonnay ($25) and the 1999 Sagemoor Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. ($28) These are part of what they call their Signature Series. Click the links for reasonably accurate write-ups on these.

The single vineyard wines from Ch. Ste Michelle that I like best were the 2003 Canoe Ridge Chardonnay ($22) and the 2002 Canoe Ridge Syrah. ($22) If I had to pick between the two Chardonnays, I'd have to give the nod to the Columbia though. But, a close call. It had a wonderful creamy mouth feel to it that I think I just liked a little better. The Canoe Ridge Syrah had a burst of tart cherries in it that I liked.

From here, I'm heading north...


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