Monday, December 17, 2007

Woodinville St. Nick's wine-tasting

Last weekend, a few friends and I sent to Woodinville for their annual St. Nicholas Open House. The event ran over both Saturday and Sunday, but we only did one day - next weekend I think I'll try to make it to both days, since there are far too many wineries to fit into one day. As it was, we did pretty well, visiting around 10 wineries in about 5 hours.

I had only basic knowledge of the area's wineries, having been to Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Winery a few times, and having heard about a few of the bigger wineries like Januik.

We skipped most of these big names, but did stop in at the Januik / Novelty Hill winery, which is very impressive and modern. This was in contrast to our first stop of the day at DeLille Winery (which was one of the venues we looked at for our wedding). DeLille was very cozy and had lots of wood and country ambience (kudos for the huge roaring fire on a wet snowy day!). They also had passed hors d'ouevres and a cheese selection to die for... I didn't think their wines were that amazing, though (they have lots of awards, so I guess I'm not smart enough to appreciate their wines?)

A slight peeve at DeLille was that they stamped your St. Nicks booklet for every glass of wine you tasted, which was rather tedious and seemed cheap. (How many people would have abused their hospitality and drunk too much wine? No other winery felt the need to be this fastidious.)

Back to Januik / Novelty Hill: Their tasting was held in the actual winery, with loads of stainless steel fermentation tanks and oak barrels stacked to the ceiling. Their wines were clean, fruity and generally very good, but I thought they lacked some "character" and tasted a bit generic. (We were tasting their more everyday wines, which no doubt are made in a more approachable style). I did like their Cab Sauv and they had a very good Rose wine that we all liked. There was also a guy selling amazing savoury shortbread that came in several flavours, and each went very well with a particular kind of wine. A nice idea, and his stuff worked very well with wine (unlike some savoury biscotti we tried in Oregon this summer).

Other wineries we tried were:
  • SilverLake (their adjoining tasting room also had incredible fruit wines from the Hoodsport Winery, and yummy chocolate truffles). We bought some blackberry and raspberry wine, which have already been had and enjoyed :)
  • Facelli Winery, which is a small family-run winery tucked away in an industrial park. Their tasting room was small and a little cramped, but the family was on hand pouring their wines and very friendly.
  • Northwest Totem Cellars were pouring their wines at the old Hollywood School House. They were defintely the most laid-back and inviting of all the wineries, not even looking at our St. Nick's booklet. They had an awesome folk band playing, and their wines were quite good. (I think I liked their Low Man Red the best, but the Cab Sauv was very nice too). Their first reds are being released this month, so keep an eye out for them!
  • DiStefano Winery had some good wines and great food - their pumpkin soup was very welcome as the rain poured down outside.

The highlight of the day for me was the discovery of Pomum Cellars. The setup was basic but inviting and the wine-maker was on hand pouring his creation. Apparently they had some amazing cheese, but I missed it completely as I tasted the one wine they had out - they 2004 Shya Red. This was the only wine I tasted all day that made me go "Wow!". It's a Bordeaux-style blend with more of an old-world style and lots of character. I had a great time talking to the winemaker about how he got into the wine business, and his plans for the future. Since he's from Spain, he is working on some Spanish varietals and will have a Tempranillo coming out soon (next year?). I'm really excited to see what their future wines are like and would recommend trying their wines if you have the chance.

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