Washington Wine Report is an independent publication focused on bringing Washington wine to you and bringing you to Washington wine. Our goal is:
  • To help you select Pacific Northwest wines at a variety of price levels
  • To keep you up-to-date about the Northwest’s wineries, vineyards, and individuals
  • To help you plan trips to wine country
  • To connect you to the larger wine community

Sean P. Sullivan

2019 Tour Guide

Reviewed Wineries

We will be having a special Devil's Night edition of the Virtual Tasting tonight. The wine is the 2008 Owen Roe Sinister Hand. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre and retails for $24. If you haven't already picked up the wine, see a complete list of Washington retailers as well as select on-line retailers here.

As usual, the tasting will begin at 7pm Pacific Time. Look for updates to this post starting at that time, updating every 15-30 minutes or so. I will also be tweeting @wawinereport and using the hashtag #octvt.

Please join us in trying this wine and posting your thoughts.

7:00pm Update: And we're off!

First some background on the wine. The 2008 Owen Roe Sinister Hand is 62% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 3% Mourvedre. This would be considered a classic Southern Rhone blend. The Rhone area has two main regions, the North and the South. The only red grapes allowed in Northern Rhone wines are Syrah (often co-fermented with the white grape viognier). The only red grapes allowed in Southern Rhone wines are Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, the varietals that compose this wine.

Syrah has long been a star in Washington since the original plantings at Red Willow. Grenache is up-and-coming with some wineries such as Gramercy (whose first Grenache release just came out this week) and Rotie Cellars bullish about its prospects in Washington. Betz Family Winery has also long made a Grenache blend, the Besoleil.

Mourvedre is used more as a blending grape, although some Washington wineries such as McCrea also make it as a varietal bottling.

The wine is listed as Columbia Valley AVA. The winery's website states that the primary source is the Elderding Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA.

On to the wine...

7:20 Update: Popped and poured into a Venturi aerator. I did this to try to open the wine up a bit given its young age.

The bottle had a natural cork that was drizzled with wax. The wax is in lieu of a capsule. You usually see this on somewhat more expensive wines. Here I think they did this to add to the Halloween creep factor. There are several ways you can go about removing these wax tops. In this case, it wasn't actually a complete seal so I just used a knife to cut it off. Rabbit style wine openers also will just pull right through the wax (they say specifically not to do this btw). However, if you do this, you risk getting some wax into the bottle. I have always read recommendations to warm the wax with your hand for a while and then use a corkscrew, rabbit, etc. If anyone has any magic secrets, please share.

The cork itself was very lightly colored, not surprising given that this is the 2008 vintage.

Had to throw the glass with the wine and the wine itself into the fridge as it was a too warm 70 degrees. The place that I am drinking the wine is like the Bahamas.

Prior to this, the nose very aromatic for a 2008 with a lot of red fruit. Particularly strawberries.

7:40 Update: Okay the glass is out of the fridge (20 minutes dropped it from 70 to 63 degrees). First impression, as before, very aromatic with red fruit, earth, and game. Quite a fun nose for such a young wine. The youth does show up a bit more on the taste where it is a bit more closed and tight, although I must say my palate has been off this week (sinus issues). A pretty good dose of acidity. A bit of a back bite on the palate. Alcohol also seems to hang around on the palate for a long time after drinking. Will check the OH level later. A lot of fruit and a nice rounded feel.

8:00 Update: More background on the wine. This wine was aged for 8 months in 18% new French oak. Alcohol is 14.4 percent. I feel like it drinks a little higher but may just be me. Regarding the label, the winery says:

"On this label the family crest depiction of a severed left hand tells the story of a rowing competition among the ONeills & the OReillys (Owen Roe was an ONeill). Whoever touched land first after rowing across the lake was rewarded with the land he touched. Lagging behind, one of the kinsfolk grabs his sword to cleave his hand and pitches it ashore to touch land first. He won the land and eventu­ally ruled over it as king."

8:20 Update: This recommendation from Paul G regarding opening bottles with wax on the top (tried to post as a comment): " tip for opening wax: Use a waiter's corkscrew. Pull the cork about 3/4 of the way out. Take a wet towel and wipe away the wax flakes. Then pull out the rest of the cork. I usually put a paper towel under the bottle to catch some of the flakes also. Pain in the A---". These sound like good wines to take to a restaurant to watch a waiter struggle with.

8:40 Update: Background information on Owen Roe.

Owen Roe is located in in the Willamette Valley in Newburg, Oregon. The winery was opened in 2000 by winemaker David O'Reilly who co-owns the winery with Peter Rosback (Sineann). The winery makes a diverse lineup of wines from both Oregon and Washington. Under current releases, the winery's website lists twenty-two different wines. O-Reilly also makes wine under the O'Reilly label as well as Corvidae and others.

9:00 Update: Final update. As I originally noted, the wine lists for $24. I bought it at Pete's Bellevue for $23.49.

Overall, I really enjoy the nose. Lots of red fruit (strawberry), wet stone, and earth with an underlayer of game. The taste is drinking a bit young. I also, strangely, get a lot of alcohol on the taste. I say strangely given that the wine lists at 14.4% which I don't see as particularly high. Don't know if anyone else is getting this. I won't rate this wine as I've got a dead spot right in the middle of my palate at the moment (sinus troubles). Bottom line I would say is, give this wine six months or so before drinking. Better yet, buy the 2008 now and stash it away for Halloween 2010. The best of both worlds.

Thanks to everyone who participated. If you didn't get a chance to try the wine, feel free to do so and add your comments. We'll do it all again next month.

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Reminder that this month's Virtual Tasting is Friday October 30th. Read about the wine as well as a list of Washington and on-line retailers here.

Betz Family Winery was founded in 1997. The winery produced its first vintage that same year, one hundred and fifty cases of the 1997 Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1999 winemaker Bob Betz made the first vintage of what would become two of his signature wines – the Bordeaux blends Père de Famille and Clos de Betz.

On initial release, the winery envisioned the Clos de Betz as follows: "Clos de Betz is the softer, earlier-maturing companion to our sturdier Cabernet Sauvignon Père de Famille. The mix of vineyards and varietal percentages change each year, but we blend Clos de Betz for the common threads of rich, sweet red and black fruits and up front appeal."

Full Pull Wines poured the 1999 Clos de Betz recently at one of their Thursday pick-up days. Bob Betz’ deft touch was already apparent in this wine, reminiscent of a Bordeaux with considerably more fruit on the palate. While I cannot speak to the wine’s up front appeal, I can say that ten years in it is showing beautifully with a few years left on it.

Score Name Notes $


Betz Clos de Betz Red Table Wine Columbia Valley 1999 Dark and purple, although showing its age around the edges. A very pretty nose marked by leather, dried flowers, and lots of aged fruit (dried cranberries and cherries). Drinking beautifully with dried fruit on the taste and drying tannins. Throwing lots of sediment. 42% Merlot, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% alcohol. 210 cases produced. NA

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Five Under Fifteen - October

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 0 comments

Reminder that this month's Virtual Tasting is Friday October 30th. Read about the wine as well as a list of Washington and on-line retailers here.

In tough times, we continue the search for good, inexpensive wines.

No stunners this month but reasonably solid wines overall.

Charles & Charles is a joint venture between Charles Smith (K Vintners, Charles Smith, Magnificent Wine Co.) and Charles Bieler (Three Thieves/Rebel Wine Co).

Red Diamond is one of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates holdings. The first vintage from this winery was in 2003. Juan Muñoz Oca has served as winemaker since 2006. Both Red Diamond wines sampled here are stylistically similar. The Merlot seemed to show a fair bit of Syrah (the winery’s website is outdated two vintages and requests for updated information have gone unreturned so don’t know if this is the case). Both are enjoyable, easy drinkers for the price and should be commended for their low alcohol levels. That said, folks who do not enjoy wines with a whole lot of oak flavors should look elsewhere.

Two Vines is Columbia Crest’s entry level brand. These wines consistently offer good quality and a low price point. The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc has a lot going for it for the money. I didn’t list it as ‘Recommended’ due to the number of chinks in its armor. In terms of scoring it comes up short but is high in terms of QPR.

The last wine is from Charles Smith’s Magnificent Wine Company. The 2008 Steak House Cabernet was reviewed in greater detail earlier this month. See this post here.


Note: The following information was received regarding the Red Diamond wines after this post was published. This information was added on 11/2.

Red Diamond 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon 80%, Cabernet Franc 10%,Merlot 7%, Syrah 3%. AVA: Washington State. Case Production: 165,000

Red Diamond 2007 Merlot Blend: Merlot 80%, Syrah 15%, Cabernet Franc 3%,
Cabernet Sauvignon 2%. AVA: Washington State. Case Production: 270,000

Score Name Notes $


Charles & Charles Cabernet Syrah Vol. II Columbia Valley 2007 A fruity, enjoyable nose full of fresh berries, some gamey notes, and light herbal qualities. Wild, gamey flavors and a citrus component. Syrah seems to beat up the Cabernet at the moment. A real bite on the mid-palate is a serious distraction. Improved a bit on the second day. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon; 50% Syrah. 14.5% alcohol.

Purchased at Seattle Wine Co. for $12



Red Diamond Cabernet Washington State 2007 Light in color. A muted nose initially with black licorice, black cherry, and candied fruit. As the wine opens berry aromas appear. Lots of smooth oak tastes along with cherries, chocolate, and occasionally some herbs. Simple but enjoyable. Taste more appealing on this wine compared to the Merlot. 13.5% alcohol.

Purchased at Safeway for $8



Red Diamond Merlot Washington State 2007 Light in color. Toasted notes along with oak, milk chocolate and black cherries on a fun, engaging nose that seems to show some Syrah. Coats the palate with sweet oak along with cherries, and chocolate on a round, full taste. An inexpensive, easy drinker. Nose more appealing on this wine compared to the Cabernet. Strangely, on the second day this wine had a distinct sweet aspect to the taste. 13.5% alcohol.

Purchased at Safeway for $8



Columbia Crest Two Vines Sauvignon Blanc Washington State 2007 Lime, spice, and an almost buttery quality on the nose. A bit of weight to the palate with an uptick of sweetness followed by a burst of acidity. A somewhat watery feel toward the finish. A very appealing nose but palate has some problems. Still, a lot of wine for the money. 13.5% alcohol.

Purchased for $6.65 at Safeway.



Magnificent Wine Co. Steak House Columbia Valley 2008 Nose initially shows green pepper along with a lot of bright fruit (predominantly blueberries) and light floral notes. Palate is absolutely not what I was expecting with a light, fruity taste that doesn’t display much oak or tannins and has low alcohol. 100% Cabernet. 13% alcohol.

Purchased at Safeway for $10

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Yesterday local start-up announced a contest called WBC-or-Bust: Road to Walla Walla. The contest, which leads up to the 2010 Wine Blogger's Conference in Walla Walla June 25-27, will give 12 citizen wine bloggers a ride from Seattle to the conference. The all expenses paid trip will take place over three days and two nights making stops in Woodinville, Red Mountain, and Yakima Valley before arriving in Walla Walla.

“Washington is a premier wine region and a road trip just sounded like a fun way to get visiting bloggers where they needed to go, while sharing a broader Washington experience including it’s wine, food, and landscape,” says Marcus Pape, founder of

Traveling on the bus with the bloggers will be a video crew, wine media professionals, and industry leaders. The contest begins October 26th and runs through April 23rd. For more information on the contest and to sign-up go to

Note: Qualifying participants must have an existing wine blog at the start of the campaign, October 26th, in order to be eligible. Washington residents/bloggers are exempt from participating in the contest.

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Reminder that this month's Virtual Tasting is Friday October 30th. Read about the wine as well as a list of Washington and on-line retailers here.

What follows is a Focus report on Quilceda Creek's 2006 Cabernets. Read a .pdf version of this report here. See previous Focus reports here.

A Quest for Perfection

Quilceda Creek Vintners
, named after a nearby creek, is located in Snohomish forty miles north of Seattle. Washington’s twelfth bonded winery, Quilceda was founded by Alex and Jeanette Golitzin in 1978. Alex, the nephew of famed Napa Valley winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff, moved to Washington in the late sixties. After being encouraged by Tchelistcheff to try his hand at winemaking, Golitzin made Quilceda’s first commercial release in 1979.

Since that time the winery has been on a relentless pursuit of perfection: perfection they have achieved, according to some. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate awarded perfect 100 point scores to Quilceda Creek’s Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in three of the last five vintages (the 2004, perhaps my favorite, was slighted at 99 points). Wine Advocate’s score for the 2006 vintage is due out at the end of the month.

Stylistically, Quilceda Creek creates big, bold, age-worthy wines. The grapes are hand-picked and then aged in 100% new French oak for extended periods. The results are powerful, aromatic wines of exceptional quality packed tight with fruit and tannins. In describing how they achieve such consistently high quality, in The Great Wines of America: The Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages Director of Winemaking Paul Golitzin explains that he and his father “taste together, using a hundred-point scale, when making the wine. If a lot gets under ninety-five points, it’s out."

Three Cabernet Sauvignons

Quilceda Creek produces three Cabernets in addition to a Merlot and a Red Wine. The first Cabernet comes from the Columbia Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). The Columbia Valley offering is Quilceda’s flagship wine. Fruit for the most recent vintage comes from three of the state’s best vineyards - Champoux (Horse Heaven Hills), Klipsun (Red Mountain), and Taptiel (Red Mountain). This wine is consistently rated as among the best in the country if not the world.

The second Cabernet uses fruit from one of the winery’s estate vineyards, Galitizine, on Red Mountain. The vineyard bears the name of Alex’s father who changed the spelling from Galitzine to Golitzin after immigrating to the U.S. in the forties. The seventeen acre vineyard, which was planted in 2000 and 2001 with Cabernet Sauvignon, is a partnership with Jim Holmes, owner of nearby Ciel du Cheval Vineyard. The first release from Galitzine Vineyard was the 2004 vintage. Paul Golitzin describes the fruit from Galitizine as “dark and concentrated, think 70% cocoa in a chocolate.”

The third Cabernet is from a new estate vineyard, Palengat Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Previously known as Matador Ranch, the vineyard was given Jeannette Golitzin’s maiden name after Quilceda purchased it earlier this decade. Palengat, which was planted between 2000 and 2002, is located on Phinny Hill next to Champoux Vineyard in Alderdale, Washington. Palengat Vineyard is a mere 8.5 acres in size (5.5 acres Cabernet, 1.2 acres Merlot, 1 acre Cabernet Franc, 0.5 acre Petit Verdot, and 0.3 acre Malbec). The vineyard is managed by Paul Champoux, who co-owns the Champoux Vineyard with Quilceda Creek and several other vintners (NB: Champoux is still recovering from West Nile Virus which he contracted this summer).

The 2006 vintage marks the first release from the Palengat Vineyard. Golitzin says the “Exceptional southern exposure gives the wine a fine roasted quality” along with “power and finesse.” In planting both the Galtizine and Palengat vineyards, Quilceda Creek focused on planting vines at a density almost twice that of normal vineyards. Higher density increases competition among the vines resulting in smaller cluster sizes and, putatively, higher quality. Beyond the Cabernets, Quilceda has no plans to make additional wines from either the Galtizine or Palengat vineyards in the future.

Opening the 2006 Vintage

Quilceda Creek’s wines are noteworthy not just for their excellence but also for their longevity. These wines are made to outlive many of the people reading this. The 2006 Columbia Valley Cabernet was released in April; the 2006 Galitzine and Palengat Cabernets were released earlier this month. Opening newly released bottles of Quilceda Creek made me feel a bit like some hunters must feel after a kill. At first there was a rush of adrenaline followed by the feeling that I had done something terribly wrong. These wines are infants (were in my case as they have been consumed), and many might consider drinking these wines now a crime. I opened these bottles to taste what was in there hoping you will feel less compelled to do the same. I guarantee your patience will be rewarded, but the blogosphere waits for no one.

Sampling these wines side-by-side, each shows powerful aromatics. Indeed, the wines could be smelled more than five feet away while being poured into decanters with aromas rising up like genies from their bottles. In comparing these wines, each has a unique profile, yet each is unmistakably a Quilceda Creek wine. In terms of color, the Palengat was ruddier and the Columbia Valley wine the darkest (See picture of corks. From left: Palengat, Galitzine, and Columbia Valley). When first opened, all three wines were wound up tightly as expected. The Palengat was the most immediately approachable with the Galitzine and Columbia Valley a bit closed down. After five to eight hours decanting, the wines were showing beautifully although still tight, youthful, and packed with power. The Columbia Valley Cabernet shows a bit more complexity as one might expect given that the fruit is coming from older vines. The Galitzine, the only one that is 100% Cabernet, has a slight dip in the mid-palate compared to its peers. The Palengat is an exceptional first release from this vineyard, especially given the young age of the vines. Overall, these wines stand tall with their predecessors. Each will only improve with patience and significant additional bottle age. I would recommend laying them down for at least three to five years and expect these wines to thrive for twenty-five years or more.

On a side note, like many in Washington, Quilceda Creek’s releases over the last ten years have shown increasing levels of alcohol with the 1995 Cabernet clocking in at 13.0% and the 2006 wines coming in at 15.2%. While I often find myself yearning for the bygone days of lower alcohol wines in Washington, it is hard to argue with Quilceda Creek’s results.

Buying Quilceda Creek

Unless you already have them, finding Quilceda Creek’s wines unfortunately can be both difficult and expensive. Quilceda Creek sells almost all of its wine through a mailing list with some retailers receiving extremely limited allocations (the Red Wine, from declassified barrels, is both more available and less expensive). If you do find a bottle, even at their release prices these wines are expensive for the average wine buyer ranging from $83 to $125. That said, compared to California cult wines Harlan at $500 and Screaming Eagle at $750 (both 2006 vintage prices), Quilceda Creek is offering prices far lower than their peers down south and quality without parallel. These wines are as deserving of being displayed in a museum as being poured into a glass.

Wine Reviews

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Palengat Vineyard 2006 $83 **

More ruddy in color than the Galitizine and Columbia Valley wines. When first opened, the nose is tight but still exquisite with dark chocolate, rich black cherries, and light herbal notes. A knock-out on the taste. Beautifully refined tannins along with abundant cherry flavors. Brings a bit of heat toward the finish. After five to eight hours decanting, a to-die-for nose with fresh ground espresso which jumps from the glass along with dark spices, licorice, and light herbs. An intense, weighted taste that is packed with fruit and tannins and is beautifully balanced. Lingers endlessly. An exceptional first release from this vineyard. 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Palengat Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Aged in 100% new French oak for 22 months. Bottled August 2008; released October 2009. 15.2% alcohol. 1,025 cases produced.

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard 2006 $98 */**

When first opened the nose is fairly shut down showing herbal notes, black licorice, a fair amount of alcohol, and high-toned cherry aromas. Very well put together on the taste with plush tannins. The only detraction is a slight dip in the mid-palate 2/3 of the way through. After decanting for five to eight hours, an aromatic powerhouse with cherry, strong black licorice, dried flowers, and herbal notes. An intense, tightly wound taste that pours around the sides of the palate and then rushes through the middle. The slight dip in the middle is all that holds this wine back. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Galitzine Vineyard, Red Mountain AVA. Aged in 100% new French oak for 22 months. Bottled August 2008; released October 2009. 15.2% alcohol. 1,675 cases produced.

Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2006 $125 **

When initially opened, the nose is locked up pretty tightly but shows black licorice, sweet oak spices, light herbal notes, and powdered chocolate. Big, intense, and gorgeously structured on what feels like a punch to the palate. Intense layers of fruit and tannins almost overwhelm the senses. After decanting for five to eight hours, mocha powder and dried black cherries also emerge. A richly layered wine with intense cherry flavors. Occasionally shows some alcohol. Champoux, Klipsun, and Taptiel vineyards. Aged in 100% new French oak for 22 months. Bottled August 2008; released in April 2009. 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot. 15.2% alcohol. 3,300 cases produced.

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from October 15th to 21st.

From around the country

The New York Times published an obituary of David Lake.

Connecticut’s The Hour writes about Three Rivers Winery.

Reuters writes about Inertia Beverage Group’s on-line wholesale program.

From the blogosphere

Decanter Banter does and interview with Wine Library TV’s Gary Vaynerchuk.

Washington Wine writes about Washington Hills and Columbia Crests Gewurtztraminers.

Wine Sense Two Cents reviews Wines of Substance 2007 Cabernet.

Paul Gregutt writes about typicity in Washington wines. See part two here. He also writes about food pairing and Otis Kenyon.

Wine Peeps does a spotlight on Col Solare. They also do a Pinot Gris dinner tasting and look at recent releases from Fielding Hills, Nefarious, and Saviah.

The Oregon Wine Blog writes about Col Solare.

WINO Magazine writes about Pleasant Hills Renaissance II.

Woodinville Wine Update writes about Bin on the Lake, William Church, O Wines, DeLille’s Carriage House tasting room, crush at Challenger Ridge, and NW Totem Cellars.

Washington Wine Guy checks out Sleight of Hand’s 2007 Enchantress and Cayuse 2004 En Chamberlain.

Through the Walla Walla Grapevine writes about Seven Hills 2006 Klipsun Cabernet and crush at DaMa.

Wine for Newbies does a podcast on aging reds drinking the 1999 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Reserve Red.

Walla Walla Wine News writes about Fall Release Weekend (nee Cayuse Release Weekend).

Write for Wine writes about William Church and social media.

WAWineman writes about Quilceda Creek’s 2006 Columbia Valley Cabernet and Legoe Bay’s 2006 Viognier.

Wine Foot writes about Olsen Estates.

Under the Grape Tree writes about a Washington wine road trip with callouts to Walla Walla Vintners, Cote Bonneville, Col Solare, Buty, Feather, and Woodward Canyon. Read day four, three, two, and one.

Wine & Dine Walla Walla writes about Dunham Cellars.

From the locals

The Bellingham Herald writes about Malbec with callouts to Olsen Hills and Alder Ridge.

Andy Perdue writes for the Tri-City Herald about the cold weather in wine country earlier this month. The first part of this story is here.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture writes about a large agricultural grant with various monies going to the wine industry.

The Puget Sound Business Journal writes about plans to open holiday gift stores in Washington malls for the holidays.

The Tri-City Journal of Business writes about the new Den Hoed venture.

The Spokesman-Review writes about the freeze and crush.

Gregutt writes in the Seattle Times about Gordon Brothers.


Wine and Beer of Washington State writes about Lantz Cellars.

That’s all folks!

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This is the first in a series of monthly posts called EAT & DRINK In The Northwest. The series is authored by Melissa Peterman and Marcus Pape. Read more about the series here.

EAT & DRINK In The Northwest
Fall Food & Wine Pairing: Squash

When it comes to seasonal fall and winter squash, there is always one that seems to take center stage on restaurant menus, glossy food magazines and in pre-made food products. That would be the ever-popular butternut squash. As much as I love this creamy, sweet and mild squash, I feel that it has been over-used in ravioli or in pureed soups.

Marcus and I wanted to celebrate this beloved vegetable in a new way. Why not on a pizza? Bold roasted butternut squash paired with slow caramelized sweet onions, savory roasted cauliflower, fresh, earthy sage and rich Swiss cheese and you have a unique pizza that celebrates fall just as much as it celebrates this favorite gourd. Better yet, the components of this unique pizza can be made a day or two ahead of time, so when the pizza dough is ready to go, all you need to do is sprinkle on the toppings and pop it in the oven for about ten minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Pizza (makes 1 large pizza)
½ head of cauliflower, cored, outer leaves removed and florets rough chopped
1 half butternut squash, peeled and cubed to make (approximately (1 ½ c. roasted squash)
6 T. olive oil
3 T. thinly cut sage
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 c. shredded Gruyere
½ sweet onion, diced
16 oz. homemade pizza dough *see recipe or purchased pizza dough
Cornmeal (for the bottom of the dough)

Preheat oven to 400° F

Add cauliflower florets and 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper to a large bowl and toss to coat. Spread cauliflower onto half of a baking sheet. Add the diced butternut squash to that bowl with1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon shredded fresh sage and a pinch of salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread the butternut next to the cauliflower and place the baking sheet in the oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring vegetables half way through cooking. Vegetables should be caramelized and fork-tender. Remove baking sheet from oven and cool. Next, in a medium sauté pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onions, a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for 1 minute; reduce heat to medium and cook another 8 minutes. Move onions to a dish to cool. Make a garlic olive oil sauce by adding 1 minced garlic clove with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper into the pan used for sautéing onions. Stir olive oil and garlic for only 30 seconds until garlic becomes fragrant, but not dark, and set aside to cool.

Adjust heat to 450°F and if using a pizza stone, place it in the oven to pre-heat.
Stretch and roll out homemade pizza dough into a large circle and place it onto a cornmeal- sprinkled cutting board. If using purchased pizza dough, pre-bake dough for 4 minutes now, let it cool slightly and then continue with the recipe.

Evenly spread olive oil/garlic sauce over the dough leaving a 1-inch border around the pizza. Evenly disperse the shredded Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, butternut squash and cauliflower over the pizza.

Transfer homemade dough to a baking sheet or preheated pizza stone. Now bake pizza (with either type of dough) until the crust is crisp and brown on the bottom and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Once pizza is out of the oven, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of fresh sage before serving.

Cook’s Tip
Experiment with other types of cheese like crumbled Gorgonzola, Parmesan or shaved Gouda for a different flavor.

Pizza Dough (makes 1 pound ball of dough)
¾ c. warm water 105 to 110ºF
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 T. milk
3 T. olive oil
2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tsp. salt

Pour 3/4 cup warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon milk.

Mix 2 cups flour and salt in processor. Add yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons oil; process until dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth, adding more flour by small handfuls if dough is too sticky, about 1 minute. Rub dough lightly with a tablespoon of olive oil and place in a bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in warm area until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. Punch down dough. Either store in an airtight container, up to one day, or roll out dough for pizza onto a floured surface, adding a little more flour if necessary.

Winter squash provides a multitude of recipe and wine pairing options. It can be prepared in sweet or savory dishes, with pasta and various cheeses, or as a complement to hearty meats. The versatility in which these fall and winter vegetables can be prepared offers a variety of wine pairing solutions.

Given that much of the time squash is prepared using butter, Chardonnay is often a good match. But then many other veggie friendly whites may also fit the bill including Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris. However, if you mix a little meat in there I would then lean toward a red pairing, including Pinot Noir and various Bordeaux blends.

Below are a list of squash recipes that have appeared within the pages of our EAT & DRINK books, along with their wine compliments. This should give you an idea of the different wine varieties parable with various preparations of squash.

Roasted Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Pizza
Cave B Estate Winery 2006 Chardonnay, Washington
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 Ethos Chardonnay, Washington
Thurston Wolfe 2007 Lemberger Rosé, Washington

Flank Steak and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2005 Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay, Washington

Butternut Squash and Parsnip Quesadilla with Ginger-Lime Beet Salsa
Panther Creek Cellars 2006 20th Anniversary Reserve Pinot Noir, Oregon
Cristom Vineyards 2006 Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noir, Oregon
Coeur d'Alene Cellars 2007 Chardonnay, Washington

Yam Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Dolce Sauce
Efeste 2005 Final Final Cabernet-Syrah, Washington
Lost River Winery 2005 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington
L’Ecole No 41 2005 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Perigee, Washington

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Tranche Cellars Fall 2009 Releases

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 0 comments

Tranche Cellars is the second of three wineries from Michael Corliss, Lauri Darneille, and Kendall Mix. The first was Corliss Estates which had its inaugural release in late 2008. The next will be RMV Cellars which will have its first release next spring.

Tranche Cellars is located in the former Nicholas Cole Cellars facility in Walla Walla (NB: Nicholas Cole moved their tasting room downtown and is currently producing their wines at Artifex, a Walla Walla wine services company). Tranche released its first wines earlier this year – a Chardonnay, a Roussanne-Viognier, and a Pinot Gris. The fall releases are the winery’s first reds - a 2004 Red Wine and Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2005 Barbera.

In terms of the Red Wine and Cabernet, Tranche’s national sales manager Lars Ryssdal describes these wines as “separated at birth” from their Corliss Estates counterparts (The 2004 Corliss Red Wine and Cabernet will be released next month. See a review of these wines here). Grapes for the Corliss and Tranche wines were separated on the sorting table with the higher quality grapes going to the Corliss wines. After this, the Tranche and Corliss wines traveled separate paths. That is to say, the Tranche wines are not declassified Corliss wines; they were vinified separately. While these wines do have some stylistic similarities, the Corliss wines show more depth, quality, and complexity as you would expect given the significantly higher price point. In the future, Tranche Cellars plans to source fruit from its estate vineyards, focusing on Chardonnay and Rhone varietals.

As with the previous Tranche Cellars releases, each of the bottles contain a ‘bottled on’ date and a description of the wine on the back label. The Barbera, for example, reads “Be it known that the holder of this premier share of wine is entitled to enjoy aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, black licorice, plum, and some toasty aspects. A soft velvety mouthfeel with cranberry fruit and spice followed by an elegant lingering finish.”

Related Posts

Tranche Cellars

Tranche Cellars Chardonnay 2006

Tranche Cellars Rousanne Viognier Columbia Valley 2007

Tranche Cellars Pinot Gris 2006

Corliss Estates

RMV Cellars

Score Name Notes $


Tranche Cellars Red Wine Columbia Valley 2004 Silky chocolate aromas mix with abundant black licorice, some chocolate, spice, coffee grounds, caramel, and a dash of black pepper. Weighty with aged fruit on the taste along along with licorice, earth, and some alcohol. Carries more completely across the palate compared to the Cabernet. Bottled on 04/03/2007. 14.9% alcohol.



Tranche Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2004

Not a particularly big nose that is marked by chocolate covered cherries, coffee grounds, and caramel, along with light herbal notes. A fair amount of alcohol shows at times. Lots of aged fruit on the taste along with soft tannins. A lot of good things going on but the alcohol takes over about ¾ of the way through. Improves after several days being open with a palate coating mouthfeel. Bottled on 04/04/2007. 75% Cabernet; 18% Merlot; 7% Cab Franc. 15.2% alcohol.



Tranche Cellars Barbera Columbia Valley 2005

A deep, intense color. Light, sweet spices float through the air along with anise and a fairly strong herbal quality. Bold on the palate with earth, chocolate, tobacco, and citrus. Silky oak lies underneath the fruit. The alcohol starts to come out of balance as the wine warms up. 15.5% alcohol. Bottled on 6/30/2008.


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Mark Ryan Winery was established in 1999. Since that time, it has developed a strong cult following for its big, opulent reds. The winery is named after winemaker and owner Mark Ryan McNeilly. Originally located in Woodinville’s office park community, Mark Ryan recently opened a tasting room at Hollywood Hills in Woodinville. Production still occurs at the former location.

The fall releases include one white wine and three reds. The 2008 Viognier is a rich, round wine that delivers more weight on the palate than previous vintages. In terms of the reds, 2007 has been an exceptional vintage for Washington in general, and the new Mark Ryan releases do not disappoint. As is the house style, these are bold, powerful wines with healthy doses of oak and alcohol, although not too much to overwhelm the exceptional fruit. Fruit for the three reds comes from two of Red Mountain’s most prominent vineyards, Ciel du Cheval and Klipsun. While locked up fairly tightly at the moment, these are excellent wines that will only improve with additional bottle age.

While I thought these wines showed well at the temperatures served, I have said before but I will say again that I (strongly) recommend you drink these wines between 62 to 65 degrees. This is particularly important when drinking wines with reasonably high alcohol levels (my rule of thumb is around 15% or above) to keep the alcohol in balance.

Related Posts
Mark Ryan Spring 2009 Releases
Mark Ryan Fall 2008 Releases
2005 Ciel du Cheval Vintage







Mark Ryan Winery Viognier 2008

Light straw colored. An elegant nose marked by peaches, light spice, and mineral notes. Plush and full with a lot of fruit on the palate. Ramps up toward the finish. Conner Lee and Ciel du Cheval vineyards. 61% French oak (53% neutral); 39% stainless steel. 13.9% alcohol. 375 cases produced. Sampled at 60 degrees.



Mark Ryan Winery Long Haul Ciel du Cheval Vineyard 2007

A racy nose marked by dried cranberries, loamy earth, floral notes, black pepper, and other red fruit. Tart and puckering on the palate with freshly ground cranberries. Right now the aromatics deliver but the taste is very tight. Give minimum 6-12 months or decant extensively. 66% Merlot, 34% Cab Franc. 55% new French oak; 28% used once (Saury, Sylvan, Quintessence). 14.8% alcohol. 372 cases produced. Sampled at 68 degrees.



Mark Ryan Water Witch Klipsun Vineyard 2007

An intensely aromatic wine with powdered chocolate, earth, floral aromas, rosehips, white pepper, and barrel notes. Rich with fruit on the palate along with chewy tannins. Give 1+ year or decant extensively. 57% Cabernet, 43% Merlot. 92% new French oak, 8% used once (Saury, Sylvan, Quintessence). 14.8% alcohol. 277 cases produced. Sampled at 68 degrees.



Mark Ryan Winery Dead Horse Ciel du Cheval 2007

A complex, fragrant nose with rosehips, abundant dried flowers, and a light herbal element. Tighter than a drum on a taste packed with tannins and intensity. A big, dry, powerful wine with lots of fruit that persists through a long finish. The alcohol gets in the way a bit at times but overall this wine delivers. Give 2 years or decant extensively. 67% Cabernet; 13% Merlot; 13% Cab Franc; 7% Petit Verdot. 100% New French Oak (Saury, Sylvan, Taransaud, Quintessence). 14.7% alcohol. 651 cases produced. Sampled at 66 degrees.


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Seattle Uncorked will be hosting a “Cabernet Classic” on Wednesday, October 28th. The event, which will take place at the Shillshole Bay Beach Club in Seattle, is a fundraiser for CoCA, the Center for Contemporary Arts. The Cabernet Classic will feature cabernets from over thirty different Washington wineries. Tickets at $45 and are available at here.

Participating Wineries:

Big Smooth/Big Daddy

Bonterra Vineyards

Brian Carter Cellars

Cedergreen Cellars

Chatter Creek Winery

DiStefano Winery

Eaton Hill

Edmonds Winery

Forgeron Cellars

Gamache Vintners

Gilbert Cellars

Hestia Cellars

Jones of Washington

Kestrel Vintners

Lowden Hills

Milbrandt Vineyards

Nota Bene Cellar

Otis Kenyon Wine

Palouse Winery

Patterson Cellars




Silver Lake Winery

Skylight Cellars

Smasne Cellars

Tasawik Vineyards

Tefft Cellars

Vin du Lac

Watermill Winery

Whitman Cellars

Willis Hall

Wilridge Winery

Windy Point

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A round-up of stories on Washington wine from October 8th to 14th.
The buzz this week is an article in the Seattle Times about the effects of global warming on grape growing that was picked up by a variety of outlets. Read the article here. Paul Gregutt writes a post on this story as does Investigate West.

From around the country…

The LA Times writes about the passing of David Lake as does Wine Spectator.

From the blogosphere…

Wine and Beer of Washington State
writes about the passing of David Lake. They also write about Challenger Ridge’s 2008 Liberty Bell.

Decanter Banter does a video post on Fresh Northwest Design.

Woodinville Wine Update writes about Canyon del Sol opening a Woodinville tasting room. They also write about Wine Temps NW and Covington Cellars winemaker dinner series.

The Oregon Wine Blog writes about Woodinville.

Paul Gregutt writes about aging red wines.

WAWineMan writes about Charles Smith’s Royal City Syrah. He also checks out the Ross Andrew 2008 Meadow, Columbia Crest 2006 H3 Merlot, and Bookwalter’s 2008 Couplet. In addition, he lists some new Washington wineries.

Write for Wine writes about Gilbert Cellars.

WINO Magazine writes about Northwest Cellars. They write about Northwest Cellars Merlot here.

Beyond the Bottle writes about Foundry Vineyards 2003 Cabernet.

Pam Hoelzle writes about a blogger get-together at William Church Winery.

Wine Peeps checks out Chatter Creek’s Grenache. They also write about pairing wine with shrimp creole and the 2009 harvest.

Global Foodie writes about Washington wineries.

Joel Vincent writes about Kontos Cellars 2006 Alatus Blend (Note: Bottled under a different name the winery was then testing out).

Random Oenophile tries some Washington wine. writes about Hogue.

From the locals…

writes about the state’s Syrahs.

Othello Outlook
writes about Stoneridge Vineyard and Charles Smith’s 100 point Syrah.

The News-Tribune writes about the cold weather and harvest.

KHQ picks up an AP story about the cold weather and harvest.

Western Farmer-Stockman writes about a new research vineyard for WSU.

That’s all folks!

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What’s this you say? A 2008 Cabernet?

Magnificent Wine Company is one piece of the three piece rocket that launched winemaker Charles Smith into orbit. Smith, who was recently named Food & Wine Magazine’s Winemaker of the Year, started Magnificent Wine Co. in 2004. The company, which serves as a complement to Smith’s K Vintners and Charles Smith labels, is now under the (large) umbrella of Precept Wine Brands.

Magnificent Wine Company’s omnipresent House Wine is the wine every winemaker wishes they had come up with - and that many have since tried to duplicate. The label is striking, the price is affordable, and the name says it all. Of course, all of this would be moot if the wine wasn’t a crowd pleaser. However, this made-for-the-masses wine is just that. The company’s site boasts that House Wine is “a term that’s as universally understood among wine drinkers as a STOP sign is among drivers”. This is probably not far from the truth.

The House Wine series consists of the red and white House Wine as well as the Steak House (100% Cabernet) and Fish House (100% Chardonnay). I hadn’t tried the Steak House before and was a bit hesitant to try a 2008 Cabernet. Most of the 2007’s seem more than a little young at present. I imagined finding lots of oak, tannins, and alcohol - a wine that, like many out there, should have been released in six to twelve months.

Surprisingly, the 2008 Steak House is none of that. As a pescatarian I can't speak to the steak pairing, however, I can say that the wine is light and fruity with refreshingly low oak and alcohol. I found all of this to be a relief - a young, unexpected wine that can be enjoyed now without putting a hurt on the palate or the pocketbook.

Score Name Notes $


Magnificent Wine Co. Steak House Columbia Valley 2008 Nose shows BBQ'd green pepper along with a lot of bright fruit (predominantly blueberries) and light floral notes. Palate is absolutely not what I was expecting with a light, fruity taste that doesn’t display much oak or tannins and has low alcohol. An enjoyable easy drinker. 100% Cabernet. 13% alcohol. $10

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EAT & DRINK in the Northwest

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 0 comments

I am pleased to announce a new, monthly series on Washington Wine Report called EAT & DRINK in the Northwest. Posts in this series will be written by Melissa Peterman and Marcus Pape, authors of books by the same name. This excellent book series, which recently had its fourth release, pairs recipes with Northwest wines.

Peterman, who writes the recipes for the EAT & DRINK series, is a graduate of Seattle Central’s Culinary Academy and the Quillsascut School of Domestic Arts. She brings an extensive resume, including professional experience at Macrina Bakery, The Ruins, Tom Douglas Catering, and, most recently, at The Herbfarm's Culinary Garden. Peterman holds a journalism and creative writing degree from Western Washington University. She currently works at, a user editable cooking encyclopedia, and is the author of a food blog Honey Bee Sting.

Pape, who does the wine pairings for EAT & DRINK, is the founder of, an on-line resource connecting consumers, bloggers, and wine businesses. Pape also co-founded - Wine Connection of Washington. WineCOW is a website aimed to educate and inspire wine drinkers as well as promote the Washington wine industry.

Peterman and Pape will bring to this series on Washington Wine Report the same passion and flair for food and wine pairing they have shown in their books. Look for the first post on EAT & DRINK in the Northwest in the coming days.

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Tuesday October 6th marked the launch of Purple Café and Wine Bar in Bellevue. The first Purple Café opened in Woodinville in 2001. Since that time, owners Larry and Tabitha Kurofsky have also opened locations in Kirkland and Seattle.

As with the Seattle location, the only other Purple I have visited, the new Purple Bellevue is grand in scale with a seating capacity of approximately 200. The architecture, designed by Las Vegas firm Jawa Studios who also worked on Purple’s other locations, is industrial chic with swooping metal structures throughout. The space - which features a tasting bar, wine bar, and lounge – has high ceilings, wrought metal chairs, and picture glass windows. The heavy chairs, along with almost immovable doors, are a Purple theme with the menu branded ‘Great Place, Heavy Chairs’. To break up the space as well as provide room for larger parties, there are two semi-private areas shielded by large, wrought metal curvatures. To compete with Purple Seattle’s iconic spiral ‘wine tower’, Purple Bellevue has floor-to-ceiling ‘wine libraries’ that hold up to 15,000 bottles.

Dawn Smith, who Seattle Magazine recently named Sommelier of the Year, serves as Wine Director. The wine menu - which alternately attempts to amuse, inspire, and educate - is well organized with divisions by flight, varietal, and area. The menu is irreverently written with entries such as the one for Merlot which reads “Please don’t feel the need to apologize…It was just a movie, after all, and some of the world’s first and most sought after wines are based on merlot.” The menu also contains a glossary of terms. The wine list is available on-line here.

Glass pours range from $6.50 to $15 and bottles from $30 to $400. The stemware for 6 ounce pours is Schott-Zwiesel Forte series. Markup on the bottles is a standard 100% of retail. Washington wines are well represented on both the glass pour and bottle list with wines from Abeja, Amavi, Betz, Januik, Woodward Canyon, Pepper Bridge, and Substance to name a few. Purple should be commended for their policy of allowing patrons to bring one bottle of wine (750ml) sans corkage provided the wine is not on the wine list.

Purple’s food menu is overseen by Executive Chef Mike Davis and Chef de Cuisine Casey Barnes. Davis was previously at Walla Walla’s now defunct 26 Brix. The menu focuses largely on American food and features a mixture of sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and entrees. A series of small plates and cheeses are an affordable $4 to $6. The menu is available on-line here.

Purple Bellevue has an adjacent restaurant, Barrio, which features ‘Mexican dishes with a Northwest spin’. This restaurant, as with the Purple locations, is managed by the Heavy Restaurant Group which the Kurofsky’s set up to assist with their rapid growth.

Overall Purple Café Bellevue is a winner. There were only two items I marked as needing improvement. The first is the temperature of the Malbec I had was a too-warm 74 degrees. Given this was Purple Bellevue’s grand opening, I will give them a mulligan as the Seattle location deals with wine temperature better than most. The second is a need to have good supply of Wine Away on hand. After a patron was doused by a glass of red wine (the heavy chairs were to blame here), the best the servers could offer were white napkins.

See Purple Café Bellevue’s hours and other information here.

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WWR TN Database

See my Washington Wine Report Tasting Note Database. Read an explanation of the fields here. FINAL UPDATE 6/13/2015. See current Wine Enthusiast reviews here.

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