I've followed the evolution of Dakota Creek Winery in Blaine almost since day one, and it has been a most rewarding experience.
Ken and Jill Peck, the husband-and-wife owners and winemakers, have carved out a niche among Whatcom County wine enthusiasts by producing solid wines sourced from Eastern Washington's Rattlesnake Hills Appellation.
Their fan base appears to be a most loyal group, demonstrated by a nearly full tasting room and outdoor seating area during my most recent weekend visit. Of course, having a sun-splashed afternoon and tastes of blissful chocolates from Bellingham's Evolve Truffles on hand didn't hurt, but it's the wines that keep bringing people back.
And after sampling a number of Dakota Creek's upcoming new releases, it's safe to say these could be some of the best wines the Pecks have produced. Here's a sneak peak at what to expect when the wines become available to the general public during the winery's Spring Release event on Mother's Day weekend:
A 2010 Viognier (about $20) is the winery's sole white wine new release, displaying gentle peach aromatics and flavors along with a trace of licorice root and hazelnut on the finish.
The four new red wines slated for release include the 2010 Dolcetto (about $22), with a fragrant nose that I thought resembled Jolly Rancher Fire Stix. On the palate, there's some nice, bright strawberry and cherry tomato flavors with a touch of herbaceousness.
A 2010 Malbec (about $24) is one of those wines that gets better with every sip. Understated brambly berries lead off, while a spritz of black pepper and an underlying layer of toasted oak come through on the finish.
A bit unconventional in that it leans toward the fruity, rather than the meaty, tannic side, the 2010 Petit Verdot (about $24) still displays plenty of heft between the black cherry aromas and flavors that predominate. A pleasant whisper of orange zest rounds out the package.
Drinking beautifully now, the syrah-based, four-varietal 2010 Jill's Blend (about $25) begins on an almost buttery, velvety note with dark berry and cherry flavors. Brighter red currant and pomegranate follow, along with a dusting of chalky tannins.
A final note: Eight other Whatcom County wineries will join Dakota Creek by participating in Spring Release Weekend, May 10-12. They are: Dynasty Cellars, GLM Wine Co., Inyo Winery, Masquerade Wine Co., Mount Baker Vineyards, Samson Estates, Vartanyan Estate Winery, and Willow Tree Vineyard. Check with each winery for its scheduled new wines and special events.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at www.danthewineguy.com.
Reach DEAN KAHN at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2291.