Enjoy these standout wines from Seattle's Taste Washington


Over 200 Washington wineries serving 800-plus wines and only four hours to taste them: That was my pleasant dilemma at last month's Taste Washington event in Seattle.

Keeping in mind that I was only able to put a small dent in the total number of wines, let me cut to the chase and give you a brief summary of some of the standouts that I sampled.

Challenger Ridge Winery - Both the 2010 Estate Pinot Noir (about $34) and the 2010 Thornwood Reserve Red Bordeaux Blend (about $49) were quite nice. The pinot noir displays delicious black cherry and cola flavors, and the Thornwood was produced by winemaking guru Robert Smasne. Enough said.

Cloudlift Cellars - Winemaker Tom Stangeland always seem to make me smile, this time with his 2012 Updraft (about $18), a sauvignon blanc/semillon blend. Tropical fruits balanced with brisk, citrusy accents and grassy undertones ... what more could you ask for from a white Bordeaux blend at this price?

O Wines - This Woodinville winery helps provide scholarships to low-income young women with a portion of each purchase. Their 2011 Chardonnay (about $14) is a lighter style, slightly oaky offering with hints of apple and pear. Great cause, great price and perfect for everyday enjoyment.

Sparkman Cellars - Chris Sparkman has been blowing me away with everything I've tried within recent memory. His 2012 Wonderland Grenache (about $32) shows pinpoint balance between the wine's darker berry fruits and the brighter red currant and pomegranate flavors that shine through on the finish.

Tempus Cellars - Keep your eye on Walla Walla winemaker Joe Forest ... he's producing some awesome wines. His 2012 Riesling (about $16) hits all the right notes with juicy white peach and nectarine flavors and a distinguishing stamp of Evergreen Vineyards minerality.

Waitsburg Cellars - Personable wine columnist and author Paul Gregutt was on hand to pour a few current releases as the winery's director of winemaking. The two chenin blancs I tried, the Cheninieres and Chevray (about $17 each), were outstanding and at prices that should make everyone happy.

Some closing notes on a couple of newcomer wineries to watch:

Cinq Cellars, in Redmond, was formed by five friends with an interest in making wine. Their 2011 The Storm (about $24) is a Rhone-style blend that's completely over-the-top. With intense, dark layers of berry and currant and a plush, mocha-like finish, this may have been my favorite red wine of the event.

And winemaker Mike Taylor of West Seattle's micro-boutique, Two Brothers Winery, poured three well-crafted red wines: a 2010 Fiore Rosso Red Blend, 2010 Merlot and 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $30 each). Taylor gave me a follow-up call to thank me for stopping by to taste. Good wines and a grateful winemaker? It was a nice epilogue to a memorable event.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

Bellingham Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service