A Wineducation : Introduction to the World of Wines via Taste Washington

I recently had the pleasure of attending, “Introduction to the World of Wines” at Taste Washington 2013.  This class, moderated by: Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report, and paneled by: Dr. Keving Pogue of Whitman College, Thomas Price of The Metropolitan Grill, Linda Murphy author of “American Wine” and Thomas Henick-Kling of Washington State University, focused on what makes this region a prime location for growing grapes and making wine, as well as understanding the difference in varieties with blind testing. 

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Being a Geology geek myself (one of my favorite college classes) it was a fascinating look on the history of Washington’s unique landscape.  Particularly the Columbia Basin.  The Columbia Basin sits on Basalt from ancient lava flows at a low elevation.  This is the foundation.  Then many years later, one massive event changed everything.  The Missula floods – multiple flooding that carried and deposited sediments from teh North, rich in minerals.  This event is what gives the Basin area the landscape of rolling hills and deep carved river benches.  Over time, the wind starts to play a factor in blowing these sediments (loess) creating in some areas, along with the climate, the ideal conditions for producing world class wines.   The Terrior (individuality of a wine from teh geology of the site) of the wines from this region are unique, distinguishing this region as one of the best in the world. 

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Blind Testing: 

Flight 1: Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2012 vs. Novelty Hill Stillwater Creek 2011 Chardonney

Characteristics: 

Riesling:  High Acidity, Non-Oaky, Peach, Lime, Citrusy Flavors, Grapefruit, Smooth.

Chardonney:  Tropical, Apple, Pear, Ripe Banana, Almost always Oaky- (butterscoth, vanilla, baking spice), dense, rich, creamy. 

 

Flight 2: Proper Wines Syrah 2010  vs.  Obelisco Reserve Merlot 2009

Characteristics:

Syrah: Expressive, Black Fruits, Plum, Currants, Some Blue Fruit, Smoky, Bacon, Peppery, expresses character of site of grape.

Merlot: Black Cherry, Currant, Raspberry, Softer Expression, Less Tannins

 

Flight 3:  Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009  vs.  Syncline Subduction Red 2011

Characteristics: 

Cabernet Sauvignon:  Dense Black Fruits, Black Cherry, Black Olive, Oaky (baking, vanilla, butterscotch)

Blend: Unique to wines within blend – Rhone, lifted aromatics, savory

 

Growth:

Currently there is only a small percentage of potential land within Washington State AVA’s that is being utilized.  This means Washington States wine production has tremendous room for growth.  We are only now beginning to really understand and utilize the unique Geology and climate of this region.  According to our experts, in addition the the spectacular Reislings, Merlots and Syrahs we are already producing, among the up and coming varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Red Rhone, Mourvedre, Chenin Blanc, Lemberger, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Granache, Picpoul, Viognier and Malbec.  

I learned so much from this seminar and wish I could have attended all available.  I would highly recommend Taste Washington and taking a part in any of the seminars offered.  

English: Cropped image of Cabernet Sauvignon g...

English: Cropped image of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Hedges Vineyards in Red Mountain, Washington. Photo taken August 28th, 2007 with a Kodak z650 camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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