March is Taste Washington Wine Month, the month-long honoring of the annual Taste Washington festival and wines from the Evergreen State. Back for its 20th anniversary, Taste Washington showcases the best of the wine scene the bountiful state has to offer in the largest single-region wine and food event in the country. Celebrate with 235 different wineries at the two-day Grand Tasting, or revel in the region’s glory at the popular Red and White Party and The New Vintage events. In addition to the parties, Taste Washington also presents half a dozen seminars at the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle to expand your knowledge of Washington wine.
The state’s wine popularity and the industry behind it is growing more swiftly than ever before. To second that emotion, we’ve dug into the “Breaking Barriers: What’s New and Hot in the World of Washington Wine” seminar, a course that will explain everything you’ve ever wanted to know to stay on the fringe of the ever-expanding wine scene, discussing topics such as on-the-rise AVAs, new and groundbreaking trends, emerging wine varieties and women leadership in the wine industry. It also promises to taste a few wines and so, following in suit, we did some tasting of that list as well.
What’s Hot: Columbia Gorge Fruit
The Wine: Analemma Wines 2012 Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine, Columbia Gorge
Honoring the historic site in which the Analemma winery was built on, this single-varietal, single-vineyard vintage sparkling Champagne-style wine is all Pinot Noir and all Columbia Gorge fruit. An AVA since 2004, the Columbia Gorge is finally receiving the recognition it deserves, heralded for its mulitfaceted terroir that can produce cool-climate varietals like Pinot Noir, nearby to hot-weather ripeners like Barbera. Colored slightly pink in remembrance of the dark Pinot grape, it offers fruity aromas hinting at earth, green apple, strawberries and Barlett pear: ideal perfect for flexible pairing with all different bites of food (but try it just with potato chips for starters) and known for its long aging potential.
What’s Hot: Mourvèdre
The Wine: Gramercy Cellars 2014 L’Idiot du Village Mourvèdre, Columbia Valley
A wine worth exploring, Gramercy Cellars is doing the on-the-rise Mourvèdre right. With demand higher than ever, this popular wine allegedly sells out faster than any other wine carried before by the Walla Walla winery, currently existing in its fourth release. Really thriving in the Eastern part of Washington, the dark red of Rhône Valley descent shows off all things red including tart cranberries, sweet cherries and raspberries. Be on the look out for this complex and fresh red wine to continue to flourish throughout the Washington wine scene.
What’s Hot: Grenache
The Wine: Idilico 2013 Garnacha Yakima Valley
Recognized in recent years for its prowess on the scene, Grenache rang in as the most expensive variety per ton fpr Washington’s 2015 harvest. Although Malbec took the lead for most expensive in 2016, Grenache was a close second and has continued to grow and evolve making it more popular than ever before. If you’re looking to taste what all the buzz is about without having to blame in on a special occasion, Idilico’s velvety bottle that exhibits tart cherries, sweet strawberries and citrus rings in at only $20 and a perfect example as to why Grenache is a sought-after stunner.
What’s Hot: Chenin Blanc
The Wine: Orr Wines 2016 Old Vine Chenin Blanc, Columbia Valley
Since 2013, celebrated enologist and consultant Erica Orr has been making and creating wines under her own label and, the result, being 116 cases of old vine Chenin Blanc, has done nothing less than impress all who have a taste. The waxy, oily and unctuous Loire Valley grape thrives in Washington with some of the country’s oldest plantings, and this wine not only shows off what the varietal can do but what prominent women in the industry are doing with it. With notes of melon, pear and beeswax, plus a whirlpool of flavor and texture on the palate, this wine would be the perfect addition to the warm summer nights that lie ahead.
What’s Hot: Grenache Blanc
The Wine: Reynvaan Family Vineyards 2015 Grenache Blanc, Walla Walla Valley
Now that you’re familiar with Grenache, it’s time to meet Grenache Blanc: the white grape relative of the rouge. The emerging variety is, more often than not, seen in blends of Spanish and Rhône roots but is also popping up in solo spotlights throughout the state. Proprietors of tastemaking Syrah, it only makes sense to channel another grape from the same region, and Reynvaan does so with a Grenache Blanc of grapefruit, citrus, cherry blossom and melon, with complexity and mouthfeel for days.