Hot, yes… over a hundred degrees both days we spent in Eastern Washington touring wineries in the Columbia Valley. Not Florida hot, though – not humid enough to make us not want to taste some pretty amazing wines.
Our first visit was dinner and tasting at Col Solare, in the Red Mountain AVA. Delicious 2009, 2012 and 2013 Col Solare and the 2012 Shining Hill paired well with mushroom confit and duck breast. Next morning we were off to Northstar, where we created our own blend (and took a bottle home) using four Merlot AVA’s, one Cabernet and one Petit Verdot. What a wonderful experience that was, followed by Moroccan chicken salad and a tutored cheese course with ‘Cheese Louise,’ local cheese authority and owner of, what else – Cheese Louise! From lunch, we hopped a bus over to Canoe Ridge Estate for a vineyard tour and on to Columbia Crest for a spectacular BBQ dinner.
Next morning, we flew in a prop plane over the mountains to Seattle, and then drove over to Woodenville, home of Chateau Ste. Michelle, for a tour and tasting. Dinner was just across the street, at Red Hook Brewery; we might have had a beer or two! That evening we walked into town and I fell victim to eating one of the HOT, HOT wings that you don’t have to pay for if you eat them all (oh, and you get your name and photo on the wall, probably next to Adam Richman… such a small price for fame!) I ate one (only ordered one) and it was x 10 the hottest thing I ever ate. Not enough beer in Seattle to contain that fire!
We enjoyed, unquestionably, the best oysters in the US. I think on Pier 54, a place called Elliot’s, with a beautiful view of the bay and Muscadet just in case. Lovely lunch! Since dinner (isn’t it funny, just finished lunch and already thinking about dinner) was going to be late, we checked out the PURPLE Wine Bar. I ordered a Spanish white wine flight with some Marcona almonds and olives, and a bottle of 1996 Ch. de Fieuzal Blanc, which at 19 years of age was running on all four cylinders. Sixty bucks?!?! Yes, please, I’ll take it!
Dinner was a heavy buffet at Ch. Ste. Michelle while we were waiting for the show to begin. Seems Jackson Browne was playing the winery that evening and we were invited! I’m not a huge fan of his, but his show was the perfect end to the day and the trip. He is one incredible singer/songwriter, even at 66. A huge thanks to the Ch. Ste. Michelle group. Great trip!
Shayne Hebert, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine and spirits supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @ABCwineShayne