One of my favorite times of the year is tax time. No, not because I’m some sort of sadist who likes to give Uncle Sam all my hard earned dough. The reason for my April 15 jubilation is because this is the time of the year that the region’s distributors and vintners get together to host trade tastings.
A trade tasting, is a private, industry only event, usually held at the distributorship. People who work in the wine trade, such as retail shop and restaurant owners, chefs, and the press converge on the tasting and get to sample new vintages available for the season.
On Monday I visited my friends at Graybeal Distributing for their second annual trade tasting. Bigger and better this year than last, the tasting hosted over 90 wines from 23 different wineries. The wines ranged from exquisite selections from Pepperbridge, Walla Walla Vintners, Seven Hills, and Saviah down to a complete line of fun and affordable wines from Barefoot.
My only disappointment that day was a severe shortage of local shop owners, who failed to make an appearance. My suggestion is that you go to your favorite local wine shop and tell them that you want these wines on their shelves. They owe it to you to carry them.
The first wines I want to rave on are from Seven Hills. Casey has once again hit it out of the park with his 2007 Riesling. The Riesling has 3% residual sugar this year, giving it a wonderful balance of fruit and acidity. One of my favorites of the day was McClellan’s 2005 Klipsun Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Filled with flavors of dried stone fruit and spice, this is a wonderfully balanced wine.
Gordy at Walla Walla Vintners shared a table of his newest reds. Probably my favorite wine of the day was his 2006 Sagemoor Cabernet Sauvignon. The juice comes from some of the oldest vines in Washington State, with flavors of dark black fruit, chocolate, and a slight sweetness in the tannins. Absolutely delicious! His 2006 Bello Rosso and Sangiovese were also fantastic.
Woodward Canyon shared their 2007 Nelm’s Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which as always, are amazing wines for their price. The 2006 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon was arguably another favorite of the day. It has notes of oak and cedar entwined in the flavors of black cherries.
The guys at Basel Cellars were on hand with five of their wines. I was impressed with the affordability of their wines, and suggest that you try both the 2007 “Forget Me Not” white blend, and the 2006 “Claret” red blend. Their 2005 Merriment was another bright spot in the day. This Bordeaux blend of Cab, Merlot, and, Cab Franc drinks nicely now, but will be incredible if you can cellar it for a couple of years.
Cougar Crest unveiled their 2007 Rose’ of Grenache. The intense flavors of black and white pepper, balanced by the fruit and acid will make this wine one of this summer’s regulars at my table and back yard.
Not to be missed, Rich Funk of Saviah poured several of his wines, including his 2006 Cab, which just scored a Wine Spectator 93 this week. You better buy this one quick!
Next week, I’m going to share with you my impressions of the other wines and wineries at the Graybeal trade tasting. Until then…Enjoy!