So many wines so little time, a bit clich? but extremely poignant if you attended Taste Washington. On April 9th, 85 Washington State wineries and 45 local restaurants met under one roof to put on Seattle largest exposition of its local wine and food industry. The annual event is sponsored by the Washington Wine Commission to highlight the wines of the Northwest. Participating restaurants are paired with two wineries, much to the culinary delight of the wine trade, press and most importantly the wine consumers.
This is not strictly a wine tasting it is a epicurean event. Held at the Paramount Theater in downtown Seattle, this sold out tasting included an oyster bar, pastries from leading chefs, desert wines, a retail shop and wine information and services from the local wine trade.
This year saw the introduction of the 98′ vintage of red wines. Young, muscular and very ripe seem to be at the heart of these new wines. Most of the wines from this vintage seem to meet the expectation that this growing season has created. Many have called it the best growing year of the decade. It also appears the caliber of wine making has improved over the past few years in Washington. More than ever with the influx of new wineries, wine makers and techniques to the area, the face of the Washington wine industry is changing. This year saw the impressive appearance of some new wineries including; Cayuse Vineyards, Andrake, Hightower, Owen-Sullivan, Reininger and Tamarack. Also showing well were some returning favorites like Quilceda Creek, L’Ecole #41, Soos Creek, Woodward Canyon and Wineglass Cellars.
Try as I did, It is impossible to taste all the wines from the 85 participating wineries. The only good way to weed out the average wines and find the winners is to ask the people who have tasted them. During the trade portion of the tasting I must have asked a couple dozen wine insiders, “So,,,,,,,,taste anything good?”. Unfortunately, almost everyone told me of a different wine that they swore was the “best”. Sure there were some duplicates, but for the most part I was given a long list of the “best” wines at the event. I believe this speaks volumes for the quality and consistency of the wines coming out of Washington this year.