Washington Red Wine Blends Podcast

Its a time of the year when my thoughts are dominated by white wine and rosé. Particularly since it’s going to be 90 degrees and humid in Brooklyn…again. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take time out of my sweltering day to speak about Washington red wine blends.

The Benches vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills. This is one of the wine regions discussed on the podcast. Photo: Washington State Wine

On the latest episode of the What We’re Tasting podcast, I speak with my pal Sean Sullivan. He’s The Thuse’s contributing editor for Washington State. (He also covers Idaho.) So if you’re ready to get geeky about Washington wine, this is your episode.

We take a look at three wines that bring up numerous questions regarding #WAwine:

  • Why are some wines that could be labeled as single-grape wines sold as blends?
  • Is it Bordeaux. Rhône, or “Washington-style” blends that reign supreme?
  • When is a Oregon wine a Washington wine?
  • How are the regions of Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills, and Walla Walla Valley distinct?
  • Does adding 2% of a grape to a wine really make a difference?
  • Is it possible to sneak in a mention of a sparkling Grüner Veltliner?

And much more!

Have a listen:

Washington Red Wine Blends Take Center Stage

Are you looking to do some more reading regarding Washington wine?

Revisit a Cabernet Sauvignon “battle” between Washington, California, and Bordeaux. (It was a blind tasting and my winning bottle was a big surprise.)

Holy cow has rosé from Washington become so much better. I’m especially enamored of versions made from Cabernet Franc. Discover one of the best out there.

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Seven Hills Winery Rosé Makes Cabernet Franc The Star

I am a huge fan of Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. Many bottles are in my Hall of Fame, including one that’s probably in my Top Ten reds, ever. It’s a rising star on another continent, in a different guise, and what might seem a surprising state. Yes, Washington. Enter the Seven Hills Winery Rosé.

Recently I was invited to lunch with Casey McClellan. He holds the dual titles of winemaker and founder at Seven Hills Winery. We started with a white and progressed on to a flight of reds, but I have to admit I was most excited about the rosé.

2017 Seven Hills Winery Rosé

Mostly Cab Franc, with a touch of Petit Verdot and Malbec, this rosé has the flavors I adore in Cabernet Franc. Specifically, herbal notes, a little bit of olive, a certain savory quality. This wine has a distinct Cabernet “Franc-ness” that sometimes can be muted in a rosé, or certainly not as prominent as in a red wine.

(If you want to compare Cabernet Franc rosés from Washington, Sleight of Hand Cellars and Trust Cellars also make them. Look for the 2017s.)

During that lunch at Union Square Cafe, a serendipitous food and wine pairing happened. The (pictured) salad of cara cara oranges, fennel, pine nuts, and ricotta salata was not just stunning to look at and to eat. It was also about as ideal of a match you can get with a wine.

Seven Hills Winery Rosé Makes Cabernet Franc The Star

I also enjoyed the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, which has a dollop of Sémillon for richness and roundness. It’s also, interestingly enough, partially aged in oak barrels with acacia wood tops and bottoms. The 2016 Walla Walla Valley and the 2014 Seven Hills Vineyard were a Merlot duo worthy of praise. The combination of Seven Hills, McClellan, and Washington is a hallmark for this grape. Finally, we took a quick trip to Red Mountain to enjoy the robust 2014 Ciel du Cheval.

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