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Wednesday’s Meritage #161

July 20, 2022 Leave a comment

Meritage Time!

I’m soooo behind on my posts it is not even funny. Probably good 15+ posts behind, and it is not a good feeling. Not being a professional writer, I never developed a habit of just writing no matter what. Not having such a habit definitely gets in the way. Oh well, such is life.

Today’s Meritage is once again mostly focused on this very blog. Of course, a lot is happening in the wine world, but nothing really caught my eye as worth repeating. Even the record heat wave in Europe doesn’t have much coverage as it relates to the vineyards. I checked to see if I can find anything worth sharing about extreme heat in Europe and vineyards, and only found plenty of articles from 2019, but none from 2022. It will be really interesting scary like hell to see the effects of this extreme heat on the 2022 wines in a few years, but yes, we will have to wait a bit.

For the local “news”, outside of the fact that I’m grossly (understatement of the century) behind on my writing and my postings, I spent some time cleaning up and updating references on the front page of the blog.

On the right side of the screen (assuming you are using a PC – it will be all different on a mobile), there are links grouped into 4 categories – social media, blogroll, wine buying, and wine travel. I went over all of the links in these sections and removed all of the dead ones. In the blogroll, some of the links will connect you to the sites which had not been updated for years – but as long as the link is not dead and you can actually reach the content, I left those links in place.

I also realized that I’m missing some of the references I actually should have. I added a few blogs I’m reading semi-regularly (I won’t tell you what they are though :)). I also added a few links to the wine buying section.

Wine.com was a notable absence from the wine buying section, as I was not a fan. I gradually changed my opinion – I wouldn’t say that Wine.com is my only or even preferred source of wine buying, but they have plenty of interesting and unique wines (Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, for example, or Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Reserva), which are also priced at an “average retail” level, which I’m okay with (I despise with passion overpaying for wine). I also like the extensive information provided on Wine.com on all the wines, whether they are in stock or not.

Same with the Wine Exchange – I gradually warmed up to their e-mails and even bought a few interesting wines based on their suggestions. They also carry a good inventory of well-aged wines at reasonable prices – for example, there you can find Chateau Lestage from the Listrac-Medoc, 2000 (legendary!) vintage for $39.98, or Shiraz from Barossa Valley from 2004 vintage (18 years old wine) for $29.99.

The last addition to the wine buying section is not even about the wines – it is about a close relative, cognac. I came across the Cognac Expert website as I was looking for interesting cognac tasting sets to share with a friend who was supposed to visit. There is a tremendous Cognac selection on the website, plus every cognac has a very extensive description of its history, tasting notes, and more. They also charge reasonable shipping rates (I think) for the cognacs delivered from France, so if you like cognac, this is definitely a site to visit.

Okay, just to step outside of my blog’s realm, a few more news items:

There are 5 days left to enter the Web Wine Writing competition conducted by the Hungarian Wines organization. I know this is not enough time, but in case you wrote about Hungarian wines recently, this might be a great opportunity for you. Details can be found here.

International Shiraz Day is the next grape holiday, coming up on July 28th. Shiraz or Syrah, Australia, France, Italy, or Washington – I’m sure it is not difficult to find a tasty bottle and enjoy it in honor of one of the major red grapes.

And the month-long wine celebration is almost upon us – August is Washington Wine Month. From Bordeaux blends and GSM to the world-class, cult quality, single vineyard Cab, Syrah, Grenache, and everything in between – folks in Washington know how to wine. Just get a bottle of your favorite Washington wine and you are ready to celebrate.

That’s all I have for you for today. The glass is empty, but the refill is on the way. Cheers!

Like A Kid In The Candy Store…

October 13, 2014 59 comments

I’m traveling again (for my daytime job), and of course, when I travel, I’m always looking for the local wineries to visit. This time I’m in Washington state, and of course, there is no shortage of wineries to visit here. Well, let me critique myself here for that beaten up “of course”. This is not the first time I’m in Washington –  however, last time I was here, I couldn’t think of anything but the Chateau St. Michelle as a winery to visit (which was the great visit, by the way, and I love their wines). While the Washington wineries had been on my radar for quite a long time, there was no realization that those wineries are actually the places which can be visited. Until this time.

First, I tried to arrange a visit to the Quilceida Creek, a cult producer. Unfortunately, they were smack in a middle of harvest at the time of my visit, and said that they allow no visitors at that time (oh well, I will try to time my visit better next time). Then I tried Google and got back way too many results. My next step was Twitter, where I got some name recommendations and was given a few posts to read – one from the Wild 4 Washington Wine blog (this is not just one blog post, this is a series), and another one from the Jameson Fink blog. Based on all the information, I wrote down the few wineries I wanted to start from, and decided to figure out the rest on the fly. I also only had about 3 hours available to taste.

I had a bit of a trouble programming my GPS, so I just put whatever address it took. When I arrived at the area called Woodinville Industrial Park, and an electronic voice proclaimed the familiar “you have arrived at your destination”, my first reaction was “wow”!

At the entrance to Woodinville Industrial ParkHow would you, wine geeks and aficionados out there, feel – greeted with such a view? A Christmas in October? Yay! I was looking for the right way to describe my state of mind once I saw all these signs, and the best I could do was “a kid in the candy store” – wow, I can taste all of these – incredible!

It appears that what started less than 10 years ago from only 5 wineries, finding an inexpensive rent in the Industrial Park, became a 60+ setting now (and there are more than 100 wineries in the Woodinville overall). Going from winery to winery, I met very passionate and very talented people, who are living through their dream. Most of the people I met – winemakers and owners – have another full-time job – an engineer, a police officer, a reporter. And despite the fact that winery is “just a hobby” (who am I kidding – it is not, it is a product of obsession), the wines were simply outstanding. I found it also fascinating that at every tasting room I was given a recommendation on what to visit next. I tasted about 40+ wines during this visit overall – and I literally would be glad to drink any one of those wines again and again. Lots of Bordeaux blends, few of the whites, a bit of Syrah – this was a general line up at all the wineries, and again, the wines were beautifully executed, balanced and with the sense of place. The local wines you would be glad to drink all the time.

What I decided to do is not to produce a monster post trying to cram all the impressions into one, but instead, to make a few posts talking about individual wineries. During this trip, I visited Elevation Cellars, Pondera Winery, Des Voigne Cellars, Sparkman Cellars, Guardian CellarsFidélitas, and Mark Ryan Winery – and this is what you should expect to see coming in the next few posts. Therefore, I’m not finishing up this post, but instead, as they like to say, it is “to be continued…”

P.S. Once I started writing this post, I realized that I was really talking about “local wineries”, and “local” is a theme of the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #12, so let it be my entry into that.

P.P.S. I love the power of the internet – you can link backward, but you can also link forward. As the individual winery posts will be written, I will add the links to the posts under the names above.

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