Wednesday’s itinerary started with a 9 AM departure to Woodinville and a special tour and delicious food and wine pairing.
There are more than 680 wineries in Washington and none might be more important than Chateau Ste. Michelle, which traces its Washington roots back to the 1930s. Chateau Ste. Michelle has also championed Riesling grape for more than 40 years. Riesling is one of the four top grapes in Washington along with Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Its success with Riesling has led to suggestions that it owns the category of American Riesling.
They certainly produce a lot of it. During our tour of the facility, we observed a production line that was bottling Chardonnay and is capable of bottling 11,000 bottles a day. The winery produces 1.2 million bottles a year. It’s a brand that is consistently high in quality and is almost always a good bet when you need to pick up a bottle for a meal or entertaining.
The food and wine pairing brunch was an outstanding affair hosted by white winemaker Wendy Stuckey and culinary director Bob Sarich. This event alone was worth the trek to Washington.
First Plate: Riesling
Indian Spiced Prawns, Tomato Chutney, Sesame seared Halibut, Orange-basil Thai Curry, Coconut Rice, Citrus Salad and Currywurst (bratwurst prepared with curry).
Second Plate: Merlot
Roast Duck, Cherry Merlot Sauce, Sweet Potato Cake, Manchego.
Wines: Canoe Ridge Estate 2007 Merlot Horse Heaven Hills, Cold Creek Vineyard 2006 Merlot, 2006 Artist Series Meritage.
Third Plate: Late Harvest Riesling
Wine: 2005 Ethos Late Harvest White Riesling Columbia Valley
I was looking forward to tasting the 2008 Eroica Riesling, which is a partnership between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen of Germany. It has a touch of sweetness at 1.7% residual sugar, has a touch of minerality and is Germanic in style. This is a lovely, well-balanced winner. We had the chance to sample the 2009, which is still in the tank. I liked that it was slightly drier, but it clearly wasn’t finished yet and lacked the complexity of the 2008.
The Dry Riesling until a few years ago wasn’t available nationwide. Thank goodness it now is. This is a great dry Riesling with a distinct peachiness. At only $9 a bottle, this is an unbelievable bargain.
The Cold Creek Riesling was the sweetest of the three with the sweetness coming up front and a refreshing dry finish. This taste is more in the tropical spectrum.
The Canoe Ridge Merlot is an elegant wine with more of a black fruit taste. It has a soft finish and would be great with Italian food.
The Artist Series Meritage lists for $50 and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and a dash of Petit Verdot. The grapes for this wine represent the best of the best. I liked this perhaps the best of the tasting. It is a sculpted, complex wine with smooth tannins.
We finished with the late harvest Ethos Riesling. This was surprisingly sippable. I enjoyed this and it was a great way to wrap up a superb food and wine pairing brunch.