Ted Davis, TCWS President
The 40th Annual Tri-Cities Wine Festival was a huge success! If you were one of the more than 900 who attended, you know how great it was – 72 winery labels, 379 wines, food and beer options, and the Knutsen Brothers again provided live entertainment. There were 51 bronze, 188 silver, 87 gold, 31 double-gold and 18 best-of-class medals awarded; and, the best-of-show award again went to College Cellars of Walla Walla. This year it was for the College’s 2016 Barbera. And of special note – this is the first time in the festival’s 40-year history that a winery has won back to back best-of-show awards! The complete list of awards is on the wine society’s website (Click here to see the list) In summary, the festival was simply an incredible event. Now, looking ahead, mark your calendars for next year’s festival, November 16, 2019 – the 41st Annual Tri-Cities Wine Festival, again at the Three Rivers Convention Center.
A special thank you goes to our wine society’s core team members – Dolly Ammann; Mary Binder; Blaine Hulse; Tony Pennella; Mary Peters; and, Debra Ticknor. Collectively, they worked tirelessly starting in January to prepare for everything from recruiting wineries to the wine judging, public tasting and silent auction. Thanks also go to the dozens of volunteers who supported the core team with everything from recruiting wineries to gathering silent auction donations, assisting with the wine judging, helping with the day-of preparations, and then, helping at the gala public tasting and with the silent auction. A special thank you, too, to this year’s wine judges: Jerry Bookwalter from Richland; Shelly Fitzgerald, Woodinville; Harry McWatters, Summerland, B.C.; Madeline Nelson, Chelan; Brad Smith, Grandview; and, Kristina Mielke van Löben Sels, Spokane. And finally, a special thank you to our VenuWorks partner and the staff at the convention center. We are very fortunate to have such a professional and supportive partner.
Member, TCWS Board of Directors
What a great way to spend a lovely autumn afternoon, tasting and comparing Rhône-style wines at the Barnard Griffin Winery. The theme for the event was a comparison of Washington Rhône-style wines with French Southern Rhône wines. Randy Schreiner, the event co-chair, selected 6 excellent wines for us to compare. The wines were all blends of grape varieties originating in France’s Rhône Valley. The wines were divided into 3 flights of 2. Each flight was paired with a tasty small plate prepared by Barnard Griffin’s head chef and his cooking crew.
The first flight featured the Barnard Griffin 2014 Côtes du Rôb and from France, the Domaine de la Janasse 2015 Reserve Côtes-du-Rhône. Comparing these 2 wines, the first thing I noted was the much darker color of the Washington wine and its big fruit-driven profile. The French wine was more laid back with more delicate fruit, an interesting complexity and moderate tannins. Both wines paired well with the tomato, basil and caper bruschetta as well as the Cambozola cheese, honey and cracker pepper bruschetta.
The second flight presented a lovely wine from Walla Walla, the Forgeron Cellars 2014 Façon Rouge, and the Domaine du Pesquier 2015 Gigondas from France. These were nicely paired with 2 exotic elk and wild boar meatballs. Again, I noted the Washington wine had a deeper color than the French one. The Forgeron Cellars wine was full-bodied, well balanced and loaded with lots of berry fruit. The Gigondas was silky with flavors of cherry and blueberries and a long finish. It had a nice minerality and was another excellent wine.
The final flight offered a comparison of Syncline Winery’s 2015 Cuvée Elena from Washington and the Tour Saint Michel Cuvée du Lion 2015 Châteauneuf-duPape from France. This time the French wine had the darker color. The Syncline wine was well-balanced with nice berry fruit. The French pairing for this flight was cider-braised chicken with a chanterelle and black-grape cream sauce with crispy-fried Brussel sprouts.
Randy had a plethora of information on the wines, wine regions and grape varieties – all very interesting. He also had a small quiz with the winners getting a bottle of wine to take home. Yours truly won one! We ended the event with a decadent, yes, decadent, flourless chocolate cake! Members commented that they came because they liked the topic and the venue. I don’t believe anyone went away disappointed.
Thank you, Randy, for a great event!
Member, TCWS, Public Relations Liaison
“I love Albariño … an opportunity to taste and try different Albariños, including from different parts of the world … curiosity” – just some of the comments from the participants when asked why they attended the society’s September event, “Wine of the Sea.” While fall had just officially started, it was a beautiful, summer-like day, so a wonderful way to end that season and welcome in another.
Event co-chairpersons, Mary Peters and Sharon Kohler, did an outstanding job of organizing the event, providing interesting information – along with some octopus humor – having a variety of Albariños to taste and compare, and with the culinary skills of Chef Amy Davis and Sharon, provided a wide variety of delectable food options to accompany the wines. Well, OK, I’m not sure there were any converts to octopus, but at least for me, the seafood salad with octopus was yummy!
Again, in reviewing the comments provided, each of the 6 wines was someone’s favorite, which is good; but, the overall favorite was the 2017 Palencia Wine Company’s Albariño from the Ancient Lakes AVA. To note, in a wine seminar I attended many years ago, the instructor emphasized that there are no right or wrong answers to favorites as everyone’s “laboratory of your mouth” is different. The favorites for this event just reinforced that.
And, for the food, the same thing! From the octopus to the pickled herring, chilled corn soup, puff pastry with Havarti cheese and prosciutto, cheese, almond cake, and more, there seemed to be something for everyone. This is good, and a goal for the wine society’s events – a variety of food and wine for everyone’s “laboratory.” However, there were several requests for the chilled corn soup with tarragon and the almond lemon cake recipes! [See recipes, below]
So, a memorable way to end the summer – samples of the “Wine of the Sea” with wonderful food, and with old and new friends! Good bye summer; welcome fall.
Cold Corn Soup with Tarragon
Cut the kernels off 3-4 ears of fresh corn. Place cobs in a pot with water to cover, about 5 cups; cut cobs in half, if necessary. Bring to a boil and simmer about one hour. Cool, discard cobs, reserve liquid – this will give the soup
a rich corn flavor.
Sauté one chopped, medium onion (Walla Walla Sweet is best) in 2 tablespoons butter. Add corn and cook about 5 minutes. Add corn liquid and simmer until corn is tender, about 30 min.
Cool enough to puree safely in a blender, in batches as necessary. The puree will have some texture. Chill. Add one cup of cream plus salt and pepper to taste. Chill at least 3 hours. Sprinkle each serving with chopped, fresh tarragon – or another fresh, chopped herb or nutmeg.
Flourless Lemon Almond Cake
1 ½ cups blanched slivered almonds; or, 1 ½ cups almond meal*
8 tablespoon sugar, total
4 large eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons packed, grated, lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 1 ½-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and grease paper.
Finely grind almonds with 2 tablespoons of the sugar in food processor.
Beat egg yolks with pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until pale yellow – 2-3 minutes. Stir in almond extract, lemon peel and cinnamon. Add almond mixture. Batter will be thick.
Using clean beaters, beat egg whites in large bowl
until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 4 tablespoons of remaining sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of whites into almond mixture. Gently fold in remaining whites.
Transfer batter to pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Turn out onto platter. Remove parchment paper.
*Almond meal or almond “flour” is available at the Health Food Store, Yokes, and probably other grocery stores.
TCWS Board of Directors
The sellout Rosé event on the Wine Notes patio in West Richland, Sunday, August 19, was a great success as evidenced by all the very positive comments received, AND despite smoky air from wildfires and a few annoying flies who seemed to want to join in the fun!
We tasted 6 Rosés from Argentina, Chile, Portugal, California, France and Washington. The wines were paired in groups of 2, and each group was paired with a superbly presented and wonderful food item.
The first pairing was the 2017 Fabre Montmayou Rosé of Malbec from Argentina and 2017 La Playa Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. These were paired with a parmesan kale salad bowl drizzled with a blackberry peppercorn vinaigrette. The favorite pairing in this flight was the Fabre Montmayou.
The next pairing was the 2017 Calçada Lago Rosé from Portugal and 2016 Angeline Pinot Noir Rosé from Sonoma County, Calif. These were paired with a chicken satay atop a cucumber/watermelon salad. The slightly spicy satay sauce balanced superbly with the fresh salad. The Angeline Rosé and chicken satay were the afternoon’s second favorite pairing.
The final pairing was the 2017 Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Rosé from France and 2017 Jones of Washington Rosé of Syrah. The Syrah grapes were grown in the Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley AVA. These wines were paired with a fantastic tomato basil pie – the event’s favorite pairing! In fact we have received several requests for the pie recipe! [See below.]
It was refreshing to see a number of attendees comment that they came to this event specifically to explore Rosés; and, it seems, they were happy they did!
A special thanks to Chef Renee and her staff at Wine Notes who poured the wine flights and served the food on schedule. Truly, Everything “Came” Up Rosé, August 19.
Because You Asked!
Chef Renee's Tomato Basil Pie Recipe
The exact measurements used are not available; but, this recipe is so simple that precision is not needed.
Baked pie shell.
Fresh tomatoes – slice tomatoes and lay on a paper towel to absorb moisture.
Granulated garlic – lightly sprinkle on tomatoes.
Italian basil – I used fresh Italian basil but any fresh basil works. You can chop this or use whole leaves.
Cheese – I used half shredded Italian blend and mozzarella.
In your baked pie shell, layer basil, cheeses and tomatoes. Repeat with as many layers as possible.
Bake at 350° until the top is a pretty brown.
Member, TCWS Board of Directors
The Bastille Day Party at Meadow Springs Country Club was a fun evening with a good turn out. French wines were excellent and the food fabulous! One guest exclaimed, “The food was to die for.” Another said,” What a great selection of wines!” Chef Clarke, the new executive chef at Meadow Springs, put out 2 beautifully presented heavy hors d’oeuvres buffets. We feasted on lots of yummy food, with plenty of variety, served over a 2-hour period. I liked everything, but my 2 favorites were the baked brie en croûte with berries and the house made chocolate truffles.
When guests arrived, they received a passport for the wines and the instructions for the “guess-who-I-am” game. Everyone had the name of a famous French personality attached to their back. The objective was to ask questions of other guests until they discovered the name. The prize was a bottle of wine for the first 8 people who solved the puzzle. I was surprised at how quickly those 8 bottles went! I think everyone was really into the game, having fun and circulating.
We started with a sparkling wine from southern Alsace rated 90 pts. by James Suckling and Wine Enthusiast. Next were 2 white wines. One was a dry Riesling from Alsace, rated 92 pts. by Wine Enthusiast, and the other a classic Sancerre from the Loire Valley, rated 91 pts. by Wine
Spectator. This was my favorite wine of the night. It was amazingly complex with perfect balance – herbaceous with citrus notes, hints of peach and a chalky minerality.
There were 4 red wines. The first one served was from Côtes-du-Roussillon in southern France. Rated 93 pts. by Robert Parker, the grapes for this amazing wine came from
70-year-old vines. The wine had lots of ripe dark berry fruit. The second was a Côtes-du-Rhône rated 95 pts. by Decanter. It was blend of 4 grape varieties with peppery flavors of black cherry and dark berry fruit. The third came from the Graves area of Bordeaux and was a classic blend
of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was rated 95 pts. by Decanter and 93 pts. by Wilfred Wong of Wine.com (Wilfred is an international wine judge who has participated in the Tri-Cities Wine Festival judging a number of times). The 4th red, rated 93 pts. by Wine Spectator, is from the Saint-Émilion area in Bordeaux. It is a Bordeaux-style red blend that is elegant and complex with beautiful black currant fruit. The tannin structure means that this wine will age well.
We ended with a rosé sparkling wine from Burgundy’s Nuits-Saint-Georges area, rated 90 pts. by Decanter. Wow! What great perlage and beautiful strawberry color!
Special thanks to the volunteers who helped make this event a success. The pourers were: Kurt Ammann; Ted & Judith Davis; Dave Levinskas; Tony & Marie Pennella; Mary Peters; Lois McGuire; Ken Kramer; and, Chuck & Sue McCargar. Also thanks to Marjorie Casper for decorations and Muriel Templeton for helping with the name game.
Vive La France!
Chuck and Sue McCargar Members,
TCWS Board of Directors Event Co-Chairmen
The society’s sold-out June 16 event, “An Afternoon in the Vineyard,” was a big success despite Mother Nature’s variable weather. Strong winds and a bit of rain earlier in the day were concerning; however, things calmed down somewhat. And, after strategically placing the wine serving table and moving the food inside, everything worked out.
The event was held in the Gifford Vineyard, and at Paul and Candy Gifford’s home. Paul began by talking about their experience in starting a new vineyard – preparing the ground, then planting, nurturing, harvesting and marketing. The Giffords did all the work themselves, with the help of some friends.
Next followed a tour of the vineyard with a stop for each grape variety planted – Grenache; Counoise; and, Mourvèdre. Along with each stop, participants had a taste of the featured wines: Shackelford Vintners 2017 Grenache Rosé; Alexandria Nicole 2015 Counoise; and, Syncline 2015 Mourvèdre, Red Mountain, Heart of the Hill Vineyard. The favorite wine was a close call between the Mourvèdre and Counoise, with a slight edge to the Counoise.
The event continued with participants gathering on the patio. A variety of Grenache and Mourvèdre varietals, plus a blend that was 70-percent Counoise, were served along with picnic food catered by Amy Davis. The chicken and steak paninis, and the veggie tartlets, complemented the wine well. For dessert there were sweet cranberry bars. Comments gave “high fives” to Amy for her food.
Participants had many questions for Paul and Candy both in the vineyard and afterward on the patio. Comments indicated people learned a lot and enjoyed the vineyard focus. In summary, it was a “really great” event as expressed by many.
A big thank you to Paul and Candy for graciously allowing us to visit their vineyard property and for the wealth of information they imparted. Thank you also to the volunteers who helped pour the wine!
Member, TCWS Board of Directors
Sunday afternoon, May 20, Horn Rapids Golf Course Clubhouse, was delightful – wine tasting with deliciously prepared food, great company and conversation, and fun games. Tri-Cities Wine Society President Ted Davis started the afternoon with the society’s annual meeting. During the brief meeting, members received updates, including: membership information; a treasury report; information on the society’s donations during the past year; and, past and upcoming events. Elections were held for 4 new board members (Glen Grabiec, Kevin Leary, Chuck Leininger and Barb Thrall) and 4 current board members who volunteered to serve another 2-year term (Dolly Ammann, Cher Case, Jim Hartley, Chuck McCargar and Randy Schreiner). Besides these 8 board members, 7 other board members will be serving the second year of their 2-year terms (Ted Davis Sue McCargar, Tony Pennella, Mary Peters, Tony Sharpe, Judy Stewart and Pete Tice). Welcome, new board members, and thank you to all for serving!
Member Sharon Kohler won a free year’s membership for attending the most events during the society’s fiscal year, May 2017 through April 2018. Congratulations, Sharon!
Chef Amy Davis did another outstanding job with the food. With such a variety of award-winning wines from past Tri-Cities Wine Festivals, it was easy to find a perfect pairing with the food. For one person, however, the best part of the afternoon was the brownies (with molded chocolate grape clusters by Judith Davis)! Thank you, Chef Amy, and thank you, Judith.
The trivia game produced much conversation and was a fun learning experience as we tried to come up with answers. And, there was interesting conversation throughout the afternoon focused on new ideas for future wine society events.
President Ted ended the day with a lively game of “heads and tails” – not to make money, but to win a bottle of wine. Each attendee also left with a brown-bagged, award-winning wine as a thank you for being a Tri-Cities Wine Society member.
Submitted by Blaine Hulse, Member, TCWS
Huge kudos to Tony Pennella for one of the most entertaining and educational events I have attended lately! As a “blind tasting” of 2 flights with 3 wines in each – 1 from Washington and 2 from elsewhere – this proved to be a fascinating exploration of Syrah.
After a lovely French Syrah greeting wine, we went into the actual comparisons. Tony introduced the wines with a great brief description to aid guests in determining the country of origin but without revealing which one was which. While I did not do so well in determining the origins, other guests did! [Note: Wine info in March and April EVOEs.]
The CG Public House served excellent hors d’oeuvres with each flight – from chicken skewers to savory meatballs – and nuts, cheese, summer sausage and thin, crispy breadsticks to help clean the palate. This variety was very helpful in showing Syrah’s versatility as a food wine as there were many different textures and flavors. Thank you, CG Public House!
And finally, as a Barnard Griffin Syrah Port was served, Tony wrapped up the afternoon with a lively vote of Washington Syrahs vs. the World. Yes, Washington won!
“Great outside-the-box event” and “A refreshing change from a wine-tasting event” were 2 of the most common comments received after the March 18, Tri-Cities Wine Society, Sippin’ Cider event. Mary Peters, a wine society board member, coordinated the event. She took the time and effort to find 8 diverse ciders. Kudos and thank you, Mary!
A thank you also to d’s Wicked Cider Company, Kennewick, for: gratuitously donating the space and “Cider Hammer” for the tasting; providing a facility tour; and, additional tastings after the event. Of the 8 ciders presented, the Snowdrift Cellars Perry Reserve won the most accolades. Snowdrift Cellars is located in East Wenatchee and the Perry Reserve is made in the “Méthode Champenoise.” Following closely behind the Perry Reserve for most accolades was our host’s Cider Hammer. However, almost every cider had a following. The other ciders were from: Spain; Ireland; Corvallis, Ore.; Spokane and Tieton, Wash.; and, closer to home, Goose Ridge
Chef Amy Davis prepared many small appetizers to accompany the ciders. They received more than just a few raves from the attendees and paired well with the ciders! Thank you, Chef Amy.
All in all, it was a fun event, as many expressed in their comments. In fact, the event actually oversold and had quite a waiting list. So, if you are thinking of attending a future wine society event, keep in mind that if you wait until the last minute to make a reservation, you may not secure a place. Reserve early!