Something about Seattle. I fell for it last July after a sun-drenched and resplendent week on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound. Something about the expanses of water, clean, clear air, dramatic skies and weather. The weather in the Northwest gets a bad rap – especially from people who’ve never been there. But statistics show that it actually rains less in Seattle than in Boston, New York City, or Paris, the three places I’ve lived to date (before LA). And everyone knows labile weather makes person thirsty and hungry.
Off the plane burning reds, oranges, and yellows were fully flushed against the grey and green backdrop. I dropped my things at my friends’ place and started in to take a bite out of the calm, clean city. First stop: Oysters and crisp Columbia Valley Semillon, Buty, at Taylor Fish Farm in Capitol Hill. Kumamotos latticed in lemon and minionette have a way of staying on your mind. Then onto Bar Ferd’nand where we bellied up to the bar in a sort of communal open market format. The wine list was esoteric and well-built except for the 2002 Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc they had by the glass. Credibility loss there, since 2002 was underwater in the southern Rhone and the wine crop was ruined. Sitka & Spruce next door just to say hi to one of the guys who runs the place, and then back out onto the cool grey streets. Patches of blue against the blazing red trees. My lungs fill with fresh ocean air.
At Oddfellows we had crisp, round 2009 Terlano Pinot Bianco and a little cheese for 4 PM ‘gouter‘; up the street at Anchovies and Olives, we drank 2008 San Falletto Manzoni Bianco and delighted in linguini tossed with butter, garlic, and Geoduck, a giant clam indigenous to the Northwest. It’s pretty gnarly to the eye – looks like a phallus – but quite tasty when sliced thin in pasta. Our crawl terminated at Bottlehouse in Madrona. Bottlehouse’ Somm is the brother of Eric Maclaughlin, Winery Director at Corliss Estates, the new chart-topping boutique Columbia Valley winery that we hosted a tasting for this October at WHWC. We were welcomed with effervescent glasses of Austrian Punkt Genau sparkling Zweigelt, the perfect end to the afternoon, since we had a house party to throw that night.
Up and at ‘em first thing. Breakfast at Skillet, an upscale diner born from a food truck, to share a plate of shrimp and grits with a dear friend. After a stroll through Pike Street Fish Market arm in arm, I’m fetched for my appointment at Andrew Will Winery, back on Vashon Island. We got a 10:20 AM ferry from the mainland. Gorgeous weather, cold fresh air on deck, Mt. Rainier showing its shy face against the crystalline blue backdrop to the left. Enormous barges cruised past us on their way into Tacoma Harbor, bearing cargo from South Korea, China
Started in 1989, Andrew Will Winery is headed up by winemaker Chris Camarda. Wines are made in made entirely of Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, and sourced from vineyards in the Columbia Valley of Eastern Washington. When I saw they’d received Top Winery of 2011 in Spectator, and already carried the accolades of Best Winery of 2010 from the Wall street Journal and 50 Most Influential Wnemakers from Decanter, I picked up the phone for an appointment (since I was going to be in the neighborhood). They don’t have a tasting room but the GM Celia was kind enough to accommodate me (trade perks). We tasted their flagship, 2010 Sorella, from barrel which was already delightful, full of fruit and structure though very young. We particularly like the 2007 Two Blondes (which is partially owned by the winemaker) and Ciel du Cheval. We hope to have both in stock shortly.