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This time last week, I was tooling around Seattle, riding shotgun with Brother Lou, once again experiencing the Pike Place Market, visiting once again the Original Starbucks, as well as grabbing a nosh at Le Panier, picking up a present for Wifey from Jim Chow, browsing the shelves at Pike & Western Wine, and hitting the Tasting Room Washington Wines to check out juice from Camaraderie Cellars, Mountain Dome, Latitude 46, Wineglass Cellars and Naches Heights.

But first, around lunch time, we headed over to Pyramid Breweries Alehouse for a beer and a sandwich.  Brother Lou hit the beer sampler while I got this special Triple Hopped Belgian Ale, which was ridiculously good.  Why can’t we get one of these joints in Cincinnati?  (Hey The Banks developers, Casino out, Pyramid Alehouse in?)

Back at the Tasting Room, where the service was quite weird (I guess because we flashed our industry credentials) and the wines were okay, of note for me was the Camaraderie Cellars Storm King Red NV (Grade=Outstanding), which was a solid, medium-bodied red with an easy presence on the palate and nice red and black fruit aromas and flavors.  I think we felt a bit invisible, although we spent a good bit of time tasting several wines (and we were paying customers too!).  I hope others have a better experience.

Oddly, while posting randomly on Twitter minor Road Show details, newfound Twitter/Blog bro Jameson Fink (@winewithjameson), Director of Social Media and in-house wino at Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle said, since we were in the area, to drop in his store.  Not one to pass on an invite (though at first I thought my ass was too tired to make it), we obliged and arrived just in time to try wines they were showing for their Saturday tasting.  (I love it when a plan comes together.)

Mark Ryan “The Vincent” White Wine Columbia Valley 2009.  Grade=Outstanding.  This Chard/Viognier blend had a lot of honeysuckle and fresh Georgia peaches in the nose with a lot of tropical fruit flavors, a hint of allspice and nutmeg and well-balanced acidity.

Mark Ryan “The Vincent” Rosé Columbia Valley 2010.  Grade=Outstanding.  This Rhone-styled rosé surprises with lush strawberry and red raspberry aromas and flavors, a hint of thyme, and nice minerality.

Bergevin Lane Calico Red Columbia Valley 2007.  Grade=Outstanding.  A terrific everyday red, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Zinfandel is splashy and juicy, with jammy red and black fruits, shades of blueberry jam, strawberry-rhubarb pie, baking spices and dusty earth.

McKinley Springs Syrah Horse Heaven Hills 2007.  Grade=Outstanding+.  This bold Syrah harkens one’s palate to something from A. Clape; it has dark, brooding red fruit characters, a bit of savory component, like roasted meats, bacon fat and umami, with red flowers, herbs, truffles, olives and a blackberry compote undertone.

Eye of the Needle “Private Eye” Red Wine NV.  Grade=Outstanding.  This haunting little red blend was smooth and simple, yet had a nice bit of black and red berry components, a slight hint of cola, and some baking spices in there as well.

It was very cool to meet Jameson in his element, and even cooler to see the wine stores of both Pike & Western and Esquin.  Esquin impressed me to no end, and evenmanaged to piss me off with their big ass display of Leonetti right by the counter.  That’s unreal.  And their selection of  Washington State wines, I was like a pig in shit.  Yet equally impressive was their Italian selections, all the hard-to-get (at least for us) California wines (I love seeing Darioush Cab and DuMol Chard on the shelves, as well as the Verite wines right up front).

Heading back to B&E’s B&B, we made it just in time for the Kentucky Derby to start, grab a glass of Blanton’s, and root for Mucho Macho Man (who came in 3rd ).  The plan was to grill out some brats, lay out oysters on the half-shell, and we cracked open a few spoils of our Woodinville jaunt the day before:

Chateau Ste. Michelle Mourvedre Columbia Valley 2007.  Grade=Outstanding.  Spicy, smoky blueberries coupled with dark plums, baking spices and a hint of white pepper and truffle salt.  Medium-bodied with juicy tannins and a long-lasting finish.

Dusted Valley Malbec Columbia Valley 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  Big, dense red full of black and blue fruits, smoky oak, mineral, and loads of baking spices.  Peppery tannins fill the palate and the finish is jammy, rich and complex.

Sleight of Hand The Spellbinder Red 2008.  Grade=Outstanding.  A blend of Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah, Sangiovese and Malbec, this medium-bodied red was a big surprise.  Loads of unctuous black, blue and red fruits, cinnamon, mocha, vanilla and espresso bean.

We also opened a bottle of the Dusted Valley Grenache 2008 and the Chateau Ste. Michelle Ethos Merlot 2007 which both drank phenomenally. It was
the veritable drunken triple crown with the beer, bourbon and wine.  And after an amazingly relaxed dinner, I was indoctrinated into our hosts’ family storytelling.  Tales of wedding receptions, family vacations and other equally good and raucous times, I felt at home with my hosts and
their brood.  I can’t remember the last time I had felt so relaxed.  It was a great day.  And I was eternally grateful, not only for the company of the evening, but for everything in my world – my wife, my home, my job, and my life.

Strange what a vacation can do.

[Next time, last day in the Emerald City]

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