Welcome to Tuesday Take, which’ll be a relatively regular “take” on a week or so’s restaurant visits, wines, tasting rooms, events, and so forth. Consider it just about everything we’re tracking or have recently done that might be a seed for future posts here at Seven Hundred Fifty.
The Station — We tried it out this Sunday for lunch, and while the ingredients were pretty solid, the service was good, and the location is prime, it was a bit of a “meh” experience. Great beer options, but one pizza shouldn’t be mega crunchy while the other is just done, especially when it’s slow. Will have to give it another try, but Purple continues to rule the Tourist District circle midday meal patrol, IMO. Stay tuned.
Patterson Cellars — Generally speaking, I’ve always enjoyed the wine from Patterson, but never really gave it too much space in the cellar. With some fresh new branding and a spanking’ new tasting room next to the aforementioned Station (and Gorman Winery, btw) they’re definitely sticking to the radar. Really enjoying the Chardonnay right now, too.
In the fall, we visited the Col Solare Bottega in Woodinville, expecting to have some really good wine, but totally unsure what to expect from that shiny glass box towards the back of the Chateau Ste. Michelle tasting rooms. On Sunday morning, we ventured off in a similar way to the Col Solare Winery [photo: left] in Benton City, WA, after not making it there on previous trips to the Red Mountain area.
It shouldn’t surprise you, then, to hear that we were perhaps doubly surprised at the experience this time around.
First off, I’ll just throw out the suggestion that visiting there first should you be out and about planning on visiting a few wineries is definitely a good option, much like I tend to recommend for DeLille’s little yellow carriage house in Woodinville. Second, bring a camera and a bit of time, because you’re probably going to want to take it all in for a spell.
About a month ago, we returned to the Bottega with Brittany Tracy‘s mom and sister, so they could give the tasting room a try and see something unique and different. We were oh so disappointed to find that they were all out of the ’05 vintage, so we had to suffer through a flight of ’02, ’06 and ’07 Col Solare. If there were an HTML tag for sarcasm, I’d be using it here.
Flip the script to this week’s visit, and we managed to arrive just after the ’08 has hit the shelves. Aside from the ’08, it turns out that Col Solare made a little bitty amount of Syrah (ALERT: IT’S NOT IN A SYRAH BOTTLE!) that we were more than pleased with, and you can only secure at the winery. We took some home, of course. We also had the pleasure of trying out the ’96 and ’98 vintages, neither of which we’d had before, and it was truly a fascinating experience to be able to “walk through” the evolution of a winery like Col Solare, whose ultimate goal is to build the best Cab. They’re certainly dedicated, and most certainly making a good run at it.
Another “tidbit” that we were pleased to have come across was the opportunity to try Shining Hill – similar grapes, but slightly different blends from the “flagship” wines – released a year ahead of the Col Solare wines, for about half the price ($40, vs. $75), and only available at the winery. Well, except for the online store. It was fun to try out a “second” label, and it reminded me of Long Shadows’ Nine Hats, both in pricing strategy and marketing. Good idea, all around.
All in all, I probably couldn’t say enough about our experience at Col Solare. The staff was unpretentious, properly versed, and, IMO, empowered. The grounds were impeccable, and being able to be shown which grapes were growing where on the estate was fun to do from an elevated location. The tasting room was elegant, but approachable, and the experience was priced as you’d expect a winery with this visibility and price point to have.
For some time now, we’ve been pondering a visit to Adams Bench in Woodinville, but it just hasn’t worked out, either due to timing for appointments, us being in town on Sundays, etc. With all the great options in Woodinville, it’s easy to rest on your laurels and not try new things, especially when the options to secure a tasting are a bit more limited than the myriad tasting rooms all over town. This weekend, however, Brittany Tracy and I finally made it to the winery, and were more than impressed.
We’d been discussing visiting a few wineries in Woodinville before some evening events, and we’d put Adams Bench as one of the spots we were determined to get into. Even with the 520 bridge being closed for the weekend, it seemed like a solid Saturday idea, so off we went. While en route, we called over to see if we could make an appointment, and were pleasantly surprised to hear that they were open to the public in support of the release of the 2009 edition of the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon, “The V,” ($49). So off we went, in search of a new winery to experience.
Just up from Woodinville’s Tourist District, Adams Bench is set on a slight incline, and you’re greeted by some great open space, a few horses on the property next door, and a grand, new(ish) tasting room. And if that greeting wasn’t enough, winemaker Tim Blue politely stepped away from some other guests he’d been speaking with to greet us at the door and invite us in to try the wines he and his wife Erica have built.
I’d had one glass of Adams Bench, a few years ago if my recollection serves, and Brittany had yet to try it. It was refreshing to give something “new” a whirl as we’re lucky to regularly get to try some of the best wine (in our humble opinions) that this country has to offer, and Adams Bench didn’t disappoint. We started off with “The Reckoning,” (in photo: left) a Bordeaux blend whose nose equaled its mouthfeel and taste, and possibly our favorite of the three we tried. That was followed by the new addition to the family, “The V,” (in photo: center) which has all the makings of something to open a few months (if not longer) down the road. A Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc blend, to which I’d remarked on Twitter that I got a “dryness,” if not a cooling vibe, in the middle, which definitely left me curious to try it again sometime soon. A solid blend of three great varietals, you can see that it should provide a bit of what each is known for, and is a welcome step away from the “CMS” blends we get accustomed to in these parts.
During our time in the tasting room, we’d had a few minutes to speak with Tim and the staff about the wines, which was super educational for these first timers. We’d also caught a glimpse of “The Myth,” (in photo: right), which I’m leaning towards as my favorite for the day, sitting on a side table. While it wasn’t one of the primary options being poured, Tim gladly obliged our request to try it, and I couldn’t be happier that he did, as we got a peek at a hefty dose of Cab Franc, which, like Petit Verdot, is regularly turned into beautiful wine on its own (Northstar PV, anyone?) when let out of its “blending grape” shell. At 50% Cab Franc and 50% Merlot, “Myth” reads like a risk in a bottle – a risk that I’m glad that the Blues took. And peeking at Google just now, it looks like the WAWineman agrees. I’d totally concur with that wine blogger on the great dark color, and a fun mix of spice and fruit on the mouth. Most certainly the only 50/50 Merlot / Cab Franc in the “cellar” at home, but hopefully not the last.
Needless to say, we took one of each bottle home, and will certainly be back for more.
On Saturday, we trekked over to Woodinville for what seemed like the first time in awhile, and during St. Nick’s, no less, and headed to Purple for a nice lunch (which, as an aside, resulted in 10,000 OpenTable points, about one year after my last redemption of the same) with Brittany Tracy. After a week in Paris and a few weeks of business travel and other activities, it was high time to pick up some wine club selections (we still have Chateau Ste. Michelle and Bookwalter to snag) and have a relaxing Saturday with some great wine – and what better place to start than with DeLille.
Upon arriving at the Carriage House, we were greeted in a super friendly way as is typical, and quickly made our way inside to swap in a new credit card for my account (expiration dates and all that) and pick up our selections. We were promptly handed two glasses of Roussane (a favorite from this year) and shown the way to the side porch area, which was built out earlier this year when the winery took over the “right” half of the building. Up until this point, I’d actually kind of avoided that side, as it seemed either underwhelming or perhaps a bit too crowded sometimes, but perhaps that was just the summer months. Plus, we typically enjoy standing at the various barrels and setups within the already expansive tasting area, but for some reason it was super attractive on this Saturday afternoon. After a few moments, we snagged a couch within the temperature-controlled, tented area, shed our jackets, and relaxed and stayed awhile.
That was new.
Not really the comfort level – that’s pretty consistent, even when the place is buzzing. Perhaps it was the season, and being able to sit in a relatively warm space (the heating was blowing directly at us) as late afternoon approached, but it most certainly worked, and I would recommend that “side” of the house for club members that are visiting the Carriage House in the future. As much fun as it is to see Jay, Elaina, Deb and the crew as they are pouring amongst newbies and fans alike inside the main room or in the outdoor area to the “left” side of the Carriage House, this was a worthwhile step in the right direction, and a nice perk for being part of the wine club. Kudos to the crew at DeLille for continuing to step up their game in an ever competitive and busy neighborhood in bustling Woodinville.
On Sunday, I had the pleasure of taking in a tasting at the Col Solare Bottega on the grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, and was pleasantly surprised. Unlike many / most of the tasting rooms in Woodinville, the Bottega is a by-appointment setup, which I’d probably recommend doing, but they are able to accommodate some people who are walking in, at least for the time being. It’s a pretty slick looking space, a glass “square” of sorts towards the back of the Chateau’s primary tasting room building, right before a barrel room, with about six tables.
The staff was quite gracious, both on the phone and in-person, and truly wanted to spend the time to explain the wine, the partnership between CSM and the Antinori family that is behind the wine, and let you take in some really quality juice. It’s a $20pp tasting fee, or $15pp if you are a Chateau club member, and IMO worth every penny. Both Brittany Tracy and I had tried the wine on occasions in the past, but had certainly not done a 2005, 2006 and 2007 flight, which was eye opening to say the least. The ’05 and ’07 carry similar blends (Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc), with the ’06 going a bit wider as far as varietals go (Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot & Syrah), and you can certainly tell on the nose and the palate. The ’07, however, brings a fairly intense nose that is a tad misleading (not in a negative way) to the taste, but had us wondering if it would grow into the same strong, solid wine that the ’05 was – it was our favorite by far. The ’06, while diving quite deep into varietals, brought the smoothest taste and finish, and would most certainly not be a bottle I’d think twice about buying, but at $75/bottle for any of the three years, the investment in the ’05 would be where I’d go.
If you do make an appointment (or try and stop by), give yourself about 45 minutes for the discussion and experience. It’s worth it, and the cheese and non-cracker crunchy items (I fail to have words to describe them) served definitely bring out some of the flavors in the wines were a nice touch in a semi-intimate setting unlike many/most tasting rooms in Woodinville. Tasting fees are not refundable with purchases, though CSM club members are given a discount on purchases. Additionally, the wines are only available at the Bottega (on the grounds, that is), the Chateau is not selling them in the main retail area from what I could see.
A welcome addition to a bustling wine district, and one that sets a high standard across the board. Excited to try what Col Solare delivers next.