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Saturday, October 9, 2021

Report on the 2021 Northwest (Washington and Oregon) Wine Expedition Sept 21, 2021

The Date and Time:  Wednesday September 21, 2021  11AM – 12:30PM
The Event: 2021 Northwest Wine Expedition
The Venue: The Globe and Mail Centre
The Target Audience: wine media, sommeliers, wine agents.
The Availability/Catalogue: most wines were available or will be. The event was also a feature for acquiring new agents. The catalogue contained the basics of estate name, website, and Twitter address. There was no agency name, even if the winery had an Ontario agent. Name of the wine was followed by the vintage date and a space for notes. Opening text was confined to photos, maps, climate bar graphs, vineyards, and quality. 75% of Oregon wineries produce fewer than 5,000 cases per year. Similar information appeared for Washington, except that here 90% of all Washington wineries produced under 5,000 cases per year.
The Quote/Background: October 2 was the release date for a highly touted Washington- Oregon spotlight in the Vintages catalogue. Unfortunately, of the seven wineries with wines in the release, only two wineries were in this trade show: Del Rio Vineyards and Chateau Ste. Michelle. So I had no chance at this show to taste any Northwest wines being released on October 2. The show was originally to be held in the spring of 2020 but it was shut down on March 17 along with everything else, to reduce the spread of covid-19. The wines were already in Toronto, so what we tasted this morning were wines principally from 2016-2018, with a few from 2019 and 2020, and some from 2015 as well. I went to the show to taste on1y chardonnays. There were 23 of them from Oregon, and I managed to taste 16 (one wine did not turn up). There six from Washington but I was only allowed to taste one of them. In the organization of the event, we were all seated six feet apart with no masks, while our masked servers and winery principals asked us what we wanted and then delivered it. Halfway through the tasting the show administration decided that we could not taste by varietal but by winery. At that point I had tasted most of the chardonnays, and I did not want anything else.
The Wines: All the chardonnays were remarkably good; we were not given many prices (I guess we had to ask but I had no time to wait for a winery rep). So my ratings are based on taste alone, without consideration for prices and value. Wines in each tier are listed alphabetically by winery name.
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality Rating terms):
-A to Z Wineworks Oregon Chardonnay 2018 [$22.95CAD price volunteered]
-Angela Estate Vineyard Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2017
-Foris Vineyards and Winery Chardonnay 2018 [$23CAD volunteered]
-Sokol Blosser Winery Estate Dundee Hills Chardonnay 2018 [Nov. Vintages $28]
-Trisaetum Coast Range Estate Chardonnay 2017 [$52CAD price volunteered]
-Trisaetum Coast Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2019 [$39CAD price volunteered]
-Barnard Griffin Washington State Chardonnay 2018
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality Rating terms):
-A to Z Wineworks Rex Hill Seven Soils Chardonnay 2017 [$44.95CAD volunteered]
-Adelsheim Vineyard Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2019
-Adelsheim Vineyard Staking Claim Chardonnay 2018
-Angela Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2017
-Chateau Bianca Wetzel Estate Chardonnay 2017
-Citation Centerstone Willamette Valley Un-Oaked Chardonnay 2017
-Cristom Vineyards Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay 2019
-Domaine Drouhin Oregon Roserock Chardonnay 2018
-Sokol Blosser Winery Evolution Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2019 [Nov. Vintages]
-Winderlea Winery Chardonnay 2017
The Food: we each got a bento box from Salon by Alo Yorkville. I shared it with my wife when I got home. Coffee came from Hot Black, Queen Street west. The bento box had torched Norwegian salmon, heirloom cherry tomato with burrata, beef tartare and charred eggplant, and a cheesecake dessert. A Northwest cheese course would have been preferable.
The Downside: we were not supposed to taste by grape variety but rather by winery, which limited my interest. I cannot leap from pinot noir to pinot gris to syrah to riesling to chardonnay – and back – within four to eight bottles at a time.
The Upside: this was my first trade show in 19 months; I may have been a little rusty.
The Contact Person: Nicholas Pearce Wines – or
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): very good – 92.

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