3/05/2008

Tastefully Fun! The 9th Annual Washington D.C. International Wine and Food Festival


Hello Friends,

This past weekend I had the pleasure of sampling some great foods, attending educational and entertaining wine seminars, and connecting with a number of passionate wine enthusiasts, as well as the opportunity to taste up to 800 international wines. What fun! Of course, I did not taste that many wines, but trust me - I had fun trying to. And, yes, I did practice what I preach and spit. So where can one do all this, you might ask? Well, all this and more took place at the Ronald Regan Building, where the 9th Annual Washington D.C. International Wine and Food Festival was held.

9th Annual Washington D.C. International Wine and Food Festival

The Washington D.C. International Wine Festival is a very popular event, attracting those in and out of the trade and wine lovers from near and far. I attended both Saturday and Sunday and conducted my wine tasting during the special time that was set aside for the press and trade. This was a few hours prior to the consumer tasting hours, which translates into no lines, no pressure, and significant time to interact with the wineries. I was also very pleased to find that most of the people pouring were affiliated with the wineries for which they were representing, if not the winemakers and / or owners themselves.

Producers from all over our great globe were represented at this huge event, and several Virginia wineries were in attendance including the following: Corcoran Vineyards, Fabbioli Cellars, Pearmund Cellars, Winery at La Grange, Horton Vineyards, Oasis, Barboursville, Tarara, Tomahawk Mill Winery, Mediterranean Cellars, and last, but not least, Kluge Estate Winery. The beauty of this show for me personally was not so much the producers who are already well represented and easily found in most local grocers’ and wine shops, but the smaller producers who were trying to have a spot-light shined their way for their often times limited production and quality hand-crafted wines. I would be remiss if I did not mention popular producers who were in attendance such as Fetzer, Rex Goliath, Barefoot, Clos du Bois, Blackstone, Ravenswood, Monkey Bay, Alice White, Sebeka, etc. for their wines, which, by the way, hit our store shelves at very reasonable prices with overall good quality-to-price ratios. It is worth noting that this event was a showcasing of wines in which tasting could only be conducted; bottles were not available for purchase through the event. Wines poured that I tasted ranged from $10 to over $75 to give you some idea of what was offered; however, the majority were in the $15 to $40 range.

Dezel & Weekend Wino (middle picture)

Some of my personal event highlights and experiences are as follows: First, I had the pleasure of meeting with Rob Lane and his lovely wife, who are founders of the Finger Lakes Weekend Wino blog (<- - Great resource to learn about Finger Lake wine country). Rob and his wife were helping out at the Finger Lakes booth both Saturday and Sunday. The wineries representing the Finger Lakes fine brand of Riesling wines were Standing Stone Vineyards, Hazlitt 1852, and Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine. Up until this event, I had only read about Long Island wines on Lenndevour’s Long Island wine blog. That changed when I visited with Wölffer Estate who was pouring a nice Reserve Chardonnay and an easy drinking and flavorful 2004 Reserve Merlot. Like the Finger Lakes boasts world class Rieslings, a longer growing season and abundant sunshine gives Long Island an edge for growing vinifera red wine varieties such as the Merlot I sampled.

Wine Lovers enjoying a pour ...

Although I did not taste any red Burgundy wines like I would have preferred, I did taste a few very nice Pinot Noirs from Oregon’s own Willamette Valley and Amity regions that made up for it. Amity is a region just north of Willamette Valley that I knew little about. One of the Amity producers that stuck out to me was Amity Vineyards, who offered a smooth and elegant single vineyard Pinot and a more robust Reserve example that ranked up there on my Pinot meter. I look forward to visiting Oregon’s much talked about Pinot region sometime in the near future. A trip that is already on my schedule is right across the bridge to Maryland to jump on the Frederick Wine Trail. The trail consists of 6 wineries that are in close proximity to one another. Visiting Frederick’s Elk Run Vineyards during the event piqued my interest to find out more about our next door neighbor’s offerings. One last Pinot Noir offering worth positive mention was from Fulcrum Wines. Fulcrum is a very small producer out of Anderson Valley that is about 2 hours north of San Francisco. Fulcrum Wines poured their inaugural offering - a Pinot Noir that had great fruit, complexity, velvety, and was age worthy – this wine was pretty darn good for their first vintage, and Pinot is all they do.

And that’s me, yeah, sipping!

Other palate pleasing pleasantries came from Château Julien; a California producer in the Monterey wine region specializing in limited production premium wines. I found favor in both their Private Reserve Chardonnay and Merlot that was offered. The Merlot was soft, yet beautifully interesting and smooth. Speaking of Merlot, I was told by several California producers that the Sideways Effect is still in effect. Shame, Shame, give Merlot a chance! Lastly, were two nice Italian Pinot Grigio examples from Barone Fini Doc Wines. These were reasonably priced, dry, balanced, and crisp examples with good floral and fruit aromas – a nose definitely indicative of spring, which I’m sure all locals are ready for.

Happy Sipping!

In closing friends, if you missed this event be sure to mark your calendars for next year. Also, for another review of the festival visit my pal Todd, founder of Wine Compass Blog. Todd gives a great 2 day review of his wine experience at the show. Although I tasted so many wines, I missed many too. I felt like a kid in a candy, and so did many others. Hey, great wine, tasty food, and a plethora of budding wine enthusiasts – now that’s how to spend a weekend. See you next year!


Stay tuned friends ...Cellaring and more to come !!!
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    Dezel


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