I’m “Hot to Trot” on the emerging value of Washington Wines

I often get criticized for not writing more about American wines.  It’s a valid complaint, but truth be told I don’t drink a lot of American wine.  There is a lot of high quality wine coming from the US but for the most part California and Oregon, the two most prominent regions, are very expensive.  So for personal consumption I don’t buy a lot of US wine.  But that could change.  Two regions are beginning to emerge where there is quality wine to be discovered and value to be found.  The Finger Lakes region of New York is up and coming and we are likely to see more of their wine in the not so distant future.  Then there is Washington State emerging as a quality region and emerging quickly, with more and more wine from the area available at the LCBO seemingly daily. Last week I got a glimpse into this future with a release party and tasting for Hot to Trot wine from 14 Hands Vineyards in Washington.  As a result I now get to answer those critics and have the pleasure of writing about American Wine.

I was first introduced to Washington State with a syrah from Dunham Cellars which retails for $35 at the LCBO.  If you can find it, that is a steal and you can find my review of that wine here.  I was excited about Washington then, and I was excited for the opportunity to try more of the up and coming product last week.  My thanks to 14 Hands Vineyards for having me at their “release party” for Hot to Trot wine.  “Release Party” really was the appropriate term for the evening and a party it certainly was.  Hot to Trot is available now in the LCBO with a red blend selling for $15.30 and a white blend selling for $14.65.  These two wines were our hosts for the evening and they were flowing.  The beauty of it was that there were only the two wines.  Within 20 minutes of arriving my reviews on the wines and my tasting notes were complete so like the rest of the guests in attendance I got to enjoy the “party” aspect of the evening, which was a pleasure.  I even took home the door prize, a 24 Carat gold plated horseshoe.  The story goes that the horseshoe is going to bring me good luck.  It didn’t seem to help when I placed a bet on the biggest long shot horse I could find, but perhaps in more reasonable settings in the future I will reap its benefits.

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The red is a blend of Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  In speaking with many of the guests in attendance this was their favourite of the two blends being sampled.  Personally I preferred the white, but the red was approachable and certainly enjoyable.  I found the Merlot shone through most creating a nice overall mouthfeel with ripe flavours of black fruit coming out.  I wouldn’t classify the red as an age worthy, high quality wine, but I would classify it as a wine you could drink a lot of and a great wine to open when hosting company.  As I mentioned the white was my personal preference.  It is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Viognier.  I found it very refreshing and loaded with fruit.  It showed lots of green apple, lemon, peach, and a hint of residual sugar as the Viognier shines through.  A simple, simple, wine that would be great to host with and again great to drink a lot of.

The “wine you can drink a lot of” designation may sound a bit like a cop out, but it is an honest classification for me.  Some wines may be the best in the world and high quality wines, but you would only want a single glass.  The Hot to Trot wines wouldn’t be my definition of the best in the world, but they are good value, good hosting wines, wines that will go over well in most any crowd, and thus wines you could drink a lot of.  Actually those seemed to be some themes from the evening, and I was happy to oblige.

– Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman

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