Its been almost a year since I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference (now known as the Wine Media Conference) in Walla Walla, Washington. Since that conference and my in-depth introduction to Washington wines thanks to; speed tasting, wine dinners, and gracious producers, (previous posts here and here), I am a steadfast fan of the region’s wines. Washington state grows many grape varieties, but it is the red wines that made a lasting impression on me, and I continue to savor.
Savoring Two Washington Red Wines
Mullan Road Cellars is owned by Dennis Cakebread of Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley. It was in 1992 that the Cakebread family started to consider growing their winemaking business. In 2010, Dennis Cakebread made his first trip to Walla Walla, Washington and met Aryn Morell. Morell became Mullan Road Cellar’s winemaker, producing their first red Bordeaux blend in 2012. The grapes for the 2016 red blend come from low-yielding vineyards in the Columbia Valley including; Seven Hills Vineyard, Stillwater Creek Vineyard, and the Corfu Crossing Vineyard. Every vintage produced to date has received outstanding acclaim and reviews.
My Tasting Notes
2016 Mullan Road Cellars, Columbia Valley, Washington
14.1% abv | $45.00 Total Wines | 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc
Medium to deep ruby in color. Full-bodied with medium tannins and acidity. On the nose notes of vanilla, toffee, berries, and spice. On the palate flavors of blackberries, red currants, cherries and a hint of licorice. Nicely balanced with a lingering finish.
Canvasback Wine is owned by Duckhorn Wine Company of Napa Valley. Their initial interest in Washington State wines started in 2011 with a blind tasting of Napa and Washington Cabernet Sauvignons. They were impressed with the quality and character of those Washington wines and began establishing relationships with growers, including legendary Washington vineyard manager Dick Boushey. In 2012, they produced their first vintage of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon from acclaimed Red Mountain vineyards including; Klipsun, La Coye, Shaw, and Quintessence. In 2013, Brian Rudin joined Canvasback as winemaker in addition to purchasing a 20-acre site of unplanted vineyards on Red Mountain.
My Tasting Notes
2015 Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Washington
14.5% abv | $40.00 Total Wines | 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc
Deep ruby in color with a slight garnet hue around the rim. Full-bodied with medium(+) tannins, and acidity. On the nose, vanilla, nutmeg, plums, and herbs. On the palate dusty tannins with flavors of bing cherries, boysenberries, and raspberries. Well balanced with good structure.
Grilled Coffee-Pepper Crusted Bison Filets, Mashed Potatoes with Fennel, and Grilled Broccoli – The weight and flavor intensity of grilled bison steaks are a natural pairing for an equally full-bodied and bold flavored Bordeaux Red Blend like the Mullan Road Cellars Red Blend and the Canvasback Cabernet Sauvignon. The coffee-pepper rub on the steaks helps to balance the tannins in the wines. Grilling the steaks and broccoli echos those similar elements of bitterness found in the wine tannins. The fennel in the mashed potatoes complements flavors and brings out the earthy aspects of the wines. A hint of sweetness in the steamed fennel heightens the wine’s fruit characteristics.
Grilled Coffee-Pepper Crusted Bison Filets
- 2 tablespoons whole coffee beans
- 2 tablespoons whole black pepper corns
- 4 bison filets, about 1-inch think
- grape seed oil for brushing the grill grate
- Kosher salt
- In a coffee grinder, coarsely grind the coffee beans and black peppercorns. Press the mixture on both sides of the steaks.
- Lightly brush the grill grate with the grape seed oil. Grill the steaks directly over high heat for a total of about 8 minutes or until cooked to desired doneness, turning once.
- Transfer steaks to a plate, season with salt. Let rest for 3-5 minutes covered with foil. Serve immediately.
Mashed Potatoes with Fennel
- 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and core removed, diced
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large pot, add 1-2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add a steamer insert, make sure water level is below the insert and not touching the insert. Add the diced potatoes and fennel to the steamer and cover the pot. Steam for about 15 minutes.
- Let the potatoes and fennel cool slightly and then transfer to a food processor. Add the cream, butter, salt and pepper. Pulse to combine and puree, be careful not to over mix.
Disclosure: I registered for the conference as a “citizen blogger/writer” at a reduced rate in exchange for writing three posts about the conference. All opinions are my own.