Monday, March 19, 2012

A Barrage of Awesome at SWFE

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On February, Andrea and I spent a day at Seattle Center enjoying one of the most delicious charitable events I've ever attended:  the Seattle Wine and Food Experience.

Known as #SWFE to those in the know on Twitter, the event brought together more than a dozen breweries and ciderhouses, fifteen distilleries, forty local chefs, and what I'd estimate to be a hundred wineries.

One of my favorite movies, Super Troopers, described it best:

Yeah, that's a lot of booze!

Oftentimes when engaging in the post-weekend ritual at the office of sharing what we did over the previous two days, I have tales of some wine event or another. Knowing that I write about wine in my other life, my colleagues often will ask what exactly I'm looking for at a wine event.

What distinguishes one from another? What makes an event special? Aren't they all just big old boozefests a la Super Troopers or the post Jesse made a few weeks ago?

As I respond, I find myself using words that we value here on WestToast: experience, relationships, local, and culture; all positive aspects of #SWFE. While there are many similarities between the large-scale wine events, there are also some pretty unique facets and as I approach an event, I seek to find the hidden treasure, the pot at the end of the rainbow, if you will.

At #SWFE, beyond the obvious benefit of all the mini-donuts I could eat, the hidden treasure came to me upon recommendation of my friend Denise who was pouring wine for Pend d'Oreille Winery at the event. As I was walking down one of the aisles at the festival, she literally grabbed me and said, "You HAVE to go try Barrage Cellars."

Not one to turn down that kind of recommendation, off we went. It's actually pretty difficult to find information about Barrage online, and, the notes I took at the event are non-existent so I turned to a feature Sean Sullivan wrote in 2010 for some background.

Launched in 2005 in Woodinville, Barrage Cellars offers limited production wines from some of the finest vineyard in Washington. A retirement project of winemaker Kevin Correll, the name comes directly from the roots of the winery. Founded in a BARn, the winery soon outgrew the original location and moved into the gaRAGE. Barrage Cellars was born.

In creating varietal-specific bordeaux wines, Kevin blends vineyards to create the stylist differences among his wines. With Connor Lee and Boushey in his portfolio, among others, he has a nice playground to work with.

At #SWFE, I tasted three wines from Barrage: Nuclear Blonde Chardonnay, Trifecta Merlot, and the Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon. All were nice wines, but the highlight of the tasting for me was the Double Barrel. A big, dry wine, this Cabernet exemplified the best Eastern Washington has to offer. An even more compelling highlight of Barrage was the great conversation and the kindness of the staff; even at the end of a long day.

So, next time you're at an event like the Seattle Wine and Food Experience, take a step back and seek out a winery you haven't tried before. Or, listen to Denise. She will not lead you astray.

I, for one, now have a new winery to visit in Woodinville.

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