Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Gems of SWFE

Last weekend, I attended the Seattle Food and Wine Experience, billed as "the premier showcase for wine and food in the Northwest. Experience a world tour of wine, beer, spirits, and all things culinary." Usually a skeptic of such lofty claims, I found this description to be right on the money and I'll tell you why.

I had two things working against me walking through the doors to the exhibition hall at Seattle Center. First, I rarely enjoy large wine tasting events because frankly they're just too crowded...I don't care for crowds...and it's nearly impossible to engage in a dialogue with the winery rep when you have 100 people waiting for a sip.

Second, I had absolutely no plan of attack. Typically I like to preview the exhibitors and put a game plan together prior to hitting up the event. I've been busy, so I didn't do so.

Despite my own hangups and rookie mistakes, I found the SWFE to perhaps be the best organized and presented wine event that I've attended. The event planners delivered and I walked away a happy, satiated, and slightly buzzed wine writer.

First off, let me give a little plug for public transportation. We all know that parking in downtown Seattle is a b*tch, and with all of the delicious libations at SWFE I wanted to fully enjoy myself. King County Metro Rapid Ride, despite what many people will tell you, got me to and from the event in a safe and efficient manner. Be safe, yo.

With my lack of a plan, I decided to wander around the exhibit hall, alternating some of my old favorites with some new producers...and sprinkling a delicious snack in between.  Throughout the day, a few gems from our old favorites stuck out that are worthy of further study:
  • Terra Blanca:  I always have and always will be a fan of TB's Onyx and some of the other wines, but their Arch Terrace label is one of the best values in the business  It's all Red Mountain all the time.  At this event, they were pouring a new Arch Terrace offering -- the Triple Threat.  A delicious red blend, it will soon have a place on my rack.
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards:   WVV had a special treat under the table for wine club members like myself, the Elton Vineyard Pinot Noir.  A gorgeous display of all that is right in Oregon Pinot, look for a specific feature on the Elton Vineyard in the coming months.
  • 2 Towns Ciderhouse:  I'm always a fan of The Bad Apple, but the treat of the day was the Cherry Poppin Cider, a hard apple cider fermented with sour cherries.
  • Bendistillery:  A new release, the Crater Lake Sweet Ginger Vodka made me crave a cocktail in the midst of the best wine in the Pacific Northwest.  That's saying something.
Also notable were the Block 3 Syrah from Smasne, Hedges DLD Syrah from Red Mountain, and the Vermentino from Troon Vineyard in Southern Oregon.

And last, but certainly not least, my favorite pairing of the true WestToast fashion...was an old fashioned glazed doughnut from Top Pot in Seattle enjoyed with Terra Blanca's Onyx.  Sweet, savory,'s only fitting that Seattle's best doughnut be enjoyed with one of Red Mountain's best bordeaux blends.

This event will definitely be on my list for next year, put it on yours too.


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