Groundhog's Day marked the date for the Seattle Exotic Wines Festival at perhaps one of the most exotic locales in Seattle, Teatro Zinzanni. I made my way there after work to find the place already packed to the gills.
This was a Seattle Uncorked event, which are incredibly popular, and pretty imaginative. The wines were not your usual suspects; tonight featured, among others: Mouvedre, Roussanne, Grenache, Carmeniere, and Petit Verdot.
The event featured 23 different Northwest wineries, including friends of the Oregon Wine Blog Kana Winery and Gilbert Cellars. I finally met the lovely (and boa-wearing) Katherine Goodson, the GM at Kana Winery, in person. Kirsten, the tasting room manager from Gilbert Cellars, was also dressed to the nines.
Kana and Gilbert were examples of some of the fine wineries and delicious wines that were on hand. These were smaller, premium winemakers who were venturing off the beaten path and trying their hands at the less commonly grown varietals here in the Northwest. While the wine drinking public loves Chardonnay and Merlot, these winemakers are willing to give a more interesting, less commerical wine a whirl. What they've done is commendable and delicious, and we get to reap the benefits.
Some highlights of the evening were The Bunnell Family Cellars Mouvedre 2007. I love this varietal, and the Bunnell Family Mouvedre was well-balanced with neutral oak and lower alcohol (14.4%) that allowed the fruit to come through. It seems that a lot of Northwest Mouvedre comes in way over 15% and I have found the fruit difficult to taste. This wine was very well done and gave the fruit it's due.
The aforementioned Kana Winery's Masterpiece, was again very well done. Maybe the best white wine in the house. Kana's blend of Viognier, Roussane and Marsanne is a complex white wine that will stand up to any meal you pair it with. I believe that Kana belongs on a short list of Northwest white wines with both the Masterpiece and the Cuvee Blanche.
The Reininger Carmenere 2006 was an excellent example of the varietal. It was well-balanced and full-bodied, with the signature rounded mouthfeel that makes Carmenere so appealing.
The event included meats and cheeses and lots of good company. I met one woman who was actually allergic to Merlot. I found this dubious, but nonetheless interesting. For her, this event was perfect because save a few exotic blends, there was no Merlot present. The undeniable highlight of the event was the Teatro Zinzanni trapeze performance. A tiny performer spun and flipped above our heads while we all looked on in amazement. Her escort was a man who stood 6 foot 5 inches in heeled boots and red sequin pasties.
The event benefited Art with Heart, a local non-profit organization that works with children by using art, creativity and expression to get them through difficult stages in their lives. Art with Heart has helped over 41,000 children deal with family tragedy and natural disasters.
Guests could purchase their favorite bottles or participate in the silent auction to benefit Art with Heart. I made sure to do my part, and took advantage of the opportunity to restock the Kana Wine at home.
Seattle Uncorked offers events like this with some regularity. David LeClaire is the brains behind the operation, and he puts on a good event. In this instance he has really pushed people to think beyond their typical wine experience. Rather than feel like they're being lectured about what's beyond their typical wine experience, Seattle Uncorked makes it an adventure of discovery. David was kind enough to invite me free of entry to this event, and I hope the chance to attend some of their other functions in the future pops up.