A recent sunny Sunday afternoon found at the Seattle Center for the long awaited Seattle Food and Wine Experience; a truly global sampling of wine, beer and food. Gwynne and I arrived a bit late but with plenty of time to check out the scene. The F&W Experience was crawling with winemakers, owners, and twitterati.
Seeing some old friends like Rachel from Terra Blanca and Jay from DeLille Cellars made us feel comfortable right away. It was doubly nice to have a chance to sample the ONYX and the Chaleur Estate Blanc.
The event was certainly bumping by the time we arrived, with a long, long line for Kathy Casey's cookbook signing. People were chatting and there was certainly a buzz in the air. The event was set up with the Northwest winemakers front and center - as they should be - with Australia, France, Argentina, Spain, and California further in the back.
There were breweries and a variety of other vendors, including elaborate salts and pepper grinders as well as wine tours and adventure trips.
The event included cooking demos and tasty bites from several area restaurants. Some of the highlights included Salty's on Alki, who served very addictive Milk Chocolate and Sea Salt clusters and a phenomenal Ono Ceviche; Ray's Boathouse came out with Alaskan King Salmon Gravad Lax with Pummelo and Rye Toast. I didn't get a chance to pair these bites with a particular wine, but the tasty bites help our palates stay engaged a little longer, and they also staved off intoxication just a little bit. For some of us anyways.
At any event where you pay an admission ($49 in advance or $59 at the door, ours was waived) for an "unlimited" access to alcohol, you'll see some folks who look or sound like they never left college. There were three guys in particular who stood out, one of whom looked a bit...lost, and two jokers we encountered at the Grand Reve table. They had no real business drinking Grand Reve at this point, as they probably wouldn't appreciate it.
For the most part people were enjoying the various wineries (responsibly) and their wide array of options. In addition to old friends there were other wines I've had before including Anam Cara, a small producer of Oregon Pinot was on the list of those I had to sample. I first came across Anam Cara on one of our first Willamette Valley trips when they were pouring at August Cellars. I held onto that wine for a few years before having it with friends at a nice meal. They make deep, thoughtful pinot that you really need to spend time with.
Hard Row to Hoe, who is constantly coming across my twitter feed thanks to @seattlewinegal (who has probably posted 22 tweets in the time its going to take you to read this) is a wine I'd not yet tasted. Don was pouring the Primitivo and the Barbera. Both were excellent. I preferred the Barbera, which was dark and brooding and had a flavor profile that certainly has it standing out among Washington wines.
One of the most interesting wines I had was the 2008 biodynamic Syrah from NHV, or Naches Heights Vineyards. The wine had a very floral bouquet, yet the palate was more common of Washington Syrah. Phil Cline and I decided to we needed to meet some time in the future out in Yakima so he can give me the scoop on his biodynamic operations.
The Seattle Food & Wine Experience was most certainly a good time. Some of the finest wine in the Northwest was on hand, as well as options from across the globe. Truth be told, my provincialism got in the way of tasting some of it (Gwynne was much more geographically adventurous). From savory seafood samples to cupcakes (none of which lasted long) to entertainment, the Food and Wine Experience had it all. Each attendee received a commemorative wine glass and memories of wine food and fun. Those three guys I mentioned earlier - probably not so many memories, so at least they got that glass.