Delicious Discoveries Made During Auction of Washington Wine Weekend

Leslie Kelly
Pictured on the right is Gilles Nicault from Long Shadows on the left is Chris Upchurch from DeLille Cellars

Wow! What a wonderful Auction of Washington Wine weekend!

The three-day event raised $2 million, with proceeds benefiting uncompensated care at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Washington State University’s Viticulture & Enology Program.

The picnic, the winemaker dinners and the spectacular gala are big fun, and a great time to make some delicious discoveries. Here were a few of my favorites:

A 2011 Long Shadows Cab made from a single block that Gilles Nicault made just for Thursday’s barrel auction was the best wine I’ve tried this year. The intense blockbuster had deep, velvety fruit and a little spice. For a red so young, it was like drinking something pulled from the cellar. Which is where it should stay for at least five years so it can get even better. Unfortunately, we’ll never know unless we can figure out who snagged it in the auction and get an invite to their uncorking party.

Still, while savoring that sip, I heard about a new project from the unique winemaking collective featuring a superstar lineup of vintners. (Who cast Long Shadows in the industry! Yes, that’s what the sorta mystical name is all about.) The newest label is a tribute to founder Allen Shoup, a limited release that will bear his name. Can’t wait to try it!

The standout white of the weekend for me showed up at the spectacular spread celebrating Yakima Valley growers, a feast prepared by il Corvo’s Mike Easton. He paired a lovely chilled fennel and cucumber soup--prosciutto crisps floating on top--with a 2011 Grenache blanc from Two Vintners. A spoonful followed by a sip and it was bliss go time!

That Rhone grape is typically used in blends, but this beauty was a knockout on its own, the bright crisp quality a natural match for the rich soup. It might have tasted extra impressive because I was sitting next to the grape’s grower, legendary Dick Boushey, who was the guest of honor, along with Todd Newhouse from Upland Vineyard Estates and Winery. Todd poured some ice wine at the end of the evening, made with grapes from some of the oldest vines in the state, dating back to 1917. That sweet treat was definitely worth three cheers!