washington dc wine expo

2008 Washington DC International Wine Festival Review

*Sorry for the long post*

My first event as a member of the press went rather swimmingly. After obtaining my press credentials I got a chance to walk the floor and scout things out while I was waiting for Sonadora to arrive. It was nice to see everything in a rather calm state before the storm of people arrived, as we would witness later. Megan was a great ship in the storm though, as she is not shy when it comes to commanding her position at the tasting area. It was great to taste with her as well, share notes and stories and pass the time as we waited in line, at what sometimes seemed like forever.

Before and After


The one hour of trade only time at the beginning of the show was definitely the best of the afternoon. No waiting at the wineries and distributors tasting counters and no shoving required. Even though the rest of the day was quite crowded overall it was still a fun event and the time flew by, there were still more booths that I did not get to visit before I had to hit the road. That being said, I tasted 81 wines for the day or at least that was how many I wrote a small blurb about in my tasting book.

Instead of writing about every wine that I tasted yesterday I thought I would write about every tasting booth I visited and only about 1 or 2 of my favorite wines from each of them. Some of the wines I was able to obtain info sheets on so I have more particulars on how the wine was made. So here goes –

Chateau Julien Wine Estates (3 wines tasted)

2005 Private Reserve Merlot [100% Merlot, 30 months new French Oak, South Monterey County San Antonio Valley AVA] – hint of floral on the nose, very soft and round on the palate but remaining full bodied, black cherry and clove

Peltier Station (4 wines tasted)

2006 Viognier [100% Viognier from Schatz vineyard, all Stainless Steel, 14 day fermentation] – huge nose, apricot, peach, and lilac; pear, honey and overwhelming honeysuckle on the spicy white pepper finish

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon [Just Released we were the first to taste it, 100% Cabernet from Lodi, 14.8% ABV] – surprisingly soft and “available” for a 2006 Cali Cab, chocolate, black currant, green beans and another spicy finish.

Cotes Du Rhone Booth (4 wines tasted)

Cotes du Rhone Perrin Reserve [60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre; 25% of wine aged in casks for 12 months, $10] – ton of bright red fruit on the nose, cranberry and red raspberry with light to medium body and dry firm tannins

Vallformsa Wines & Cavas (4 wines tasted)

2003 Primvm Vitae Reserva [ 100% Tempranillo, Rioja region, 3 years aging total, 1 year in oak cask] – red currant, slight smell of food garbage (not in a bad way though), blueberry, earth, leather, pretty tannic, nice wine

2004 Gala Gran Reserva Brut Cava [ 25% Macabeo, 30% Xarel-lo, 20% Parellada, 25% Chardonnay; DO Penedes, made in the traditional method, minimum 30 months in the bottle, beautiful custom bottle] – apples, yeast, hair salon (perm), rich and very full tasting; not your usual $6 cava!

Rued Winery (4 wines tasted)

2006 Russian River Chardonnay [935 cases made, neutral French oak] – apple, pear, mineral and butterscotch

2003 Zinfandel [Heritage vines Mazzoni clone with 15.9% alcohol] – raisin, plum, thyme, green pepper; very nice lighter bodied well balanced Zin

Montesquieu (4 wines tasted) – distributor of small boutique wines from around the world

2005 Dahl Cabernet Sauvignon [100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 months French Oak, $52] – fruity and vegetal at the same time, raw green bean, blueberry and black currant

Spring Mountain (5 wines tasted)

2003 Elivette [88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc; 22 months French Oak, 1910 cases made; $90] – slight funkiness on the nose (the good kind), black currant, plum, coffee, leather, very nice tannins excellent Mouthfeel

2002 Elivette Reserve [ 81% Cabernet, 12% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc; 80% New French Oak, 1870 cases] – cocoa, dark black fruit, dusty tannins, green bean, pepperoni, this was a fabulous wine not sure about the QPR since it retails for around $125 but it still rocked

Ed Sellers (6 wines tasted) – very small family winery from Paso Robles

2005 Rousanne [100% Rousanne, 200cases] – very floral, apple, and asian pear on the nose with a very citrus flavor and honeydew melon

2005 Vertigo [70% Grenache, 17% Mourvedre & 13% Syrah; aged in 100% French oak with 39% of it new, 15.9% alcohol, 598 cases] – clove, black olive, blackberries with a very nice dry finish

Fulcrum (1 wine tasted) – brand new wine and winery

2006 Pinot Noir Anderson Valley [3 different vineyard sources of Akins Vineyard 50%, Hein Family Vineyard 25% and Wentzel Vineyard 25%; aged 10 months in French Oak 41% New, unfiltered and unfined, 1197 bottles] – very nice fresh fruit, green veggies (V8’ish), cloves, cherry, smooth round mouthfeel

Anne Amie (4 wines tasted)

Cuvee A Pinot Noir [6 months in French oak 18% New, unfiltered, aged an additional 8 months in bottle prior to release, all processing was done via gravity flow, $20] – slight barny earthy aromas, cranberry, strawberry with a nice firm light to medium bodied mouthfeel, a definite buy at $20

2007 Pinot Gris [hand bottled for the event not yet released, how cool is that!] – very crisp and refreshing, aromas of apple and lemon with a almond extract flavor towards the finish that was quite intriguing

New Zealand Wine Growers (8 wines)

2007 Lake Chalice Sauvignon Blanc – tight acidity, gooseberry and pink grapefruit aromas that carried through to the palate with slight herbal notes remaining

2006 Bird Pinot Noir – very smooth, an abundance of unidentifiable fruit on the nose with black pepper finish

2006 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir – spicy, red raspberry, strawberry, medium bodied

Confluence Wine Importers (9 wines tasted)

2006 Leopards Leap Chenin Blanc [100% Chenin, Pederberg Region of the Western Cape of South Africa] – very perfumey on the nose, mineral and honey flavors

2007 Juno Rose [100% Pinotage] – total watermelon jolly ranchers, strawberry flavors and just hint of band aid

2002 La Riche Cabernet Sauvignon [100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, 24 months in French Oak 70% new] – black currant, Andes mints (chocolate and mint combined), raspberry

Rodney Strong (4 wines tasted)

2006 Estate Charlottes Home Sauvignon Blanc [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 88% Stainless Steel and 12% in French Oak with MLF, $14] – California body with New Zealand flavor, lot of citrus, pink grapefruit, provided nice acidity but felt soft across the mid palate

2005 Knotty Vine Zinfandel [98% Zin and 2% Syrah, 17 months in oak 85% French 15% American, $20] – blackberry jam, prune and spices, peppery finish

Tricana Imports (25 wines tasted)

Illuminati Costalupo Controguerra (didn’t catch the vintage) [70% Trebbiano, 15% Passerina, 15% Riesling] – floral nose with violets and lilac, mineral and corn flavors, very intereting

2006 NIFO Falanghina Sannio [100% Falanghina, 2 months in tanks and 2 months in bottle before release] – similar to Viognier in texture and Mouthfeel, honey, persimmon and tropical fruit

2005 La Lumia Cadetto Nero d’ Avola [ 100% Nero d Avola, 6 months stainless steel and up to 6 months in bottle before release] – “sweet”, plum, dark fruit, medium body

2003 Bricco Rosso Barolo [100% Nebbiolo, 3 years in oak, 6 months in bottle] – Ton of earth, barnyard aromas, black cherry and date

I understand that this year they capped the event at a certain level of tickets, but that also it was in a slightly smaller venue. I did not attend last year but heard it was pretty packed and this year seemed to be pretty crowded as well. The hall with the cooking seemed to be the most crowded, I think as a result of too much stuff in one place. The cooking venue took up a lot of room, as well as permeated the air with aromas that at times made it difficult to smell what was going on with my w ine. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking demos, maybe just try and separate it a bit more from the wine if at all possible.

Overall I think the event was a good one, I got to try some new wines, quite a few of them actually. Although a few of the wineries/importers that I had on my list did not show up such as Four Vines, Graystone Importers and Cellarium Importers, there was a wide variety to fit every palate.

In addition to wine, I also sampled some fabulous cheese from both I-Gourmet and Cabot. Cheese and wine, MMMMM is my only tasting note. Also, Megan let me in on a little secret, in that she uses the Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar for her Mac n Cheese and that it is simply awesome.

Don’t forget to check out what Megan over at WannabeWino has to say about the event as well, I am sure it will be a great read.


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Categories: wannabewino, washington dc wine expo, wine review, wine tasting | 2 Comments