A Week of Wine
August 21, 2008 by Doug Haugen
Last week was a great one in the world of wine events. On Wednesday, August 13, we went to the Fidélitas wine release party for their wine club members. This is the first time Fidélitas has ever held an event in Seattle for their wine club members, and their loyal winos showed up en force. With over 800 members, over 250 showed up at the Seattle event to taste the new vintage of Optu Red, and the first-ever Optu white. Winemaker Charlie Hoppes was on site, happy to shake hands and talk about his wines. Charlie is a prime example of what you often find in Washington State: a really nice guy making really nice wines. And, this attitude extends to his entire staff, which showed us a great time in their swank winery last month when we visited Red Mountain, and were equally welcoming at the wine club event. Great wine and great people make for a great experience, which is why we at WINO gave Fidélitas the WINO Stamp of Approval in our August issue.
Fidélitas knows how to throw a party, and they certainly take care of their club members. Held at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle Community College, there was plenty of wine to be had. In Latin, “Optu” means best, and the wines didn’t disappoint. The Optu Red has been a veritable playground for Charlie Hoppes, as he changes it a bit from year to year, making it more exciting than the Starbucks Christmas Blend. The just released 2005 red, with 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 6% Cab Franc and 3% Malbec, had nice balance and complexity. The Semillon and the “Eight” Syrah also kept me coming back.
Skillet Street Food was there in their iconic silver trailer serving some of the best food I’ve had in a while. If you don’t know what bacon jam is, you’ve got to find them and have a burger with bacon jam on it. I’m not even kidding. And, the side of pasta salad was outstanding. The meal also paired surprisingly well with the wines.
They also had a real-live cooper there building wine barrels by hand, and giving a barrel toasting demonstration. As you know, the insides of oak barrels are toasted to add certain characteristics to wine, and we got to watch a master cooper from Seguin-Moreau of Napa Valley assemble barrels from the ground up, and toast the inside over wood fires while answering questions from the curious lookers on.
We had a great time at the Fidélitas event, sipping wines and talking to other enthusiastic winos like Duane Pemberton of Winefoot.com fame. I’d recommend joining the Fidélitas for the wine, if not for great events like these.
The next day, we attended the Auction of Washington Winesheld at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville. A charity event, the auction raised well over $2 million for Children’s Hospital and the Washington Wine Education Foundation. One lot was a 21-Liter DeLille Salute to AWW and Charles Lill — a collection of etched and hand painted bottles from DeLille Cellars which sold for $70,000 by an enthusiastic attendee. Scads of Washington Wineries were represented, allowing for us to taste great wines from all over the state, as well as talk to winemakers like Heather and John Neff ofNefarious Cellars and many others who were milling around pouring their wines. Good times were had by all.
For a nightcap, we headed over to Senoj Estates winery in Woodinville for Industry Night. Essentially a networking party, it was as fun as all events at Senoj…lots of good wine and good people, and winemaker Jeff Jones is as entertaining as they come. Jeff is modeling his tasting room as more of an events venue, and there’s always something new to be found there. This Saturday is Persian Night, and there will be live bellydancers. Yes, bellydancers.