If you have been sucked into the vast and wonderful world of wine at some point in your life, I guarantee there will be distinct moments that you can remember with shocking clarity, a series of epiphanies around particular bottles that made you go: “I didn’t think wine could be like that.” You form loyalties around those bottles, the producers that created them and the regions that birthed them. You seek them out, and those like them, and you try to find out everything about them. They shape what you look for in wine going forward, but they also increase your awe and appreciation of wine in general, and by doing so they give you an incredible gift, a passageway into a realm that bridges art and science, sensuality and precision.
I’ve had maybe half a dozen such bottles in my life. One of them was the 2009 Walla Walla Syrah from Gramercy Cellars, which opened my eyes to the remarkable potential of Washington State wine and made me a lifelong proponent of the area, the winery and even the grape. I’ve discovered since that it wasn’t a fluke: Washington is filled with a shocking amount of top quality wine, and an array of producers pushing the envelope of what a young New World region should be able to accomplish this soon. Even the large producers and the entry-level wines of the state come to play, somehow bypassing the plonk basement that consumers of most other areas have to wade through. Despite all this, the gospel of Washington has been slow to spread, partly due to familiarity (“there’s world class wine WHERE?”) and partly due to price (no $14 slam dunks to be seen, at least in this market).
All of this is why I was so thrilled to attend a Washington State wine tasting at Bricks Wine Company last night. Bricks is the newest entry into Calgary’s impressive boutique wine scene, nestled in a historic old brick (natch) building at the start of trendy, funky Inglewood, but despite being in the process of establishing a foothold in the market, it hasn’t held back on inspired and daring wine selections, including one of the best arrays of Washington wines in town. Regions like Washington need wine-savvy guides to take people by the hand and point them to the great wines nestled where they never thought to look; Bricks is the type of shop equipped to do just that. And that showed in spades in the lineup of wines we tasted through, an array of luminaries that erased any questions about Washington State’s ability to stand with the elites of the wine world. Read the rest of this entry »