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About this Episode

Whitney Grant, wine educator and certified sommelier, joins Robert Tas at Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle where they review the wine menu and identify the best bottles on the list. Ray’s Boathouse is a James Beard award-winning restaurant located on Puget Sound, a great place to go for seafood, and, of course, a little wine. Whitney breaks down the blend in a fabulous Rioja, explains why old vines make great wine and introduces an affordable, biodynamic wine.

Wines reviewed include:

●  2009 Lopez de Heredia  Reserva Rioja

●  2020 Stoller Estate rosé

●  2020 “Old Vines” Chenin Blanc

Transcript: Ray's Boathouse

Ray’s Boathouse, Seattle

RT: Hello and welcome to CorkRules!

A podcast where, in each episode, we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Whitney Grant, wine educator and certified sommelier.

Hello Whitney, it’s great to have back on with CorkRules.

WG: Hi Robert! Thanks for having me! I’m excited to share these wine selections with you and the CorkRules listeners.


Before we jump in, let’s talk about CorkRules.

We created CorkRules to demystify wine lists because we know from experience, that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… it can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.

RT: So, sit back and listen as we review your favorite wine list.

RT: Today we are talking about Ray’s Boathouse, awarded the prestigious America’s classics award from James Beard. Ray’s Boathouse is located on the picturesque Puget Sound, right on the water. This iconic Seattle restaurant features elevated Pacific Northwest seafood dishes and excellent wine.

Whitney I can’t wait to hear what do you think of their extensive wine list?

WG: I’m excited to chat with you about Ray’s Boathouse, they’ve got a great selection of wines! 

RT: Want to start us off with some recommendations for wines by the glass?

WG: Sounds like a plan! For red wine I would recommend the 2009 Lopez de Heredia Reserva Rioja from the Rioja region of Spain. This wine is composed of 70% tempranillo, 20% grenache, 5% mazuelo, and 5% graciano. To be classified as a Reserva wines must age for an extended period of time before release both in oak and in bottle. As the wine ages the tannins soften, and some of the fresh red fruit characteristics evolve to cooked and dried fruit flavors. The final wines have complex layers of primary fruit flavors, this wine has flavors of berries, cherries and dried flowers. Secondary flavors derived from the American oak influences, in this wine those flavors being cedar, vanilla, and dill. And finally with age develop those characteristic tertiary aromas of flavors of dried fruit and mushroom.

For white wines, I would recommend the 2020 pinot grigio – Santa Marina from Italy. This wine lovely pale yellow color, crisp with medium acidity, citrus undertones with nectarine and peaches. Italy pinot grigios tend to be simple, unoaked wines that are typically inexpensive yet delicious, a wine you don’t need to feel guilty enjoying.

RT: Summer time in the northwest is beautiful, with great outdoor seating options I’m sure many guests enjoy a bottle of rosé in the summer. Is there a rosé on the list you would recommend?

WG: The 2020 Stoller Estate rosé is one of my all-time favorite summer wines. 100% Pinot noir rosé produced in stainless steel. This wine is a delicate pink with aromatics of ripe stone fruit and strawberry. On the palate expect watermelon and key line and the perfect refreshing acidity for a warm summer day on the Puget Sound.

RT: I love pinot noir rosé! Speaking of pinot noir, the Pacific Northwest is known not only for great seafood but also great pinot noir and this place has a great selection. Is there a pinot noir you would recommend?

WG: There are so many great pinot noirs grown in the Willamette Valley but the one that really caught my eye is the 2018 Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Noir. This wine has rich flavors of mushroom, truffle, and forest floor, accompanied by blackberry, cranberry, and clove with a dash of black pepper. Medium tannins balanced by acidity.

Sokol Blosser is a family winery in the Dundee Hills of the valley first planted in 1971, perfecting Pinot for over 50 years. Sokol Blosser wines are responded not only in the northwest but around the world.

RT: What would you recommend is someone is looking to branch out and try something new?

WG: I would suggest giving a South African wine a try. The 2020 'Old Vines' Chenin Blanc from the Paarl region would be a great wine. Chenin blanc is the most widely planed grape in South Africa. The old bush or old vine grapes make for a more concentrated and complex wine.

The Paarl region, located further inland is less exposed to the cooling influences of the sea but the mountainous terrains offer a variety of altitudes, aspects, and soil types for grape growing. This Old Vines wine is a light straw color with flavors of white peach, pineapple, passion fruit and citrus. Fermented in 50% stainless steel and 50% neutral oak this wine juice just a hint of vanilla and a creamy texture from lees aging.

Another recommendation would be the 2020 Druids Fluid by Troon Vineyards located in the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon. This red blend is fun and fruity with a mix of ripe red fruit, herbs, tea and tobacco. This wine has a medium plus body with balanced acidity and lovely texture. A great affordable wine made with quality biodynamic grapes.

RT: Can you tell us, what exactly is a biodynamic winery, is that similar to organic?

WG: It is similar to organic and you may see both terms on a label but they are not necessarily the same thing. Biodynamic farming adopts organic practices but also incorporates philosophy and cosmology.  Farming with natural materials like composting are used to sustain the vineyard rather than chemical pesticides and herbicides. Biodynamic certification indicates a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to farming where the vineyard is viewed as one solid organism. Animals such as ducks, chickens, and sheep live on the land and help to make the vineyards a more fertile environment for the grapes. Sustainability is important and a biodynamic certification names the producers are striving to leave the land better than they found it.

RT: I see they have a nice selection of dessert wines, anything you would recommend to end the night on a sweet note?

WG: I would recommend one of the dessert rieslings from Washington’s Columbia Valley. These wines aren’t just your typical riesling made with higher residual sugar. These grapes are affected by noble rot or botrytis. Botrytis growns on ripe grapes in certain climate conditions - the ideal conditions are damp misty mornings, followed by warm dry afternoons.

The botrytis fungus makes tiny holes in the grape skin which causes the water inside to evaporate concentrating the acids, sugars, and flavors of the grape. The 2019 is available by the glass - expect honeysuckle, orange marmalade, candied ginger, apricot, apple, and raisin with a long finish and rich texture.

With the acidity and concentration of flavors these wines are able to age. There are two older vintages available by the bottle as well a 2005 and a 2010. As these wines age the flavors evolve, honeyed peaches, dried apricots, caramel, and the signature aged riesling petrol.

RT: Whitney Thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Ray’s Boathouse wine list. They certainly have a great selection of wines.

WG: Thanks for having me, Robert, this was an exciting list to review and I hope you get the chance to enjoy some of these wines!

RT: To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.

If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to: Info@CorkRules.com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists.

And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.

Thank you.




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