My love affair with Spanish wines started back in 2002 when I took a year off from college to backpack around Europe. After several stormy weeks in London, Paris, and Bordeaux, I found myself one morning on an early train to San Sebastián. The weather was brilliant and after a fine lunch of tapas and txakolina I would never be the same. Hook, line, and sinker. I spent the next month eating, drinking, and exploring this magical country.
In the years that followed I made it a point to come back and visit whenever an opportunity presented itself. I taught English in Barco de Avila, watched the pilgrims arrive at the steps of Santiago de Compostela, introduced my sisters to Sevilla, and chased fun in Barcelona. I love Spain.
Fast forward to 2015. I was working as a sommelier with the Michael Mina group and living on the strip in Las Vegas when an opportunity came up to work for a highly regarded winemaking family from Rioja. Regular travel to Spain for work? Done. For the next two years I would visit the region to explore the bodegas, vineyards, and wines. I always wondered if there was some way I could take a small piece of it home..
I first met Javier Alfonso in 2010 at the genesis of one of the greatest tasting groups I've participated in. Javier was born and raised in Spain and we quickly realized there was a mutual passion for the wines of his native land. Javier had started his own Woodinville winery while working as an aerospace engineer and ever since has been a pivotal figure in planting traditional Spanish varietals in vineyards around Washington State. He is a determined, skilled, and intelligent winemaker and his understanding of the grape growing regions of both Spain and Washington make him uniquely qualified for a project like this. I discussed the idea of working with him on a small scale to highlight Washington wines that were off the beaten path and he agreed. Thus, the Orcas Project was born.
There are three wines available -
2016 Albariño (80 cases produced) - A beautiful crisp white wine whose native home in the region of Galicia, in the Northwest corner of Spain. Light in alcohol with vibrant acidity and aromas or flowers and peaches it's typically paired with groaning tables of fresh seafood.
2015 Tempranillo (50 cases produced) - The classic red grape of Spain is just now beginning to reach it's potential in Washington. Featuring ripe black and red fruits, and alluring notes of vanilla and spice, this is one of the most food friendly grapes in the planet. A classic pairing with anything lamb it's also incredible with other smoked meats and hearty mushrooms.
2015 Graciano (50 cases produced) - This under appreciated varietal is normally found as a blending grape in the Rioja region. A massive wine brimming with ripe plum and baked blueberry notes it packs generous levels of tannin, acid, and color. Along with black pepper and smoke. Those who like full-bodied Zinfandel, Malbec, and Cabernet are in for a treat. Phenomenal with red meat fresh off the grill.
The first vintage of these wines is fairly limited as we're holding back several cases for dinners, events, and our library. All three individual varietals will be available online by the case and we're also offering mixed sampler cases of 3, 6, and 12 bottles if you're curious and up for an adventure. The wine can be picked up at the Bottle Shop or shipped in September when the weather cools down.
Please let us know if you have any questions and thank you for being a part of this journey. We hope to see you soon.
Cole and Stephanie