We blind tasted 14 rare WA Wines & here’s what happened

Rays Rewind Wine Tasting Group Photo

What is old is new again?

I admit it. I am guilty of holding on to my silk paisley ties that were fashionable many years ago in hopes that they would be stylish enough to wear again. Certain things never go out of style, right?  OK, I admit I know close to nothing about fashion but I do understand/respect pedigree and I have learned patience.  While I still have my ties “cellared” I recently “un-cellared” all of my oldest Washington Wines.  I promised Sean Hails (Winemaker, Columbia Winery), Master Sommelier Thomas Price, Sean Sullivan (Founder, Washington Wine Report), and a few other esteemed colleagues that we would double blind, taste, and casually compare notes on 14 rare older Washington wines. Both pedigree and patience showed up in spades at this recent private tasting. I can’t think of a better way to support of Washington Wine Month than to, once again, prove that Washington wines stand the test of time.


Double blind tasting wine bottles
Double blind tasting wine bottles

While we passed brown bagged wine around the table the conversation was for the most part was quiet.  The typical technical ‘cork dork’ lingo with tasting note spreadsheets and laptops was absent. And we are all guilty of sometimes getting lost in the west facing view from Ray’s Boathouse dining room, but this was not the case either. What was clearly present in the silence was the contemplativeness of what we were tasting.  What we were lost in was the ageless beauty of Washington wine produced in its infancy by pioneers such as Master of Wine David Lake and vineyard genius’ like Otis Harlan. The transition from the 80’s through the 90’s was seamless and the most impressive part to me was less the winemaking skills, and more the consistent sense of place. The foresight and skill to seek perfect areas to plant and farm vitis vinifera and capture the vision of the early pioneers is something that was contained in every one of these bottles. And it poured out beautifully.


Full line up of tasting labels
Full line up of tasting labels

Two wines stood out as our favorites so we of course unveiled them first.  The 1995 Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon was tops pretty much across the board. Running a very (very) close second was the 1988 Columbia Winery Red Willow Vineyard Syrah.  If you are old enough to recall (or smart enough to read the back label) this was the first Washington Syrah ever produced for sale.  It was showing beautifully. Again, quiet contemplation.  Impressed, oh yes. Surprised, not at all.  The first Syrah from Washington: Patience and pedigree.


Sign of a good time
Sign of a good time

Washington wine as it is today was built on the stakes that were driven into the ground in the 60’s. Each of us that has made a living buying, selling, and serving Washington wines should take a moment and re-up on the history behind it.  Get back our roots.  Pull an old bottle out and enjoy it. May you be as impressed as we were. Paisley ties not required.

– Douglas Zellers, Ray’s GM

Wine Tasting Lineup:

1980       Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon

1981       Columbia Winery Bacchus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

1982       Columbia Winery Otis Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

1983       Champs de Brionne Cabernet Sauvignon

1987       Columbia Winery David Lake Sagemore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

1988       Columbia Winery Red Willow Vineyard Syrah

1988       Quilceeda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon


1992       Andrew Will Cabernet Sauvignon

1993       Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon

1993       Columbia Cabernet Sauvignon

1995       Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon

1997       Leonetti Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon

1999       Leonetti Cellar Sangiovese

1999       Betz Family Winery Clos de Betz

Fresh Alaskan Halibut Season lands at Ray’s today!

BH_Fresh Washington Coast Halibut 2

Seattle’s first fresh Alaskan Halibut of 2017 is at Ray’s starting tonight!

Enjoy one of the Northwest’s best fish in the Boathouse and Cafe where Chef Paul Duncan and his team will serve it seared and lightly seasoned with kosher salt. Then accompany it with fresh, local flavors and complimentary sides.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for up to date availability. We’ll have a few fish here and there until halibut fishing becomes consistent.  As soon as the weather in Washington subsides, we’ll be sure to have the fresh Washington halibut as well!

Ballard Beer Awards Dinner March 9!

Lucky Envelope photo

Join us at Ray’s for a specially paired Brewer’s Dinner with our 2017 Ballard Beer Awards Winner: Lucky Envelope Brewing and taste what everyone is raving about!!

Dinner is this Thursday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. Four courses plus beers for $60 per person (excluding tax and gratuity).

Reservations are required! Please reserve by end of day Tuesday, March 7 by emailing Darla Marchi at dmarchi@rays.com or calling 206.782.0094.

Menu & Beer Pairings

Welcome Snacks
Kennebec Potato Chips w/Gruyere & Ikura

1st Course
Baked Pacific Oysters – Chorizo béchamel, pickled onion
Helles Lager

2nd Course
Oregon Albacore Crudo – Sesame, avocado, lime, micro cilantro
Citra Session

3rd Course
Espresso Braised Beef Short Ribs – Smashed “sea salt” potatoes, crispy kale & onion
Eniac Mosaic IPA

4th Course
Stout Cake – Malted cake, Bailey’s frosting, caramel
Beardless Brewer Red

*menu subject to change.

March is Taste Washington Wine Month!

Wine Tasting at Ray's

Ray’s Boathouse is celebrating Taste Washington Wine Month all March long by offering unusual by-the-glass (and bottle!) selections from Washington State.

Savor such wines as the 2015 Buty Sémillon, Sauvignon, Muscadelle, a vibrant, Bordeaux-inspired white blend from Columbia Valley; the citrus-and-floral 2015 Idilico Albariño from Yakima Valley, proving how deliciously Spanish varieties perform in Washington State; the 2014 Betz ‘Bésoliel’ from Columbia Valley, a plummy, brambly Rhône-style blend from legendary winemaker Bob Betz; the 2000 Col Solare Red Wine from Columbia Valley, an excellent vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah blend showing concentrated raspberry, chocolate and spice notes; the deep, foxy 2013 Sequel Syrah from Columbia Valley, a collaboration between Allen Shoup for Long Shadows winery and John Duval of Penfolds wine fame; and the 2011 Leonetti Cellars Sangiovese from Walla Walla Valley, showing founder Chris Figgins’ passion in this blackberry-driven, spicy Italian variety.

Glass pours maintain their flavor profiles and varietal integrity through Ray’s Coravin wine-dispensing system. By inserting the Coravin’s hollow needle through the cork and pressurizing the bottle with argon gas, any amount of wine can be poured without compromise.

“Taste Washington” at Ray’s Boathouse now through March 31!