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 Two days and counting until Taste Washington begins at the CenturyLink event center.  As we know, weaving through those booths of booze can be intimidating, so we’ve asked some Seattle wine experts to lead the way.  Next up on the tasting docket is Salty’s sommelier Tim O’Brien whose wine list recently earned the 2013 Award of Distinction from the Washington Wine Commission.  

A few years ago, he and his wife arrived at Taste ready to hit as many wineries as possible.  At the door, Pepper Bridge was greeting guests with a pour of their merlot.  As they moved further into the crowd, overwhelm ensued.  Hence, the couple developed a spontaneous game plan:  They would only taste merlot.  This alleviated the pressure to try everything, and Tim enjoyed the approach so much that he wanted to do it again this year, with cabernet sauvignon. 

This grape thrives in the Washington climate, says O'Brien. “The key may be that during the critical time in the final weeks and days before perfect ripening takes place, the nights cool drastically which helps the fruit retain acid.” See if you agree and follow in his footsteps, here. (Download this printable PDF to bring Tim's map with you.)

 Amavi
Pepper Bridge's sister winery, Amavi, from winemaker Jean-Francois Pellet creates a 2010 estate cabernet with a perfect balance of fruit and oak. 

B  Ambassador
From the Red Mountain estate, this 2010 cabernet has big ripe fruit and the tannins to match.

C  Fidelitas
Winemaker Charlie Hoppes always frames his wines with appropriate oak.  See for yourself with the 2009 Ciel du Cheval Cabernet.

D  Hightower
Better every year.  This 2009 cabernet is a Red Mountain success story with sturdy tannins and an elegant finish.

E Kitzke
The 2008 Estate Grapes cabernet promises plenty of ripe fruit and a palette that is smooth and velvety.

F Bergevin Lane Vineyards
The 2010 Moonspell cabernet sizzles with bright fruit and pops with a long, long finish.

G  Martinez and Martinez
Crisp and refreshing, the 2012 May Mae Rose of cabernet has nice light flavors of cherry and bright fruit.  Perfect for a sunny day.

H  Walla Walla Vintners
Always a standout for its balance of fruit, acid, and tannins, this 2009 cabernet is delicious now, but will be remarkable later.

I Waters Winery
I find the 2009 cabernet to be elegant and refined with clean focused fruit and textbook weight.

J Obelisco Estate Wines
Here is a giant cabernet from Red Mountain. The 2010 Estate “Electrum” Cabernet has big tannins and juicy fruit.

K  Januik Winery
Mr. Januik has his craft finely tuned. He offers a great balance of showy fruit and firm structure in this 2010 cabernet.

L  Adam’s Bench Winery
This 2009 V Cabernet is attractive now, but promises to be outstanding as it matures with impressive components that harmonize and perform simultaneously.

Some parting wisdom from Tim:Remember to spit or you won’t remember what you drank. Drink water. Winery people are passionate about their wine, ask questions such as what is the appellation of the wine and ask why that vineyard. You may find you like Yakima more than Walla Walla. Then, drink more water.”