Hello, Portland. Meet Washington Wine.

A match made in heaven, Portland and Washington wine had instant chemistry.

Nestled beneath the Fremont Bridge in Portland’s Pearl District, a row of several dozen locals formed outside Pure Space, anxiously awaiting their cue to enter the first annual Taste Washington Portland event.

Last weekend, the Evergreen State’s enological gems traveled to the Rose City, where they were presented by the Washington State Wine Commission (WSWC). Taste Washington is the largest food and wine festival in our state, and the Portland event was a chance for us Washingtonians to share the gastronomical love with our neighbors to the South.

“This is an opportunity for our extraordinary Washington wineries to come down and introduce the Portland market to our fabulous product,” said Robin Pollard, WSWC Executive Director.

With more than 100 wineries present and pouring their current releases, Taste Washington took Portland by storm, with nearly 500 ticket holders participating in the experience. Equally excited as the guests busting down the aisles of Pure Space was Spencer Sievers, winemaker and owner of El Corazon Winery in Walla Walla.

“I love Portland, I wanted to come down here and pour my wines for the people,” the zealous Sievers proclaimed. “I brought a few secret weapons, the sold out Cab Franc and some of the Fenix, the first blend we’ve ever made. I really want people to have an idea of what we do.”

Leslie Palmer, co-owner and chef of Thirst Wine Bar & Bistro, was proud to plate her pulled pork over truffled polenta, and hoped to match the Washington winery names she represents at her cafe to the faces at Taste.

“We look at ourselves as the Pacific Northwest, we’re lucky,” Palmer said. “We love to be in Oregon and we feel that with Washington as the second largest producer in our background, we’d be remised if we didn’t feature Washington wines. We love them.”

Seattleite shared the same sentiment once we had our glass in hand. Elbowing through the masses, we were able to find our way to the darlings of the event. a Cena Risotrante e Enoteca topped the recommendation charts with their deep fried risotto balls, presented on a bed of spicy marinara sauce and topped with melted parmesan cheese. A close runner-up was the uncomplicated and unapologetic ground lamb slider at Pour Wine Bar & Bistro, that owner Robert Volz was jokingly selling as “5% cat” in the meat blend.

Kicking off the celebration in the libations department, Masquerade Wines popped open their 2007 “Effervescing Elephant” sparkling wine. Made in the true Champagne method, they attracted a lot of guests since they had the only bubbly on site. Other honorable mentions for both taste and texture go to Chinook Wines’ 2008 Sauvignon Blanc and Facelli Winery’s 2008 Barbera.

The brightest star, however, was Adams Bench 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, a limited production from Red Willow Vineyard. This exquisite varietal showcased seductive fruit and silky tannins on the palate, two quintessential characteristics of the vineyard.

Match.com couldn’t have done it better – Portland and Washington wines are a perfect pairing. Here’s to next year’s Taste Washington!

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