Every Wednesday, I recommend six wines in my column published in The Washington Post’s Food section. This week, I’m so excited about one of those wines that I wanted to give my blog readers a sneak peek and – if you happen to be in the D.C. area – a chance to pick up the wine before the column appears in two more days.
On a recent visit to Seattle, I asked several people to suggest Washington state wines I should try. Almost everyone mentioned Efeste, which is an acronym of the initials of its owners. (It is therefore pronounced F-S-T, suggesting that the three fought over what to call their joint venture. Thankfully, they finally agreed on something.) I had the pleasure of meeting winemaker Brennon Leighton, who provides support for the theory that wines reflect their creator’s personality. I know, that sounds like dogs resembling their owners, but work with me here. Brennon confessed that he is closer to my age than his ample tattoos would suggest, but his attitude and enthusiasm reveal a personality that is much younger, more rough-and-tumble and willing to take chances, than I could ever be, at any age.
Anyway … his wines followed suit, especially the Efeste 2010 Riesling from Evergreen Vineyard. Brennon, who worked in Chateau Ste. Michelle’s white wine program, including the famous Eroica Riesling, explained that Evergreen is rapidly becoming known as Washington state’s premier site for Riesling. It supplies grapes to Eroica and the ever popular Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Charles Smith Wines, as well as Efeste. The wine is laser-sharp and beautifully balanced. I wouldn’t put it at the level of Eroica or Poet’s Leap, the Riesling from the Long Shadows project – yet. But it’s close, and definitely among Washington’s top Rieslings that I have tasted.
Leighton’s wines have an energy, an inner tension that grabbed me away from my surroundings and forced me to focus on the wines as if there was nothing else in the room. They have qi, that life spirit the Chinese believe inhabits the Earth. (My generation would call it “the Force”). They want to party, and even to argue. You may not agree with what they have to say, but you’ll probably find yourself explaining why you don’t. You won’t be able just to shrug and say, “Yeah, that’s nice.”
I like wines with qi.
Efeste wines are distributed in Virginia by Free Run Wine Merchants. They should be available at Arrowine in Arlington; Ashburn Wine Shop in Ashburn; Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean; Planet Wine in Alexandria; Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview; and Vienna Vintner in Vienna.
Note: When I posted this item, I had the price at $16 – which is the winery price. The local price in the DC-area is more likely to be $18, which is still a good deal, and several dollars cheaper than the more complex Eroica or Poet’s Leap.