Sleight of Hand Cellars surprises at every turn

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Photo by Nate Gowdy
Photo by Nate Gowdy

Walking into Sleight of Hand's SoDo tasting room, you'd be forgiven for thinking you're in the wrong place. Pearl Jam posters line the walls. A record player sits in the corner, broadcasting classic vinyl. A variety of clever rock-and-wine-themed shirts beckon. This is not your typical holier-than-thou wine bar.

"We want to take the pretension out of wine," said Daniel Burchardt, Sleight of Hand's director of Seattle operations, pouring a round of their Enchantress Chardonnay for the SGN team, which were invited to sit down for a wine tasting. "We want it to feel like you're walking into a record shop more than anything else."

The 2018 vintage — whose name echoes the winery's prestidigitation theme — had a brightness to it not usually associated with chardonnay, despite the buttery nose. This comes from letting the wine tumble in a concrete egg, Burchardt informed me. "It's a slow-growing process in the industry," he said. "The porous surface of the concrete soaks in past batches differently than a classic oak barrel would. It keeps the wine more pure overall."

We were treated to the entire selection, starting with the Magician Riesling — sweet and off-dry, less acerbic and more approachable than a California Riesling — and ending with the Psychedelic "Rocks" Syrah, which may be the smoothest, most enjoyable Syrah I've ever had, with notes of tobacco and spice, but none so overpowering that you miss the full body of the wine itself.

The other offerings — Archimage Reserve Red, Illusionist Reserve Cabernet, and the Conjurer Red Blend (famous for the distinctive Neil Patrick Harris portrait on its label) — surprised and delighted each of us, even the staunchest anti—wine drinker among us.

For a relaxed evening with high-quality Washington wines and vintage local rock, go to Sleight of Hand Cellars. "Magic, rock. That's who we are," stated Burchardt, glass in hand.

They didn't disappoint.