What happened to days 2 and 3 you may be asking and indeed that’s what I’m asking myself. We swept through Eastern Washington as fast as a tornado, barely pausing to sleep, never mind write.
The area has changed so much since I last visited some 11-12 years ago with about 10 times the number of vineyards. There are some amazing wines now - of every conceivable kind which is both Washington’s strength and its weakness. There the Cabs and Merlots I remember but also Mourvdre, Counoise and - would you believe? - Gruner Veltliner.
Great food too especially eating with winemakers at their homes. (An epic never-to-be-forgotten lunch with the legendary Charles Smith, the Alice Cooper of the wine world, whose (awesome) flagship wine is called The Creator. More of that in due course - suffice it to say it involved a black Rolls Royce . . . )
Yesterday we finally arrived at McMinnville for the International Pinot Noir Celebration, an event I’ve wanted to come to for years. If you want to understand why Oregon Pinot is as great as it is we were basking in 30°C heat in the afternoon and wrapping up warm to eat under the stars a few hours later.
Our dinner - there are several - was a fundraising benefit for Salud a great Oregon initiative which negotiates the tortuous US health service on behalf of the immigrant vineyard workers who do most of the picking in the state and provides regular screenings. A model for every other wine producing country and region
Wines were provided by Dominique Lafon, Evening Land Vineyards where Lafon also consults and the Westrey Wine Company whose proprietor Amy Wesselman is a former director of IPNC. They were matched with food by Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland and introduced by the irrepressible Evan Goldstein, author of Daring Pairings, who has the best shtick on food and wine matching I’ve come across.
Standout pairings were Westrey Wine Company’s 2004 Chardonnay Reserve with scallop and foie gras wrapped in puff pastry (all the Chardonnays were good tho’), 1994 Westrey Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with quail with summer chanterelles (but the 2001 Comtes Lafon Meursault ‘Desirée’ was fantastic too) and Evening Land Vineyards La Source 2008 (my favourite wine of the evening which eclipsed even a Lafon Volnay) with mesquite grilled lamb chop.
Today we’re off to blend wines at a mystery winery and there’s the Grand Dinner tonight, with, I’m sure, the odd glass of Pinot.
Incidentally I’ve only just discovered that IPNC has a great blog which you can follow and that there was a dinner last night called Counter Culture pairing Pinot and other wines with street cart food at Anne Amie Vineyards. Shame to have missed that but you can't be everywhere . . .
Image © David Gn - Fotolia.com