I had the opportunity over a two week period to taste a wide variety of Oregon Pinot Noir vintages. First up was the Northwest Wine Encounter at the Semiahmoo Resort in Washington State just over the border from Canada. It was a focused wine event with 80 or so enthusiasts in attendance and a small number of winemakers from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia pouring. I went because Consulting Winemaker Tony Rynders was pouring the 2014 Panther Creek Cellars Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir. Since 2013 when the Bacchus Wine Fund acquired the iconic winery founded by Ken Wright in 1986 and Tony Rynders took over the winemaking duties, the Kalita Pinot Noir has become one of the featured single vineyard wines in the Panther Creek lineup.
The Northwest Wine Encounter was a real treat because we were joined by a few noted Washington winemakers pouring their wines made with Bourdeaux grape varietals – Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellars, Chris Upchurch of De Lille Cellars and David Merfeld of Northstar Winery. The food and service at Semiahmoo were noteworthy as well.
During the next week I was able to stay at Kalita Vineyard where Bud Break had just occurred perhaps a week earlier. After three consecutive warm and early vintages, the 2017 vintage at this stage is tracking the glorious 2008 vintage. I was able to barrel taste the 2016 Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir with several of our winemaker clients. These wines will be wonderful when bottled, approachable in their youth as well as age-worthy.
I also had the opportunity to taste for the first time since bottling the recently released 2013 Et Fille Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir and the 2014 Van Duzer Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir, each evocative of their vintages with the 2013 showing complex flavors and the 2014 bursting with the dark fruit flavors typical of the Kalita Vineyard Pinots in a warm vintage.
Sherry and Alex joined me in Oregon on May 7th. Just a year ago their New York firm Common Bond Design collaborated with Jessica Mozeico in the design of the new Et Fille Tasting Room in downtown Newberg. This May Sherry and Alex brought in a local photographer to shoot the Tasting Room for their portfolio prior to our trip to the Et Fille Vintner’s Weekend at the Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana. And what a weekend we had. The Triple Creek Ranch was recently ranked #22 in the Travel + Leisure magazine’s list of the Top 100 hotels and resorts in the World.
Et Fille has been doing an annual Vintner’s Weekend at Triple Creek Ranch for many years and since this was our first opportunity to participate Jessica and Jeremy White, the TCR Sommelier, featured Et Fille Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir from the 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2012 vintages along with several othert Et FillePinots from the 2012 and 2013 vintages. All beautifully complemented the meals turned out by the Triple Creek kitchen and Dining Room teams. The famed Bitterroot River, fueled by the mountain runoff, was too high for fly fishing but we did experience snowfall in the middle of May on two evenings.
During our travels we were in and out of Portland a few times, taking the opportunity to have some spectacular meals at Afuri, the first international outpost of the renowned Tokyo ramen house of the same name, Spanish restaurant Chesa - go there and have any dish done in the Josper charcoal oven - and old standby Tasty n Alder, which never fails to please with friendly service and the only secreto Iberico I have had in the USA.
In sum, we had quite sybaritic week of fine food and wine, sharing tastings and meals with good friends in the wine business, meeting interesting new people, celebrating Sherry’s birthday and Mother’s Day along the way.