After an amazing couple of days in Portland and McMinville it was finally time for IPNC! We arrived on Friday morning and Shawna was lured over to the Portland Roasters coffee booth as I got in lone to get us breakfast. Shawna came back with a business card for Allan Meadows from Burghound.com and casually said that he said that we should send him a bottle of Furthermore for him to review. She asked who he was and I let her know he was the Robert Parker of Pinot Noir and she said “that’s cool!”. Five minutes into IPNC and I knew we were at the right place!
The theme for IPNC this year was “Sustainability Without Sacrifice”
The morning started out with a discussion between wine author Jasper Morris and Dominique Lafon from legendary Domaine des Comtes Lafon. During this discussion we tasted a flight of Lafon that included: a 2006, 2005, 2003 and 1997. The discussion centered around the evolving viticultural practices in burgundy and the challenges of organic and biodynamic farming when you have your lots interspersed with your neighbors.
Dominique was both charming and insightful. Some memorable quotes include:
“Biodynamic shows a sense of vineyard”
How French is that to bring terroir into it ; - )
“Biodynamic makes the wine more drinkable and more drinkable is better…”
Next up Andrea Robinson hosted a discussion and tasting with some great Pinot Noir producers:
- Ted Casteel, Bethel Heights Vineyard, Oregon
- Michael Dhillon, Bindi Wines Australia
- Ted Lemon, Littorai Wines, California
- Nigel Greening, Felton Road New Zealand
- Frederic Lafarge, Domaine Michel Lafarge, Burgundy
The tasting was a great demonstration of the diversity of pinot noir expression in various regions. My new world palate loved the Bethel Heights and Littorai (Sonoma Coast) but they were all great wines.
Next up it was time for lunch. The food was amazing and the wine was flowing. Sommeliers delivered wine but we were also sititng at a table with Gary Franscioni of ROAR wines who is also co-owner of famed central coast vineyards including Gary’s Vineyard, Pisoni and Rosella (named after his wife). People seemed to keep bringing Gary wine to taste and we all benefited from it!
On the afternoon agenda we attended a very cool (and tasty) demonstration by infamous mushroom expert Jack palmer of the Jack Palmer House. He told stories of mushroom hunting and shared his secret to cooking with mushrooms… Cook the mushrooms in a very light olive oil, not a virgin olive oil and add the holly trinity of soy, salt and add a little bit of sugar to them.
After enjoying Pinot Noir and mushrooms with Jack it was time to learn about great Pinot Noir that you may not be drinking, a session hosted by Andrea Robinson. Her list included:
- Castle Rock
- Sebastiani Sonoma County
- A to Z
- Golden Eye
- Russian Hill
- Cobb Wines
- La Crema trio
- Sokol Blosser, Dundee Hills
- Pierre Morey
- Alex Gambel
- Coldstream Hills
The day ended with the amazing “Grand Dinner” that featured chefs from “he Heathman Restraunt & Bar, Crush, The Herb Farm and Paley’s Place. Of special note was the Crispy Carlton Farms pork belly prepared but Jason Wilson of Crush. As to be expected the wine flowed and enjoyed conversation with our neighbors including some winemakers from New Zealand and Mark Fine of Firesteed. It was a great ending to an amazing day.
Back in the day, 1991 to be precise, my father and I packed up the family Jeep Wagoneer and road tripped from Moss Beach, California to McMinnville, Oregon. We were on our way to the 5th annual International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC). At the time I was only 19 years old but thanks to my dad had already fallen in love with Pinot Noir. In 1991 Pinot Noir and Oregon was still a relatively unproven combo. In fact many of today’s top producers including Archery Summit and Domaine Drouhin Oregon did not even exist yet!
That 1991 IPNC trip with mf father sealed the deal on my life long passion for Pinot Noir. Since then it has been my consistent beverage of choice and it I have even recently started producing artisanal pinot noir under my own label with my buddy Bob. My return to IPNC 17 years later with my wife Shawna, was an extreme reminder of why I love Pinot Noir and the life style around it…
Our IPNC activities started in Portland. We have been hearing amazing things about Portland’s emerging culinary scene so we wanted to taste it for ourselves. We had a rave recommendation from my friend Eric for Le Pigeon so we decided to go ahead and taste it for ourselves. In short, if you are in Portland definitely make a reservation at Le Pigeon and be damn sure to have the foie gras profiterals for desert (paired with a sauternes of course). Here are some shots from Le Pigeon...
To help make sure we were super ready for a full long weekend of Pinot Noir discussion and drinking we spent Thursday preparing… We visited three of our favorite Oregon producers that are all nestled into the beautiful Dundee Hills:
Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene and Archery Summit. We had an amzing time at all 3 places. The views were majestic and the wines were even better. We picked up a great tip from our Archery Summit hostess, Serpa, regarding taking milk thistle to help promote liver functions during the long IPNC weekend, thanks Serpa! Here are some shots from our explorations of the Dundee Hills.
After traversing the red hills of Dundee we were ready for a bite to eat. Luckily we had the foresight to sign up for a Sineann winemaker dinner at Bistro Maison in McMinville.. The dinner was amazing. Bistro Maison is about real deal French cooking and on this special night all the dishes were prepared to pair with Peter’s wines. The crowd was a local Oregon Pinot crazed crowd. Most of whom were not doing IPNC besides the winemaker dinner and the infamous Saturday night salmon bake. Peter spent a good deal of time at each table and won people over with his amazing wines and seemingly mellow yet opinionated self.
As always Pinot Days was a blast this year. The event was far less hectic than years past and the regional wine maker tastings on Saturday were great fun. Here are some shots of some bottles that I have not been drinking but now will be!
The second installment of "Chez Richiarty" kicked in this weekend with an amazing cheese dinner! Here are some pics (courtesy of Stephan) and the cheese menu and wine pairings that Stu and I put together.
Chez Richiarty presents Stu's Cheese
Ossau-Iraty (sheep) - Brioche Toasts with Black Cherry Jam and 2006 Maximin Grunhauser Herrenberg Feinherb Kabinett
Salers (cow) with 2005 Domaine de Saline Pinot Noir Corsica
Epoises (cow) with 2005 Vichon Pinot Noir (Burgundy)
English Farmhouse Cheddar (cow) Mac 'n Cheese with 2003 Columbia Crest Columbia Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Roquefort (sheep), Roquefort Gougeres with Rudolf Muller Rheinhessen Eiswein
Pecorino & Fig Gelato and Almond Cakes with Nachtgold Eiswein 2005
Shawna and I decided we were going to do a "secret restaurant" series this year. Basically we host a fun wine dinner where we have various chefs come in and prepare great meals that we help pair with wines and then people come and pay for their meal as if they were out.
For our first installment we were lucky to have Sonoma Private Chef, Brian Way give us a taste of Sonoma. We paired it mostly with Sonoma Pinot Noirs including the first semi-public tasting of our very own Furthermore 2006 Bohemian Vineyard that I am making with my long time friend Bob. I was nervous having it sit on the same table of some of my very favorite pinots, but it turns out our young Bohemian stood very well for itself.
Brian's menu and wine pairings for this Valentine day themed feast was:
- Oysters Zulu a la Central Market <2005 Macon Charnay White Burgundy>
- Pomegranate Glazed Ahi Tuna over Wild Mushroom Risotto <2006 Furthermore Pinot Noir Bohemian Vineyard & 2005 Williams Seylem Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast>
- BeeDub's Cassoulet Toulouse <Gary Farrell 2005 Star Ridge Pinot Noir & 2005 Macphail Pinot Noir Pratt Vineyard>
- Tricia's Decadent Double Chocolate Tartlette <Dow Vintage Port 1985 & 2005 DEWN Ferraris Ruche Passito from Bonny Doon>
The meal was simply amazing. The duck confit in the cassoulet was an amazing match for the Macphail Pratt, which I tend to find to be a really big and bold pinot. So big in fact that I did decant it for about 2 hours prior to the meal on advice from my friend Xander. The1985 Dow port was absolutely a treat as well. This old man was mellow but had such amazing character. I can see why people rave about 1985 being a killer year for vintage port.
Fort Mason here in San Francisco plays home for some great annual wine events including ZAP, a Zinfandel focused event that had 273 wineries pouring zins. We tasted some great zins from all over. I was definitely reminded how much I like zins from Dry Creek, Amador county, Lodi and Russian River Valley.
I always enjoy retasting some of your old favorites. It is like seeing an old friend. In this camp it was great to have some Hartford Court (RRV), Claudia Springs (Anderson Valley), Dashe (Dry Creek) and even more predictable offerings like Ravenswood and Cline both still always impress me when it comes to zinfandels. There was also a Teldeshi coming out of Crushpad that definitely impressed me and reminded me that I really like that vineyard. (Not unlike being at Pinot days 2 years ago when after tasting a great pinot produced at Crushpad I realized there was no reason for me not to be making wine there.)
I definitely wanted to discover some new zins though and despite all the great wines when trying new wineries i felt like you had to kiss some frogs before finding the gems. This seemed more than I remember from past years. Some of the new finds that stood out where:
- Murphy Goode who I usually count on for a reasonably priced Cabernet Sauvignon. They were pouring a 2004 "Snake Eyes" that was great.
- Easton had a nice 2003 Fiddletown Old Vine Zinfandel
- Taft Street Winery out of Sebastopol had a lovely 2005 Cobblestone Vineyard at a reasonable $22.
- Klinker Brick had a lovely but more pricey $37, 2005 Old Ghost
Instead of taking notes I took pictures of bottles that I wanted to follow up and buy. Here were some of the new discoveries that I would recommend…