Sipping and Nipping in Oregon and BC
DJ Kearney writes about her travels through Oregon and BC in search of Pinot Noir.
This month my sipping and nipping has revolved around Oregon andBC. As I've pottered about the Willamette and Okanagan valleys with mydrinking buddy Mr. S, we've revelled in cool-climate, lettuce-crispwhites and reds. Some really, really good grub too.
The pinot family is obviously well represented both sides of theborder, but with marked style differences. Pinot noir seemsparticularly pleased with the fringe conditions both valleys share...short growing season, hot days and cool nights, the threat of summerdrought and autumn rain.
The Willamette Valley, a 40 minute drivefrom downtown Portland has had pinot planted from the mid-1960's (EyrieVineyards) where styles run the gamut from juicily fresh berries andherbs, to woodsy, gamey, gently hued and Nuit-like, and inky,broad-shouldered generously wooded versions. A unifying theme ofcleansing crispness, purity, proper pinot texture and good mannersappears. Older vines and intense clonal trialling has much to do withthis, and it's impressive to see sub-regional identity emerging.
Wineries largely have the 2007 pinots available for tasting, as thevaunted, ripe and high-scoring 2006's disappeared swiftly. No worries,though, the 2007's are lively, tangy and possess a charming balance...buy them to drink whilst the 2006's unfurl in the cellar. Favouritepinots tasted this trip: Adelsheim, Archery Summit, Bergstrom(man-oh-man is their riesling and tiny-production gewürztraminertasty), Bethell Heights, Dobbes, Drouhin and St. Innocent.
A mosttouching, generous moment occurred at Archery Summit. I told the chapsbehind the tasting bar (Reid and library specialist guy Chris) how aninferno wiped out our home and cellar 16 months ago, and that one ofthe few bottles miraculously salvaged was a 2000 Archery Summit Arcus. We opened it a few weeks ago and savoured the pinot in near-perfectform. While we were blissfully sipping the 2006 Arcus, Reid produced another glass...of the 2000 Arcus. It was a weepymoment, an incredible gesture, but you come to realize that the kinshipof wine is very, very special.
It is worth knowing that wineriesoften have library vintages for sale ...naturally we bought some 2000Arcus.
Grub guff: perhaps the best breakfast I have had in decades was thecorned beef hash and poached eggs at the Heathman Hotel - trulyhall-of-fame. Huckabee's BBQ joint in Dundee for pulled pork andsmoked tri-tip beef bunwhiches...buy as many bottles of the bbq sauceas you can decently manage.