DAY ONE (continued): One of the best parts of any major multi-day wine event are the dinners. Whenever I attend such functions I privately feel like it’s the closest I’m ever going to get to being at he king’s table in Medieval times when wines from the royal storehouse flowed until the last iron-livered courtier slipped under the table in the wee hours of the morning and the cats descended on the scene for scraps.
The food at these dinners is, as expected, pretty lavish, and in this respect IPNC does not disappoint. In fact, quite the opposite — it boggles the mind with the number of top chefs who converge to craft course after course of some of the best large event food I have ever had. As one of my table mates so aptly pointed out at last night’s dinner: Friday and Saturday this week were precisely the wrong days to go to any nice restaurant in Portland or Seattle. There are more than a dozen big name chefs and their top kitchen staff here cooking for us this weekend, which means they most certainly aren’t in their own kitchens. Scary thought.
Along with the chefs, however, have come scores of the Pacific Northwest’s top sommeliers and maitre d’s (all on a volunteer basis) to serve the never-ending flow of wines that accompany these meals.
And what a flow of wines.
I’ve been to a number of big wine events like this, and I’ve never seen such a high quality stream of wines handed out to anyone who had the stamina to flag down a sommelier one more time.
Here are my favorites from last night:
2005 Domaine Taupenot-Merme Blanc, Saint-Romain, Burgundy, France
Palest green-gold in the glass, this wine has a stunning, unique nose of petrol, pine sap, paraffin, and cold cream aromas. In the mouth it is beautifully, nay, perfectly balanced, with great acidity underlying expressive mineral qualities that barely contain a bright core of citrus zest and cold cream that linger to a fantastic finish. Stunning and very unique. 9.5.
2004 Le Domaine Marc Roy “Le Champs Perdrix” Blanc, Marsannay, Burgundy, France
Light gold in the glass, this wine has a nose of sun-dried hay with mineral undertones. In the mouth it is is bouncy with bright lemon zest and citrus juice flavors wrapped around a core of bright stony flavor that lasts in to an excellent finish that ends up tasting a bit like unripe peach or nectarine after a few moments. Excellent. 9/9.5.
2005 Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard Pinot Noir, Carneros, California
Medium garnet in color, this wine has a nose of deep cranberry and pomegranate aromas. These aromas translate direct to lush full flavors of the same fruit, dark and pure in the glass, with nice acid balance and a lush silky texture that hides barely perceptible tannins that ever-so-gently grip the palate through a nice finish. 9. $50 Where to Buy?.
1993 St. Innocent “O’Connor Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium blood red in the glass, with only slight hints of coffee color at the rim, this wine has a stunning nose of bacon fat, roast fig, caramel, and raspberry coulis. In the mouth it offers beautiful, bright raspberry fruit with hints of fig flavor that swirl, change and mix with floral aromas that seem to linger for minutes in the mouth. Fabulous and still going strong. 9.5.
2003 Domaine Drouhin-Larose Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy, France
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine has a complex nose of violets and other floral aromas tinged with ??. In the mouth it offers lovely cranberry fruit with fantastic purity surrounded by wisps of herbs and light tannins that anchor the flavors to a delicate, but firm structure and moderate finish. 9.
2001 Domaine Lignier-Michelot Morey-Saint-Denis Vieilles Vignes, Burgundy, France
Light blood red in the glass, fading towards clear on the edge, this wine has a nose that is a very pretty balance between smoked meats and floral aromas that is arresting and mouthwatering. In the mouth it slides with the perfect poise of a ballerina across the palate seeming materializing out of nowhere gorgeous flavors of redcurrant, violets studded into a satiny matrix that is positively sexy. This wine is so surprisingly ready to drink now, I’m a little concerned for it’s further ageability, but a great acid balance seems to indicate the possibility. 9.5. $40 Where to Buy?.
2002 Domaine Drouhin-Larose “Clos de Vougeot” Grand Cru, Burgundy, France
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine has a nose of floral and forest floor aromas. Still Tightly wound at this point in its evolution, the experience on the palate is centered around a core of red fruit that manifests variously as cranberry, pomegranate, and redcurrant as it swirls in the mouth. Elements of sandalwood, spice and lightly grippy tannins emerge as it heads towards a nice finish. I’d love to revisit this wine in 5 to 10 years. 9/9.5.
1999 Serafin Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes, Burgundy, France
A pure medium garnet in color, this wine has a nose that is a dead ringer for ripe rosehips and hibiscus. In the mouth it is fantastically silky, enough to make you think very dirty thoughts almost immediately. This great texture is draped around a core of lush redcurrant and raspberry fruit that is supported by a lovely mineral aspect that manages to be both utterly simple and dynamically complex at the same time while lasting forever in the mouth. Yowza. 9.5.
I got to try probably twice this many wines over the course of our three hour dinner under the stars. I should note that most of what was being poured, at least at our table, was Burgundy, which accounts for the lack of Oregon wines in my list. It was quite a night.