Archery Summit 2006 Red Hills Estate pinot noir

Another WAwineman classic, 1st posted on August 29, 2010:

No, that was not me with Paris and Cy and the accompanying marijuana fumes wafting from the Escalade. They apparently stole my old nickname, Vapor Trail, which I got from digesting tacos at my favorite Mexican hangout, 7-Eleven. And no, that was not me, the rumored dance partner for Bristol Palin for the next DWTS installment. I don’t “Bristol Stomp” that way. And no no no, that was not me that made a sex tape with Heidi Montag (who the hell is that, anyway?), Montana Fishburne, Kim Kardashian, and Playboy Playmate…uh, on second thought, yeah ok, that was me! Now I know how that Louisiana pastor felt when he was pulled over for speeding and jailed for being mistaken for a wanted man with the same name AND birthdate. Here’s a food tip: when you are told to eat something because it helps with your libido…you know it came from somewhere nether. Serbia hosted the 7th annual World Testicle Cooking Championship recently with chefs cooking up the “nards” from boar, bull, camel, kangaroo, and ostrich. Dishes incorporating Serbian “white kidneys” included: goulash, moussaka, testicle pizza (?), and tesicles in béchamel sauce flavored with herbs. Diners were offered all sorts of drinks except tea as there was a sudden shortage of filled “teabags.”

Washington makes an overabundance of delicious wines across the board as evidenced by its motto, “the perfect climate for wine.” The unfortunate part is that we haven’t found that for one particular grape, pinot noir. Not yet. Favored sites are thought to be on the eastern side of the Cascades, from Lake Chelan down to the Columbia Gorge.

Pinot noir is one of those ‘home run’ grapes, having a tendency to produce one bases-clearing vintage per decade. The Burgundy region in France arguably claims years that end in ‘9’ as that one-year-in-ten for memorable pinot, although the 2005 vintage could disrupt that trend. The Willamette Valley in Oregon is blessed with ideal territorial conditions and occasionally produces better-received wines than in the off-years of Burgundy (eg. 2006), and is currently riding a great 2008 vintage.

The problem with vintage charts is they are too generalized to be accurate. So-called “bad” years can still produce many great wines from highly-skilled winemakers (see 2004 vintage reds from Washington). For buyers, these are the vintages to find true gems at fair prices. And, I’m not talking about snaking through the bottom shelves trying to save some coin. Look up at the top shelves and the store’s cellars and grab a “free” 20-spot off the regular price of a winery’s best juice. That’s how I read “vintage charts.”

One more tip about Oregon pinot noirs: don’t slink and buy any bottle of pinot noir under $35, expecting to get that unbearable lightness of being feeling. Not. Gonna. Happen. To taste what makes Oregon pinot noir world-renown, plan on spending at least 50 bucks (and up to $200) for a single-vineyard, pull-out-all-the-stops pinot noir. Low yields, specific clones, gravity flow, and new French oak tremendously add to the cost of making outstanding wine from this thin-skinned grape. Is it worth it? For a newly-released wine to impress your clients, Oregon pinot noir is by-and-far more statement-making than a tannic Bourdeaux-style blend, period. QED, that.

A short update on Archery Summit—A-List club members are now emailed library wines offered at discount prices but good only for the day of the email. This program, Archery Insider Marketplace or AIM!, also adds a flat-rate shipping of $15. A very good deal for those who missed out on the regular offering window.

Tasted at 61-68 degrees on the IR gun while grilling dinner on a sunny day. Hypnotizing aromas of forest ‘shrooms with beads of morning dew, raspberry, Bing cherry, blackberry concentrate, and red rose petals hide within the ruby black abyss in my Riedel. Feathery but dense at first taste, flavors of black raspberry, dusty black cherry, and powdery earth rise to the fore, followed by a down-pillow of tannins supported by vibrant and youthful acids. Grilled accompaniments were: king salmon (skin-on), hot dogs, corn, red potatoes, and Beecher’s Smoked Flagship cheese. Divinity achieved here.

Alcohol: 14.2%. Native yeasts. 18 year-old vines of self-rooted Pommard clones and Dijon clones 115, 777, 667, and 113 on rootstock. 4800 vines/acre on a 26-acre estate at elevations of 400-600 feet. Dundee Hills AVA. Aged 15.5 months in new French oak, used oak, and stainless steel. Vineyard manager: Leigh Bartholomew. Winemaker: Anna Matzinger. “Estate grown, produced, and bottled by…” Rated: 94. Value: $70. Paid: $68. Music pairing: “Ruby Baby” by Dion. This is WAwineman…uncorked, uneducated but not uncouth.

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