Friday, December 07, 2007

The 2007 Barrel Tasting Diaries - The PM

We did the downtown scene in the morning and off we went up to the airport. The streets and paths up there were getting a bit slippery due to numerous rubber treads and feet. Our first visit for the afternoon was Dunham Cellars. There is no doubt that Dunham Cellars is a pro at these parties. There were definitely little signs they’ve done this gig before. We were tickled to see a young woman, bundled up and prepared for the elements, in a golf cart driving visitors from the slippery parking lot to the cellar’s door. Appreciative, but we declined the drive and skated our way to the door. Once inside the winery it was warm, cozy and decorated for the holidays. If Dunham’s holiday decor can’t get you in the holiday spirit, then you’re a lost cause.

Steve was taken with Dunham's Morrocan lamb stew. No thanks, none for me. Lamb does not touch these lips. Baaa! We didn’t taste through all the wines, practicing moderation, but one wine that really stood out for me was the Trutina 2005. A Bordeaux-style red blend that I thought was really bright, ripe and juicy. Like a mouthful of cherries with a light lavender finish. This is a good solid wine that could be enjoyed anytime with anything or nothing at all.

Dunham was just packed with people, but we were able to find a table to lean against and sip. One thing we observed, as our eyes scanned the crowd, it was filled with over-aged "youngsters," which made us feel like old dinosaurs. It was apparent to us that winemaker, Eric Dunham is a legend amongst the Gen-X crowd. Move over old stodgy wine drinkers or get with it because these are the new faces of wine.

We slid on down the road to SYZYGY. It was good to see the friendly faces of Kelsey, Zach and Armand greeting us at the door. If you want solid wines that really show off the true varietals, I have always found them at SYZYGY. Killer Syrah! Not sure else how to describe it - killer! SYZYGY Syrah is one of those Syrahs that reminds me of a good Rhone - the "real" stuff. But then again, it has to be good considering Zach chose some of the best grapes around the valley for his Syrah - - Walla Walla's Seven Hills, Les Colllines and Morrison Lane Vineyards.

Just about every event, Kelsey arranges for the student chefs from Walla Walla Community College Culinary Arts program to be at the winery serving some of their tastiest BBQ pork ribs made with SYZYGY’s own wine. Served with a side of roasted potato wedges, the ribs were tasty, spicy, and so tender you could cut them with a paper spoon. They really hit the spot. Our compliments to the chefs.

Now that the slight void was filled with tasty morsels, our last stop was JLC Winery. We visited with Lynn’s family and one of my former winery tasting room co-workers, Vicki Kibler. It was good to see Vicki and also good to hear that she has started her own winery compliance and bookkeeping business. We went into the barrel room to see the star of the JLC show - Lynn Chamberlain herself. Ya gotta love, JLC - "Just Lynn Chamberlain." She kept our interest as she poured for us her amazing assortment of Syrahs and shared her high points, low points and now back to the high points of her wine career. Last, but certainly not least from JLC, Lynn poured for us a barrel taste of her rich Carmenere. It had such a wonderful black pepper nose and a light, but on-going pepper finish. Something tells me that once this wine is bottled, Lynn won't have it around for long.

Baby, it was cold outside and slippery. By then our excitement for the Macy’s Christmas light parade had dwindled and all we could think about was getting out of the cold and cruel elements. A roasted rosemary and garlic chicken and a Caesar salad was waiting for us at home. I could tell that Steve had his fill of Barrel Tasting when he was content to go home, curl up on the couch to dinner, a bottle of wine and the Young and Restless Saturday night marathon on channel Soapnet.

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