It's been a while since I posted anything. Once upon a time I wrote every day--whether I had anything to say or not. That was good for discipline...but resulted in too many posts that contained only bland reviews of wines of moderate interest. I vowed to stop babbling about "aromas of meyer lemon, green apple and wet stone on a frame of medium plus acidity..." and only write when something excited me...but I slowly slid out of the habit and missed opportunities. IPNC 2017 provides a chance to get back in the habit...so much to say!
The International Pinot Nor Celebration (IPNC) has been held for about 30 years in Oregon's Willamette Valley. It takes place over Friday, Saturday, Sunday of the last full weekend in July. I've been to the last seven or so (it's easy to lose track after the first three or four). I went initially, expecting it to be a one-time thing...then went back, thinking "OK, one more time." And back for one more. And back. I no longer hesitate--I've already paid for my 2018 registration.
I enjoy IPNC itself. But at least as much, I enjoy the week leading up to it. It's a great opportunity to explore new wineries that are generating buzz...visit old favorites...and enjoy some of the great restaurants in Portland and the Willamette Valley. Those who don't read the Washington Post regularly may be surprised to know that after a year-long exploration, the Post named Portland America's #1 food city (San Francisco came in second!). So there's no shortage of great places to try.
And that leads us to the picture above. In my last blog post, I talked about unicorn wines--and suggested Cedric Bouchard's Creux d'Enfer might be one. Oregon has a unicorn wine, too--it's Thomas Pinot Noir. John Thomas makes about 375 cases of pinot per year...and people clamor for it. But most can never find it. The demand is so great that John only sells it to those he wants to sell it to. There are no visits...no mailing list that you can put your name on. I know winemakers in Oregon who've been trying for years to figure out how to become one of the lucky ones...with no luck (so far). Now and then a bottle pops up on the secondary market--but not often. So you can imagine my excitement on our first night out--at Tina's in Dundee--when a local friend asked if they had any Thomas. There wasn't any on the list...but if you knew enough to ask, there was some. We enjoyed a magnum of 2008 Thomas.
And it was delicious! Elegant, deep, complex...showing the ripe fruit of the vintage but in balance--like a symphony...full, but harmonious...substantive, but light on its feet. Is it possible my opinion of the wine was influenced by how rare it is? Of course it's possible. To have a wine in my glass that I had suspected I'd never see was a treat before I ever took a sip. But each sip reinforced the sense that there really was something special in that glass. What a great way to start IPNC week! Thank you Janie Brooks Heuck!
And it reinforces an important point. If a restaurant has a few bottles of something special, they probably won't put it on the wine list. If they did, it would be gone in a day or two and they wouldn't have it for their best customers. If, in looking at a wine list, you don't see anything that excites you, ask if they have something special. You might be very pleasantly surprised.