Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MMMM, Mourvedre…

That was the thought rolling around my head when I woke up this morning.

That, and dang, it’s tough to land back on Planet Earth after a weekend in Wine Heaven.

I just returned from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, two-and-a-half days spent with 300 other wine-lovers and winemakers (plus a few winemaker lovers) in a near-constant state of sensory overload. Not that that’s a bad thing. The organizers, hosts and sponsors did a bang-up job of giving us an up-close look at the best offerings from this beautiful little valley in Eastern Washington. The weekend started off with a dazzling array of wines poured for tasting, along with a lunch provided by a selection of taco truck vendors from Yakima. Delicious. We continued on with lots of breakout sessions devoted to our craft of writing and blogging, nurtured all the way with extraordinary wines and food. Vintages from every corner of the globe dribbled into my glass (Australia’s Mollydooker Velvet Glove, Spain’s Rias Baixas Albarino, and Chile’s Ledya Pinot Noir, for example), but the food stayed gloriously closer to home. Chef Bear Ullman at Walla Walla’s Marcus Whitman Hotel, along with his staff, put on a great show, culminating with a wine-and-food pairing on the final day that left me feeling glad to be alive, and so very happy to be writing about wines and all good things about them. Take a look at some of his fabulous offerings, like Tillia Torrontes 2009 Mendoza, Argentina with phylo bouchee with monteillet chevre, pistachio and chestnut honey:

Or High Note Malbec 2009 Uco Valley, Argentina served with  cherry scented duck confit empanadas with mole and avocado:

But back to Mourvedre. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, wine is all about discovery. Some of the most memorable moments of my weekend were wrapped around sips of Mourvedre, an uncommon bottling but one well worth seeking out. The first was a 2006 Yakima Valley Mourvedre from Trio Vintners, an up-and-coming boutique winery that specializes in offbeat varietals. Winemakers and owners Denise Slattery and Steve Michener (above)  focus on food-friendly grapes like Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Sangiovese and (mmmm) Mourvedre. This wine spent 20 months in the barrel before Trio released it. With stats like that you’d expect to taste a big hit of oakiness, but the Trio crew blends their oaks with as much care as they do their wines. This vintage was exposed to a mix of new Hungarian, second- and third-year American, and neutral French oak, leaving plenty of room for the fruit to shine through. It’s deep, rich and foresty, perfect for a big, hearty, beefy meal.

My second Mourvedre moment came during an hour akin to speed dating. We got our hearts pumping during a live blogging session, where winemakers raced around the Marcus Whitman’s ballroom, pouring their wines at tables filled with bloggers, telling us all about themselves and their wines in a mere five minutes before scurrying off to the next group. And this Mourvedre was all about discovery. It was poured not by winemakers, but by a couple of tech guys who have developed an iPhone app called AOC Travel Guides, a clever little insider’s view of four different wine regions (Napa Valley/Carneros, Sonoma County/Russian River, Willamette Valley, and Yakima Valley/Red Mountain). They showed up at our live blogging table with a mystery bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. They pitched their app and poured the wine – and we all sat up and took notice. I swirled the wine and buried my nose inside the glass and was slammed with aromas of ….s’mores. Toasty, smoky, cocoa-laden s’mores. I fell in love. And when they asked us to guess which of their four wine regions gave birth to the mystery wine, we all failed the test. The big rich flavors made me guess Red Mountain. The correct answer was the Russian River. The wine was Sunce Winery’s 2008 Mourvedre. The winery’s web site says this wine is completely sold out, which makes me sad. Still, I’ll remember it always, an intriguing stranger I once flirted with in a frenzied, exciting, blurry moment in Walla Walla.

No comments:

Post a Comment