Today was a relaxing day. We contacted Janeen’s high school friend, Holly and arranged to meet them on Bainbridge Island.
So we walked down to the ferry landing, bought our tickets and headed out around 11 this morning. It was not a clear day, due to the smoke from the fires north in Canada and east in Washington but still a nice time to be on the water.
We connected with Holly and Wade (her husband) after we got off the ferry and walked towards the town for lunch. It was a nice time to reconnect with old friends.
After taking the ferry back to Seattle, we changed and headed out for a champagne tasting at FatCork.
Bryan Maletis, owner of FatCork, has a tasting every so often and we surprised him by showing up! It was great to see his place, taste some really nice bubbles and meet some new folks who also enjoy bubbles. If you like Champagne you really need to reach out to FatCork.com and learn about grower producer champagnes from France. We have enjoyed virtually everything he has shared with us over the last 5 or 6 years.
Wednesday morning, celebrating 48 years together, and we are off to Chihuly Garden and Glass. This is an exhibit showcasing the studio glass of Dale Chihuly. This is a VERY prolific producer of decorative glass and the exhibit has stuff both inside and outside in the garden. Fantastic glass – and it really makes you wonder how he has had the time to do all of this over the years. Spent the better part of a couple of hours touring the exhibit
After getting our fill of glass, it was time to get some lunch. We picked up a Lyft and headed to a spot near the Pike Market called The Pink Door. It took us a while to find it but it was worth the effort. A refreshing Campari and soda for Janeen and chilled Arneis for me wet our appetites.
We got to our table and had some pappardelle al ragu Bolognese, slow simmered meat sauce with fresh pasta and Insalata Caprese Pink Door, the finest ripest organic heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, torn basil, ricotta salata, first pressed olive oil and Sicilian sea salt. Lo’s ice cream trio (cherry, lavender honey, and apricot praeline) completed the experience. The patio was reminiscent of Italian alfresco and our meal was delicious.
Now, the main event for the day in celebration of 48 years together ,dinner at RN74. After chilling for a while in our room (Seattle is in an unprecedented week of heat) , we Lyfted to a restaurant not far from our hotel. A local friend had recommended this to us; Bryan from FatCork (champagne importer) we know, and turns out, one of the managers is the daughter of our friend Beth’s best friend from college!
Chef Adam, Sommelier Paul, and Naomi presented the RN Experience in food and wine, highlights of bubbles and seafood.
During the course of our 6 or so course dinner, we had visits from the Executive Chef, Adam who presented a couple of “new” dishes to the menu both of which were spectacular.
The Black Garlic Cod in curry sauce was very tasty.
We had different wines with each course – a total of 8 different ones over the course of the meal – all were lovely parings for the dish presented.
Two different desserts were presented.
The presentations kept coming – likes waves on a beach – one after another and it was a wonderful evening.
On our way to Seattle, we stopped at this cozy, waterfront restaurant with Commencement Bay views serving up lobster & other seafood dishes to have lunch with
Janis Nelson, Janeen’s cousin. We had a wonderful lunch, as you can see, and a good visit!
Once we got settled into our hotel in Seattle, I found a barber that we felt might be able to trim my locks – the key here is Janeen likes the final result!
Our evening included a visit to the Jazz Alley. This Jazz Club has been around for a while. Many of the groups that we have seen at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood also cycle through here. I had previously checked and made a reservation to see Lee Ritenour & Dave Grusin – guitar and keyboards. We have see Lee 5 previous times and heard music the two have done together but never had the opportunity to see them live together. It was a delightful evening.
The closing activity for IPNC has traditionally been a Sparkling Brunch. This year’s finale was no different. As with other events there where several guest chefs preparing various items.
Always a big hit, oysters on the half shell
Ham, smoked salmon and of course fresh melons and berries. and of course Chinook salmon sashimi.
The theme was Paris and all the Somms dressed accordingly.
After finishing off all the bubbles we could grab, we went back to the Cottage loaded up the car and drove to my sister Marilynn’s home where we will do laundry prior to heading North to Seattle in a couple of days.
The Grand Seminar, Saturday morning, was a panel of five Burgundian wine makers discussing their experience in Oregon. The moderator was Eric Asimov who is the chief wine critic of The New York Times. The panel included Véornique Boss-Drouhin who started making wine in Oregon in 1988 at Domaine Drouhin Oregon and wine makers from Maison Louis Jadot – Jacques Lardére now with Résonance in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Domaine des Comtes Lafon now with Lingua Franca in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA – Dominiqu Lafon, Méo-Camuzet – Jean-Nicolas Meo now working at Nicolas-Jay in Yamhill-Carlton, and Domaine Marc Roy – Alexandrine Roy at Phelps Creek Vineyards. Each of the wine makers discussed their experiences in Oregon and why they came to the area as well. It was a lively discussion but not much of substance presented.
After the Seminar, we went outside to the shaded area on the lawn and had a lovely lunch. We had the pleasure of sitting with the wine maker from Durant Vineyards. Established in 1978 they have spent forty years producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris fruit for some of the best wineries in Oregon. Over the last dozen or so years, they have been making their own wine selling it under their label.
Lunch included some tasty treats and lovely wines from other producers as well.
For the afternoon session, we went to a seminar about Alsatian wines. Alsace is best known for its white varietals (most importantly Riesling and Gewürztraminer) and sparkling Cement d’Alsace, but Pinot Noir has flourished there since the middle ages. . A generation ago Pinot d’Alsace was a pale light-bodied red for easy drinking, but in recent years there has been a surge of media interest as it was transformed into a deep colored, powerful and complex wine through improved vineyard practices and winemaking.
Moderator Stuart Pigott, who has championed Alsatian, wines for thirty years, along with three esteemed winemakers from the region, provided an overview of Pinot noir in Alsace, and guide you through a tasting of some of the most exciting new wines. We had experienced Pinot Noir from this area some years ago but it was interesting to see how thee current generation of wine makers is moving Pinot Noir to a whole new level in this area.
Saturday Night Salmon bake
A long-standing tradition at IPNC is the Saturday evening Salmon Bake. This starts off with wild salmon roasted on alder stakes over a huge custom-built fire pit. This includes other wonderful ham, roast beef, salads for days and desserts. Of course there are wines. Not only do the Somm’s from IPNC bring wines from the IPNC Wine vault, but wine makers, participants and everyone brings something interesting to share.
After returning to the Campus, there was a walk around tasting featuring about 30 different wineries. One in particularly I wanted to meet was J. Hofstatter Winery.
I had met the winemaker two years previously, Martin Foradori Hofstattier, and as we are going to be close to his place early October I wanted to connect with him and arrange a visit. Of course there were others to taste and visit and Janeen was able to have her picture taken with
Véronique from DDO.
Previously, Page Knudsen Cowles had gifted us with a brand new photo book chronicling the history of Willamette Valley Wineries, and Janeen decided to get photos signed with as many attendees as possible. The mission started with the introduction of this year’s participating vintners, and continued throughout the weekend.
During the walk around tasting she was able to get Adam Campbell who is the winemaker and owner of Elk Cove Winery. Adam’s parents started the winery in 1995 making them an early pioneer in the Valley and he was raised on the property.
Friday evening grand dinner provided hors d’oeuvres and refreshing drinks for the waiting in line time, and assured attendees with disabilities extra time ahead of the crowd. We were fortunate to be seated with the only champagne producers presenting their wines this year, and were also able to try both new and older Pinot Noirs brought to us by Brandon.
Nate, from Argyle, stopped by with some bubbles.
Needless to say, there were a number of wines opened and tasted at our table.
Fresh seafood was the theme of the meal, except for the Solar Eclipse dessert, which glowed with edible glitter around a globe of chocolate enclosing a sunshine bright sweet center.
IPNC – The International Pinot Noir Celebration – is held each year over the last weekend in July. This is a time when wine makers, consumers and industry and media for the wine world of Pinot Noir gather together in McMinnville Oregon to drink, eat and hopefully learn something useful. The host site is Linfield collage in the middle of McMinnville. We have been coming for over 10 years (don’t really remember the first year we came) and have enjoyed it every time. The weekend starts with what is called pre-IPNC dinners. This year, as we have done for the last 4 years, we have gone to the Salud dinner.
Salud is an organization that was formed some 30 years ago to provide free healthcare for farmworkers. The dinner is both a chance to acknowledge the vital work they perform but also to offer some support financially to the organization. It is a great cause so we have gone for the last 5 years to this event.
Other pre-IPNC dinners are sponsored by various wineries in the Valley with celebrity chefs from various restaurants preparing great meals
The following day starts the actual IPNC experience. The entire group – usually about 800 people – are divided into two groups. One group stays on campus while the other goes out to a winery via a chartered bus. Included in the registration are all meals – again most prepared in temporary kitchens set up on the Campus grounds or at the Wineries.
Our first day was off campus. So, after the introduction of all the wine makers, we headed over to bus 4A. One of the things that happens is you don’t know where you are going until you are on the bus and in most cases not until you actually arrive at the winery.
Each bus has a host winemaker and ours was Lynn Penner-Ash. Our bus headed into the Dundee Hills and stopped at Archery Summit, site of a pre-dinner the night before. After a brief presentation & Q & A with the vineyard manager, we divided up into five groups of 10 and sat down in the winery to try our skill at blending a
cuvee using wines from three different Archery Summit vineyard site wines. We were assisted by one or two wine makers from different wine regions (ours were from Russian River CA) and made at least three or four differently proportioned blends before deciding as a group on “Migration Oregon”. This kind of hands- on experience is what makes learning at IPNC such fun.
After making our blend we moved to the patio for lunch.
There were three different courses – really all main dishes – starting with Halibut followed by Salmon and finally Lamb Ribs. There was WAY to much food and not enough wine!
There was a nice dessert but I failed to take a photo. Must not have been very lovely. After lunch, back on the bus and back to Campus for the afternoon walk around tasting before the Grand Dinner.
Recently I had a fellow wine taster mention a small winery located in Dundee called Ayoub Wines. As I had never heard of it before I did a little checking and it seems that Mo Ayoub spent time at Stags Leap in Napa working with Robert Brittan and after a few years decided to relocate to Oregon and craft Pinot Noir under his own label. When he arrived, and purchased several acres of vineyard land on a east facing slop above the small town of Dundee. Planting about 4 acres in 2001, on Jory soils, he planted various Pinot Noir Clones (for those who care, he put in 667, 777, 114, 115 and Pommard 4).
A small producer he is only making 2,000 cases a year. Working out of his home/winery above Dundee he feels that winemaking should reflect a combination of tradition and innovation. Ever evolving, like the wines, Mo’s winemaking approach includes experimentation with a commitment to bottling only the most successful, elegant lots from the barrels. As an appointment only property, I reached out hoping we might get a few minutes for a tasting.
So, on Thursday afternoon we drove up the hill and landed at his home/winery. Mo met us at the door and proceeded to take us out the back patio that overlooks his vines. It’s unusual to have an east facing vineyard in the area – most have a south or west facing planting style. Mo feels the warmth of the morning sun and the cool, shade, of the afternoon is best for his approach to winemaking.
On his kitchen counter were 9 bottles of wine. It seems that last evening he had a major reviewer at the house and wanted to make sure he (the reviewer) got the full treatment of his wines. While the wines had been opened for 24 hours the all showed extremely well. Starting with his Mosé (his approach to a Pinot Noir Rosé) we found our way through a lovely Chardonnay and several different years of his Pinot Noir. We particularly liked his 2015 Estate Pinot Noir, 2015 ??? Vineyard Pinot Noir (he is not allow to say what vineyards he has sourced the fruit from but they are all well known), his 2015 Memoirs Pinot Noir and the 2016 Chardonnay. We were so taken that we ordered wines for shipment later this year! And took 2 of his Mosé (Rosé) with us for later.
Nice wines presented well with great age potential. I was pleased to find this new producer even though I have repeatedly said I don’t want to “find” a new Pinot Noir I need to have in my cellar.
while it may be small in table numbers and Spartan in design, it is memorable , this is a great restaurant. We got a table for two near the menu, which is a the black board on the wall, and proceeded to order from the cocktail list while we decided on starter and entrees.
Emily, our server was friendly and prompt.
Janeen started off with the field greens salad with preserved lemon, filberts and goat cheese and I had the Summer Squash with carrots& creamy herb dressing.
This we paired with some rosé bubbles from Portugal.
For our main Janeen had the Albacore with artichoke, olive and remoluade while I had
Rabbit shank with potato, salsa verde and fava greens. This was paired with a lovely Vouvray Everything was delicious – and while I haven’t had rabbit more then a couple dozen times, this ranked right up there as the best. Janeen’s comment about the Albacore was she wished she know how to make it as great as she was tasting.
We passed on dessert and talk a walk around the block before heading back to our cottage.
It’s been WAY to long for Janeen to have been away from a garden. So, today we headed east to Oregon Gardens. This is an 80-acre botanical garden in Silverton Oregon. It opened in 199 and is home to over 20 different gardens included the Rose Garden, Children’s Garden and many others. The City of Silverton created a series of ponds to cycle the reclaimed wastewater prior to it being allow into the river. This series of terraced wetlands located in the garden allows it to have access to a free water supply to support the operation.
Of course, Janeen’s must see garden was the Medicinal Garden displays. This has the closet varieties of medicinal plant species that are most like the herb garden where she has spent so much time.
After spending a couple hours touring around we went to the town of Silverton and had a really nice lunch at the 3 Ten Water restaurant.
The dining room has a large fireplace along one wall and a great looking bar at the end. We had a simple lunch of Halibut Fish & Chip and a Caprese salad. of course we had a glass of wine and a beer to go with our meal.
Tonight we go into McMinnville for dinner at a new place (for us) called Thistle Restaurant. More about that later.