This past Saturday at Pleasant Hill Wineries, we had a chance to experience a great trifecta of life: An afternoon with great friends (Kelly and Lisa and new friends Blaine and Carrie), tasting some phenomenal wine, and listening to some killer jazz. Oh, and some really good food as well. I guess that makes it a quad-fecta, if there is such a beast.
Kelly and Lisa turned us on to Pleasant Hill wine turning a dinner party last year ( Dinner at the McMurtrey’s ). Run by Larry Lindvig, an ex-Boeing employee, his wife Birgit, and a host of volunteers, Pleasant Hill turns out some of the best wine I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. Kelly calls him the “Mad Scientist” and for good reason. The blends Larry comes up with are nothing short of remarkable. A true master of his craft, yet humble as a monk, Larry is a one-of-a-kind treasure in the wine world. Add in the winery itself, which is truly a handcrafted boutique winery with even the wine labels being applied by hand, and the end result is a product that blows away expectations. I’m going to attempt to describe a couple, but truly the proof is in the tasting.
2007 Tempranillo: A 2010 Seattle Wine Awards Bronze Medal winner, this wine is full of deep, dried cherry notes with just a hint of soft chocolate overtones. The wine is incredibly smooth on the tongue, with a whisper of tobacco on the finish. Personally I think this wine is totally drinkable now, but my feeling is that in 3-5 more years of careful cellaring, this one is going to be out of sight.
2007 Malbec: This one garnered a Double Gold at the 2010 Seattle Wine Awards, and it deserves every bit of the accolades. Bold fruit dominates with the tannins providing a complexity that you really do have to taste to appreciate. This is another wine that will cellar well. Personally, I plan to save one of the bottles we bought for at least 4-5 years. If you haven’t had a Malbec lately, this is the one. Period.
2007 Cabernet Franc: A Silver Medal winner at the 2010 Seattle Awards, this CabFranc is the best I’ve ever tasted. Floral and herb notes dominate the nose, but the taste is like pure currant and plum. I was hesitant to swallow, I was enjoying the flavor so much. Once I did, however, the finish is smooth, with a velvet texture on the tongue. Like buttah baby, like buttah.
After a bit, the 6 of us dug into a friend chicken picnic we picked up at Ezell’s. If you live in the Puget Sound area and have not yet eaten some Ezell’s Fried Chicken, shame on you. Shame! Moist, flavorful, and HUGE! I’m serious, a single wing alone could feed a family of 4. Best take out chicken I’ve had in a while. Oh, and a shout-out to Birgit here. We had forgotten plates, so Kelly went to ask for some paper ones. Birgit instead gave us some plates from their house. Did I mention that Larry and Birgit rock? Man…
Music for the afternoon was provided by BlueSalt. A mix of fusion jazz with a bit of blues thrown in, they really kept things happening. I love it when a band, for an event like this anyways, understands that while they are there to provide entertainment, the conversation, wine and food are the real stars. By keeping the volume at the correct level, they added to the day, rather than overshadowing it. Perfect.
The tasting, more an outdoor party really, was held on the grounds of the winery. Folks brought chairs, blankets, picnic baskets, kids were sledding down the hill on cardboard boxes. It really had a family get-together feel to it, which I attribute more to Larry and Birgit than anything. The very definition of consummate hosts, they both seem to genuinely love being around, and meeting, new people.
Finally, once again we owe a debt of gratitude to Kelly and Lisa. Like Plane Ol’ Wine Tasting earlier this year, they turned us on to an event I will not soon forget. And to top it off, they introduced us to two new friends, Blaine and Carrie (Carrie, if I’ve misspelled your name, please let me know). I’m a firm believer that like good food and wine, friends are meant to be shared. If we all shared just one friend think how cool things would be.
Okay, enough of the sentimental crap. Get your asses in gear and try some of Larry’s wine. You’ll love it.