What could Oregon Pinot noir, redneck ski resorts and Washington State possibly have in common? They all came together in perfect harmony to become part of my epic day.
When Zenith Vineyard’s owner Tim Ramey gave me a bottle of his Zenith 2007 Barrel Select Pinot Noir as a gift, hoping to hear my thoughts back on his wine, I put the wine away… waiting for just the right occasion to open it. With plans for a weekend get-away to Washington, I sensed a moment in the making, and like the Travelocity gnome, I brought that bottle of Zenith with me from my home, to my in-laws, to the ski mountain, to the hotel and then to the restaurant, where it finally arrived at its final resting place on my dinner table. I’ll tell you what I thought of the wine, but first let me back up just enough to explain how I ended up beyond my jurisdiction in Eastern Washington… the land of Merlot, Syrah and Bordeaux-style blends celebrating with Oregon Pinot noir.
Headed off for a day’s skiing at Ski Bluewood, my husband Hunter was pulled over for speeding but then thankfully let off with a warning. Reason to celebrate Number One.
We arrive at Ski Bluewood (located 30ish miles from Walla Walla) and I was a little surprised to find it even smaller than my husband implied or remembered. There was basically one noisy, low-speed triple chair lift (quite possibly hand-cranked)… 15 minutes up the mountain, 3 minutes down. If I had to put a label on the place (and I guess I do), I’d call it a beginner’s hick mountain. The crowd consisted mostly of very loud and sometimes obnoxious, novice skiers. But, not a lift line was to be had at the single lift. Ski Bluewood was not the glitz and glamour capital of the ski world, and it didn’t have much vertical drop, but it did have some nice variation (groomed cruisers, ungroomed trees and gullies with lots of jumps that I didn’t take because I’m not 20 anymore) and who could complain about a day in the sun carving pretty turns in soft powdery fluff. Reason to celebrate Number Two.
Following our day on the slopes, Hunter and I checked into our suite at the historic Weinhard’s Bed & Breakfast in Dayton, Washington and popped open a bottle of very lush 2004 Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve. Though I left the land of Pinot noir miles behind, somehow several bottles of Oregon Pinot still found their way onto my bags. What can I say? I don’t travel light. We soaked away the day’s aches and pains in the whirlpool tub before heading over to the local legend, Patit Creek to fill the empty void in our starving bellies. Reason to celebrate Number Three.
The Patit Creek was founded 32 years ago by husband-and-wife-team Bruce and Heather Hiebert and has gained a reputation for consistent, high quality, classic French cuisine… it didn’t disappoint. Phillip, our charismatic city-boy-come-rural waiter, asked me if I stole my shoes from their bathroom. Very confused and highly intrigued, I had to check out the ladies room and see what he was talking about. Mutual good taste and a penchant for hot shoes is what I discovered… reason to celebrate Number Four.
We started off our very decadent dinner with chevre-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. The fat and savory qualities played beautifully against the substantial and mouth filling acids in the wine… a match made in heaven. The wine had a broad bouquet of cherry, strawberry and truffle, while the red fruit persisted in the glass with flavors of tart cranberry, raspberry and a subtle spicy and smoky charm. It was well structured, with light-to-medium viscosity and was an excellent pairing with Hunter’s filet, (though my lobster in citrus sauce would have been better suited with a good Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay). We toasted to a day of fulfillment and restoration and reveled in how wonderful a little time away from the kid can be. Reason to celebrate Number Five.
I believe wine should both heighten the meal and elevate the experience, and in this case, the Zenith Pinot Noir did both of those things. Even better though, is how this bottle of wine became a magical part of an idyllic outing. I’m not into numerology, but maybe, it’s all about the numbers or how it all ads up. After all, I had five very good reasons for celebrating, two glasses of fine Oregon wine with one first-rate meal, four sexy shoes, 24 hours away from our child, 99 photos and endless memories of a perfect day in Eastern Washington.You do the math.
If you have a bottle of wine you’d like me to experience, contact me for mailing address and please send it along; I’m always happy to share my honest impressions. Until we sip again…