For our winter Mondiale gathering on January 22, 2014, Vice Echanson Mike Monnin brought wines from the Great Northwest. In Oregon it all begins with “P” as in Pinot. This night featured the wines from A to Z Wineworks including Rex Hill, William Hatcher, and Francis Tannahill. A to Z was started as a partnership with four wine veterans; Deb Hatcher from Eyrie, Bill Hatcher from Domaine Drouhin, Sam Tannahill from Archery Summit, and Cheryl Francis from Chehalem. Southeast Sales VP Ken Schuller led us through the various bottlings at Heidelberg Distributing-Kentucky while Michael Forgus brought Funky’s Catering back with a delicious array of food selections. Starting with a zesty 2012 A to Z Pinot Gris, we enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres with a choice of green lip mussels with tomato, pancetta and basil, delicious black truffle liver pate crostini with cherry chutney and caramelized pistachio, pomegranate glazed quail drumsticks with arugula and pine nut purée, and a fun presentation of Fontina and Briar Rose Creamery chèvre fondue with apple, asparagus, and grissini.
We sat down to study the wines, but had a warmup of A to Z Chardonnay that was vinified unoaked and sourced from 25 vineyards. Our first Pinot Noir was 2011 A to Z which included fruit from 60 vineyards and had perfume notes with red cherry flavors to reminiscent of Côte de Beaune wines. Next were a pair of Rex Hill Pinots, 2011 from 6 AVAs with aromas of cinnamon, cloves and mushroom that exhibited dark fruit, and 2010 that was spicy with a nice balance of flavors. This round concluded with a 2007 Jacob-Hart Vineyard showing well with earthy forest floor nose, silky texture, and darker cherry pit flavors.
The next pair was from the Deb and Bill Hatcher side of the partnership, with the William Hatcher label made from severe barrel selections to make one wine each year. These vintages produced only 475 cases in 2007 and 338 cases in 2009. They were both wonderful expressions of delicacy and restraint that showed elegance. These rarities were a high point of the evening.
Our final pair of wines came from the Sam Tannahill and Cheryl Francis side of the business, where “The Hermit” is a similar tiny selection of special grapes and attention to detail. The earlier 2006 vintage was made from four vineyards while the 2009 and later vintages were made exclusively from the Pearl Vineyard in Dundee Hills. These wines leaned a bit more stylistically to California Pinot Noirs than the Burgundy-like Oregon bottlings. These wines seemed like the winemaker’s skill increased from one vintage to the next.
But we weren’t quite done yet! Ken brought out a unique treat that is not sold to the public but rather is made for fun, called “Floozie” with a bodacious cartoon character on the label. This was anything but a serious wine and added frivolity to the evening as we dug into the delicious buffet of salmon, paella, baby parsnips and carrots, and Yukon gold with fennel and chestnut sautée. A finale of blackberry tart with locally made Madisono gelato brought our evening to grand satisfaction where we learned that, from A to Z, the most important letter is P!
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest