In the summer of 2010, the Cincinnati Mondiale took a memorable trip to Willamette Valley wineries and restaurants while staying at the luxurious Allison Inn. Many of us ordered wines to arrive the following October. After all the wines were sent back home, we decided to reminisce and share some pictures, memories, and of course wines! On January 18th, 2011, we gathered at the newly opened Banquet Room at Eat Well Celebrations and Feasts, a respected catering business by Chef Renée Schuler, daughter of our own Dame Susan Schuler.
The large second floor room in a historic Newport, KY building was well suited for projecting photos of scenes from our travels while we sipped R. Stuart Pinot Gris. Chevalier Bill James had organized our Oregon trip and he gave a talk about the geology and vineyard appellations in the area using a PowerPoint presentation provided by winemaker Ken Wright. As the evening progressed, we sampled Pinot Noirs in threesomes with courses from Chef Renée. Our first plate was a delicious mushroom ravioli with brown butter and sage accompanied by wines from different producers. The very tiny winery of Laura Volkman, slightly larger Anderson Family, and better known Bergström from the highly regarded Shea Vineyard gave us our first trio to the delighted approval of all.
No dinner of Oregon Pinot Noir would be complete without a salmon dish, and next we savored fillets with a toasted fennel seed coating and wild rice pilaf. The wines in this course were a step up, starting with a Stoller SV made from older vines. A special rare Stoller Cathy’s Reserve was another great treat, and Beaux Frères from Ribbon Ridge (associated with critic Robert Parker) completed this renowned flight. All paired beautifully with the salmon.
A hearty course of pork tenderloin with fruit chutney and red skin potatoes was matched with single vineyard designations from three more wineries. Ken Wright Carter Hills Vineyard, St. Innocent Freedom Hill Vineyard from Mark Vlossak, and Argyle Nuthouse Lone Star Vineyard now fought it out in the glasses. Naturally, all were winners with winemaker’s style and vineyard distinctions giving each unique qualities while upholding excellence in aromas and flavors.
As we resampled the wines to confirm their merits, Chef Renée brought us a colorful array of chocolate truffles that brought a wonderful evening of wining, dining, and conversation to a satisfying conclusion. Plans for another Mondiale trip are sure to be in the future!
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest