Tasting the West Coast: A Wine Tradition Continues

A few days ago, I attended a wine and cheese party thrown by my friends Steph and Henry. This was not just any wine and cheese — it was their Third Annual Wine and Cheese Holiday Party. If Wine with Dinner will not support its friends’ alcoholic tendencies, who will? So, Mrs. Wine with Dinner and I jumped in the car and headed downtown. This year’s theme: The West Coast.

Steph and Henry asked everyone to bring one or two bottles of wine. California would be the easy way to go, so I immediately dismissed the entire state. My first thought was a pinot noir from Oregon, which was easy enough. Then I realized that the West Coast extends beyond our national borders, and I took a shot at finding a Canadian wine from British Columbia. After calling about 10 local wine shops, I finally found one at Il Vino in Fairfax. As it turned out, the Oregon pinot and Canadian red were two of the most enjoyable wines at the party . . . not that I am biased or anything.

The Oregon pinot was from a vineyard featured in Wine with Dinner’s very first wine entry, Yamhill Valley Vineyards. In that entry, I reviewed Yamhill’s 2004 Estate Pinot Noir. For the party, I brought a bottle of Yamhill’s 2003 Reserve Pinot Noir. The wine was light to medium bodied with high acidity and well structured tannins. It displayed aromas of cherries, maraschino cherries, and chocolate, with raspberries and tart strawberries on the palate. A lovely wine, Yamhill’s Reserve Pinot would have benefited from a bit of decanting,4 Stars1/4, $35.00 per bottle.

The second wine constitutes WWD’s first venture into Canadian red wine, Osoyoos Larose 2001 Le Grand Vin. Osoyoos Larose is a joint venture between French and Canadian wine producers. Their goal is to create high quality Canadian wines that meet or exceed the quality of their counterparts from Bordeaux. They are certainly on their way, as Le Grand Vin was a big hit at the wine party. A blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc, this wine was dark in color with aromas of barnyard and smoke and subtle flavors of tart red fruits and raspberries. The wine had high acidity and was pretty well balanced, though the tannins are strong. Le Grand Vin would benefit from some aging in the bottle and decanting when opened. It would be at its best with a nice steak, and don’t open it if you are looking for an easy-drinking fruit bomb, 4 Stars1/4, $39.99 per bottle.

While these two were my favorites of the night, our hosts and fellow party-goers provided some other excellent wines (in addition to the predictable over-oaked California chardonnay). I have listed a few of the enjoyable whites below to compliment the reds already discussed. Sadly, some of the best wines went quickly, and I was unable to take notes on some of the others. I also am foregoing extended discussion of some lovely wines (like the Allison Parsons 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, 4 Stars and a good buy at $17.00 per bottle) since they do not fit the West Coast theme. I might include them in future posts.

Thanks to Steph and Henry for an outstanding party. I look forward to the tradition continuing next year, and may I suggest a local theme?


Opolo Vineyards 2005 Rousanne, Central Coast, California- lemon, pineapple, and grass notes; a nice dry wine with good acidity, 3 Stars3/4, $22.00 per bottle.

Chateau St. Michelle 2006 Indian Wells Riesling, Washington State- apple and petroleum on the nose with apple flavors and possibly hints of tropical fruits, well balanced, semi-sweet with moderate to high acidity, 3 Stars3/4, $17.99 per bottle.

Ironstone 2005 Obsession Symphony, Sierra Foothills, California- grapefruit and grape notes with hints of lemon and floral qualities, semi-sweet with good acidity, 4 Stars, $8.00 per bottle.


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Published in: on December 19, 2007 at 4:08 pm  Comments (3)