A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a wine pairing dinner featuring Mark Tarlov, the proprietor of Evening Land vineyards.
I've been looking forward to this dinner since Amanti Vino announced it in June. Evening Land is an Oregon vineyard that makes excellent chardonnays and pinot noirs. Evening Land's wines have been celebrated since their first vintage four short years ago in 2007. And though I don't believe in relying on ratings alone (I'm looking at you Achaval Ferrer), I've tasted the 2008 Evening Land "La Source" pinot noir sevand I absolutely love it. I should have written it up, but I think that was one of the nights I was shirking my responsibility as your dedicated Wineocrat!
Over the course of the dinner, we enjoyed 7 different wines (5 of Evening Land's and two from Tarlov's other vineyards). Despite the added "competition," the 2009 "La Source" pinot noir was my favorite. It was complex, yet accessible with layers of cherry, plum and a hint of violet (and II tend not to pick up the non fruit notes). Though "La Source" is not necessarily in the typical wineocrat price range (mid $50s - mid $60s), it is worth the splurge. Plus, it could have been worse, the "Summumm" might have been my favorite (approx. $120)!!! Then again, it was a very, very close second......
Enjoying a well made pinot noir is not surprising for me, so the biggest revelation of the evening was that, I FINALLY enjoyed a lamb dish. I have tried lamb in many ways over the years and I have never liked it. I've really wanted to like lamb because it pairs with so many different wines, but it has a gamey aftertaste to me. However, I CulinAriane's lamb so very tasty. When I complimented Chef Ariane after the meal and told her I'd never liked lamb before, she responded that I liked this lamb because," it doesn't taste like lamb." She was absolutely correct! It turns out she had served us a very special type of lamb that is only available 3 months out of the year. The lambs are from a farm called Lava Lake. They are 100% grass fed and raised on an organic diet with no antibiotics or added growth hormones. I look for these same attributes in the other meat and poultry I eat so I was happy to find that the only lamb I enjoy is raised in this way. It also helped that she braised the meat so perfectly and to me, a good braise is close to godliness.
As I (reluctantly) left the restaurant, I introduced myself to Mark Tarlov and told him I'd be visiting The Willamette and Evening Land in September. He enthusiastically gave me his card and told me to e-mail him. Hopefully I'll have a great write up from Evening Land in September.
Until the next sniff, sip, or quaff (which will be long before September),