Sunday, August 2, 2009

IPNC: The Warmup, Dinner at Scott Paul Winery

For twenty-three years Pinot Noir lovers have made the pilgrimage to McMinnville, Oregon in the Willamette Valley to celebrate this finicky and challenging grape varietal at the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC).  This year brought an uncharacteristic heat wave for the weekend, but fortunately there was plenty of juice to satisfy the thirsty.  It was rumored that 600 cases of wine was consume over the three days. This does not include the private reserves most people bring to the dinners on Friday and Saturday night.  To offer you a sampling of the quality of the event, tubs of Pellegrino and Aqua Panna were in abundant supply. 

This was my third consecutive year at IPNC and upon checking in at my hotel I reserved a room for next year. 

Before we dive into the IPNC  festivities,  my group began on Wednesday evening with a fabulous dinner at Paley’s Place with Chef Vitaly Paley in downtown Portland.   The next day we moved right into lunch at Blue Hour.  Both of these restaurants are worthy stops if your future travel plans take you to Portland.

For me IPNC weekend begins Thursday evening with dinner at Scott Paul Winery (  The hospitable and gracious owners and hosts, Scott (left in photo) and Martha Wright, not only produce outstanding Oregon Pinot Noir, Les Paulee and Audrey (appropriately named after Audrey Hepburn), but are also importers of an outstanding portfolio of Burgundy producers.  Dinner  highlights their wines and presents a few of their Burgundy producers who are often in attendance.  Upon arrival this year, we began with my friend Thiebault Huber’s (Domaine Huber-Verdereau of Volnay) lively and yummy 2006 Puligny Montrachet.  For the Fois Gras Torchon, we compared Scott Paul’s 2007 and 2005 Audrey.  The 2007 showed bright, youthful acidity and the 05 illustrated how the youthfulness melds into silky Chambolle Musigny-like elegance.  I’m happy to have both wines in my cellar.

Upon entering the tiny village of Chambolle-Musigny in Burgundy, a large sign greets visitors stating the essence of this lovely hamlet, “Chambolle-Musigny, Elegance and Finesse.”  Thankfully, Herve and Anne Sigaut (center in photo), our co-hosts, poured a little elegance from their Chambolle-Musigny stable, the 2006 village and the 2004 Noirots Premier Cru.   Among most wine critics, the 2004 vintage in Burgundy has been maligned.  Yet, Joe Kluchinksy, the Burgundy point guy at MacArthur’s Beverages in Washington, DC told me recently that 2004 might surprise people.  If Sigaut’s Chambolle-Musigny Noirots is any indication, Joe could be correct.   

Siguat’s 2006 Chambolle-Musigny village was vibrant and lovely.  Unfortunately, the 2006 vintage in Burgundy was caught in the crosshairs of the dollar collapse against the Euro a couple years ago (I was there—expensive!).  The wines are not a bargain but are worth owning.  The 2006 Burgundies will provide delightful drinking long before the raved 2005 vintage is ready.  Both of Sigaut's  paired beautifully with Lamb Rack and Belly (my first for lamb belly) prepared by chef Gabriel Rucker with Andrew Fortgang of Le Pigeon in Portland, Oregon.

After Scott and Martha led us in singing  “Joyeux Enfants de la Bourgogne,” we were warmed up and ready for IPNC.   Stayed tuned for day one, two and three from IPNC.

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