Fall is winding down, heralded by the sloppy wet weather of the past couple of weeks. It can be easy to feel oppressed by the low dark clouds, to want to crawl back under the covers on cold and gray mornings, to believe that coffee is the only antidote for mid afternoons that feel like late evening. As we head into winter and the attendant fears and hopeful anticipation of snow or ice or other such dire weather, I find myself cherishing those singular days between storms.
The leaves have turned, and a goodly number (if my porch is any indication) have already fallen, but those that remain are gorgeous. This is when the evergreens are in their glory, when the grass is having a second birth from the rain we all curse, and when those trees still holding on to their golden glory seem to glow in the stolen sunshine.
Such was the Monday after Thanksgiving. It started as a cold and windy day, the last of the storm clouds gathering in conference over the distant Cascades to the east and thus a perfect day to head to Dundee. As much as I have loved the Wine Country Thanksgiving outings, this year I just couldn’t muster the energy to mingle with the enthusiastic crowds. Having a leisurely day in quiet tasting rooms seemed much more my speed, and I was not disappointed.
After our sojourn at the Republic of Jam, we headed back from Carlton, doing as we usually do – missing the turn off for the 99 and ending up taking highway 240 and then Worden Hill Road (a beautiful road, at least after you get past the gravel part, with the attendant potholes and such). But as we did, we passed a sign for Lemelson. And then we saw the place – a beautiful building in a gorgeous setting. We turned around and headed back.
It is a lovely tasting room, warm and welcoming, and we had the place to ourselves. Like so many in the area, this place is pretty much all Pinot Noir. On the menu this particular day was a very nice Chardonnay, one done in new and neutral oak that really took me by surprise. It was crisp and flavorful, with a nice mineral component and none of the cloying, buttery oak that has too often been the highlight of Chardonnay in this country. This was followed by three Pinot Noirs, all slightly different.
The Cuvee X was probably my favorite; we were told that this is the winemaker’s brainchild. I love these kind of wines, where the winemaker gets to play at being a mad-scientist of sorts, playing with the grapes to create a labor of love. This wine is a great example of just how well that can turn out. It is a fun wine, one with a peppery nose that is along the lines of a bigger red like a Syrah or a Merlot. It is a big wine; not the usual dainty and complex Pinot Noir I have come to know and love. This is Pinot Noir for the non-Pinot drinker. Yet as much as such wines usually bug me (if you are making Pinot Noir, make Pinot Noir…) I liked this one. The flavor and complexity weren’t lost in the mix, they were just taken to a very different place.
I am, I fear, a bit spoiled now. I have my favorite wineries and my favorite wines. So it is good to get outside that comfort zone and try something new. This was a wonderful melding of new wines to experience in a gorgeous setting on a gorgeous day. It reminded me of my first wine tasting trip in this area, almost exactly six years ago to the day. The thrill of something new and interesting, the beginning of a new passion, all set in this golden glow of a stunning Northwest fall day. Maybe spoiled is the wrong word, perhaps complacent is better.
It becomes easy to take these days for granted, to whine about the weather, to whine about the distance, to whine about the wine. So for one day I was back in the glory of the green and gold, of the new adventure, of a perfect day with a good friend. No whining allowed.