Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No Words Minced at Quince

Okay, so I just wanted to have a snappy title for a post about dining at Quince. But words *weren't* minced at the Oregon Certified Sustainable Winemakers' dinner last Tuesday, where a select few Oregonian winemakers showcased their current releases.

When I hear "biodynamic" or "organic" wine, the word "sludge" flashes through my brain before it can help itself. It's unfortunate that the biodynamic/organic label can carry negative connotations in the haute wine world. Just as some of the city's best restaurants will use organic, local food and utilize green business practices--and not tout it--many of my favorite Californian wineries farm organically and produce their wine biodynamically, without making a big deal on the label. (Quintessa and Unti come to mind).

Adelsheim Vineyard's and WillaKenzie's Pinot Blancs were a refreshing way to start the meal, and the Montinore Estate's Borealis went wonderfully with the first course, a salad of raw, shaved asparagus with lardo and grana padano cheese. The wine was an interesting blend of 45% M├╝ller-Thurgau, 24% Gew├╝rztraminer, 18% Pinot Gris and 13% Riesling that worked well with asparagus--a hard vegetable to pair wine with.

I paid more attention to Pat Dudley's lively explanation of how the LIVE certification process works than to my second course of lasagnette, she was so animated when describing the different elements of the biodynamic treatments that were serving as the family-style table's centerpieces.

I helped myself to second's of Montinore Estate's Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ("It's WillAMit, dammit!," joshed the proprietor of Panther Creek as I mangled the appellation's pronounciation). The spiciness of the pinot surprised me, but I suppose the cool climate there on the coast forces the grapes to grow a thicker skin, providing the resulting wine with a little spicier tannin.

After the roast duck with quince mostarda course (which was great with the Bethel Heights estate-grown pinot noir), plenty of wines had been passed around the table and the vibe was a bit looser. So loose, in fact, that Terroir co-owner Dagan Ministero suddenly leapt up and seized a new bottle from the side table.

Conversation froze as Ministero removed his shoe and placed the base of the bottle inside, repeatedly slammed the shoe against the brick wall of Quince's private dining room and began to sweat a bit as the cork inched out millimeter by millimeter. Weak applause followed the pouring of the (possibly bottle-shocked?) pinot. While I'll certainly remember that parlor trick for my next camping trip, can somebody please send Mssr. Ministero a new Laguiole??