Sunday, October 18, 2009

Washington Wine Road Trip, Day 1 Afternoon part 2

After the riesling comparative tasting we chowed down on tacos & burritos from the La Monarcha taco truck. The burrito was as big as my head, seriously! Sweet Walla Walla onions, beef, peppers & avocado. So good I'm getting hungry right now.

Once we were thoroughly stuffed 4 of us hopped into Jean Francois Pellet's truck & he sped us off to Pepperbridge Vineyards & Winery.

After an espresso pit stop (thanks again, Jean Francois!) we arrived at the winery to begin our winery exercise for the afternoon. J-F led us through each area of his state of the art facility. From the fermenters to the barrel room to the bladder press & so on.

We tasted some press juice & compared it to free run, which was amaaazing. I obviously know the difference & know that free run is better quality...but I never experienced first hand why that is. The free run was so rich & concentrated with complex layers of flavor. Actually the press juice wasn't half bad at all. It had nice grip but was a bit hollow in comparison. Jean-Francois explained that he blends in some press juice into the free run. I need to learn to trust my instincts because before he said what varietal we were tasting I just knew it had to be syrah. Lo & behold it was!

Here's J-F showing us what kind of yeast he likes to use to ferment.

J-F also let us try our hand at punching down some estate merlot, it does need to be done 3 times a day & they could use some free labor!! Here's my new friend Toni Ketrenos from New Seasons Market in Portland working over an open top fermenter.

She's doing a pretty good job, no?

After a serious workout in the winery we retired to the patio to gaze over the gorgeous estate vineyards & indulge in their wares. The afternoon had turned serene, cloudless & calm. The wines were simply stunning. A bright, luscious 2008 Semillon; a vibrant, dark 06 merlot; & a round, supple 05 red blend.

Thanks Jean-Francois Pellet & Norm McKibben!!

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