Thursday, March 24, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I know that the title of this post is a little predictable and cheesy, but I can’t help it – there was a slow softball pitched to me and I took full advantage of it. And I’m glad I did, because that means that I can relive my recent experience with Ponzi Vineyards, a pioneering family in the Oregon wine industry. Maria Ponzi, one of the daughters of the founders, current Director of Sales and Marketing, and sister of the winemaker, was recently in DC as part of the Capital Wine Festival. The wines were some of the most complex Pinot Noirs I have tasted in a long, long time. The food was delicious – especially the Pinot-braised pork osso bucco that Chef Mark Timms prepared that was paired with Ponzi’s 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir. The event was another success for the Capital Wine Festival and I am glad I got to spend some time sampling Ponzi’s wines and meeting the people behind them.
Ponzi’s history dates back to the start of the Oregon wine industry – the early 70s - when the Ponzis moved from Northern California with the sole purpose of making Burgundian wine in a cooler climate. Listing to Maria retell the story of her family leaving California to start their winery in Oregon, I was shocked by how piecemeal the whole move seemed. They knew that they wanted to move to Oregon, make wine made with Pinot grapes, and that’s basically it. They were basically making wine out of a garage for much of their history. Knowing how much time, energy, effort and money opening a winery nowadays costs, it’s amazing that the Ponzis gambled on starting a winery in what was then a remote hinterland far removed from the center of the American wine industry.
The gamble paid off, and Ponzi has been making fantastic wines ever since. My favorite wine was their 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir that’s complex and elegant with spiced cherries, licorice and a hint of earth throughout that ends in a long, velvety finish. It was one of several Pinot Noirs sampled, along with a crisp and refreshing Pinot Gris and a fuller-bodied Pinot Blanc that had pears, honeysuckle and floral hints on the nose and palate.
Throughout the dinner, I enjoyed speaking to Maria about her family’s history and the wine that they make. While their wine receives rave reviews from the usual suspects – both Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate have scored Ponzi wines highly - they are now one of the deans of Oregon’s wine industry. At their core, though, Ponzi is still very much a family business that is run with a start-up’s mentality.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The Washington Wine Academy’s 1K Wine Walk was not for any cure, cause or awareness raising of any kind. Unless you count awareness of the Wine Academy itself and different wines from around the world. If you do, then it was quite successful. The event was well-attended, and I hope the inaugural Wine Walk was the kickoff to a new annual event on the DC wine calendar.
One of the things I really liked about the Wine Walk was the diversity of wine that was available for participants. There were wines from all over the world – ranging from well-known to more obscure regions and varietals. Virginia wine was well represented with a Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Norton available to taste at the different stops along the walk. I was a fan of the Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile, which was a light-bodied, easy drinking and smooth Pinot that was brimming with cherries, raspberries and just the lightest smack of mulling spice to round it out. Another standout was the Jefferson Vineyards Cabernet Franc. Go figure, I liked a Virginia Cab Franc. This one was a nice full-bodied offering that was loaded with spiced cherries, vanilla, and an earthy, smokiness that yielded to a nice, dry finish. I was glad to see Virginia wines mixed in with wines from other regions and not segregated into a Virginia Stop on the walk.
Overall, the event was a great success that was put on by a great organization. The Washington Wine Academy does a lot to raise awareness of wine in the DC area. From their Movie Nights at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse to their weekend Virginia Wine Tours to their more rigorous classes on wine appreciation and scholarship, they stand at the forefront of wine education and wine events in the region.