One of the many reasons I love wine (other than the inebriating effect, of course) is the people I meet: in restaurants, at parties, in wine shops, and above all at wineries. My favorite wines, without a doubt, are those that evoke a personal memory, a conversation, or even a brief interaction. It has become clear to me over the last 10-15 years that wine has the rare ability to bring people together who might not otherwise have had any interaction. At the core of it, perhaps, is the realization that wine is more enjoyable when shared.
I flew out to Portland, Oregon the day before the start of Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) so that I could spend a bit of quality time with my beautiful sister (many people say we look a lot alike) who lives in the Rose City. I suggested that we go down to the Willamette Valley to do a little wine tasting. Alright, that is a huge lie. I was going down to the Valley to get my Pinot on and asked if she wanted to go with me. I am not sure what I would have done if she had declined and given me a guilt trip that I needed to pass on the wine and spend ‘quality time’ with her instead. Good thing it did not come to that….
Usually, when I head off to do some wine tasting, I spend a bit of time up front to organize several appointments with some smaller wineries. This trip, I was a little short on time, so I had to wing it. As it turned out, our first stop was at Bergström Wines, creators of some really well respected Pinot.
I have been wanting to visit since I first met Josh Bergström and his wife, Caroline at the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) in 2010. They were both as nice as could be–I played some bocce ball with Josh and Caroline was nice enough to let me try and speak French to her. At the conference, I tried several of their wines, which were phenomenal.
Unfortunately, neither Josh nor Caroline were at the winery that day (see what happens when you don’t call ahead?), but it was left in the very capable hands of their tasting room manager. After initially seeming a bit brusque, she provided one of the best tasting room experiences I have had in a while. We tasted through the entire Bergström gamme, including several bottlings that were not on the tasting room list for the day. All were very impressive–some of the best Pinots I have ever tasted. With each pour, she displayed her almost encyclopedic knowledge of not just the wines she was pouring, but also of wine making in general and the history of the valley–but not in a pedantic, even dismissive fashion that I have encountered more than once in tasting rooms. Eventually, she was so at ease that through our discussions on wine she revealed some of her political ideology which meshed quite well with my sister–a resident of one of the most liberal cities in the country.I can’t over state how wonderful she was and what great care she took to walk us through the wines. Right before I left, with our original ‘guide’ no busy with other tasters, I asked another worker if our host had a business card. She quickly scribbled her name down on some tasting notes and handed them to me. Upon reading the name , I smiled, since I imagined that given her political leanings, her name might have posed a bit of a conflict:
She quickly added that it was pronounced “REE-gun”.
On second thought, I doubt Reagan allows herself be defined in any way other than what she designs.
Of all the wines we tried at Bergström, two stood out for me (it was difficult to pick just two, honestly):
2010 Bergstöm Wines De Lancellotti Vineyard Pinot Noir: The fruit really jumped out of this glass–dark red fruit–mostly black raspberry and cassis. Even as the first drop graced my tongue, it was clear that this was a phenomenal wine–the weight, the balance and the fruit. Wow, the fruit. By no means a jammy fruit bomb, but the fruit was incredible, and yet not out of place at all. Most good pinots need food to reach their full potential (at least they should, in my opinion), but this wine was incredible on its own. I had no idea how to classify it, but when Reagan asked, after tasting all of the wines, if I wanted to revisit any, I chose the De Lancellotti. Not so that I could reassess my evaluation, but rather because it was so damned good. Outstanding to Extraordinary. 95 points.
2010 Bergström Wines Bergström Vineyard Pinot Noir: The wine was rather tight on the nose, demure, even diffident when compared to the more revealing De Lancellotti, likely since Reagan had just uncorked the bottle for us. After a good swirl or three, the wine opened up a bit with some nice cherry fruit and a delicate floral aspect. On the palate, the fruit comes through and reveals a perfectly balanced wine. Not as expressive as its louder, little brother, but it seems as though this might be better built for the long haul. Excellent. 93 points.