Wine Down Eugene April 30 – May 6
I know I’m biased, but seriously, is there any better place on earth than Oregon? I think not. Reflecting on just the past two weeks alone, I have had the opportunity to join in on three absolutely fabulous and memorable events, and although each of the three events were totally unique and different, they all shared a common ground: wine.
These three events included a spectacular dinner and a show in Eugene, a sensory invoking Riesling-centric wine tasting in Portland, and the first ever conference based on cool climate olive oils, stationed at an olive farm and mill in the Dundee Hills. Although this week’s Wine Down focuses on just one of these three Oregon events, the other two totally memorable and notable events will be written about in full detail on my award-winning website, WineJulia.com. Be on the look out for Remarkable Rieslings of Brooks Winery and EVOOs Cool Climate Culture of the Pacific Northwest.
The first of the three events was enjoying an impressive dinner at Belly followed by an inspirational show at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts: Zoot Suit Riot, presented by the Eugene Ballet Company and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – a ballet like none I’ve ever seen before. Invited by the great folks behind the stunning Seufert Winery wines, Michelle Wasner and Jim Seufert, I was sure to make room in my schedule for an evening I knew was going to be nothing short of spectacular. Not only do I love Belly, it’s truly one of Eugene’s finest restaurants, but Jim Seufert makes some of the best wine in Oregon. (Read about an unforgettable flight of seven single vineyard 2009 Pinot Noirs I experienced at Seufert Winery here.) In tow, Jim brought two wines with him to share at dinner: a 2013 Chardonnay (the first-ever Chardonnay for Seufert) and a 2009 Barrel Select Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
The food I ordered was solely based on the two wines Jim had brought, so I started with the salad special to pair with the Chardonnay, and for an entree, I ordered the Ginger and Coriander Braised Beef Short ribs to go along with the Pinot Noir. Being a first attempt at Chardonnay, Jim’s winemkaing expertise radiated in the beautiful rich, alluring, aromas of pears, apples and spice. A soft elegant entrance onto the palate displayed lively hints of honeysuckle that rolled in seamless, juicy waves from the front to the back, ending with the perfect zing of acidity to round out the fruit to precision. The 2009 Barrel Select Pinot Noir was absolutely divine with the braised short ribs. Dark and light berry fruits with an emphasis on cherries and raspberries were beautifully highlighted by mushrooms, earth, cedar and fall spices. Great complexity and depth added loads of character, yet the wine’s elegance and delicacy were undeniably noticeable and totally palate pleasing.
It was tough to get up and leave for the ballet; I could have easily stuck around a few more hours simply enjoying the lovely nuances of the Seufert Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and of course, the shared conversation. But as much as sipping and chatting the night away would have been a true delight, I was crazy ecstatic about seeing Zoot Suit Riot. I’ve been a big fan of Eugene’s Cherry Poppin’ Daddies since they played their first show at the W.O.W. Hall not long after I graduated from Sheldon High School back in the late 80s. The thought of the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies belting out the tunes alongside the Eugene Ballet Company was nothing short of intensely intriguing. Could they pull it off?
Well, pull it off they did, and with pure perfection at that. The music was just as incredible as when I saw them play in 1989, and the choreography was in utter harmony with the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies swing-style, big-band, make me want to get up and dance music.
*A very special thank you to Michelle Wasner and Jim Seufert for the generous invitation and fun-filled evening. From the wine and food to the conversation and musical performance, thank you!