Okay: once again, I've failed. I've failed The Whinery, I've failed Mrs. Big Dubya, I've failed the American people... and I've failed you, gentle reader. The form of my failure: I did not complete the June assignment whilst complying with all the holy tenets of The Whinery — namely, the "keep it under $15" guideline.
See, here's the thing: I kinda suck at following the letter of the law. The people at Burger King once told me that sometimes, you've just gotta break the rules — and frankly, I'm in no position to question the good people at Burger King. With that in mind, I've embarked on a life of gentle crime: producing hopelessly verbose responses to assignments with little regard for the actual wishes and goals of those who... uh... assigned the assignment in the first place. I'm sure there's some deep-set, subconscious authority issues hidden within my psyche that enable this charming character trait, but really mine is not to question why: mine is but to drink and write.
And thus, I offer you a shining and delicious example of this month's assigned varietal: pinot noir. I've been a tremendous fan of pinot noir for years - ever since I read The Heartbreak Grape and was utterly fascinated by the idea that any wine could be that subtle and complex, that difficult to grow, that easy to ruin and that sublime to taste - and in the years since have sampled more than my fair share of California, Oregon and New Zealand pinots. I still think one of the best I've ever sampled is one of the first I ever tried, the spectacular Rex Hill Reserve... but this weekend we enjoyed another Oregonian that's well worth seeking out.
Here's the name you need to learn: Patricia Green. She produces tiny amounts of spectacular pinot noir that gets very little distribution beyond the Pacific Northwest (or so I've been told by people far more well-informed than me), but once in a blue moon my favorite local wine spot manages to get a case or two... and the owner parcels it out, bottle by bottle, to a selected few afficionados much in the same way that a distant and terrible father might parcel out hugs or kind words to a child.
I generally end up with two or three bottles of Patricia Green a year... and this weekend, we opened one. The 2006 Willamette Valley Reserve, to be specific. I paid $36 for it, which puts me well over The Whinery's specified limits. However, insofar as that it's a foregone conclusion at this point that Mrs. Big Dubya is going to kneecap me, I'm throwing caution to the wind and talking about it here. And you, gentle reader? You can either join me in a virtual glass... or grab yourself a crowbar. The choice is yours.
But enough idle chatter: the wine! The wine! The wine wine wine wine wine! (Say it like the Grinch, and it'll make sense.) It is, in truth, a thing of beauty. Just... elegant, quiet layers of flavor that build upon one another to create the kind of gentle, sublime experience that makes a great pinot such a thing of rare wonder. Ours was paired with a pair of especially thick and well-marinated pork chops and a handful of crackers with a gouda/sun-dried tomato spread, and it tasted a bit like heaven in a glass.
The point of all this? As is true with most things I do, there is no point. But should you find yourself in the market for an upscale bottle of pinot noir, and should you find yourself in the presence of virtually anything Patricia Green has ever created... splurge. She's worth it — and what's more, you're worth it.