WTN: Dunham wines

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WTN: Dunham wines

Postby Jenise » Sat Jun 10, 2006 2:50 pm

Went to a fundraiser last night and was seated with Eric Dunham, winemaker of one of Washington State's better wineries. His wines were served throughout the meal:

2005 Chardonnay: From a vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills. Light green-gold color and apple strudel nose. Restrained use of oak--only 10% new. I guessed the alcohol at 14% and Eric confirmed "about 13.8". That plus a bit of RS on the finish kept the wine out of the crisp realm, but it's a nice effort.

2005 Rose: from 100% cab franc, 120 cases made. Exceptionally attractive color of pale warm creamy pink pearls. On the palate, cranberry and tarragon notes with a sweet creamy finish owing to what tastes like extended malolactic fermentation and the lingering residual sugar of very ripe grapes. Paired beautifully with a sturgeon, salmon and leek terrine doused with a citrus-caviar vinaigrette.

2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (labeled version VIII): 100% cab sauv sourced from five different vineyards. Served with pink peppercorn-coriander crusted rare duck breast, spring vegetable risotto and a truffled sauce--important because offhand I might have suggested that a cabernet was too heavy for duck, but in this case I'd have been wrong. A big, Bordelaise styled cab with cherries, berries, plums, green tobacco leaf, ripe tannins, and judiciously-used French Oak. Uncorked about an hour before service but not decanted, the wine drinks well now but will certainly reward time. Impressive.

2003 Syrah: Another impressive effort. Sourced from three vineyards, this wine shows the ripe, sweet fruit of a warm vintage without getting goopy. Absolutely correct and inviting cherry and floral nose, warm cherry compote on the midpalate and an interesting note of spicy, sweet sasparilla on the finish. Very well matched with it's food companion, a mache and herb salad featuring chervil, grilled nectarine and Cambozola cheese.

2005 Semillion Ice Wine: I immediately asked if this was a true ice wine or from frozen grapes, and Eric told me something I did not know. That, like some other wine terms that I did know about, the term "ice wine" is protected by Washington state law to describe only wines made from grapes that legitimately froze on the vine. These grapes were picked on December 8th at 42 brix. 90 cases were made. Elegant and full-bodied, with rich honeysuckle, tangy apricot, tangerine and lavendar, allspice and cloves, and a long, non-cloying finish. Having absolutely no sweet tooth I don't easily say nice things about sweet wines, but this is a stunner.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Dunham wines

Postby Marc D » Sat Jun 10, 2006 4:02 pm

Nice notes Jenise. Where was the dinner? The menu sounds interesting and very well thought out to complement the wines.

I have tried their 3 Legged Red and the one labeled Dunham Trey Marie Trutina. Are the Trey Marie wines the second label of Dunham? I have a bottle of the 02 Dunham Syrah in the cellar that I haven't gotten to yet.

It sounds like it was a fun evening.

I sent you a PM about the St I pinots.
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Re: WTN: Dunham wines

Postby Jenise » Sat Jun 10, 2006 4:43 pm

The dinner was held on campus by the Bellingham Technical College Foundation to raise funds for new equipment and the remodeling of the College's 'Cafe Culinaire', where the students in the two-year culinary curriculum serve meals three days a week (public welcome, reservations recomended) and on special occasions like last night. The meal was very impressive--I'm delighted to say, in fact, that it's one of the best I've had in Bellingham.

Did you know that Dunham has a Bellingham connection? I did not until last night, but one of the honchos at Trilllium Corp is what I suppose you might call the senior investment partner of the winery, and also on the Foundation's Board, hence the choice of Dunham for this event. He was also seated at my table (it's really more like I was seated at HIS table), and is going to get me a set of their single vineyard bottlings.

So, more Dunham in my future. This was my first experience with the syrah, and only my second with the cab (which was the 2000). This was quite different than I remember the other, which I thought backward at the time so the following has to be heard with caution: but in the 02 I found riper tannins, less oak, more balance between red and black fruit, and more overall polish.

The Trey Marie--it's a wine I've seen but not tasted myself. Can't even remember what it's a blend of. Didn't have a chance to engage Eric in much conversation about anything beyond the wines in front of us. I would like to have found out more about wines available only at the winery--like the ice wine.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Dunham wines

Postby Randy Buckner » Sat Jun 10, 2006 6:24 pm

Eric does indeed make nice wines, but they push my threshold for oak.
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Re: WTN: Dunham wines

Postby Jenise » Sat Jun 10, 2006 7:37 pm

Jenise wrote:The dinner was held on campus by the Bellingham Technical College Foundation to raise funds for new equipment and the remodeling of the College's 'Cafe Culinaire', where the students


Oops, I forgot to say that the meal was not just at the campus, but was actually prepared by the students.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Dunham wines

Postby MtBakerDave » Sat Jun 10, 2006 9:24 pm

Sounds like a great dinner! And Eric has got to be one of the nicest, most generous guys on the planet. Definitely check out his tasting room in Walla Walla if you get a chance. It's probably the highlight of the airport bunch.

Good to hear some tasting notes on the new releases. I tasted most of those out of barrel last fall, and was especially intrigued with the rose. Like I suspected, it's more floral/spicy than fruity. It's awful hard to tell with the whites at the stage I tasted!

Jenise wrote:I would like to have found out more about wines available only at the winery--like the ice wine.


There are a few retail outlets for the icewine - we have some. It's really stellar stuff, but definitely priced according to quality!

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Re: WTN: Dunham wines

Postby Jenise » Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:09 pm

MTBakerDave wrote:Good to hear some tasting notes on the new releases. I tasted most of those out of barrel last fall, and was especially intrigued with the rose. Like I suspected, it's more floral/spicy than fruity. It's awful hard to tell with the whites at the stage I tasted!


Yes, that's how I would characterize the rose. Actually, I was initially disappointed because, before I took my first stip, Eric said he was inspired to try making a rose after tasting one of the exceptional Bandols (which he said are also made out of cab franc, though I hadn't thought so.) Well, he didn't nail Bandol, so it took me a few sips to accept the malo and RS and just enjoy the wine for what it was.

You've had the cab? Do you think it has less oak influence than in prior years?
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