About 30 miles from where I live near the base of Washington's Mt. Baker, is a little winery where skiers often stop and buy wine on their way up and back from the Mountain. One could be forgiven, therefore for mistaking the winery for a tourist trap, but it would be a mistake to do so. This is actually a serious little winery making seriously good QPR wines in a minimally oaked European style which suits me to a 'T', so in a fit of hometown pride I proudly serve a lot of their wines here at home. Most of the grapes are shipped in from eastern Washington, but vines around the main building in the cool, rainy shadow of Mt. Baker also produce pinot noir, madeline angevine and siegeurrebe. PINOT NOIR?, I remember asking in major surprise. Yes, they didn't always get ripe enough, I was told, but sometimes.....
Well, I heard the other day that an 02 pinot had been released. And yes--02, Mt. Baker releases its wines much later than most wineries, and 02 is the current release on all their red wines. Anyway, I had to get my lips on that pinot, so I dropped in on Tuesday for a taste. And came away with one of the last three cases.
2002 Mt. Baker Winery Pinot Noir
Barely medium bodied with precise cherry-plum notes and quite a bit of spice. Good acidity with some tannins safely in the background. No apparent oak, and a bit of sweet herbs make a beautiful, expressive wine. Surely this is one of the northern-most pinot noirs made in America, and I'm so proud of these guys for persevering. Just $20.
I also liked:
2002 Mt. Baker Winery Cabernet Sauvignon
From Yakima grapes, big huckleberry black/blue fruit and dusty tannins give this wine a delicious rusticity that's quite different from the more polished style of cab I'm used to from Mt. Baker, and I like this better. Very concentrated--Randy didn't make a Proprietors Reserve in 02 because he made enough in 01 for two years' worth of sales of his top of the line slow seller, so all the best fruit that would usually have been pulled over for the Reserve went into the regular. I liked it so much I bought a half dozen. $14.75 at the cellar door, and it should cost twice that much (but for the culty releases, Washington wines are relatively cheap).
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov