Wow, what a day, I finally escaped my life in the restaurant business to do the one thing I love the most: taste new wines and meet a new winemaker. My god, it’s been since January since I have written a word about wine or even documented a tasting note. It has been nothing but IPA’s and long days since I started managing Olive Marketplace and Cafe. I swore to myself that I would never, ever, get back into the restaurant business again unless I owned the place – and if I was ever crazy enough to own a restaurant then I should then commit myself. Maybe I’ll give myself a mulligan on this one… Anyway, let’s just say it’s good to be back at the keyboard with a glass of wine and something to write about. My side job writing for the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance led me to Lori and Tim Kennedy, owners of Don Carlo Estate Vineyards. Tim is the man who originally started “Tim’s Cascade Style Potato Chips” and after selling the company, they purchased a twelve acre parcel of land and planted a vineyard to produce the types of wines they love most. Lori and Tim are amazing; they have been working like crazy to develop their vineyard which was planted in 2007. The vineyard is planted with 3.5 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, 2 acres of Cabernet Franc and 1 acre of Chardonnay. The vineyard is located on the site of a former apple orchard which runs northeast in orientation and is set up on a Vertical Trellis System (VSP). The vines are meticulously pruned to produce concentrated fruit that will spend their days basking in the sun during the day and receiving a reflection of heat from the cobblestones below well into the evening hours. But do not fear, this wine will not be an over-extracted fruit bomb laced with high alcohol. Lori believes in keeping the alcohol in check and not letting the fruit over ripen.
I took my friend Spencer along for the vineyard tour and we had lunch with Tim and Lori outside the tasting room. Spencer grew up in the northwest and was amazed that the founder of Tim’s Cascades was making him lunch. Me being from the south and east coast had seen the chips only a few times but fed off of his excitement when Tim put down a bowl of freshly fried chips with shaved Parmesan and sea salt. Wow, those things were delicious. We opened a bottle of the 2008 Don Carlo Estate Chardonnay which was super clean and crisp with brilliant clarity. Flavors of apple and pear mixed with hints of tropical fruits and minerals. Great acidity and just a hint of oak made this wine a great start to our lunch. Next, we opened the 2007 Merlot and the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines proved to be well balanced with perfectly ripened fruit, generous alcohol and supple tannins. Tim threw a marinated flank steak on the grill and we sat and sipped the wines while eating potato chips – it was pretty cool. Lori is making some nice wines and the prices are great, unlike a lot of the wines in Washington State that are pretty pricey for what they are. Don Carlo Estate wines all sit between the $20 and $30 dollar mark. Good wines, new friends, and great chips!!
By the way I am now addicted to Tim’s Cascade Style Wasabi Chips, which are an excellent pairing with Gruner Veltliner. Enjoy tasting!