I would not initially characterize myself as a betting man, but a chance encounter on my final night in Dallas yielded an irresistible opportunity. It was late in the evening, my stomach full of stellar sushi and beef soup from my favorite sushi joint Yutaka, and my girlfriend and I were at Strangeways for a final night-cap with friends. I sipped my cider, and my friend Kevin Trevino, Sommelier at Oak, walked in the bar unexpectedly.
He joined us with a snifter of barrel-aged beer, the name of which escapes me. We discussed my departure and his upcoming trip to Oregon, where I would be spending the next month training for my new job.
“When are you leaving?” he asked.
“Tomorrow,” I replied.
“Yeah, right,” he smirked.
“No. We won’t leave any later than noon.”
“You’ll be leaving by 2 pm or later.”
“No way. No way.”
“I will bet you a bottle of my 1993 Châteauneuf-du-Pape.”
“All right. Easy bet to win,” I said, clinking my glass of cider to his beer.
He turned to Carla, my girlfriend. “You make sure he texts me when you actually leave,” he emphasized.
“If we leave after noon and you win, I’ll open something special. I’m just not sure what yet.”
At 9:44 AM the next day, I texted Kevin:
“Hittin the road Jack. Looking forward to taking a trip back in time to 1993 with ya soon. I will open a bottle of Morrison Lane! :-)”
Kevin was flying into Portland a little before 1 AM this past Friday night. He spent the weekend at Pinot Noir Camp in Newberg, taking seminars and enjoying lavish meals of crab and salmon baked over outdoor fires. He remembered to bring the wine, a bottle of Chateau La Nerthe, from 2003.
“I thought you were bringing a CDP from 93!” I exclaimed.
“Turns out I forgot that I never had a ’93. The 2003 just had 93 points from Robert Parker.”
It was about 1:30 by the time we arrived at my apartment. I pulled out a hunk of Mt. Townsend Red Alder Toma, and removed the cork from the wine bottle. One side of the wood had a string of wine that had nearly soaked to the edge, confirming the bottle’s passage into adulthood. I poured short pours into two glasses and held one to my nose. I recalled a moment of shoveling dirt in front of my second Dallas house, the day I spent laying the foundation for what became my first successful garden.
The wine tasted heavy yet balanced, slightly warming on a late and wet Portland night. It quieted us as my tongue swam through soft flavors of fresh berry conserve akin to the local marionberries and strawberries I have seen so often in the Pacific Northwest. At such a late, tired hour, my taste buds felt as if they were genuinely budding and new, just trying to absorb the wise prophecies of an elder who had remained quiet for nine years.
We toasted, and spent the next two hours wandering through conversation. As I reach this point of the story, I remember the moment Kevin and I first met three years ago at the Texas Sommelier Conference, and how that instance was one of many chance parallels drawn together with wine as their point of intersection. We both found ourselves on the job market shortly after having lunch with a winemaker a couple years after meeting one another, and it was a wine event that brought him to my new one-month home. Ultimately, we shared these many bonds through a bottle of wine.
All that said, I have a promise to keep, one we were too tired to pursue at 3:30 AM. Kevin and I will meet again one day, and I will open a bottle of Morrison Lane, so I can write Part II of this entry…