I was already excited to get the invitation for the Dallas Evening Land tasting hosted by Pioneer Wine Company. But, when I found out that renowned chef Sharon Hage, formerly of York Street, was providing Pinot friendly matches, I was almost giddy. You may recall some of the great parties that I’ve blogged about hosted by Pioneer owner Greg Kassanoff, who has become a good friend.
I wasn’t familiar with the Evening Land wines, but judging from the blogger response on Twitter, I knew I was in for a good tasting. I had a chance to chat with Mark Tarlov, founder of Evening Land vintners during the event. Tarlov started his career by writing speeches for Warren Burger and decided to go to Columbia for his law degree. He served in Washington, D.C., as a federal attorney, but it didn’t fulfill his need to tell stories. His next job as was at Warner Bros., where he worked in operations and started his own production business, Polar Entertainment. He spent about 20 years in the movie industry and produced about 20 movies including “Copycat” and “Serial Mom.”
An avid collector and wine drinker, as it often goes, when he had the chance to buy Occidental Vineyard, a 5-acre panel in Sonoma in 2004, it was going to be his retirement project. But this storyteller kept hearing about other opportunities to buy other cornerstone vineyards in great locations – Seven Springs in Oregon as well as Santa Rita Hills Estate. Another big opportunity soon presented itself. Over dinner one night with legendary Burgundy producers, Dominique Lafon, of Domaine des Comtest Lafon, and Christophe Roumier, he was given the offer to enter Burgundy. All of these wineries were packaged into Evening Land Vineyards.
Evening Land makes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from vineyards in Oregon, California and France. The wines have a color-coded, tiered label system of blue, silver, gold and white, which reflects pricing. Blue is the most affordable and starts about $20 leading up to the white label, which runs about $120 a bottle. Isabel Meunier is the wine maker in Oregon; Christophe Vial is the winemaker in Beaune, France, and Sashi Moorman in California. Lafon continues to consult in France.
So let’s talk about the line-up of wines for the event. We tried seven wines that night and each one had a very different story to tell:
09 La Source Chardonnay, Seven Springs Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon (Gold) – Floral, apple, peach, lemon and flint. Definitely more New World in style.
08 Summum Chardonnay, Seven Springs Vineyards in Oregon (White) — citrus, apple, tropical, minerality. Very old world style and my favorite chardonnay
09 Santa Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills Tempest Estate, California (Silver) – blackberry and dark fruit with a big finish
08 Seven Springs Estate Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon (Silver) – earthy, Old World, black cherry. My favorite of the reds
09 La Source Pinot Noir Seven Springs Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon (Gold) — blackberry, cherry, plum and floral notes
09 Evening Land The Tempest Pinot Noir, California (Gold) — black fruit, great balance, blackberry. A big Pinot and my favorite “New World” style
09 Evening Land Bloom’s Field Pinot Noir, California (Gold) – blackberry, spice, very fruity
A great line-up and it was interesting to see the same wine making techniques applied to different terriors with such a range in wine styles. And judging from the number of Dallas-based sommeliers in the room, I’ve stumbled upon a great “insider” winery that I’m happy to share with you.