The Joy of the Sommelier Shindig

The Seattle Sommelier Shindig ('96 Magnum of Drouhin-Laroze Bonnes Mares courtesy of The Guild of Sommeliers)

Please, just humor me for a moment and take a quick peruse of the following wines:

02 Coche-Dury Meursault AC    96 Château Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac Bordeaux  00 Gaja Costa Russi Langhe Nebbiolo    94 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains    96 Drouhin-Laroze “Bonnes Mares Grand Cru” Chambolle-Musigny En Magnum    66 Kartäuserhofberg “Eitelsbacher Kartäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese”  Mosel-Saar-Ruwer    05 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc   00 Didier Daguenault “Silex” Blanc Fumé de Pouilly    NV Antinori  “Secentenario” Toscana IGT (bottled in 85, signed by Piero Antinori in 1987) en Magnum   95 Domaine Fourrier “Clos St. Jacques 1er Cru” Gevrey-Chambertain en Magnum   99 J.L. Chave Hermitage Blanc Rhône Valley    97 F.E. Trimbach “Clos Ste. Hune” Riesling Alsace    04 Cayuse Vineyards “Cailloux Vineyard” Syrah Walla Walla Valley en Magnum  00 Leroy “Les Beaux Monts” Vosne-Romanée    95 FX Pichler “Dürnsteiner Kellerberg” Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Wachau en Magnum    NV Jacques Selosse Rosé Champagne Avize    99 Fontodi “Flaccianello” Colli Toscana IGT    01 Kistler “Kistler Vineyard Cuvée Catherine” Pinot Noir Russian River Valley    91 Nikolaihof “Vinotek” Gruner Veltliner Wachau    00 Domaine Dujac “Clos-Saint Denis Grand Cru” Morey St. Denis    99 Burklin-Wolf “Deidesheimer Langenmorgen” Riesling Pfalz    94 Araujo Estate “Eisele Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley   04 Clos St. Jean Chateauneuf-du-Pape en Magnum    07 Gramercy Cellars “Inigo Montoya” Tempranillo Walla Walla Valley    MV Krug Grand Cuvée    99 Domaine de la Vougeraie “Charmes-Chambertin Les Mazoyeres Grand Cru” Gevrey Chambertin en Magnum    02 Didier Daguenault “Silex” Blanc Fumé de Pouilly en Magnum  98 Domaine Clape Cornas    99 Martinborough Pinot Noir Martinborough en Magnum    00 Domain Leroy “Les Combettes” Gevrey-Chambertin     98 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 

Not a bad little list of juice, eh?  The kind of wines we all get positively giddy over when tasting?  Treasures that ignite our inner wine geek, pushing the cork dork quotient “to 11?”  I woke up to empty bottles of all of them (and about 30 more of like ilk) strewn around my outdoor patio one recent morning.  I pinched myself.  I splashed cold water on my face.  I tried to stub my toe on a rock.  Surely I was dreaming?  They remained.  And then I remembered…

The 1st Annual Seattle Sommelier Shindig ("Trip S" for the hipsters out there)!  Inspired by smaller parties with close friends in years past, this gathering was a celebration of what has become an incredibly tight-knit, yet larger, group of wine professionals in our city.  50 plus people were invited – as long as you were in this wine game to build great wine service Sea-Town, you were on the list for a toast to friendship and love of wine.


Some Jug Wine

Formerly a small, sleepy gastronomic spot, the Emerald City has developed as many top notch sommeliers “per restaurant capita” as any other city in the world in recent years.  A growth that truly started about 15 years ago, then gained incredible momentum over the past 10 years; with not just talented professionals, but brothers/sisters in arms who value the community and wine for wine’s sake as much as the career recognition.  Perhaps it is our size that has us together – often - in tasting groups, industry events, auctions.  Maybe we have a chip on our shoulder, with a phenomenal but small restaurant scene living in the shadows of big cities like Chicago and San Francisco.  It could be our pride in being in the heart of a great wine region.  Or maybe, just maybe, we just want to realize our potential and be the best we can be.  Regardless, we tight like that because we know it “takes a village” to get to the promised land of nationwide respect - looking around at the many candidates currently on this site from smaller cities like Austin, Denver, Boston and San Diego, it seems to be a trend.

So, we thought, why not come together in one spot and raise a hearty cheer to Seattle’s vinous growth?  And not with just any old tipple, but with wine befitting the occasion?  The only rules: a)you had to bring one or two bottles of the best of your personal cellar and b)it wasn’t a competition.  If it was a jug of Almaden, so be it.  But you had to care about it, or it wasn’t truly sharing.  Amazingly, everyone jumped on the spirit of the thing, immediately.  Case in point:  one person brought a bottle of wine they had been given as a bonus for slaving for 100ish hours as a cellar rat on a big restaurant cellar in town; it was obviously one of just a handful of amazing wines in their own collection.  They had been waiting for an opportunity to open it, and could think of no better than this time and place.  It was magic.  The Guild of Sommeliers was so inspired by the heart of it all that it offered up 3 magnums of 1995/6 Grand Cru Burgundy from the Guild Cellar for the current/would be Seattle members to enjoy!

Tara-Cortney-Kevin-Jori-Noel-Pam-Greg-Heather-Phil-Mark-Courtney-Jeff-Joseph-Jendi-Mark-Irene Toast

One of the great ironies of many wine professionals/workaday sommeliers is that we can appreciate the really great juice…we just can’t always afford it.  So, we scrounge out a living of our inner wine dork fantasies by hoping for sips from customer tables or volunteering our services at big time wine events or enjoying the generous friendship of able collectors along the way for a chance to taste the golden nectar.  We do save up and build our cellars – but, most of us couldn’t afford a cellar full of wine like those listed above.   That’s where this sort of party comes in.   If we pool our resources, we can mos def taste such an array of great bottles – with people we care about, to boot!

Like all such similar events, tasting together allowed us to share our dorkiest of impressions without fear of the “wine snob glance” those outside the business can flit our way in our deepest, darkest moments of waxing rhapsodic over this sasparilla steeped cherries note or that Oregon truffle whiff in some red Burgundy or Barbaresco or Rioja.  We found terms on bottles and had to poll each other as to what the heck they meant.  Cork taint didn’t stand a chance.  Stories of visits to the very vineyards being slurped and savored were abound.  Respect and play (especially when drinking wine while going down the Slip-n’-Slide built for the occasion...umm, see below) went hand in hand, and I believe we all left the party closer for showing the deep seeded (but not overly pious) respect we have for wine and each other.


The Course, The Flying Sommelier, and Shaken, Not Stirred

D'oh! And the Blackberry Bushes

Of course, this sort of party happens all the time.  Wine lovers are (in)famous revelers, and we make excuses to pull a great cork whenever we can in this short life.  Back rooms of big events like Pebble Beach Food and Wine or La Paulée are rife with special bottles “apop” - but rarely with so big a group, for so specific a cause as celebrating a community working together towards excellence in wine service.  And with busy schedules and many distractions of our lives, we don’t do it enough.  Not near. 

So, we humble Seattleites  encourage every Guild of Sommelier member out there to prioritize creating something in your own city if you don’t already do so.  Make a reason, start the fire, pull out all stops.  For, as amazing a wine community as The Guild affords us all, you just can’t taste a ’66 Karthäuserhofberg Spät with the best of friends on a sunny summer day online.

Signed Antonori Secentario ('95 Magnum of Fourrier Clos-St.-Jacques courtesy of The Guild of Sommeliers) and a little White Wine Action

  • Did you finish the cocktail before you hit the bull's eye?!  Freggin' sick, man!  Much love for Le Fete de Comaraderie!

  • Just a quick thought: man, the kindness of friends and all their thanks means the world.  

    As the point of the post was to inspire like events around the country, I look forward to hearing whether or not this might have occured.

  • Fantastic post, Shayn! From the seriousness of the wines listed to the frivolity of the pictures. The True embodiment of the Sommelier is perfectly exposed, the myth of snobery completely squashed.  

  • A hearty thanks to Shayn and Jendi. What a fantastic afternoon. Great wine, like-minded souls and a dangerous slide for adults to play on. I will be appealing the No Budgie Smuggler rule and if successfully will don my two-toned version AND a surfboard for next year. Upright all the way!!

  • A big thanks to Shayn and Jendi for hosting such a glorious day! Additionally, a large glass of gratitude to the Guild for supporting and contributing to the day's festivities. Twas truly an amazing afternoon of wine, food and friends. I am honored to have been included among the invitees.