BIG Night @MetroWines. BIG. Jesse Lange, Manager and Winemaker for Lange Estate Winery, A Wine Enthusiast Winery of the Year, poured to talk about and taste his Pinot Gris (90 Points, Wine Enthusiast) 2013 Pinot Noir ( 91 Points, Wine Enthusiast and 90 Points from Robert Parker) and Pinot Noir Reserve (93 Points, Wine Enthusiast). BIG.
So here's the scene: Customers are anxiously waiting for the three bottles set to show. We are loving the Pinot Gris. We all agree that the creamy palate would be great with Asian food, like some of those big, spicy shrimp from Gan Shan Station. Oh yeah! And the 2013 Pinot Noir followed by The Pinot Noir Reserve left us behaving a little bit badly (Come on, you know we were.) asking for more!
Jesse read the crowd. BIG became BIGGER. He went to his car and pulled out a Pinot Noir Freedom Hill for us!. WOW! This is a spendy bottle. "A little heavier in body," says Jesse, "big and bold dark fruits." We ask if Jesse has more bottles. Turns out there is a 6 pack traveling with him. Within in minutes that was past tense. A customer bought all 6 within seconds of tasting this lush Pinot Noir with hints of black peppercorns, oak spice and, Jesse says, "guava notes."
Now that the crowd has settled down, I can chat a bit with Jesse. He is an easy going, nice guy who loves the wine biz, the land, his family and Maggie (we will talk about HER later). Jesse lives on the Lange Estate with his wife and family in Dundee Hills, Oregon.
Having lived in Portland, about 30 miles southwest of Dundee Hills, I seize any opportunity to check in on the place. We talked a little politics, specifically, Oregon Governors Neil Goldschmidt and John Kitzhaber, both promising politicians caught up in scandals of their own making. "Why do men destroy their careers like that," Jesse says.
Jesse is a lot younger than yours truly so he does not remember the election and re-election of Bud Clark, the Portland bar owner, who was elected Mayor on the strength of his bar patrons and fans of a poster he made titled "Expose Yourself to Art." And he does not remember my boss, Oregon Commissioner of Labor Mary Wendy Roberts.
Ok, back to the winery...
From Santa Barbara, Jesse has been in the wine world since he was "three years old" helping his parents on the farm. He trained at New Zealand's Lincoln University while a student at Oregon State then spent two years "as a cellar rat" for winemaker Bruce McGuire at Santa Barbara Winery. Jesse joined the winemaking team at Lange in 2004. He is responsible for winemaking but also vineyard oversight, distribution and general management. Busy guy.
Jesse looked over our collection of Oregon Pinot Noir Wines. "Thank you for supporting Oregon Pinot Noir!" Having served as President of The Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association and President of the famed Oregon Pinot Camp, Jesse knows the winemakers at most of the wineries shown on our shelves including Grochau Cellars, Shea, Elk Cove, Ken Wright, and Patricia Green.
So Jesse has all these awards and high ratings for his wines, chairmanships and extensive knowledge. Awesome but what's really important here? Right. The winery dog! 10 year old winery dog, a golden Retriever named Magnum but most affectionately called Maggie. "I walk the vineyard and pull a cluster to check the grapes. I taste a grape from the top, middle and bottom for quality and ripeness, Jesse says. "Maggie follows and does some tasting herself!"
But, Jesse adds, while Maggie loves Willamette Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, she does not like Malbec or Grenache. "She won't even sniff the stuff!" And after working the fields for many years, there is no changing her mind. "It's hilarious to try and present her those varietals!"
Come back Jesse! Bring Maggie!