Just Taste and Bear It

A big part of my job is tasting wines. Fun as it may sound, this can actually be a somewhat arduous process. Of course, 99% of the time it’s a blast.

Dunham Cellars is a Washington winery responsible for 6 or 7 labels in my store. Sourcing fruit from Walla Walla, Yakima and Columbia to make wines that recently have begun to garner a bit of critical acclaim, I had always wanted to sample their wares. Yesterday I got the chance.

When I arrived to work, I was informed that the distributor who brings Dunham into Texas was conducting a tasting of the wines a few blocks away at Reef. Of course I said I wanted to go, so in the late afternoon I made the trek for free booze.

The hostess ushered me to the back room and as I entered, I saw Agent Dale Cooper himself.

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Kyle MacLachlan was enamored by my bleached shirt.

Apparently Kyle MacLachlan is a co-owner of Dunham Cellars, and in that capacity came to Houston to show off the new wines. We tasted through two vintages of Chardonnay and Cabernet, but the star of the show for me was the Syrah.

In 2008, the braintrust at the winery decided to make a Syrah. MacLachlan, coincidentally, had just given birth (OK, it was his wife) to a son. As the Cabernet the winery produced was called Pursued by Bear, he decided to name the Syrah Baby Bear.

We tasted the second vintage – 2009 – and it was great. Loads of fruit, supple tannins, a bit of earth and a lingering finish showcased why this particular wine of theirs has been getting some well-deserved publicity. All the wines were good, but this guy was great.

If you feel like shelling out $52.89 for a great Syrah, this a bottle to try. And for those of you with reservations about paying that much for a bottle of wine, look at this way: the label is pretty cute.

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