As a wine blogger I get to try A LOT of really great wines. And occasionally, I get to partake in some pretty exciting food and wine pairing events. This was definitely one of them. It is not often that you get to enjoy a 6-course meal, plus wine pairings, with the winemakers onsite at their vineyard/winery.  It was a stellar evening all-around at Three Rivers Winery! This wine pairing dinner was a part of the Wine Bloggers Conference (recently renamed to the Wine Media Conference) in Walla Walla, Washington. It was, hands down, my favorite evening of the conference.

Andy & Holly Turner

At Three Rivers, we’re in the Columbia Valley AVA in Eastern Washington, which has over 40,000 acres under vine. Fun fact: 99% of all Washington wine is produced here. There are eight smaller AVAs within the Columbia Valley and Three Rivers currently harvests fruit from four of them: Red Mountain, Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills, and Wahluke Slope. The name Three Rivers comes from the nearby intersection of the Columbia, Snake, and Walla Walla Rivers.

Three Rivers Winery is the essence of Walla Walla wine country. When you’re in Walla Walla, you’re family. And that’s what it felt like at Three Rivers. Downtown Walla Walla is quaint with charming storefronts, lots of tasting rooms, and a feeling of “everyone knows everyone”. When you arrive at Three Rivers you might be greeted by Holly Turner, the winemaker, or her husband Andy, the GM who also makes wine with her. It’s a sprawling property with a lovely tasting room onsite that is warm and inviting.

Three Rivers Winery

 

Aperitif upon arrival

As one can imagine, Holly and Andy spend A LOT of time at Three Rivers. They have raised three children and while at the dinner we spoke about how those children have grown up in wineries and how sometimes in the busy seasons they’d spend more time together as a family in the winery than at home. Family really does come first at Three Rivers Winery.

 

Holly walking us through the wines

Here are the details from our lovely wine pairing dinner. The meal comes to us from Executive Chef Matt Antonich of The Club at Rock Creek in Coer d’Alene, Idaho.

Three Rivers Winery tasting room

First Course

Saffron Scallops (Fresh scallops pan seared over Alaskan king crab risotto and Reserve Chardonnay saffron beurre blanc)

2016 Reserve Chardonnay (Gamache Vineyard, Columbia Valley) current release: 2017 $35

This wine sees 8 months in French oak, 24% new. A beautiful nose on this wine of toasted oak and butterscotch. Lots of toasty nuts, poached pear, and MLF notes. 189 cases produced.

 

Saffron Scallops

Second Course

Rocky Mountain Elk Chop (Organic free-range grilled elk chop atop Asian short rib fried rice served with huckleberry Malbec gastrique and fresh chanterelle elk demi-glace)

2015 Walla Walla Syrah current release: 2016 $42

80% Syrah, McB Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley

10% Petit Verdot, Seven Hills Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley

10% Cabernet Sauvignon, Bacchus Vineyard, Columbia Valley

This wine is aged 17 months in French oak, 60% new. Classic Syrah notes of black pepper plus dried meat/jerky. Also, coffee on the back palate. 116 cases produced.


2016 Malbec
 (Gamache Vineyard, Columbia Valley) $38

This wine is aged 17 months in 43% new French & American oak. Dark red fruit (very plummy, plus cherry notes) and a medium + body. A soft, smooth, and pleasing wine. 165 cases produced.

 

Rocky Mountain Elk Chop

Intermezzo

Lemon Herb Bees Knees (Adult slush mixed with lemon, herbs, local honey, and gin)

Lemon Herb Bees Knees

Third Course

Cabernet Braised Lamb Shank (Slow and low lamb shank braised in Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and served with roasted tomato lamb glacé over Point Reyes blue cheese corn grits and roasted butternut squash with toasted black truffle squash seeds)

2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $42

Three Rivers Estate Vineyard, Walla Walla Valley

This wine sees 17 months in French oak, 50% new.

This is the first estate vintage of this Cab. A big, beautiful wine unabashedly structured. Very balanced. Precise. Med + drying tannins. 143 cases produced.

2015 Walla Walla Cabernet Sauvignon $39

Seven Hills Vineyard Walla Walla Valley

This wine sees 17 months in French oak, 50% new. Spice box all day, every day. Way more spice box than the previous Cab. Cigar/smoky tobacco notes. 145 cases produced.

Cabernet Braised Lamb Shank

Fourth Course

Impossible Mole Empanadas (Southwest seasoned Impossible Burger filled empanada served with classic red mole, tomatillo verde, fresh cilantro, queso fresco, and chipotle lime sour cream)

2015 Svelte $50

67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Malbec, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot. Vineyards: Seven Hills, Bacchus, Sagemoor, Gamache, and Weinbau.

This wine sees 18 months in new French oak. A classic Cabernet, this is their signature wine. Strong tannins that will smooth with age. 143 cases produced.

2016 Trivulet (51% Cabernet Franc, 49% Merlot) $38

Wainbau and Bacchus Vineyards

This wine sees 17 months in French oak, 20% new. This is their first vintage of this wine. The Merlot really makes the Cab Franc approachable. I dig this. 120 cases produced.

 

Impossible Mole Empanadas

Final Course

Poached Green Bluff Bartlett Pear (Fresh green bluff Bartlett pear poached in Riesling and served with huckleberry mousse and a dollop of vanilla bean Frangelico cream dusted with huckleberry powder and garnished with apple mint)

2017 Riesling (Bacchus Vineyard, Columbia Valley) $18

All stainless steel. This Riesling gives us just a whisper of sweetness (3.7% RS to be exact) with a slight petrol nose. Love this wine because it can function as an aperitif and also works perfectly with this light dessert. 217 cases produced.

Poached Green Bluff Bartlett Pear