Ive been on the Andrew Will mailing list for a number of years, and despite never being able to order anything from it, it is a useful source of information about the region and vintage. In fact for the last three years or so, Ive been desperate to order something from it, but have had neither the money nor the American address to get it sent to. But that shouldnt have stopped me really, because for a number of years, Morris and Verdun have had a small selection of the wines on offer in the UK. And again lack of fiscal resources has stopped me. So earlier this year when I was trying to find a theme for a gourmet dinner to replace a rejected idea, I decided to try and put on a Pacific Northwest dinner. After all it is an area that I have a considerable interest in, it is also an area that you dont see very often coming up on wine-lists in this country, for reasons of which I would discover as I tried to source the wines for the dinner. I was pleasantly surprised when the boss said yes, and lo and behold we were doing a Pac-NW dinner.
Now when we plan these dinners I have a spreadsheet where I plot out the wines that I would like to show, and cost them all out, breaking it down into the usual consumption etc, finally arriving at a cost per person for the wines. From this we can calculate our selling price for the dinners by adding on how much the menu would be (£60) then working on a reduced margin we multiply out the cost giving us a selling price. This is where we hit our first hurdle. Browsing through my supplier catalogues it became evident that there were few Pac-NW wines available in the UK, and those that are are expensive. VERY expensive. So we were faced with the choice of doing a dinner for a relatively unknown region in this country for the princely sum of £160 per person. It doesnt take a genius to know that you wont sell many tables for that one. So we dropped the price down to £120 per person, which was just breaking even. And in the end, it was a very good evening with a total of 23 people there, a little less that I would have liked, but still a good atmosphere and really pleasant service.
Anyway the highlight of the reds for me was the Andrew Will Two Blondes Vineyard blend from the Yakima Valley in Washington. A bordeaux blend with 36% Cab Franc, 35% Cab Sauv and 29% Merlot it was bursting with blackberry flavour and cassis, with a touch of green vegetation at the back. This was served with a cannon of herdwick mutton on smoked aubergine with ewe's curd and olive praline. Everyone raved about it. Job done!