This week, we— your faithful Thirsty Kittens— had no plan in mind for what to write about when Friday rolled around. So we did what we typically do when we need good ideas. We trekked to a local retailer and played the game we like to call, “Tell me a story!”
Actually, I was shopping solo on Friday on behalf of the two of us and felt quite lucky when I walked into Sorella Wines in downtown Minneapolis and was steered to Mike for help. I knew I was in good hands when he didn’t bat an eye or think it odd that I was looking for “a red wine with a good story.” In fact, Mike had no shortage of ideas. He acquainted me with so many interesting, family-owned wineries in Washington and Oregon that I walked out with an armful of choices.
Breathless with excitement about all the new wines, I told Kip (aka Dear Darling Spouse) a short vignette about each wine and winery whose bottles I’d brought home. The choice of which to open was not easy but we finally settled on the 2008 “Jamsheed” Pinot Noir from Maysara Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Moe and Flora Momtazi founded Maysara in 2001. Natives of Iran, the Momtazis left Tehran in 1982 during the turbulent era when Khomeini came to power. We learned from The Prince of Pinot that the couple escaped by motorcycle, with Moe driving and Flora riding on back, pregnant with their first child. Once in the U.S., Moe began a successful civil engineering practice.
The couple, who share a passion for farming, began to dream of producing wine using only holistic, naturopathic practices. Together they built Maysara from the ground up. Today, they run the winery with their three daughters, now grown. Tahmiene Momtazi is winemaker, having learned the craft in wineries in both Oregon and New Zealand. Sister Naseem handles the winery’s sales and marketing, while the youngest, Hanna, though still in college, takes care of hospitality at the winery.
Maysara’s commitment to environmentally friendly farming caught our attention right away. They’ve used sustainable, biodynamic practices ever since they bought their 532-acre property in McMinnville in 1997. Very simply, they believe these practices are not only good for the earth, but good for the quality of their grapes, as well. [Biodynamic farming, for those who are unfamiliar, is organic farming kicked up a notch and is very thoughtfully explained by Moe in an article on Maysara’s website.]
So what about the wine? The Jamsheed Pinot contains grapes from every block of the Momtazi’s vineyard and blends Dijon and Pommard Pinot clones. We adored that the Momtazi’s honored their cultural heritage by naming this wine after legendary Persian King Jamsheed who was said to be able to see his entire kingdom by peering into a full glass of wine. [We wish we had this talent. No wonder he was King.]
We found the Jamsheed to be silky smooth and balanced— an elegant wine with subdued cherry-cranberry flavors on the front and a delightful tartness on the finish. Kip even detected a bit earth in the sip, as well, he said. The 2008 received 90 point ratings from both Robert Parker and Wine Spectator. “Supple, friendly, and easygoing on the palate, it has excellent depth of flavor…and a lengthy finish with no hard edges,” said the Spectator. With Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Rosé and Riesling also in their line-up, we look forward to sampling more of the Momtazi’s wines.
So this week, we toast to the search for stories, which isn’t really a very difficult search at all. Because, as we found, all you have to do is ask. With a single question, we turned up a pretty fascinating tale of a family who left their home country, made a new home in the U.S., and created something lasting and meaningful from their dreams. The point is that every bottle of wine holds at least one great story. And every person you meet has at least one, as well. So on the eve of Thanksgiving and the gatherings of families where there is the luxury of time together, we wish you all good stories and good times together. Cheers! (P.S. Did we mention Pinot Noir goes wonderfully well with turkey? :)