Charleston celebrated the Charleston Wine and Food Festival this weekend.  The weather did not cooperate Saturday, but the Festival was able to make rapid adjustments to ensure that events weren’t adversely affected.  Two years ago, I attended this event and was glad that I selected it, again, this year.  There were fewer wineries this year and more emphasis on food, and many of the wineries represented were new to me which made the event a wonderful learning (and tasting!) opportunity.

Andrew Rich Wines of Willamette Valley, OR, makes truly extraordinary wines.  His 2008 Pinot Noir The Knife Edge is the epitome of what Oregon Pinot Noir should be.  It is a glorious, deep red with a nose dominated by raspberries.  The wine is beautifully balanced with a long finish.

Jeff Gaffner, owner/winemaker at Saxon Brown Wines of Sonoma, CA, believes in bottle aging his wines for at least 18 months before releasing them.  For this reason, he is just releasing some of his 2008 Pinot Noirs.  I had the privilege of tasting both Parmelee Hill and Durrell Vineyards Pinot Noirs with 220 and 240 cases of the wines about to hit the market.  The Durrell is a deep, clear red with aromas of black cherry and spice.  It has good structure and will easily cellar for 10 years or longer, if anyone can wait that long!

Maysara Winery of McMinnville, OR, was another winery new to me.  The winemaker is one of the owners’ daughters, Tahmiene Momtazi, and her wines were indeed impressive.  The Momtazis farm biodynamically and are making lovely wines expressive of the land.  Try their Jamsheed 2008 Pinot Noir or 2009 3 Degrees Pinot Noir.  Both are accessibly priced and highly rated.

Loads of wonderful food tastings were available.  Of those I sampled, the oyster stew from Eurasia Café was my favorite.  The rich, creamy base was flavored with Old Bay seasoning and a splash of Tobasco.  It was ladled over a small scoop of mashed potatoes and finished with oysters and a sprinkle of bacon.  Truly to die for.

There were too many other wonderful wines and foods to describe in this post.  This is the seventh year for the Charleston Wine and Food Festival and it deserves the glowing reputation it  has achieved.