Is there a better way to bond with new friends than by enjoying a wine tasting, fine food, and fun conversation? Probably not, so when our friends Anne and Bill invited us over for a wine tasting party, who could possibly refuse?
Anne’s friend works for a winery in Oregon, and she helped Anne create a fine menu of stuffed dates, Green Goddess Shrimp Cocktail, a cheese platter, and other delectable selections that complemented the wine and played up their naturally rich, berry flavors that helped us usher in the winter season.
The WillaKenzie Estate specializes in Pinot grapes, and the pinot noir samples we tasted were exquisite. Pinot Noir from the Jory Hills Vineyard was rich, ruby colored and complex. It was sweet with hints of lychee and peach. It was also spicy and bright.  It complemented the dates stuffed with chevre so well that I almost got too full going back and forth between the wine and the dates.

The Pierre Leon Pinot Noir had a more floral, earthy taste, contrasting with the berry flavors from the Jory Hills Pinot. We loved the strong raspberry and black cherry nose that finished with spice and cinnamon. It was more robust than the Jory Hills, but it had a sweeter finish than head, which made it pleasant and satisfying.

Compared to the WillaKenzie Estate wines, the Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir was more peppery and had a very strong, dark head. It had a more woodsy taste that seemed to overwhelm the dates but stood up to the strong cheeses from the cheese platter. It was definitely a worthy wine to bring to a party, but compared to the estate wines, it sat a bit lonely in its wine bucket.

You can order WillaKenzie wines from their website.