OWB’s sommelier event host, Adam Lechmere shares his thoughts
Earlier this year, the Southwark restaurant, Trivet, welcomed 20 top sommeliers for an exclusive tasting and lunch in partnership with Oregon Wine Board. The lunch was hosted by previous Decanter.com launch editor and current contributor to Club Oenologique, Adam Lechmere. We had a chance to debrief with Lechmere and hear his thoughts on the wine list, and how to ‘speak sommelier’ at a professional tasting.
Lechmere welcomed the sommeliers with a brief introduction to the Oregon region. “I was excited to talk about Terroir. [Oregon’s] climate is uniquely suited to cool climate varieties like Pinot Noir. [They’re] producing wines [that] are lean, poised and precise but with a wonderful touch of exoticism and perfume.”
Throughout the tasting, Lechmere provided commentary and notes on each bottle. “Of course, with somms, especially those at the top of their game, you [introduce the wines] at a more expert level than you would with the general public,” explained Lechmere. “When tasting the wines, I do a lot more comparison – pointing out that this Oregon Chardonnay (or Pinot Gris, or Riesling) might be a fascinating alternative to a much more expensive Burgundy, for a tableful of knowledgeable diners.”
As for initial reactions from the wine expert guests, many were intrigued by the variety within the 12 bottle tasting. “It was my impression [that the] somms felt they'd been introduced to new and interesting wines that they would like to see more of, particularly varieties like Trousseau and Syrah which they might not have associated with Oregon,” shared Lechmere.
In all the group tasted six of the 72 grape varieties grown in Oregon; including Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Syrah and Trousseau.
As host, Lechmere was equally intrigued by the inclusion of lesser-produced grape varieties from Oregon and enjoyed discovering wine labels he wasn’t already familiar with: “All of [the wines] were surprising in their own ways. A couple showed a slight unbalance of oak – [like] the two Domaine Serene wines. Other standouts [were] the hibiscus aromas of the Gott Pinot Gris, the florality and ripe burst of acidity on the Brooks Riesling. The extraordinary textured, peppery length of the Division Un Chardonnay.”
Sharing more notes from the tasting, he continued, “[I loved] the bright freshness and Gamay-like elegance of the Eyrie Vineyard Trousseau. The Cloudline Pinot Noir was especially wild, intense and perfumed, a lovely wine.”
If you’re thinking, ‘I’d love to brush up on my wine knowledge’, Lechmere had sage advice: “Taste and taste and taste as much as you can, and with a professional to show you how to recognise the different types of tannin, what balance means, how to sort a well-oaked wine from clumsy use of oak, how to tell if a wine will age or not, and what terroir means.”
Training for a career in wine requires more formal education and Lechmere suggested to ‘start generalist’ before selecting a study focus. He recommends becoming certified Level 3 via the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, “and travel as much as possible – you can’t truly understand a wine until you’ve seen where it comes from.”
Feeling inspired to taste the wine from OWB’s sommelier lunch? Find the wine list below, with links to some of the bottles available at retailers
· Division Un Chardonnay 2020, Willamette Valley
· Twill Oregon Syrah 2019
· 2018 Brooks Ara Riesling
· Decouverte Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018
· Big Table Farm Wild Bee Chardonnay
· Eyrie Vineyards 2018 Trousseau
· Cloudline Pinot Noir, Drouhin Oregon 2021
· Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvee Pinot Noir 2018