There are some times in life where you just have to put your religion aside and enjoy life for what it is.
One of those times is when it comes to drinking wine.
Being the good Catholic boy that I am, I'm always careful to keep myself away from associating with or getting messed up with the occasion of sin.
I say my prayers before meals and at bed time every evening like I was taught. And I enjoy a good glass of libation, as long as it's in moderation.
So, what's a good boy like me to do when I'm met by a stunningly beautiful woman offering me a glass of ruby red wine. I drink it. I smile. I ask for the whole bottle!
Such was the case last week when I ran into my friend Jeannie Inglis-Chowaneitz. She and her winemaker husband Rob Chowaneitz have released the first bottling from their new winery called...(parents cover your children's eyes)... Thirsty Pagans. The Chowaneitzs, with good friend Crandall Kyle, started Thirsty Pagans during the harvest of the 2005 vintage.
Using their combined skills and love of wines, they have created a fantastic micro-winery that they intend will create no more than 250 cases of wine each year.
Their location at Alder Ridge, the heart of the Horse Heaven Hills, puts them in a prime location to source the region's best grapes year after year.
Rob Chawaneitz is one of the rising stars in the winemaking business. Working as a cellar rat under John Abbott during the Canoe Ridge days, followed by a stint as the cellar master at Woodward Canyon, Rob now is the head winemaker for Corus Estates, where he has worked since 2004. His specialties are bone-dry whites and deeply complex reds.
Jeannie Inglis-Chowaneitz is an equally talented wine marketer. She began her career working as Waterbrook's club manager, and went on to be the PR and marketing director for Cayuse.
In 2004 Jeannie started her own wine marketing firm, and which she has several very noteworthy Northwest wineries under her watch.
The first vintage created by Thirsty Pagans is their 2005 "Communion" red wine. A blend of 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Merlot, 5 percent Malbec, and 5 percent Petit Verdot is thick and rich with the flavors indicative of the Alder Ridge Vineyard that the grapes are sourced from.
In 100 percent French oak for 22 months and an additional 12 months of bottle aging tells you that they are in it for quality and not quantity.
As extra insurance against cork taint, the Thirsty Pagans chose screw-caps to preserve their wine.
"Communion" features a nose of cassis, sage, blueberries and plum. It is dark and rich in the glass. Layered flavors of dark cherry, blueberry, pepper and baking spices fill your mouth. The tannins are long and silky, leaving you wanting more.
At $26 at the winery this is a very good price for an excellent wine.
If you want to try Communion I suggest going to www.thirstypagans.com, or by requesting them on Facebook. There are several outlets for the wine in the greater region. If you don't see it, ask for it.
Rich Breshears, the East Oregonian's wine columnist, is a commercial photographer and marketing consultant for the wine industry in Oregon and Washington. He lives with his family in Kennewick, Wash. You can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com