... pursued by bear

Monday, August 03, 2009

In the course of my varied career in media, I’ve met and interviewed thousands of celebrities – some major, some minor – but none nicer than Kyle MacLachlan. He strolled up to my Waitsburg cottage a few days ago, with his friend and collaborator Eric Dunham, bringing two cases of wine, a rack of freshly washed wine glasses, and lunch. Though we had never met, MacLachlan was as relaxed and at home as if we’d been friends since high school.

The wine project, which carries the curious name “…pursued by bear” (a stage direction from Shakespeare, MacLachlan explains), has been in the works for over four years. Last fall the first vintage was released, a dark, juicy, fruit-loaded cabernet sauvignon. Last week, we tasted the 2006, not yet released, but already drinking quite well. It’s reflective of that sleeker, less effusively fruity vintage. The aromas are lovely – lots of violets and berries. I’m tempted to say that in the mouth the wine feels like blue velvet, but we’ve dune enough with that, so I’ll leave the puns to you desperate housewives.

I guess that …pursued falls into the celebrity wine category, whatever that means. But MacLachlan doesn’t plaster his name on someone else’s work as so many do. In spite of his hectic work schedule and responsibilities as a new father, he spends a fair amount of time in Washington and Walla Walla, checking up on the wines in barrel, and helping to shine a spotlight on the wine community out here. Thanks to Eric Dunham, he has recently discovered the charms of Waitsburg. Last night the jimgerman bar hosted Kyle, Eric, their friends and families, and staged a paella supper that will be part of a feature next summer in Food & Wine magazine.

We chatted a bit about the Washington wine industry, and MacLachlan, who is a Yakima native, seemed genuinely excited about the new energy and revitalization that wine folks have brought to the region. It was during his occasional visits home that he began exploring wineries in Yakima and Walla Walla, got inspired to make wine himself, and fortuitously met Eric Dunham.

“I was excited that there was something revitalizing central Washington,” MacLachlan explained. “I’d seen Yakima gradually just decline; the new energy was really cool, something to brag about. I suppose you could brag about hops and mint, but it doesn’t have the same kind of impact.”

In honor of his son, who was born just a year ago, he and Dunham have crafted a 2008 syrah, from Phinny Hill fruit, that they call Baby Bear. Not yet ready for tasting, but given the quality of the other Dunham syrahs, I would anticipate another beauty. Should you wish to pursue either of these wines, visit the website – http://pursuedbybearwine.com. It’s definitely worth a visit just to see the Monty Python-inspired animation. Be sure to click on the faces in the crowd to find Eric Dunham, his family, and a few other familiar names.

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