Where will you be when the millennium turns? Some will be at parties, others at fabulous events around the world. Most will be at home, preferring to enjoy the moment quietly with friends.
Others, like me, will be at work. It's inevitable in the newspaper publishing business, getting the last story of the century done for the first issue of 2000 and hoping the power stays on.
If I wasn't at work, what would I sip to toast the last thousand years and welcome the next? It wouldn't be French, even if I could afford, find or pronounce any of it. I'm a lifelong Northwesterner who loves the fruits of these vines, and when we get home at 2 a.m., my wife and I will celebrate the next century of our life together with a world-class Northwest wine.
With that in mind, I'll share with you my short list for celebrating 2000.
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Pyramid-aged bubbly. Jan. 1 will be much like any other Jan. 1, with too much football and too many hangovers. But it also will be the dawn of a new age. And what better way to welcome this new age than with a Summerhill Estate Winery sparkling wine? This Kelowna, British Columbia, winery ages all of its wines in a pyramid modeled after those in Egypt in the belief that the Earth's harmonics age the wine in a way that makes them superior. Whether you believe that or not, you can't deny the quality. I will be chilling the Cipes Aurora and Cipes brut.
Port. Port is meant for cold winter nights. And if the lights do go out in the first hours of the 21st century, what better way to warm up than with a glass of port. The Northwest makes many stunning ports, as you'll read about in this issue. One of my first choices would be Tefft Cellars' Starboard. This Yakima Valley winery can't call it a port because it uses huckleberries instead of grapes, so it came up with this clever name.
Pinot Noir. My choice for Oregon's pride and joy to celebrate the 35 years I spent in the last century would be Archery Summit, Domaine Drouhin or Carlo & Julian.
Cabernet. One problem with Leonetti Cellar is it's nearly impossible to find. A scant few wine shops in the Northwest carry Washington's legendary cab (I get mine from one of the lucky folks on the mailing list). Another problem is if you actually have a bottle, you have to find one special occasion for which to pop that precious cork. Except for my wedding anniversary, I can't think of a better reason than the new millennium. Among the unlucky masses without a bottle of Leonetti? Don't fret. Woodward Canyon, Quilceda Creek or Matthews Cellars are a little easier to find and no less magnificent. Columbia Winery's 1979 Millennium cab is, perhaps, a bit cliché, but if you're going to wait two decades to open this wine, the first day of the millennium is as good as any.
Ice. Sparkling wine may be tradition for a time like this, but another choice for celebration could be an ice wine. We're fortunate enough to have some of the world's greatest ice wines in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley. You can't go wrong with Jackson-Triggs, Mission Hill or Sumac Ridge. Want something a little more unusual? Slamka Cellars' auxerrois ice wine is as rare as an Ogopogo sighting on Okanagan Lake. Just be sure to be sitting down when you drink any of these wines - they always make my knees buckle.
And for something completely different. Want to top your millennium gathering with an amazing wine? Pull out a bottle of Bainbridge Island Winery's late-harvest botrytized sieggerebe. You'll be hard pressed to locate a more unusual, spectacular and fun-to-pronounce treat than the one produced from this winery 30 minutes west of Seattle.
What I would be doing if I weren't working Dec. 31, had unlimited funds and time on my hands.
Marketing geniuses have been thinking up incredible ways to celebrate the millennium. I've heard of the round-the-world Concorde jet trips, the cruise ships out at the international date line and even some Seattle hotels that will rent themselves out for those who want to throw a fabulous party.
My first choice would be reservations at the Herbfarm restaurant near Seattle for its "Last Supper of the Twentieth Century." In addition to the 11-course world-class meal, you'll be treated to wines from three different centuries, including a 1982 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, an 1899 port and a 1795 Barbeito Terrantez Madeira. The evening will be topped off with a special bottling of Hedges Cellars' Red Mountain Reserve cabernet sauvignon from the Yakima Valley. Price per person: $1,250.
My second choice would be the Hotel Edgewater's Magical Millennium Tour, a two-day trip back to the '60s, when The Beatles came to town. Price per couple: $999.