Dinner at the Willows on Lummi Island with '06 Tattinger Comtes, '08 Pierre Peters Chetillons, '99 Jadot Ursules (and too many photos)

We finally made it back for another sensational experience at The Willows. The food was as fine as ever (Marybeth says better!). Some dishes had more Latin spice than on previous visits. Perhaps that’s due to Chef Blaine Wentzel’s marriage and collaboration with Daniela Soto-Innes, a star in her own right. We had beautiful weather marred only by smoke drifting from the nearby Chilliwack Complex fire by Mt. Baker. In contrast to the pulmonary detriments, our eyes were treated to a view enriched with a red sun.

We had a piscine-centric meal, complemented by beautifully prepared local fruit and vegetable dishes. Some examples were grilled oyters and Tequila sauce, dungeness crab gaznate, shisho and spot prawns, smoked mussels and smoked salmon, baked onion, tuna belly and more.

As is my habit, I brought my own wine. Still, I was happy to see great improvements in their wine list. Some of my favorites; a large selection grower champagnes including several Egly-Ouriet, plus Gimmonet, Vilmart and more.

We commenced with a 2006 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut, as I wanted a crowd please for my friends, and something that could stand on it’s own at the start. This opened to a slight hazelnut hint of age, despite showing some initial matchstick reduction. Then, the typical lemon and orange, brioche and cream, and glycerine texture I’ve come to expect from this wine. My formerly ample supply continues to wane.

Mid-meal, we opened one of my treasured 2008 Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru Cuvée Speciale Blanc de Blancs Les Chetillons. It had more contrast than similarities with the Comtes. A beautiful wine, though it seems to beg for more bottle age. I preferred it with its elegance and class compared to the bombastically delicious Comtes. It perfectly straddles power and grace. Lemon cream, warm yeasty brioche, chamomile, ginger. Better with air and warmth.

Towards the end came the 1999 Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Ursules Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot. Sometimes you get lucky and catch a modest bottle at its apogee, for a dazzling wine experience. Such was this wine. Dark colored. Dense cherry and raspberry, moist earth, mushrooms, with minerals at the end of the long finish. Persistent; simply gorgeous. Bottles like this counterbalance my occasional regret after opening a disappointing wines from the region.

At the end, Blaine and some of the staff treated us to a beautiful Sherry they had opened; I neglected to catch the details. I finished with a little Chartreuse Verte as a digestif.

All in all, a fantastic experience. The staff were so attentive and friendly. Every part of the meal was a celebration.

Smoke on the water as we boarded the car ferry
Red sun

Dungeness crab gaznate
Shisho and spot prawns
Potato and cheese cream
2006 Taittinger Comtes
Smoked salmon and mussels
Ailsa craig onion with green mole
At its apogee!



Love hearing Willows is still firing on all cylinders!) We went opening night in April (and felt, too, that it was likely our best visit --of many) and also noted the likely influence of Daniela. We are returning for closing night in December–can’t wait! Thank you for a great write up/pictures. Willows/Lummi Island is a very special place indeed


Sounds like a great evening. Love how the '06 Comtes keeps showing great.

I was kind of hoping you’d say '08 Chétillons is ready to go, but this is more in line with what I expected. Gladly holding my 2 bottles, probably for quite a few more years.

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The 1999 Jadot Ursules is a personal favorite. I still have one left, but you may have destroyed my willpower!

p.s. thread title says 09 Ursules, which I am also curious about!

Willows Inn is my favorite restaurant in the U.S. I sent a serious foodie there who was visiting from Europe and they did two nights a few weeks ago and also had an amazing experience.

Can’t wait to go back…

Thanks for the write up.


Fixed it; thanks David