I was invited to the 7th annual Pinot Summit as a blogger, which to me means as a drinker. There was some heavy lifting involved on Sunday. Prior to Sunday, the best of the best were determined at the Pinot Shootout. I’m not really sure what occurred at the Shootout, but I’m certain that if I knew, I couldn’t tell you, I’d have to shoot you. Anyway, those poor schmucks who attend the shootout have to whittle the selections of Pinot Noir down to the 44 that we were to blind taste on Sunday. Yeah 44. I’m no good at the part where you spit, but I’m pretty good at the part where you dump the ones that don’t interest you. Everything was color coded. I won a second ticket so I brought the Sommelier, one because she knows wine and two because good things happen when the Sommelier and wine and me all get together in the same place.
The difference between a blind tasting and just going wine tasting is a blind tasting forces you to discover your palette. It removes the bright and shiny objects like the labeling and pretty bottles and appellation and year and replaces them with color and nose and flavors and mouthfeel. And it makes you work for your wine. The Sommelier obviously has a trained palette after years in the fine dining and wine business and that official designation thing. We have similar palettes, mine’s just not trained. The Sommelier will say that the wine has “high heat” or melons on the front palette and I’ll say I’ve got $28 worth of love for it and I’m going to have it with grilled pork loin.
Yet in front of me I found 44 different wine bottles with such labels as “Coral” and “Magenta”. It was a daunting task and in the two and a half hours that we did our best to work our way through those 44 wines. We failed, we got 33 of them. And I can’t tell you how much I learned from the experience. We were all given booklets to record our results into. The Som and I used our very own Robert Parker scale and got a couple of 92’s in there. We even picked two of the winners. The results were tabulated and separated by gender. I found that very interesting. Those winners according to the wineevangelist were:
#1 – David Bruce 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (Purple)
#2 – Claiborne & Churchill 2006 Twin Creeks Pinot Noir, Edna Valley (Periwinkle)
#3 – Left Edge Winery 2007 Bodega Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noit, Sonoma Coast (Red)
#1 – Left Edge Winery 2007 Bodega Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noit, Sonoma Coast (Red)
TIED FOR SECOND:
#2 – Lucienne 2006 Lone Oak Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands
#2 – David Bruce 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast (Purple)
#3 – Brutacao Cellars 2006 Estate Bottled Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
The Lucienne was one of my favorites. Another one of my favorites was the Segue Cellars. He didn’t end up in the top three but he easily could have. He’s a very small producer and definitely one of the ones I went back to for more.
After the blind tasting there were break out sessions.Â I chose the ones called
Let’s Talk Dirt About Pinot Noir Join us as we explore terroir as it applies to Pinot Noir in four distinct growing regions. Our panel will discuss the stylistic differences coming from these areas. A minimum of one wine from each region will be tasted. Price points will be revealed.
Moderator: Sid Sall, Wine Director, Great Chefs of Marin
Panelists: Thomas Feller, Artisanal Wine Cellars; Joe Webb, Londer Vineyards; Ben Papapietro, Papapietro Perry; and Adam Lee, Siduri
Discovering New Stars ~ An introduction and tasting of wines from young wineries producing fabulous Pinot Noir.
Moderator:Rusty Gaffney, Prince of Pinot, Pinotfile, Grape Radio
Panelists: Jim Ball, Jim Ball Wines; Leon Glover, Lionheart Wines; Craig Handley, Pleasant Valley Vineyards;and Ken Dunkley, Seawind Wines
We got decent pours of each of their wines so we could really enjoy them.Â I love Papapietro Perry and Siduri (who doesn’t?) and really liked Joe Webb’s offering as well.Â The second break out were all pretty decent as well.Â I really liked Jim Ball Wines and Lionheart Wines’ offering.
It was pretty amazing to spend all day drilling down on a specific varietal.Â Unlike a lot of the big events it was tight.Â ZAP is just ridiculous in two buildings of Fort Mason.Â Actually most of the Fort Mason events get a little ridiculous.Â Even though we fought to keep our palette true with 44 wines, it was nice having it refined down to just 44.Â All and all an awesome event.Â For Pinot Noir lovers, I would recommend never missing this one.Â You can’t help but learn about the varietal and enjoy yourself at the same time.