Pinot Noir for #WineChat #IPNC
Last week, I did some serious relishing in all that is IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration). Taking place annually in McMinnville, Oregon, the heart of the Willamette Valley, IPNC is a three day food and wine extravaganza that pretty much resembles heaven on earth (especially for Pinot Noir lovers like me). The food, the wine, the people, the seminars, and the tours were unprecedented, and it was the most spectacular event I have ever attended. From a Champagne Growers class with Champagne expert Terry Theise to the world-famous Salmon Bake under the stars with an unlimited whirlwind pouring of world-class Pinot Noirs, I have so many extremely awesome experiences to share.
Two nights before the official celebration began, I met up with other Pinot Noir lovers on Twitter for a round of Wine Wednesday #WineChat (a scheduled weekly wine conversation), and the theme was – you guessed it – Pinot Noir. But it wasn’t just any Pinot Noir, we specifically focused on Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in honor of the upcoming 27th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration. With an invite to participate from William Allen of Simple Hedonisms (who is also the founder/winemaker of the uniquely stellar Two Shepherds wines – can’t wait to write about these), I was more than happy to join in on Wednesday #WineChat to taste and discuss the wine that captured my heart many years ago: Oregon Pinot Noir.
Until the wines we’d be sampling arrived in boxes at my front door, I was unaware of the incredible treat that lay ahead: Montinore 2010 Swan Song Pinot Noir, Sokol Blosser 2010 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, R. Stuart & Co. 2010 Vignette Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Elk Cove 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and The Eyrie Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir Estate. I had a great big smile in tact as I popped the corks on these five wines about thirty minutes before #winechat #IPNC began.
Having been forewarned about the speed of the #winechat tasting and conversation (this was my first time participating), which takes place for just one hour from 6-7 pm (PST), I swirled, sipped and savored each of the Pinots side by side prior to start time. One of the reasons why I dig Oregon Pinot Noir so much is that with each vintage comes variation, and with each AVA or terroir comes unique flavors and qualities. No two Oregon Pinots are exactly alike.
I took notes on each Pinot as I swirled and sipped – I was ready to begin as other wine-chatters trickled in from around the globe. Once I read the tech sheets (detailed information on each of the wines sampled), I quickly realized each wine was not only unique in aroma and flavor components, but each had its own distinctive history that is certainly worth repeating.
Montinore Estate 2010 Swan Song Pinot Noir ($45)
Notes from Montinore (quoted) ~ “This wine is born of a dying vineyard. The vines in this block are shrinking every year due to the scourge of phylloxera that laid waste to the great vineyards of Europe in the late 1800s. Oregon was once isolated from this pesky louse, but it has sadly found us here, forcing Oregon’s earliest vineyards to be replanted with resistant rootstock. With yields dwindling every year, we are seeing the last few vintages of this vineyard and, hence, its swan song.” Demeter Biodynamic and Stellar Organic Certification Services.
Notes from me ~ Aromas of raspberries, cherries and bright red berry fruit with lovely hints of white pepper. Juicy, fresh acidity and smooth mouthfeel end with a palate pleasing long finish. Like most Oregon Pinots I love, this carries finesse.
Sokol Blosser 2010 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($38)
Notes from Sokol Blosser ~ 100 percent Dundee Hills organic estate fruit, Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine. A “nail-biting vintage,” many winemakers in the Willamette Valley stressed over the unseasonably warm January and February and cooler and wetter than average Spring that persisted throughout summer, resulting in lower yields. The weather finally turned in September and October allowing the flavor compounds in the fruit to develop faster than the sugar levels. The limited yields, consisten cooler temps and extended hang time made way for some stunning wines.
Notes from me ~ Bright and vibrant red fruit aromas were nuanced by earthy, woodsy and smoky undertones. Nice minerality, lively fruit and excellent acidity left the palate refreshed and alive. Have you seen the new state-of-the-art tasting room at Sokol Blosser? It’s a must see, I’ll be writing about my stellar experience there real soon.
R. Stuart & Co. 2010 Vignette Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($30)
Notes from R. Stuart & Co. ~ Unfined and unfiltered, this 100 percent willamette Valley Pinot is a blend of fruit from 4 different single vineyards: Ana, Hircshy, Temperence hill and Daffodil Hill. The alcohol is just 12.9% with a pH of 3.58, and the vignette was aged for 20 months in French oak barrels ranging from new to seven years old.
Notes from me ~ Brilliance in a bottle, I love this Pinot. Deep, rich aromas of violets, herbs and mixed berries with hints of cedar. Juicy, lush berries on the front are rounded out by zesty mid palate acidity. Delicious earthy, herbal finish.
Notes from Elk Cove (quoted) ~ “All of Elk Cove’s delicate Pinot Noir fruit undergoes the same meticulous vineyard management and gentle handling through our gravity flow system thus receiving the elegance, texture and luscious quality that are hallmarks of our exquisite Pinot Noirs. From the early pioneering days to now, our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir has remained the foundation of Elk Cove vineyards. This Pinot Noir is blended from several select vineyard sites comprised of Pommard and Dijon plant material and shows the softest, most approachable drinking style Elk Cove makes.”
Notes from me ~ At just $29 dollars a bottle, this is the deal of the century. Keywords above are elegance, texture, luscious, exquisite, softest, approachable – they describe this Pinot to a T. Aromas of candied apple, chocolate covered cherries and fall spices flow onto the palate like silk with added earthy notes. Smooth tannins and spicy acidity balance the fruit to perfection. Fresh and pure. Wow.
The Eyrie Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir Estate ($35)
Notes from Eyrie, specifically Jason Lett (quoted) ~ “As a kid in the 1970s, our harvests always fell in mid to late October. Those loooong ripening times gave great ageability. In the era of global warming, I thought I’d never have a chance to make wine in a vintage like 1976 or 1979 again. But then 2010 came along, and it was a wonderful year to make wine, like 1976 all over again.”
Notes from me ~ Everyone during the tasting agreed that the Eyrie needed some air to loosen up a bit, so I saved some (although difficult) for later on in the evening. After thirty minutes of being open, aromas were earthy, mushroomy and funky. Have no fear, funky is good…real good. It’s a quality I often find in Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs and it’s one I love. The texture was luscious and opulent and the flavors were complex and round. Thirty minutes later, it was opening up and displaying some blackberry and dark fruit notes. Even later, the earthiness had come back to complement the fruits with perfection – this wine evolved and evolved some more. I absolutely loved every sip and enjoyed the diversity of characteristics. I can’t wait to purchase another bottle and go through all the phases again, it was outstanding.
The one hour of #winechat #IPNC seemed to fly by, I wasn’t ready to bid farewell to my Pinot Noir loving colleagues, but alas, everyone was off to make dinner. I ended up running to the Fisherman’s Market here in Eugene, Oregon, to pick up some fresh salmon – all of those gorgeous Oregon Pinot Noirs deserved a worthy food companion, and salmon was the perfect match.
I enjoyed #winechat so much that I participated in the following Wednesday’s wine chat, which focused on two Argentine wines – a Torrontes and a Malbec. Check back for notes and details on another lively virtual Twitter tasting. Cheers.
Want to join in on a Wednesday #winechat? Visit Protocol Wine Studio for details.
NUMBERS: #winechat #IPNC had huge reach during our hour of conversation. Numbers on the hashtag #IPNC were provided in a report generated by TweetReach. Estimated accounts reached were 222,277 and there were 2,640,301 impressions from just 978 Tweets by 140 contributors. Simply amazing.
*Thanks to William Allen for the #winechat invitation and to #winechat hosts, Protocol Wine Studio. Many thanks to the participating wineries: R. Stuart, Montinore, Eyrie, Elk Cove and Sokol Blosser – every last sip was thoroughly enjoyed.