The PinotFest is an annual tasting in November of wine made from the Pinot Noir grape. The 18th annual PinotFest took place November , as it usually does, in a three-room format in an intimate atmosphere with hors d’oeuvres complementing the wines at the Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco. I attended the trade portion of the tasting on November 20. The event is billed as an all Pinot Noir celebration, and that is just what it is. One look at the list of wineries pouring should be sufficient to make the decision to attend. For Pinot lovers, it brings together many of California’s top produces pouring their wines in one place at the same time, and the opportunity to meet their winemakers. Some notable Oregon producers also bring their wines to the tasting.
Sprinkled among the headliner wineries are some producers with less familiar names. In this latter group lies an opportunity to discover some stellar and unique Pinot Noir wine worth knowing as it begins receiving market attention.
Pinot Noir has been said to have sex appeal. There are many who practically worship the wine that this grape produces. But there have also been many who have found this grape difficult to coax fine wine from. Burgundy, France has been the kingdom of Pinot Noir, along with Chardonnay of course. But the French have had long experience with the grape, and the climate is different from that in California. Recent efforts in California and Oregon have achieved new heights in Pinot Noir craftsmanship. Some superb wines are reaching the market, and Pinot fans should be certain to keep current and taste them. One of the very best venues to do this, as well as meeting some of the proprietors, is at the PinotFest!
My tasting notes
93, Pinot Noir, Bonaccorsi, Cargasacchi, Santa Rita Hills, 2013
An elegant and luscious flavor bomb with red candied fruit, jammy plum, and aromas of flowers. This medium to light-bodied ruby-colored wine shows a light and smooth texture with fine grained tannins and just enough lifting acid. A lingering, silky finish.
91, Pinot Noir, Domaine de la Côte, Bloom’s Field, 2013
Medium ruby in color, the entry to this exciting wine is loaded with captivating fresh raspberry and wild spice aromas in this lithe and buoyant 2013 from Domaine de la Côte. An unobtrusive vein of acidity runs through the wine providing lift and animation. The wine is balanced and smooth from entry to finish. This single vineyard wine comes from Bloom’s Field, a 7 ½ acre parcel exposed to full marine influences, and is always produced from whole bunch fermentation. It checks in at only 12.5% alcohol. A fabulous effort!
91, Pinot Noir, Freeman, Akiko’s Cuvee, 2013
This winegrower continues to bring outstanding cool-climate Pinot Noir to the marketplace. Akiko’s Cuvee for the 2013 vintage is a blend of favorite barrels from several vineyards including Campbell Ranch, the William Rayhill vineyard, and Freeman’s own Gloria Estate. This deep red-purple 2013 opens with red and dark fruit aromas and flavors accentuated by dark cherry and plum. The texture is smooth and silky and the wine displays the exceptional balance common to Freeman. Medium-plus in body, the wine shows good delineation of its characteristics, concentrated flavor content, and a long finish.
91, Reuling Estate, Sonoma Coast, 2013
This medium-bodied, ruby-red Pinot Noir was fermented with a portion of whole clusters. A very expressive wine showing forest floor, rose petal, and orange blossom in the aroma. The full mid-palate offers sweet spicy red berry and red cherry fruit. This supple wine maintains very good balance with a well defined finish.
93, Pinot Noir, Sinor-LaVallee, San Luis Obispo County, 2013
The aromas of this Sinor-LaVallee 2013 Pinot Noir are delicate but animated. Ripe mulberry, blackberry cordial, and viney aromas with rise from the glass with just a hint of forest floor. The focus and energy are impressive. Sinor-LaVallee calls this 50% native yeast-fermented wine their flagship Pinot Noir. It is a blend of eight clones hand-harvested by blocks from their Bassi Vineyard just 1.2 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This unique, alluring wine has plenty to offer including a long finish.
94, Pinot Noir, Wayfarer, Mother Rock, 2012
This 2012 Mother Rock from Wayfarer is a lithe, agile, and energetic portrait of Pinot Noir. The jammy boysenberry and ripe red and black fruit aromas plus the vibrancy add thrilling character to this unique wine. The brambly aspect with the buoyant fruit aromas carry through to the long finish. Well managed tannins in this medium-bodied, balanced, and remarkably enchanting Pinot Noir.