This weekend marks the 7th Annual Pinot on The River Festival. My 2nd year in attendance, I found this event to be one of the best organized, enjoyable, and if you are a Pinot lover, an incredible experience and opportunity to immerse yourself in the opportunity to taste and explore dozens of small production, often allocated, Pinot Noirs.
While I have been focusing on more on Rhone varietals these days; Pinot Noir will always be a mainstay love in my life. About ten years ago she rescued me from the doldrums of drinking predominantly Bordeaux varietals, lightened by the occasional Sauvignon Blanc and (thankfully) Viognier.
I was living in Marin and the City, working in Petaluma, and making frequent jaunts to the Russian River Valley. Pinot Noir was the change I was seeking for a palate tired of being oppressed by oak and tannins. Her lush, silky embrace wooed me. I had grown up from dating girls, to a slightly more mature, heady, woman.
While many focus on the Sunday Grand Artisanal Tasting, held Sunday afternoon at Rodney Strong, there are events all weekend.
Saturday, October 23 features seminars focused on the 2009 Vintage of Pinot Noir and A Vintage Retrospective looking at older vintages, moderated by Gregory S. Walter, editor of Pinot Report.pini
The festival kicks into high gear Saturday night with the “A Taste Of Pinot” dinner event. The dinner is a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County, featuring the first annual “A Taste Of Pinot” dinner at the Hotel Healdsburg in Healdsburg. The event will feature Pinot-inspired tastings of unique small bites prepared by Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen paired with limited production Pinot Noir from a group of producers.
On Sunday, October 24, more than 100 wineries will gather to pour their best Pinots for the walkaround “Grand Artisanal Pinot Noir Tasting at the Rodney Strong Vineyards.” Cheese purveyors.
Some Advice for the Grand Tasting – Spit it Out
If you are in or close to the wine industry, by now you have learned how to properly enjoy an event like this. If you are a typical consumer, this suggestion is often received as distasteful. At this years IPNC I listened to an older consumer ask a winemaker “Why are some people spitting anyway, I dump out, isn’t that the same?” Sadly, the winemaker missed out on an opportunity to help educate, and offered no contrary opinion.
Do the math; a hundred producers, many pouring multiple releases. If you tried 50 of them, quite feasible over 3-4 hours (I will taste ~50-100) and swallowed a ½ ounce of the 1-2 ounces poured, you will have consumed a bottle of wine. (or easily more.) Even if you have a Designated Driver, and say a high tolerance, why should you care, you ask?
I guess it depends on what your goal of the event is. This is a unique opportunity to compare side by side, dozens of styles of one of the most subtle, terroir expressive varietals you can taste. Only a few ounces of alcohol begin to alter your sensory evaluation abilities, though you may not realize it at first. Give your palate the opportunity to explore, compare, and contrast the vintages without the mask of alcohol impairment.
This is an event where you will see industry, writers, and the most serious of consumers walking around, red cup in hand. If you consider yourself a pinot-phile and becoming a more serious evaluator of wine; try it, even for an hour. It transformed the way I learned to appreciate wine.
Simple Hedonisms will be roaming around the event seeking out our favorite releases, and sharing experiences and tasting notes live over Facebook and Twitter (Hashtag #POTR2010). If you follow my writing and shared palate experiences; its no surprise what I will be seeking and most likely to praise; modestly made, less extracted, no syrah added, graceful, delicate, light, feminine Pinot Noir.
Hope you will follow and enjoy.
If you see me roaming around, stainless spit cup and iPad in hand, say hi!
P.S. On that note, I have typically share my tasting notes live on Twitter, as well on Facebook, via my personal page…recently I have been posting instead on the S H Fan page – any preference of either? (Even though the Fan page has more followers, the personal page oddly still gets more response.