Pinot Noir has been in the news a lot lately – I guess we can thank the movie, Sideways, for the new-found attention. But for those of us that have known and loved the wine before the Sideways-effect (as it is now known in the industry), Pinot is a lovely wine that can cause an otherwise rational human being into committing seemingly irrational acts (like quitting your job to learn to make wine). Delightfully, these affects were witnessed by a large group of people at the commencement event of the Pinot Days event.
Steven and Lisa Rigisich were the brainchildren behind the event, through their Bay Area Wine Project organization, which has coordinated a number of tastings, but nothing quite on this grand scale. Now that they have established such an amazing following, more will undoubtedly be expected and I have no doubt they will live up to the expectation.
It took me far too long to document this event as it happened almost
ten days ago… I was unable to attend the Saturday mass tasting but
enjoyed the Friday evening kick-off event, a tasting that showcased the
Pisoni, Garys’, and Rosella’s vineyards. It was well-attended by almost
eighty devout Pinotphiliacs who enjoyed not only exceptionalPinots, but
were witness to the affects that this chimerical grape has had on the
likes of Gary Pisoni, Brian Loring, Jamie Kutch, and more who were all
in attendance, like priests worshipping at the grand altar.
The difficulty in transcribing the evening is less the quality of the wines tasted than the characters that filled the room. It felt more like we were the supplicants, drinking from the Cup of Truth and paying homage to the High Priest, Gary Pisoni and his anointed ones, Adam Lee from Siduri, Brian Loring, James Hall from Patz & Hall. Young initiates Andrew Vingiello of AP Vin and new-to-the-order novitiate, Jamie Kutch, just to name a few.
The evenings’ tastings were done in four different flights; two different flights from the Rosella’s vineyards and one each from the Gary’s and Pisoni vineyards. To explain much of his own history and expand on the differences in the vineyards, was Gary Pisoni himself. Contrary to popular belief, the vineyards were not named after Gary’s first name and his last name, but his partner, Gary Franscioni being the Gary’s Vineyard. I’ve often wondered why it wasn’t Pisoni Vineyards and Franscioni Vineyard…
Mac McDonald of Vision Cellars brought the most levity to the evening – with his trademark straw hat, he told of stories of being invited to Spectator tastings, but showing up in his denim overalls and never being invited back… It is an obvious impressive background and history – not to mention wine!
I’m sorry I didn’t commemorate the love fest between Brian Loring and Adam Lee – although Brian did offer an especially good shot for me, it was quite touching that Brian commended Adam for opening up his heart and winery to help teach Brian. That torch is being passed as Jamie Kutch is following a similar path with the help of Kosta Browne but that’s another story, still in the writing…)
What was truly astonishing was not only the accessibility of the growers and winemakers, but the inspiration provided by those well-established in their art to those just setting out on the path. There is a false belief in the corporate world that the secrets of success are meant to be hidden and kept secretive, lest some young upstart rise above and stomp the competition. In the world of Pinot, it is exactly the opposit. The well-established craftsmen across the board are opening their doors and sharing the wealth of knowledge to those who have a passion – and it isn’t just for those who have travelled the path of the school-educated winemaker. These are just common folk who are leaving their corporate lives in pursuit of a dream; a liquid, red-colored dream, filling a glass and warming the soul.
The First Flight:
2003 Vision Cellars, Rosella’s Vineyard – Garnet and dark purple in tone. Dark fruit presents early and hangs on. Plus and round, brighter in fruit than in other dimensions.
2003 Miner Family, Rosella’s Vineyard – Brownish tint to the edges. Intensely elegant wine showing spices like cardamom, with layers of dusty herbs. Warm entry that displayed the layers of brambleberry fruit with bright acids. Almost erotic in its layered complexity.
2003 August West, Rosella’s Vineyard – Immediately astringent in the nose with candy-like aromas. Some swirling showed more intense dried cranberry qualities, layered with dried flowers and hints of cocoa. Mineral tones in the mid-palate with a slightly metallic finish.
2003 Siduri, Rosella’s Vineyard – Cloudy red with some brick on the edges. Candy shop aromas that subside to show raspberry and hints of minerality.Initial entry of dark, deep fruit. Slightly acidic in the mouth with goes away quickly but leaves a mineral finish.
2003 ROAR, Rosella’s Vineyard – Bricky orange with thin, herbal entry that blossomed into somewhat harsh smokiness. Metallic and thin and not very balanced comparatively.
2003 Morgan, Rosella’s Vineyard – Bright, medium red in color. Thin, metallic entry warmed with darker berry fruit. Coffee and cocoa showed in the mid-palate and deepened to display a menthol finish.
2003 Loring Wine Company, Rosella’s Vineyard – Murky, dark red with a pink edge. First aromas show concentrated strawberry and brambleberry tones with layered smokiness. Mouth entry at first produced classic dark fruit as it opened to display eucalyptus and darker brett-like tones with a decidedly fruity mid-palate.
2003 Lucia, Gary’s Vineyard – Purple. High alcohol. Nice, fruity entry. Evenly balanced with clove in the mid-palate.
2003 A.P., Gary’s Vineyard – Brett and eucalyptus. Mint mushrooms. Hits in the 3rd eye. Higher acids but even with harsh, thin, finish.
2003 Testarossa, Gary’s Vineyard – Pale red and thin looking. Eucalyptus with some cranberry. Heightened cranberry on entry. Simple. Light thin.
2003 Tantara, Gary’s Vineyard – Funk – roasted. Roasted fruit that is easy. Balanced and fruit-forward. Turns out from having tasting other tables’ offerings that our tables pour might have been heat damaged.
The Fourth, and favored flight of the evening, possibly for being a bit more fruit-forward and opulent in their presentation.
2003 Pisoni Estate, Pisoni Vineyard – Purple and inky dark in color. This is a young wine that is still hot with alcohol. Aromas include exotic incense and dark spices behind the smoky cherry. Cranberry on the entry surprises as being brighter than the aromas indicate with a floral finish that is lush.
2003 Roessler Cellars, Pisoni Vineyard – Purple in color. Eucalyptus on the forefront with a layer of candy shop and wild strawberry that showed sweetness. Thin entry was slightly acidic which expanded into a complex strawberry floral finish.
2000 Arcadian Pisoni Vineyard – Orangey red. Earthy berry showing dark fruit with some herbs. Brett that is warm and sexy. Thin up front but balanced after opening with an herbal mid-palate.
2003 Patz & Hall, Pisoni Vineyard – Purple amethyst color. Dark plum and berry fruit with layered spices in its jammy entry. A Syrah-like smokiness in its exciting finish.