WOPN & Rollin’ at World of Pinot Noir
Back from the 9th annual World of Pinot Noir. Random notes:
Attendance: Crowded, in fact I think it was sold out. Interestingly, on the drive back I heard my old friend, the wine reporter Scott Carpenter, live on KCBS from San Francisco saying how the crowds at the annual Wine Road event, in Sonoma County, were bigger than ever.
The Central Coast mountains and valleys gorgeous after all the rain. Hills the most amazing electric chartreuse, lit by bright winter sun. Tangerine trees under marshmallow skies. Trippy.
Winemaker mood: pessimistic to toxic. Asked how’s it going, they shook their heads and muttered, “Terrible.” Distributor sales down, etc. But put people in a glorious location by the sea, with fine weather and great food and wine, and even the gloomiest mood is uplifted.
It was like old home week. I’ve gone to WOPN since day one (Wine Enthusiast is a sponsor) and it’s always a delight running into old friends.
Name dropping: Brian Talley. Laurie Daniel, from the Mercury-News. Reliving last summer’s Rockaway follies with Rodney Strong’s Robert Larsen on the ellipticals at the hotel gym. Bob Cabral, who bought his winemaking team from Williams Selyem. John Haeger, my U.C. Press stablemate, who gave his as-always fascinating overview of Pinot Noir. Nick Goldschmidt, jauntily moderating a seminar on New Zealand Pinot at Domaine Alfred, now renamed Chamisal. Hugh Chappelle (Lynmar). Greg Bjornstad. Tony Lombardi. Rick Longoria. Fred Dame, MS. Dr. David Bruce, in fine fettle. Dan Morgan Lee. Chuck Wagner, Jr. Milla Handley. Laetitia’s Eric Hickey. Addamo’s Justin Mund. Chad Melville. Gary Pisoni, in a celebratory state of mind. Too many others to mention.
with Bob Cabral
At “The Black Glass Challenge” we tasted 10 Pinots in clear Riedel crystal, then an 11th wine in black glass so you couldn’t see the color. Which of the 10 wines was #11? I narrowed it down to 2, then it was a roll of the dice. I chose wrong, but consoled myself with being close. Realized yet again how we can trip ourselves out when blind tasting.
with Lane Tanner
I’d signed up for the Domaine Henri Gouges tasting but had to miss it when my I-Book died and I had to make an emergency trip to the Apple Store in downtown San Luis Obispo, where a kindly Genius fixed it for free.
Pinot Noir discoveries:
Sequano 2007 Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley and 2007 Sarmento Santa Lucia Highlands
Small Vines 2006 Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast
Orsi-Papale 2005 Russian River Valley
Carlson 2006 Le Bon Climate Santa Maria Valley
Chock Rock 2007 Monterey County. This is from Talbott’s winemaker, Dan Karlson
Drake 2005 Bien Nacido H Block
Chien Tacheté 2008 (San Luis Obispo), a Beaujolais-type Pinot that’s 100% carbonic maceration and utterly delicious.
with David Bruce [image courtesy Jo Diaz]
Rants (you knew there had to be!)
Martinelli 2007 Zio Tony Ranch and Bondi Home Ranch: These wines freaked me out. Vinyl, acetate, burned smells, odd aromas. Parker has really painted himself into a corner with having to defend these oddities.
On score snobs: It’s a pity the way some people mob tables like Kosta Browne while largely ignoring others with beautiful Pinots (J, for example). These score snobs are like lemmings who follow elitist reviewers just to be able to go home and boast they tasted the latest Laube 150-point wine. Yes the Kosta-Browne Pinots were quite good, but it’s kind of nauseating to see adults getting wet like pre-pubescent girls at a Jonas Brothers concert.
Finally… not to end with a question, but Are Master Sommeliers snobbier than Masters of Wine?