Pinot Noir is the most…
In July, I'll be heading up to McMinnville, Oregon to attend and cover the 24th Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration—arguably the granddaddy of the ever-increasing selection of varietal-inspired celebrations/conclaves for industry and enthusiasts.
I'm excited to be invited to attend the event. The last time I went I was in work mode. This time, I'll be in "soak-it-up-and-observe-and-listen-and-ask-questions" mode. This happens to be the mode that most often results for me in both confusion and insight.
The IPNC has an interesting reputation. It takes place on the Linfield College Campus in Northwestern Oregon's Willamette Valley (Pinot Country) in the dead of summer. It can be VERY Hot. The combination of the gathering of giddy Pinot lovers, the gallons of Pinot and remarkable food at your disposal and the potentially haze inducing heat all conspire to create something of a summer camp atmosphere.
Granted, it's a different kind of summer camp than those where you used go for the same of your parents mid-year sanity and where the highlight was sneaking into the girl's cabin—right? Well, yes. It's a summer camp for fairly fanatical drinkers of a particular wine…and nothing more. Honest.
Of course the IPNC is hardly the only Pinot Noir-inspired event that devotees can choose from. They could go to Pinot Days in San Francisco, Pinot On the River in the Russian River Valley, the Pinot Noir Fest in Anderson Valley, World of Pinot in the Central Coast, and Pinot Noir New Zealand in…New Zealand. Scratch a wine growing region and you're likely to inspire a Pinot Noir event.
So, it appears reasonable, if I'm going to go to IPNC and cover the festivities, that I first ought to try to uncover the source of people's obsession with this grape. Could it really be that the wine made from Pinot Noir, regardless of where it is made, is just so delicious that it inspires the kind of devotion that leads to ongoing event planning across the globe? It's more than that isn't it.
In a nod to the powers of the Internet to uncover all secrets, I've turned to its trove of information in hopes of better understanding this global fascination with the grape. But it's best to always start with a premise. My premise is that Pinot lovers view the grape and the wine as pinnacle of something; a superlative of sorts. To test this theory and see if it leads to any explanation of the power of Pinot to inspire symposia, I've done a little Google search: "Pinot Noir is the Most". Here is a small, but representative, sampling of what I've found:
Pinot Noir is the most 'living' grape ever produced
This is a lot of pressure for one little grape. And just imagine…this Google search for "Pinot Noir is the most" yielded more than 176,000 results. Try that with, say, Grenache: 8,510
The point is, as far as I can tell, that Pinot Noir is a challenge. It's a challenge to grapegrowers and winemakers, thereby making a successful crop or successful wine a truer mark of success than a successful crop or successful wine of any other variety. But Pinot also appears to be a challenged for wine drinkers—if only one that asks them to try to describe their intense appreciation for the wine without getting all Baroque about it.
My job? Use the coming IPNC to better understand how and why this grape inspires so much "is the most".