The Epiphany of Pinot Noir?
"I seek a Pinot that transmits truth.”
“Pinot is the only grape that can legitimately be described as ethereal.”
It all strikes me as a bit much to heap on one grape varietal, but these are only a few of the otherworldly descriptions I heard laid upon Pinot Noir in just the first few hours of the International Pinot Noir Celebration.
I suppose it all sort of explains the “C” in IPNC.
I considered it one of my purposes this weekend in Oregon to try to understand this devotion to the wine. I admit I don’t have this kind of feeling toward Pinot. But I don’t have this kind of devotion toward any varietal. So it’s not a matter of me not liking Pinot or even not liking it as much as the next varietal. It’s a matter of me not caring about in the same way I care about my life.
"As people move through the wine education progression—sweet wine to white wine to red wine and finally to big red wine—they eventually land on Pinot Noir toward the end of their educational journey. It’s then that many have the epiphany. They have to be open to it though."
This sounds a lot like a pusher explaining the appeal of LSD and the person who gave me this explanation (A pinot winemaker) in response to my question about the oddly intense reverence that Pinot inspires admitted as much.
And the response strikes a chord with me. You get the sense from many of the people at the International Pinot Noir Celebration that they feel as if they have arrived at the end of the rainbow and found their pot of gold in the form of a particular wine. Here at Pinot Central there is the feeling that the greatest wine in the world is being celebrated.
But I keep wondering, where is my epiphany?
The styles of Pinot I’ve tasted over the three days of the IPNC can barely be counted. The variations in weight, color, intensity, flavors and aromas is indeed pretty vast. How could I have not arrived at that Pinot Epiphany. I’m feeling a bit left out.
I keep thinking about the idea of “being open” to the experience.
I’ve only had a few legitimate “epiphanies n my life. Sitting nearly alone in the upper deck at Candlestick Park in San Francisco with my father and looking down at a major league ball field. I was young. Fourteen. But even at an age when the meaning of life had little meaning, I really understood how happy I was at that moment. I recall realizing how good life could be. I felt happiness.
Recently I’ve experienced being overwhelmed by a feeling of both being loved and loving another person. This too was an epiphany—at least It felt like something I would call an epiphany.
The point is that I at least believe I’m capable of experiencing an epiphany. But not with wine.
“I experience the Pinot Epiphany at every IPNC I attend and it always occurs on Saturday at the Salmon Bake when great wine after great wine is poured in my glass by people who believe they are pouring the greatest Pinot available. It’s about being surrounded by 600 other Pinot lovers and a collective love for the wine that seems to hover overhead the festivities.”
Said one Pinot Lover I spoke too on Saturday.
The pairings of food and Pinot are ongoing at IPNC. Every meal is an event. In addition, this year we sat through a two hour seminar on the art of food and Pinot paring in which four different pinots were paired with dishes produced from different parts of the lamb by four different combinations of winemakers and chefs.
The pairing of Pinot and food strikes me as being the ripest situation for the creation of a Pinot Epiphany. Perhaps it's because it is a more complex exploration of aroma, flavor and wine. And while this seminar was enlightening, it didn’t produce the results I wanted. Still, this is where I’ll continue to pay attention and be on the look out for an epiphany via Pinot. Personally, food touches me in ways wine never has. Plus, the combination of wine and food should produce something beyond the potential of just one or the other.
What remains is that many folks have found truth transmitted via Pinot Noir. Others have located the tuning fork of their soul with just the right gulp of an ethereal Pinot. I have to conclude that the Pinot epiphany must exist and that it’s me who is deficient.
I’ll live. And I have every intention of continuing to be open to the moment of epiphany. Furthermore, the IPNC appears to be the right venue for seeking that moment of truth in the future.