Pinotgasms and The International Pinot Noir Celebration

The International Pinot Noir Celebration strikes me as an act of homage not too subtle. I find this somewhat ironic given that one of the things most of us love about Pinot Noir is it's nuanced and often subtle arrangement of flavors and aromas.

Ipnc2 But more to the point and more important than this observation is that I'm leaving tomorrow to attend this homage to a grape that, if past experience and program details are any guide, should be a stellar four days of Pinotgasms.

My past experience with Oregon Pinot Noir is a good one. In most cases I prefer good Oregon Pinot to good California Pinot primarily because I find it prettier and less weighty. But I say that about most varietals, giving you a little insight into my palate preference. But while IPNC is in Oregon it's important to note the International component of the event. Among the non-domestic producers at this years event are:








of Pelham Family Estate Winery

Tantalus Vineyards

Tawse Winery



Domaine de

Ballorin & F

David Clark

Jean-Jacques Confuron

Humbert Frères

Albert Mann

Jean-René Nudant

Domaine Marc


Schlossgut Diel






Of course my great fear is that I'll walk away from IPNC on Sunday with a similar attitude about the grape that W. Blake Gray recently disclosed: "I'm writing to tell you that I'm breaking up with you.I still
love you, and I'll probably always love you. But you've changed since we
met, and I can't ignore it anymore."

That's depressing.

But of course that's been the primary anti-Pinot perspective in recently years, that it has taken on too much
Ipnc1 heft, apparently in an attempt to impress those who desire heft in their wines, or at least desire to define great wine by its degree of intensity and unctuousness.

Of course what Blake underscores in his "Dear John" letter to Pinot Noir is that we overactive wine enthusiasts do indeed develop relationships with wines in the same way we develop relationships with ideas and even people. We (again, the overly devoted wine lovers among us) come to partly define ourselves by the way we relate to a wine. I'm a perfect example with my penchant for lighter bodied and often expressly aromatic wines; I more often prefer to sit and smell a wine than drink it.

More importantly, this preference I've developed allows me to consider myself somewhat "unusual" among the average wine lover. This translates into how I view myself as an individual—somewhere on the other side of "usual".

The IPNC is a perfect place for people who see themselves in this light. We will travel across the country and the globe to celebrate a grape, the folks that turn that grape into wine and the chefs that are convinced they can make that wine even more gratifying by pairing it up with foods of particular parts and constituents. This is a long way to go to feed a passion.

And the people behind the IPNC appear to work hard to justify our trek. We'll attend seminars with famed writers, winemakers, wine educators and chefs. We'll attend winery luncheons where Pinots are swirled, blended, discussed, graded and drunk. We'll attend dinners at which Pinot Noir is always the star despite the enormous culinary star power preparing their dishes to compliment the object of our passion.

Of course the Oregon winemaking community benefits greatly from this exercise in indulgence. The IPNC remains the premier Pinot Noir event among a great many Pinot Noir event and it happens in Oregon, where Pinot is king. The event works to lend continued prestige to the Oregon Pinot Noir community and industry.

I'll try to keep my game face on and not fall into an homagian mood whereby the savvy subtleties of the grape and the exuberant delight of attendees and winemakers overtake me and create a sycophant. But I fear this won't be easy.

2 Responses

  1. Charlie Olken - July 21, 2010

    Blake’s article is a great read. It hits directly on the issue of Pinot Noir trying to be too much. But, it ignores the many wines that do not go in that direction, and it further overlooks issues like fuller bodied Burgundies. Now, all of that may not matter if we remember that the story is just a story that makes a point about the direction of Pinot.
    All well and good as long as we think about individual wines as individual wines and not as members of a class that is no longer to be loved.

  2. Jesse Becker, MS - July 22, 2010

    That’s quite a lineup of producers. Tasted Chacra last fall (hardly anyone gets an allocation) plus Hofstätter Barthenau is a grand cru site, lovely wines.

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