There’s Something About Pinot

WopnI love Pinot Noir events primarily because I love Pinot Noir.

There is something about the Pinot producer too that sets them apart from other winemakers. There is an arrogance I like. Maybe it comes from them working with one of the more difficult grapes to control. Maybe it's because there seems to be an additional air of intellectualism behind the grape. It's often more subtle and it takes a keener vocabulary and sharper set of senses to really wrap your words around the wine when trying to describe it.

It's these factors and other reasons that get me excited about World of Pinot Noir in Pismo Beach. Set this year for March 2-3 a the Cliffs Hotel, the event is now in its 12 year. On the West Coast there are a number of Pinot events ranging from Pinot On the River to the International Pinot Noir Celebration to Pinot Days and World of Pinot. They are all different.

World of Pinot doesn't have the summer camp character that you get at IPNC. Nor does it possess the backyard-with-friends quality of Pinot on the River. What it does possess is a spectacular location and a diverse set of producers from large to small, old school to new school, and a certain intellecutal rigor that I like very much.

I'm most excited this year attend the "Natural Winemaking: Highest Respect or Neglect" seminar happening on Friday morning. Here's the description of the event:

"One of the more debated winemaking topics currently in the media is the Natural Winemaking movement, but what does that mean? We’ll explore and taste the full spectrum of this bell-shaped curve from panelists who believe in total “naked” wines with absolutely no intervention from the winemaker to those who use whatever modern techniques they believe will make their wine shine. The middle ground will be defended by those who believe in some of this and some of that, and everyone will work to define how the word “natural” fits into a wine’s profile."

I've been a fairly strong critic of the way "Natural Wine" is marketed with its subtle suggestion that the wines are better than all others and its often not so subtle suggestion that non-Natural wines are all "spoofalated". Furthermore, I believe the very term "natural" is fraudulent. However, the wines are interesting and those I've had have been good and proper. But this kind of topic is just the thing for a gathering of Pinot producers who I do think tend to bring a more philosophical and intellectual perspective to their winemaking and the way they think about it.

Among those debating the issue will be Bradley Brown (Big Basin Vineyards), Peter Cargasacchi (Cargasacchi Wines), Alice Feiring (author, "Naked Wine"), Nathan Kandler (Thomas Fogarty Winery), Scott Kelley (Estancia Winery), Brian Maloney (DeLoach VIneyards), Clark Smith (Wine Smith Wines) and Joe Wright (Left Coast Cellars).

On Saturday I'll play some golf with other winemakers and attendees at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. Then it's back for the second of two Grand Tastings of Pinots, the first one happening on Friday.

World of Pinot provides a number of other seminars and wine dinners for participants. But the highlight is all the wineries that are pouring. Just under 200 brands will be showing off their Pinots at the event, hence the necessity of have two Grand Tastings to separate them out.

The event is of course open to the public and the trade. Highly Recommended!


4 Responses

  1. Ed Thralls - February 17, 2012

    I agree there is something about Pinot Noir. People still say “I’m sorry” and try to console me when I tell them that’s indeed what I am making and plan to continue to produce under my new label — but I can’t help it… it’s unique, a challenge and the risk/reward is greatest – I say go big or go home (with going home being a decent probability). Pinot has many fans around the world touting theirs (regions) is the best… it’s a rabid following.
    Wish I could attend this event, but will have to miss this year. Good luck on the links.

  2. Bill - February 19, 2012

    World of Pinot seems to be missnamed, a bit. It seems to be a very well attended, and maybe interesting event, but shouldnt it be named California Pinot. What world of Pinot lacks is a World of Pinot. With only one Burgunian producer and maybe a few Oregon producers (the larger and less boutique producers) I dont see how this can be named a World of Pinot. I suggest if anyone is actually interested in seeing Pinot Noir from around the world that they look into attending the Internation Pinot Noir Celebration. Having been able to attend the IPNC (Yes it is hard to get a ticket to this exclusive event) I would recommend to the Pinot enthusiasts to try to get your hands on a ticket to this high prices event. You will get to see Pinot Noir made by the greatest producers that Earth has to offer. At IPNC you will get to taste Pinot Noir made from cool climates like Oregon and Burgundy to warmer climates like California and New Zealand. This event is truly a World of Pinot

  3. Doug Wilder - February 20, 2012

    I look forward to seeing you there, Tom. And Happy Birthday!

  4. Fredric Koeppel - February 20, 2012

    are pinot noir winemakers arrogant? I tend to find them humble and understated, knowing full-well that they’re dealing with a grape that’s greater and more unforgiving than they are …..

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