Focusing on Pinot Noir, Wine LA/LearnAboutWine recently brought Stars of Pinot Noir to the Sofitel Hotel in Los Angeles. This wine tasting event featured Pinot Noir from various California wine regions along with some representation from Oregon, France, Argentina and South Africa. This event enabled one to not only discover some incredible vintners who produce this variety but also showcased the different styles that each region and wine vintner is known for.
Although the primary attention was Pinot Noir grape, there were some hidden surprises that will also be mentioned because the quality of these varietals was superb.
A chance tasting of Waits-Mast Family Cellars last year at Savor the Central Coast was intriguing enough to let this winery be the first sampling at Stars of Pinot Noir. Meeting owner/winemaker Brian Mast validated what had been discovered nine months earlier. Founded in 2005, this winery’s focus is on single vineyard Pinot Noir in the northern appellations of Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge, and Mendocino County. Sampling four wines from Waits-Mast it was the 2012 Pinot Noir Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley that stood out. The wine is bright for a Pinot Noir yet light and fruity with a dominance of red fruit.
Concentrating of the Sta. Rita Hills, Temerity Vineyard is another boutique winery that merits some recognition. The name of this winery is befitting because owners Moze Cowper and Rob Kuntz definitely have the confidence to make a great wine representing essence of Pinot Noir in the Sta. Rita Hills. Their first vintage was during a challenging year for wine, 2011 and they obviously succeeded because today they are on their fifth vintage. Moze says, “his mentor is Norm Yost from Flying Goat, he is like family”, guiding him on his wine adventure. With the assistance of Shaun Frohn, this year they produced 250 cases. The 2014 Pinot (2A Clone) is from the Rio Vista Vineyard. It is bright with a nice spice. Also sampled was the 2014 (Huber and La Encantada). For Moze and Rob winemaking and each wine they create is a journey that emphasizes the path their lives took in a particular year. It represents the ground the grapes grew on, the weather encountered and the hands that touched the grapes and many others lives along the way. Like their name Temerity, they have the audacity to inspire through their wine.
If you are looking for a bigger and bolder Pinot Noir, Belle Glos Wines make some outstanding Pinot in this more robust style. The 2014 Dairymaid, Russian River Valley was bright and fruit forward. One finds both red and black fruit abounds in this wine. The 2014 Clark & Telephone, Santa Maria Valley to be very balanced with a little more spice.
For a softer approach to creating Pinot Noir there was the balanced wines of Angela Estate Winery in Oregon. Both the 2012 Angela Vineyard and the Estate Pinot Noir Abbott Claim were excellent.
Sonoma-Loeb featured two very different Pinots. The 2013 Sonoma Coast could be described as a more feminine wine. It was nice and bright with red fruit. The 2013 Pinot Noir, Dutton Ranch, Russian River had more depth and more masculine.
Adelaida premiered three Pinot Noirs. The first, the 2013 Estate Pinot Noir is quite bright and represents a selection of the various sites Pinot Noir is grown at this winery. The 2013 Pinot Noir HMR Vineyard emphasizes the grapes of a specific site and is also barrel specific. There is more new oak used for aging this Pinot. The wine is brighter, a little sweeter with flavors of red fruit.
Talley Vineyards was the first in San Luis Obispo County to produce both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A favorite was the Talley Vineyards estate. The grapes come from Arroyo Grande and is Talley’s signature wine.
Other Pinots worth mentioning are the 2013 Storm Duvarita Vineyard Pinot Noir. The wine has a very old world quality to it. There is a nice smoothness to this Pinot Noir.
One Rosé of Pinot Noir stood out and that was Dolin Estate’s. The 2014 Rosé was crisp, bright and refreshing with flavors of apricot and strawberries.
Looking at some of the other varietals that were presented, here are a few that made a statement and acted as a nice palate cleanser and a breather from the wine of the day, Pinot Noir.
Halleck Vineyard in Sebastopol, 2014 Saralee’s Vineyard Dry Gewurztraminer was a beautifully grafted wine. Not overly spiced as so many of this varietal are the subtleties of this wine made it stand out. At the same time it was bright, crisp and refreshing.
Balo Vineyards Pinot Noir Blanc, Anderson Valley can be described as a Champagne or sparkling wine without the bubbles. It is a marvelous representation a white wine created from a red grape.
Finally the Dolin Estate 2013 Malibu Chardonnay is a smooth balance wine showing the nice acidity that can be obtained from the Malibu AVA.
Ian Blackburn and Wine LA present some great tasting events in local venues that make learning about wine and sampling it easy. Stay tuned for these upcoming events, Tasting South America at the Peninsula Beverly Hills on September 23, 2015 and Stars of Cabernet at the Peninsula Beverly Hills on November 18, 2015.