Monday, June 29, 2009

Pinot Days is better than ZAP

Like great sex or a great vacation, my only regret about Pinot Days is San Francisco is that it didn't last longer. I tasted so many quality wines, but I only tasted wines from 26 producers out of about 180.

This Fort Mason event is a nice contrast with another single varietal-focused Fort Mason taste-a-thon, ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers). ZAP is bigger, more crowded and drunker. At Pinot Days, the emphasis seemed to stay on tasting wine even late in the day, and the majority of "public" badge wearers were spitting, not swilling.

Of course, most event organizers would like to have ZAP's problems -- big crowds, ticket sellouts, so many producers that two whole hangars are needed. Pinot Days is on a smaller scale, with just one hangar and about 3500 attendees. Hopefully that's enough to support it, because the quality of Pinots was excellent.

Two exciting trends: 2007 seems to be a pretty good vintage. And the Pinots I tasted were not heavyweight generic reds -- most had light bodies and good fruit, without excessive oak. California Pinot had been beefing up in recent years but this seems a step in the right direction.

My favorite t-shirt at the event read, "Let me put my Pinot in your mouth." Below are my favorite wines.

Failla Peay Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006 ($48)
Bright raspberry initially, great acidity, even a citrusy note. Floral hints. Complex and bright. 94

Merry Edwards Flax Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2006
Intense and complex. Raspberry, cherry, floral notes, hint of eucalyptus. You can smell the alcohol but I didn't taste it. 94

Dutton-Goldfield Sanchietti Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
A pretty wine. Cherry, raspberry, hint of fresh flowers. Very nicely balanced. 93

Failla Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007 ($45)
Bright raspberry with cherry. Light-medium body. All fruit until a little tannin and earth on finish. Delightful. 93

Morgan Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2006
Dense cherry and raspberry, a little milk chocolate. Tannic. Fruity enough for now, but should age. Long finish. 93

Peay Scallop Shelf Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Very dense flavors in a light body. Cherry, darker fruit. Persistent. Excellent. 93

Roessler Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2007
Light raspberry with savory raw beef note and hint of mint. Complex, long finish. 93

Siduri Sonatera Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Very savory -- soy sauce, mint, cherry, some smoked meat. Fascinating. 93

Woodenhead Humboldt County Pinot Noir 2007
Spicy, dark cherry. Medium body. Tannic but well-managed. Lingering spiciness keeps it interesting. 93

Woodenhead Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Cherry and raspberry, full fruit wine with medium body. Pretty. Long finish. 93

Balletto Burnside Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Cherry and raspberry with some black fruit -- black raspberry. Hint of violet. Dense. very smooth mouthfeel, long finish. Well-balanced. 92

Dutton-Goldfield Freestone Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Dense black cherry with medium body; long finish. 92

Failla Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006 ($60)
Complex and savory -- raspberry, licorice, milk chocolate. Light-bodied but intense. Tannic on finish. Should age well. 92

Roessler Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Medium-bodied, raspberry and soy sauce initially, cherry flavor that deepens on finish. 92

Siduri Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Cherry, some dark fruit (black plum). Intensely fruity, persistent. 92

Tantara Garys' Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2007
Bright cherry and raspberry with some mint. Very nice wine, if somewhat big. 92

Tantara La Colline Vineyard Arroyo Grande Pinot Noir 2007
Own-root, a Martini clone planted in the '80s. Intense cherry fruit with some minerality. Good depth. 92

Woodenhead Troika North Coast Pinot Noir 2006 ($120)
intense cherry fruit, medium body. Chewy tannins built for age. Hint of mint on long finish. 92

Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Willamette Valley 2006
Intense cherry, some raspberry. Full-bodied. The big style of Pinot, but a good one. 91

Dutton-Goldfield Devils Gulch Ranch Marin County Pinot Noir 2007
Intense, full-bodied, cherry and raspberry flavors, smooth mouthfeel. 91

Dutton-Goldfield Devils Gulch Ranch Marin County Pinot Noir 2006
Pretty, with cherry, raspberry and floral notes. A little more tannic than the '07, but nicely managed. 91

Freeman Akiko's Cuvee Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Pretty and almost perfumey, with light cherry and floral notes. 91

Papapietro Perry Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Light cherry, some licorice and raspberry. Gentle but persistent. 91

Peay Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Light cherry fruit with a savory beef tartare note. 91

Peay Pomarium Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006
Bright cherry, also a savory beef tartare note and hint of mint. Delicate. 91

Testarossa Garys' Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2007
Light cherry with a hint of mint; lightly tannic. 91

Balletto Estate Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007 ($20)
Cherry fruit, a little mint, light body, pleasant. Outstanding value for $20. 90

Balletto Winery Block Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Dense cherry, fuller body, somewhat tannic. Built for aging. 90

Chronicle Cerise Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2006
Some sulfur in the aroma, but it blows off. Palate is cherry fruit with appealing savory notes and floral hints. The tannins could still use some time, but promising wine. 90

Domaine Serene Winery Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley 2005
Bright cherry, all fruit. Soft and intense, medium-full body, hint of soy sauce on finish. 90

Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007 ($34)
Intense cherry, overripe black plum, a savory soy note. Good value. 90

Freeman Keefer Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Bright cherry, persistent. Light body. Straightforward. 90

Macrostie Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Bright raspberry, a little violet. Nice soft mouthfeel. 90

Merry Edwards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Light raspberry, cherry, some soy sauce. Light body, good balance. 90

Morgan Rosella's Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2006
Raspberry, blueberry, a little vanilla, a savory soy sauce note. Light bodied. 90

Papapietro Perry 777 Clones Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Light body, cherry flavor, seamless. Easy to enjoy. 90

Siduri Keefer Ranch Green Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Raspberry, violet, a green plum note. Tannic but controlled; could use a year. 90

Siduri Rosella's Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2007
Cherry fruit with some savory notes. 90

Tantara Solomon Hills Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Straightforward with good fruit -- cherry and raspberry. 90

Verve Stoller Vineyard Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2007
Very light raspberry, gentle, floral on finish. Pretty. 90

Woodenhead Wiley Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2006 ($60)
Light bodied with gentle but persistent cherry and raspberry flavors. 90

Good wines a little below the top echelon
Cep Estate Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Chasseur Blank Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Chronicle Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006
Domaine Chandon Carneros Pinot Noir 2006
Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Dutton-Goldfield McDougall Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Freeman Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Freeman Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Jim Ball Vineyards Boonville Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Macrostie Carneros Pinot Noir 2007
Morgan Twelve Clones Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2007
Papapietro Perry Leras Family Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Puma Road Black Mountain Vineyards Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2007
Puma Road Black Mountain Vineyards Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2006
Roessler La Brisa Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2007
Roessler Red Label Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2007
Roessler Ridges Ollie & Hazel's Block Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006
Rusack Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Rusack Santa Rita Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2007
Sand Hill Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir 2006
Siduri Chehalem Mountain Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Tantara Brousseau Vineyard Chalone Pinot Noir 2007
Testarossa Palazzio Central Coast Pinot Noir 2007 ($35)
Testarossa Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2007 ($55)
Verve Klein Family Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 2007
Verve Momtazi Vineyard McMinnville Pinot Noir 2007

Not recommended
Cambria Julia's Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Jim Ball Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Maboroshi Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007
Paraiso Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2007
Rebecca K. Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006
Tantara Rio Vista Vineyard Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2007
Verve Rio San Lucas Vineyard Monterey Pinot Noir 2007

5 comments:

Valerie said...

Love the t-shirt--credit for that goes to Paul Mathew Vineyards (although really John Holdredge, as he coined the phrase, but deferred its use to Mat). Too bad you didn't get to taste the wines, they're really beautiful. Put them on your list for next time.

Jim said...

Wow - I've never had any one say my wine was "Not recommended." Every other review of the 07's has been very positive. What wine did you taste and what is your criticism?
Jim Ball

W. Blake Gray said...

Hi Jim, I tasted the Jim Ball Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2007. I thought it tasted reductive, and the fruit tasted dried, not fresh. It wasn't pleasurable so I didn't take notes beyond that -- too many other wines to taste at that event. Your wine was recommended to me by another writer, so I was surprised and disappointed, but I can't write that I liked it when I didn't. Sorry to be your first negative.

Jim said...

Not at all - I appreciate criticism whatever the view. In fact, I will take this back to the winemaker and see what we can do. I'm wondering if there was a bad bottle, because I have never heard that before. But thanks for the response. I also like to hear from the experts!
Regards,
Jim Ball

W. Blake Gray said...

Jim, thanks for taking it well. You might be right, it might have been a bad bottle -- as I said, it might have been reduced, and your wine was recommended by another writer. One day I'll try your wine again and we'll both be happy if I love it.