Pinot Noir, the Heart Breaker Grape - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 04-26-2010

This Saturday morning session at Charlotte Ritz-Carlton was moderated by Andy McNamara and had a panel composed of Laurent Montalieu of Solena Estate, producing Oregon Pinot Noirs; Mark Ray who has worked with Williams Selyem, Turley and Neyers and now makes his own Perception Wines in the Russian River Valley; Walter Schug, former winemaker for Joseph Phelps Vineyards and who has been making Pinot Noirs since the 80s in Carneros; and Ken Wright, winemaker in rural Carlton, Oregon with Ken Wright Cellars.
We had ten Pinots from around the world to taste blind in flights of three, three, four.
One wine from each of the panelists was included. They made comments and attendees could comment also.
On wine one Ken Wright voiced what I had written down--pure and clean. This was a young Pellegrini Olivet Lane and I later ordered two bottles at Arthur's Wine Shop at Belk, SouthPark. It was a pale to medium-rose color and possessed strawberry flavors. I visited Pellegrini on my trip to Sonoma in 2007 and purchased the Olivet Lane then. Pellegrini also sells grapes from Olivet Lane to Merry Edwards.

I thought wine 2 had a darker fruit nose than #1 but the panelists thought all the first three wines were in the red fruit category. (This is getting difficult because I turned in the listing of the ten wines with my order at Arthur's so don't remember which one was the #2. I think I will try to contact Andrew McNamara and see if he could furnish me the list again.)

I do remember #3 was the Alex Gambal "Les Deux Papis" Burgundy--not sure of vintage. I wrote down "some funk on the nose and palate." Mark Ray commented some earthiness or funky quality. I pronounced it one I probably wouldn't purchase after sampling and that is ironic because I am a big fan of Alex's wines. The funk or Brett was not overwhelming and some found it an attractive added component.

I found wine 4 a bit bland but Mark Ray liked it, saying it had excellent balance.

Number 5 was one that divided the crowd. All the panelists agreed it was a warmer climate vineyard. It was one of the darker wines in color. I thought it had a nice nose and a balanced presentation with a medium-length finish. I got cherry-berry fragrance and flavor. This was one of two favorites for my friend Susan McLaughlin who was at the same tasting and it was in my top three. I don't have the vintage with me but it was from New Zealand--the Gibbston Highgate Estate "Soultaker", Central Otago.
I ordered a bottle of this.

Wines 6, 7 and 9 all were in my second tier of favorites. I noted bright fruit in 6 and 7 and darker fruit in 9. One of the panelists though #6 had a caramel note. I thought #9 seemed to have higher alcohol but the panelists found more oak and alcohol in #10 which was in my top three. Both Ken Wright and Mark Ray though #7 might have a little bottle shock or be a little muted but I enjoyed it as it was drinking on Saturday.

Wine 8 didn't excite me. One of the panelists spoke of anise and cola elements.

Wine ten was a wine that Susan was sure was a Burgundy. It was one of my top three. I thought it could possibly be from Ken Wright since some of his wines are said to have Burgundian qualities. It turned out to be the Perception Pinot Noir which I had earlier stated that I did not like as well as the Hirsch and Failla Pinots. (I may have to reassess since this was one of my top three.) I saw Mark Ray at the Vintners Tasting later that day and told him my friend was convinced that his wine was a Burgundy and he was very pleased.

So I know the producer for numbers 1, 3, 5, and 10 but I'm not sure on the others. Will edit this if I can get the list.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 04-28-2010).]

- dananne - 04-27-2010

Aside from the Wrights, we've really enjoyed Solena, Hirsch Vineyard, and Failla Pinots in the past. We've generally got all of those in the cellar at any given time (though I'm thinking Anne and I need to plan another Willamette trip at some point in the near future [img][/img]