Pinotfest 2015

Two weekends ago, Burgundy celebrated the end of the harvest with the Hospice de Beaune wine auction and one the the biggest bacchanalias on the planet, La Paulee de Meursault. This epic hours-long lunch is from what I’ve gathered filled with bottles upon bottles of the best Burgundian Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

We in San Francisco have to wait until March when La Paulee de San Francisco rolls into town to taste these Burgundian greats. However, last weekend’s Pinotfest at Farrallon restaurant was in many respects the American version: wines from 60 of the best California and Oregon pinot noir producers, many of whom were there in person, along with delicious food!

The wines were wonderful (I’ll say more in a moment) but I wanted to quickly comment on the food. I’ve been to many tastings where all that was on offer was nuts and some crackers, but here we were provided with not only crackers and cheese but mini-truffle and mushroom cheesecakes, duck terrine, some kind of sausage with honey-chestnut relish, a chickpea chutney, mushroom strudels, and many other goodies that I don’t remember but were very tasty. More importantly, almost all of this paired beautifully with pinot noir.

One of the great things about this tasting is that it brings some of the best of North American Pinot Noir together in one place, making it a fantastic opportunity for people like me who don’t have the time and resources to visit all these wineries in person. It’s amazing to see the diversity and style available in American Pinot noir. Here were some of my favorites out of the ones I managed to try:

  • Bonaccorsi Cargasacchi Vineyard, Sta Rita Hills 2012
  • Failla Hirsch Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 2013
  • Hitching Post Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, Sta Rita Hills 2003
  • Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 2013
  • Paul Lato Drumm Canyon, Sta Rita Hills 2013
  • Talisman Adastra Vineyard, Carneros 2012
  • Thomas Fogarty Rapley Trail Vineyard, Santa Cruz 2013
  • Dom de la Cote, Bloom’s Field, Sta. Rita Hills 2013
  • Sinor-LaVallee Anniversary Cuvve San Luis Obispo County 2012
  • Wayfarer Mother Rock, Fort Ross-Seaview 2013
  • Flowers Sea Ridge Vineyard Pinot Meunier, Fort Ross-Seaview2013 – this was the first single-varietal Pinot Meunier I’d every tasted, and it was pretty interesting

One of my largest takeaways was the need to start looking further south in my exploration of California wine. The Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, and parts of the Willamette valley in Oregon are rightly famous for their Pinot Noir, but several of my favorites all came from the Sta Rita Hills appellation in Santa Barbara county. I would strongly suggest checking some of these wines out.

As wonderful as these wines were, tasting and drinking pinot for 3 hours is exhausting. I was incredibly grateful to the winemakers who decided to slip in some rose, chardonnay, and sparkling wines. They acted as wonderful, delicious palate cleansers!

All things considered it was probably one of my favorite tastings. With luck I’ll be able to attend next year. If not, I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more fantastic California & Oregon pinot noir.

Also, Happy Thanksgiving!



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