Yesterday was the 8th Annual Pinot Days Grand Festival at Fort Mason in San Francisco. According to their website, it is the "largest gathering of Pinot Noir producers in the world." With more than 150 producers from California, Oregon, and France, there were many wines to try!
I attended the event with a fellow wine writer and friend, Alana Gentry ("Girl with a Glass", pictured at left). We arrived with no game plan, choosing to approach wineries at random (sometimes it was the label that caught our eye or the winery name or a crowded table that attracted us).
Although there were a few more corporate wineries with large production wines, it seemed like most of the Pinots we tasted were of limited production (a few hundred cases to a couple thousand cases)--and most of them were new to my palate. I can't say I was a fan of every wine I tasted, but after two hours, I had a long list of favorites:
Sequana Wines was a winery I recognized, but I didn't know they made so many vineyard-specific Pinot Noirs. The Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot was super tasty with nice depth and concentration. I also really liked the Dutton Ranch and Russian River Valley Pinots.
Expression Wines was a winery that sounded familiar but I couldn't recall ever tasting their wines previously. They were pouring a trio of Pinot Noirs; one each from Oregon, Sonoma, and Napa. I don't know many wine companies that can offer such a diverse portfolio of wines. Each wine was delicious, full-flavored, and unique!
Woodenhead was another winery that was new to me. Their Russian River Valley Pinot was light and juicy. The second wine they poured us was called "Wet Kiss" and it suited its name--very playful and easy to drink. This winery makes quite a few vineyard designate wines, including Zinfandel and French Colombard.
Cornerstone Cellars was a familiar name to me because of their tasting room in Yountville, but they also produce Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. This was news to me. We tasted two vintages....both were beautiful wines with elegant aromas. Light-hued in the glass. Distinctly Oregonian. At the time, my mouth was watering for duck confit; it would have been the perfect compliment to these wines.
JCB is a collection of wines inspired by Jean-Charles Boisset's French heritage and his love for California winemaking. I loved the simple black label with gold lettering--très chic! They were pouring a very refreshing Brut Rosé from Burgundy as well as a few Pinot Noirs.
Just when we thought we had had enough, I spotted the sign for Abiouness Wines, which I had heard were lovely but had never tasted. Unknowingly, we saved the best for last. Nicole Abiouness, the winemaker/owner, was happy to tell us about her wines and the distinct vineyard sites from which she sources the grapes. I loved the Hudson Vineyard Pinot; it was concentrated with a rich mouthfeel and dark fruit flavors. Oh so wonderful!
I was glad to see a few familiar wineries whose wines I always enjoy...including Dutton-Goldfield, Domaine Serene, Sojourn Cellars, Failla, and Eric Kent Wine Cellars.
Always held in mid-June at Fort Mason, I strongly recommend you attend Pinot Days next year. What a fun event!