Today’s seminar at the Vancouver International Wine Festival was on the Pinot Noir grape. Wine educator, author and historian Paul Wagner and a panel of Pinot Noir producers from Burgundy, Oregon, California, New Zealand, and BC’s Okanagan Valley talked to us about their wines and love for the Pinot Noir grape.
The winery principal panelists that spoke to us were Ross Baker, Jean-Charles Boisset, Darryl Brooker, Shirley Brooks, Matt Dumayne, Randy Fabian, Gina Gallo, Thomas Price, and Rick Sayre. What made this seminar different from past seminars that I attended was in this seminar the winery principals were not asked to tell us how the wines were made, types of barrels, toast levels, etc. Rather they were asked by Paul to show us a photo, painting, video clip, etc. that they could talk about how it relates to Pinot Noir for them. As you can guess it was quite a different experience for them and for the audience.
Some of the winemakers, like Matt Dumayne, from BC’s Okanagan Crush Pad talked about the situation surrounding the wine we were drinking; In this case, a 2017 vintage Pinot made during the terrible forest fires in the interior of BC which left smoke taint in this wine. Other people, like Ross Baker, winemaker at Quails’ Gate played a music video for us that they play during harvest, amongst other fun music. Jean-Claude Boisset discussed a surreal painting he had made for him, based on a sketch that Jean-Claude had drawn. It showed the growth of the vines where they come from, the soil with seashells in Burgundy (where Jean-Claude is from), his wife, Gina, and roses as Pinot to him has feminine qualities. Think of the Venus de Milo statue but shown from the back. Thomas Price from Jackson Family Wines talked about Pinot Noir wines having many layers, and demonstrated this through a song by Prince which he said has many layers. There are many more stories like this, but let’s get to the wines.
Our Featured Wines
- Free Form by Okanagan Crush Pad Pinot Noir 2017
- Mission Hill Family Estate Terroir Collection Pinot Noir, No. 43 (Reflection Point) 2016
- Quails’ Gate Winery Richard’s Block Pinot Noir 2016
- Jean-Claude Boisset Savigny Les Beaune 2015
- Yealands Family Wines Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017
- Gallo Signature Series Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2014
- Rodney Strong Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir 2015
- Elk Cove Vineyards La Bohème Pinot Noir 2016
- Jackson Family Wines Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2016
My Tasting Notes
- Free Form by Okanagan Crush Pad Pinot Noir 2017 – Pale translucent garnet. Cherry skin, smoke and leather on the nose. Leather, red cherries and tart red fruit flavours. High acid with fine tannins. This wine was affected by the 2017 forest fires and really shows you a sense of place and time.
- Mission Hill Family Estate Terroir Collection Pinot Noir, No. 43 (Reflection Point) 2016 – Medium translucent garnet. Light cherry aroma. Medium plus body, round and dry with red cherries, mineral and some floral and pepperiness on the palate. Medium minus intensity fine tannins. –
- Quails’ Gate Winery Richard’s Block Pinot Noir 2016 – Deeper, translucent garnet in colour. Light intensity, dark fruit and ripe raspberry on the nose. Off-dry, round, with medium plus body and medium acidity. Flavours of raspberries, cherries, and a touch of vanilla. Soft tannins.
- Jean-Claude Boisset Savigny Les Beaune 2015 – Very light translucent garnet colour and a very light intensity nose showing red fruits. Dry and soft with medium acidity. Roses and red cherries on the palate. Medium minus tannins. A very light touch overall. –
- Yealands Family Wines Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 – Medium minus intensity translucent garnet. Lots of ganja and bramble leaf on the nose with lesser red fruit. These aromas continue on the plate. The wine has bright acidity and medium minus intensity fine tannins. Finishes with tart red fruit. A very cool wine. –
- Gallo Signature Series Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2014 – Medium dull translucent garnet. Petrol on the nose that burns off quickly, followed by dark fruit and bramble on the nose. Full body with bright acidity and fine tannins. Off-dry. Floral, bramble fruit and red cherry flavours. Peppery. Medium length. –
- Rodney Strong Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir 2015 – Deeper, dull translucent garnet in colour. Light intensity nose showing rich red fruit aromas. Dry, fuller bodied with floral, peppery and rich, ripe red fruit flavours. A hint of bramble. More acidity and less tannins provide structure for this wine.
- Elk Cove Vineyards La Bohème Pinot Noir 2016 – Medium-plus deep translucent garnet in the glass. Nice raspberry and red cherry aromas; light intensity. Medium plus body, dry with medium tannins. Red fruit and red cherries, with capsicum and a hint of floral. There is also a pepperiness that grows with intensity as you enjoy each sip. Lots of different flavours to this wine. A challenging Pinot.
- Jackson Family Wines Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2016 – Medium translucent garnet. Smoky, dark fruit and bramble nose with more on the palate. Dry with medium acidity and medium intensity fine tannins. Soft tart red fruit flavours and a pepperiness on the palate. A bit drying at the very end.
Being the philosophical bent of this seminar, I’d like to leave you with a comment by Jean-Claude Boisset which I think sums up Pinot Noir, “Pinot Noir evolves like a relationship“. It can be fun and exciting at the outset, but layers develop over time.