Each year, attendees at the World of Pinot Noir (WOPN) come expecting gorgeous California weather, delicious gourmet food, and copious amounts of high quality Pinot Noirs. This year? Well, two out of three ain’t bad.
California is facing its worst drought situation in decades and winegrowers and wine lovers alike welcome any rain that comes our way. That graciousness was tested a little when the 2014 World of Pinot Noir took place last weekend at the same time a rainstorm in Southern California delivered about 5” in rainfall. So, the “Grand Tastings By The Sea” morphed into “Grand Tastings in Bacara’s Hotel Ballroom,” and with over 200 wineries present there were abundant quantities of premium wines available for adaptable and only slightly damp attendees.
Each year at this event, we have the opportunity to taste the latest wines from old favorites (Alma Rosa, Freeman, Merry Edwards, Robert Sinskey and Soter) as we seek out new discoveries (at least, to us). Our new favorites from this year’s WOPN include Abiouness, Patton Valley, Trombetta and Wren Hop. Keep reading and we’ll tell you all of our favorite wines (and food bites) at the 2014 World of Pinot Noir.
By the way, if you’re looking for opportunities to revel in this varietal yourself, please go here to see our list of Pinot Noir-centric events in 2014 across the United States which could give you that last push to make travel plans to Los Angeles, Chicago, Sonoma County, or the Willamette Valley this year.
Favorite Wines at the 2014 World of Pinot Noir
We had a lot of favorite wines at the World of Pinot Noir, but that’s to be expected when you have access to over 200 premium wineries at a premium wine event which draws participants and attendees from around the world. We suggest you visit these wineries and/or look for these wines in your local wine stores, restaurants or online. To make it easier, we’ve broken down our recommendations by geography (based on winery location).
These were our favorite Pinot Noirs from wineries in Southern and Central California based on how they were tasting at the 2014 WOPN:
Alma Rosa Winery & Vineyards (Buellton, CA) – 2012 Sta. Rita Hills and 2012 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Alta Maria Vineyards (Santa Maria, CA) – 2011 Santa Maria Valley and 2011 Reserva Pinot Noirs
Bernardus Winery (Carmel Valley, CA) – 2011 Garys’ Vineyard Pinot Noir
Brewer-Clifton (Lompoc, CA) – 2011 Machado Pinot Noir
Chamisal Vineyards (San Luis Obispo, CA) – 2012 Estate Pinot Noir
Dierberg Vineyard (Santa Ynez, CA) – 2011 Dierberg (Santa Maria Valley) and 2011 Drum Canyon Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Drake Wines (Arroyo Grande, CA) – 2011 Les Galets and 2012 Bien Nacido Vineyard (G Block) Pinot Noirs
Fess Parker Winery (Los Olivos, CA) – 2011 Ashley’s Pinot Noir
Fiddlehead Cellars (Lompoc, CA) – 2010 and 2009 “728” Pinot Noirs, 2007 Lollapalooza
Jack Creek Cellars (Templeton, CA) – 2012 Estate Pinot Noir
La Fenêtre Wines (Santa Maria, CA) – 2013 À Côté Rose of Pinot Noir, 2011 Presqu’ile Vineyard, 2011 Bien Nacido Vineyard and 2012 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noirs
Presqu’ile Winery (Santa Maria, CA) – 2009 and 2011 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noirs
Sanford Winery (Lompoc, CA) – 2010 Sanford & Benedict Vineyard and 2010 La Rinconada Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Scheid Vineyards (Greenfield, CA) – 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir, and 2009 Clone 115 and 2009 Clone 667 Reserve Pinot Noirs
Seagrape Wine Company (Solvang, CA) – 2012 “Jump Up” Pinot Noir
Stephen Ross Wine Cellars (San Luis Obispo, CA) – 2013 Vin Gris, 2012 Stone Corral Vineyard and 2012 Chorro Creek Vineyard Pinot Noirs
From Northern California wineries, these were our favorite Pinot Noirs:
Abiouness Wines (St. Helena, CA) – 2009 Stanly Ranch Carneros Pinot Noir
Ancien Wines (Napa, CA) – 2012 Toyon Farm Pinot Noir
Baxter Winery (Philo, CA) – 2011 Oppenlander Vineyard, 2011 Valenti Vineyard and 2012 Run Dog Pinot Noirs
Big Basin Vineyards (Boulder Creek, CA) – 2011 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir
Bouchaine Vineyards (Napa, CA) – 2010 Carneros Pinot Noir
Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery (Jenner, CA) – 2013 Rosé, 2010 Pinot Noir, 2012 Sea Slopes Pinot Noir
Freeman Winery (Sebastopol, CA) – 2012 Russian River Valley, 2012 Keefer Ranch, 2012 Gloria Estate, and 2012 Akiko’s Cuvée Pinot Noirs
Joseph Phelps Vineyards (St. Helena, CA) – 2012 Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir
Kanzler Vineyards (Sebastopol, CA) – 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Littorai (Sebastopol, CA) – 2012 Platt Vineyard and 2012 The Pivot Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Masút Vineyard and Winery (Redwood Valley, CA) – 2012 Block 6 and 2012 Estate Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Merry Edwards Winery (Sebastopol, CA) – 2011 Meredith Estate, 2011 Coopersmith and 2011 Georganne Pinot Noirs
Patz & Hall (Sonoma, CA) – 2012 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir
Robert Sinskey Vineyards (Napa, CA) – 2011 Los Carneros Pinot Noir, 2010 Vandal Vineyard, 2010 Three Amigos Vineyard and 2010 Four Vineyards Pinot Noirs
Saintsbury (Napa, CA) – 2011 Toyon Farm and 2011 Brown Ranch Pinot Noirs
Schug Carneros Estate (Sonoma, CA) – 2012 Carneros Pinot Noir
Talisman Wines (Glen Ellen, CA) – 2010 Adastra Vineyard, 2010 Red Dog Vineyard, and 2010 Weir Vineyard Pinot Noirs
Ten Acre Winery (Healdsburg, CA) – 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Thomas George Estates (Healdsburg, CA) – 2011 Cresta Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir
Trombetta Family Wines (Forestville, CA) – 2011 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir
Wren Hop Vineyards (Windsor, CA) – 2011 “Bitten Ear” and 2011 “Wisdom & Chaos” Estate Pinot Noirs
We are very big fans of the Willamette Valley, and will be adding recommendations for this area to our website soon. In the meantime, these were our favorite Oregon Pinot Noirs at the 2014 World of Pinot Noir:
Archery Summit (Dayton, OR) – 2012 Willamette Valley Premier Cuvée
Brittan Vineyards (McMinnville, OR) – 2011 Basalt Block and 2011 Gestalt Block Pinot Noirs
Patton Valley Vineyard (Gaston, OR) – 2011 “10 Acre” and 2011 West Block Pinot Noirs
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars (Newberg, OR) – 2011 Dussin Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir
Soter Vineyards (Carlton, OR) – 2011 North Valley, 2011 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noirs
Since this was the “World” of Pinot Noir, it was a pleasure to experience two wines poured by Veritas Imports: a Charles Viénot 2009 Gevrey-Chambertin and Domaine Sylvain Pataille 2011 Marsannay-Clos du Rey. We also highly enjoyed three wines from Burgandy’s Maison L’Orée – 2010 Gevrey-Chamberten Les Champeaux Premier Cru, 2010 Vosne-Romanée Vieilles Vignes, and 2010 Nuits-Saint Georges Premier Cru Boudots.
Food Highlights from the 2014 World of Pinot Noir
At the World of Pinot Noir, Grand Tasting attendees enjoyed food samples and small bites from the host hotel, Bacara Resort & Spa. In addition to having a table of spreads (such as Hummus) the kitchen served up tastes such as Marinated Mushroom Tartlets, Petite Jumbo Lake Crab Cakes, and Spicy Ahi Tuna with Cucumber Noodles. Heartier choices included Short Rib Sliders, Veal Sliders, Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Cream, and Braised Short Rib Ravioli with Pinot and Thyme.
The WOPN Grand Tastings also included a food purveyor specializing in cheese. Founded ten years ago, C’est Cheese in Santa Barbara has grown into a gourmet food store and lunch cafe offering over 120 cheeses, 2 dozen fine cured meats, and an array of artisan food products. This year, we talked with several of their friendly and knowledgeable staff as they offered samples such as Brie Fermier, Prima Donna, Campo de Montalban, Fourme d’Ambert and Pecorino Maturo.
As usual, the 2014 World of Pinot Noir event was a delightful opportunity to taste some of the best Pinot Noir wines available in the world and we’ve already marked our calendars for the first weekend of March 2015.
The World of Pinot Noir is a non-profit organization whose mission is to further the knowledge and breadth of Pinot Noir through educational seminars and tastings. You really should go to their website to join their mailing list so you will receive details about next year’s event as they unfold.