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World of Pinot Noir: Discovering the many facets of Pinot Noir

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For the Pinot-centric attending the World of Pinot Noir is the ultimate in wine tasting events. Deterred by rain, the tasting was forced to move indoors at Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara.

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Although one could not enjoy a wine tasting set against the magnificence and beauty of California’s Santa Barbara coastline, it did have its own grandeur being inside this Spanish Colonial resort. Walking through the arches that spanned the entrance to the tasting, one felt the power of the Pinot Noir grape drawing you in.

The wine tasting is extensive and there is no way to cover every winery in the three plus hours I was there. I will present some of the highlights of those wines I was able to sample.

If you were not sipping wine you could enjoy the excellent gourmet appetizers offered. The food was perfect for pairing the wines. Between the crab cakes, the sliders and many more delectable delicacies you were not wanting for food.

I started my World of Pinot Experience with a wonderful 2012 Pinot Noir Blanc from Ghost Hill Cellars. I had never tried a white Pinot Noir and this one was a superb representation of this white wine. The wine, made from 100% Pinot Noir, 115 Dijon clone is crisp and refreshing yet has a marvelous richness that is uncharacteristic to white wines. This Pinot Noir Blanc is worth going out of your way to try.

Having never experienced wines from the Finger Lakes region of New York, my second stop was to Heart & Hands Wine Company. I absolutely loved their 2012 Sparkling Brut, which is created from 100% Pinot Noir in the classical method.

Exploring some of the sparkling wines one cannot miss the Brut Rosé from J Vineyards. This sparkling wine has a beautiful pink orange color. One is immediately assaulted with the wonderful bouquet of stone fruit and refreshes in the essence of watermelon with a hint of allspice on the finish. This Brut Rosé is made up of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.

If you have not sampled the 2011 Sea Smoke Sea Spray Sparkling Wine, a Blanc de Noirs, it is a real treat that is very much worth it.

Another light summery wine not to be missed is the Belle Glos 2013 Pinot Noir Blanc. A Rosé created in the French style that emits aromas of rose petals and is a crisp pleasurable wine with hints of cherry.

Any body who knows me is well aware of my love of animals, especially dogs. If there is a dog in the room, most people can find me kneeling to say hello. That was the case when I spotted Abiouness Wines’ mascot, GB, which stands for Golden Buddha, relaxing on a mat ready to greet and introduce herself and Abiouness Wines to anyone that walked by. Without GB, I might have missed out on this very special winery. Abiouness showcased two Pinot Noirs from 2009. My preference was the Stanley Ranch Carneros Pinot Noir, a medium bodied wine with flavors of red berries. The 2009 Silacci Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir was also nice with its hints of dark fruits.

Most of the Pinots I sampled where lighter in color and body. The wines considered fullest in body and perhaps my favorites at this tasting were all three Pinots featured by Belle Glos. All three had a dark purple color, were rich in texture and quality. They were all vintage 2012 but each was from very distinct regions. The first is Dairyman from the Russian River Valley. It was a rich velvety balanced wine that had notes of white pepper. Next came the balanced Las Alturas from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Finally there was the Clark & Telephone from Santa Maria displaying hints of cinnamon.

Representing Mendocino County was Masút Vineyard and Winery. As third generation winemakers, Ben and Jake Fetzer grew up under the tutelage of a well know winery. They presented a 2011 Pinot Noir that my preference when it came to the lighter styled Pinots. It was a very balanced wine.

Meyer Family Vineyards indoctrinated me into the wines of the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. The 2012 Pinot Noir was fresh clean and very approachable wine.

Coming back to J Vineyards, I was pleased to sample the very balanced 2012 Misterra Pinot Noir. The wine is lighter with hints of cherries and nice mild spices.

I am always intrigued to stop by Kitá Wines to see what barrel sample winemaker, Tara Gomez will sample. This year it was the recently barreled 2013 Hillard Bruce Vineyard, which is going to be a real winner. Already I detected a superbly balanced wine and there is sweetness on the finish that is just divine. Six months ago I barrel sampled each clone that went into the 2012 Pinot Noir. It was fun sampling this vintage in its final form.

I finished off my visit with Melville’s Pinot Noirs, which were excellent examples of the quality of wine one can get from the Sta. Rita Hills and this winery in particular. Both vintages I tasted were smoothly balanced with that marvelous velvety texture so often present in a fuller bodied wine.

I sipped many more wines but these were the wines that caught my fancy on this particular day. If only there had been more time to spend savoring the bounty of Pinot Noir at the World of Pinot Noir Grand Tasting. I highly recommend if you attend next year’s World of Pinot Noir to sign up for both Grand Tasting Events, as it will really give you the flavor of the Pinot Noirs from various regions of California and the world.

If you would like to follow more of Cori Solomon’s articles, she would love you to subscribe to her column by clicking the box next to her photo.

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