IPNC 2010: Day One

How to spend a weekend immersed in Pinot Noir


I was fortunate enough to be invited to the recent 2010 International Pinot Noir Celebration held, as always, on the lovely campus of Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. The theme for this year’s event was "Wine is Food," and I would be hard pressed to come up with a more appropriate theme. From the brilliant Pinot Noir and lamb pairing seminar, chaired by Food & Wine magazine's own Ray Isle, to the gala dinner events, culminating with the annual Salmon Bake, this year’s IPNC was a non-stop taste sensation.

Speaking of tasting, there was no shortage of wine to be tasted. Whether during either of the two late afternoon al fresco tastings, or during the organized winery visit, in my case to Torii Mor, for a wine blending exercise, Pinot Noir was almost always at hand. I had the chance to taste quite a few, and will write about many of the wineries I visited in a few follow-up articles, but first, a brief rundown of some of the wines of the weekend is in order.
Related Imagery

Pairing lamb four ways with Pinot Noir.

The al fresco Pinot tasting slowly ramps up to full speed.

The al fresco tasting draws a full house.

Lunch on the lawn at IPNC 2010. What a beautiful day!

My warm-up for the event began at Stoller Vineyards, where I joined a pre-IPNC warm-up dinner that featured the wines of Stoller, as well as those from the nearby De Ponte Cellars and the less-near-by Burgundy estate Domaine Humbert Freres!

I’ll be writing up notes on both Stoller and De Ponte so I’ll take this opportunity to begin with the 2007 Domaine Humbert Freres Gevrey Chambertin “Poissenot” a Premier cru from South facing slopes just west of the village. This showed a fine floral nose with a wonderful balance of mineral, earth and fruit tones in a compact package that showed good length with a very tense and well delineated finish.

My IPNC began the next day with a fine breakfast, al fresco among the trees at Linfield College, followed by an introduction to the each day’s event, as well as the 70 different producers featured in this year’s tastings. Once the introductory ceremony was done there was a brief break in the action before I attended The Art of Pairing Pinot event, which paired 4 Pinots with 4 great lamb dishes prepared by some of the region’s top chefs.

The wines here really highlighted the international aspect of the IPNC. We were poured the following:

2004 Domaine de l’Arlot Nuits Saint Georges Premier Cru Clos de Forets which was a lovely wine, exhibiting a touch of the greenness the 2004s are well known for but in this case it appeared as a green spice tone, much like green peppercorn, adding nice detail to the gentle and faintly sweet red fruits of this structured, slightly hard wine.

2007 Dutton Goldfield Freestone Hill, which was intense if a touch simple with sweet red fruit, touched with hints of peach and candied violets and mint. It’s a big wine, well balanced and with good persistence and quite fruit forward at this point while exhibiting well integrated wood spice tones from it’s 20 months in oak.

2007 St. Innocent Winery Momtazi Vineyard – here we finally get to try some local product, this example offered up a rather herbal nose with hints of floral tones but some astringent caraway and sapwood notes as well.  In the mouth this was quite perfumed and rather Burgundian, if a bit rigid at this point.

2006 Pegasus Bay Prima Donna, probably the rarest of the four wines on offer for this tasting, this Prima Donna was undoubtedly the biggest of the bunch with flavors than leaned toward the cola end of the spectrum. This was ripe and packed with sweet cherry and vanilla flavors but not much else, leaving the finish a bit heavy, dull and hot.

After the Lamb and Pinot pairing I took advantage of some down time to meet with some really great folks from all over. Several days after IPNC people were asking me what impressed me the most about the event, and in all honesty I had to mention the people. The folks coordinating the event did a great job, but I was referring to all the people one can just bump into. Each moment of shared shape or waiting on line for espresso was an opportunity to meet the most fascinating, and relaxed people. It made for a fantastic weekend, so go to IPNC for the wine, stay for the people!

Lunch was soon to follow, and the theme was pink for all! Now I didn’t get a chance to try all the roses floating around but both the 2009 Phelps Creek Rose and the 2009 Fiddlehead Pink Fiddle stood out.  As was generally the case we were not limited to the wines they were officially pouring at these meals so I also had the chance to try  the 2001 Chehalem Stoller Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2006 Kawarau Pinot Noir, 2008 Expression 38 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2008 Johanneshof Reinisch Pinot Noir, and a token white, the 2006 Arietta On the White Keys.

After lunch I participated in an aptly named seminar (Wine Journalism in a Changing Landscape), where it was my honor to share the stage with wine journalism luminaries Jon Bonné, Patrick Comiskey, Nick Fauchald, and Ray Isle. The hour we had to discuss wine journalism as it makes the transition to include new media was simply not enough, but we were each able to introduce our unique point of view, making for an interesting time.

The next event on my schedule was the first of the two al fresco wine tasting. I got there early, and the event does fill up so if you want to taste without the lines I would recommend you get in there early and hit the big guns first! I took a rather haphazard path around the tasting, content with heating the winemakers I had not tasted, or some that I had. My list for day one included a quick look at:

2008 Domaine David Clark Morey Saint Denis

2008 JJ Confuron Chambolle Musigny
2008 Humbert Freres Gevrey Chambertin
2008 Albert Mann Clos de la Faille
2008 Domaine Ballorin Marsannay Les Echezots
2008 Brooks Janus
2008 Churton Abyss
2008 Adelsheim Elizabeth Reserve
2008 Ambroise Nuits Saint Georges

After the Al fresco tasting it was time to end day one with the Grand Dinner. I was fortunate to join the table featuring Brick House wines, poured by winemaker Doug Tunnel. We enjoyed several back vintages of Doug’s organically farmed wines, the 1994 and 1996, both had a lot to offer with the 96 being particularly fresh and complex. The rest of the evening involved the actual drinking of wine, and besides a pair of quickly scrawled notes on a 2006 Failla Occidental Ridge, and a pre-release showing of the 2008 Cornerstone of Oregon Pinot Noir, no notes were taken, to protect the innocent, and the less so.

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: sirrah
    360982 5

    I can't wait to hear about the wineries in your next articles. Which wine was your favorite?

    Aug 04, 2010 at 3:10 PM

  • Snooth User: lingprof
    Hand of Snooth
    155607 1,108

    GDP: Is there a pinot you would be willing to identify as your "favorite with lamb"? As somebody who loves lamb but is picky about pinot, I'd love to hear your opinion!!

    Aug 04, 2010 at 3:19 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 225,523

    I haven't typed up all of my notes, and when tasting so many it's kind of hard to remember which were the standouts. I'll have that info next week.

    As far as Pinot and Lamb, the seminar did nothing if not stress how the Lam preparation is crucial in determining what Pinot might pair well. What sort of lamb dish are we talking about?

    Aug 04, 2010 at 3:43 PM

  • OK...Oregon has hands down the BEST Pinots in the world...where are they in your article?

    Aug 04, 2010 at 4:36 PM

  • I was looking to see if Holloran wines were reviewed. Great Pinots

    Aug 04, 2010 at 4:52 PM

  • In your estimation, which winery was most conspicuous by it's absence at this event?

    Aug 04, 2010 at 5:04 PM

  • Snooth User: Gavilan Vineyards
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    517320 40

    A nice book about the ups and downs of wine making is: "My First Crush" by Linda Kaplan . She and her husband bought a winery in McMinnville called Panther Creek back in 1994. Now owned by the Chamber's family. The book is a great read especially for those who do not deal with the daily wine business and feel inferior to those that 'speak the secret language'. Panther Creek makes only Pinot Noir. Uniquely they do not own a vineyard but have long term leases with neighborhood vineyards.
    I cannot comment on their wine though. Just a lovely book.

    Aug 04, 2010 at 5:43 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 8,192

    Cyclistgirl, nice patriotism (am I wrong in assuming you're from Oregon?). How much pinot have you had from The True Sonoma Coast, Santa Barbara, or Burgundy? ALL of them (even Oregon, too... ;-) ) have some great wines, as well as lesser ones.

    Greg, looking forward to your tasting notes.

    Lingprof, what is it you've specifically had problems with regarding pinot in the past?

    Aug 04, 2010 at 7:08 PM

  • I have sampled other pinots and they pale in comparison...what can i I say? Location...Location...Location.

    Aug 05, 2010 at 1:42 AM

  • Snooth User: Jackston
    548143 1

    I have to add my 2 cents. I live about 15 miles north of this event and have been drinking Oregon Pinot Noir for 30 years or so, almost from the beginning of the wine industry here. For every winery mentioned in this article, there are dozens more to be discovered. the IPNC only invites so many wineries to the event. This only scratches the surface. If you are really into this, you must make a trip out here. A good majority of the wineries don't have tasting rooms and are only open to the public on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends. That's where the real gems are found. Another piece of advice--barrel taste and buy futures. That's the only way to go.


    Aug 05, 2010 at 2:58 AM

  • Snooth User: bibuloso
    372893 6

    Isn't South Africa big on Pinot Noir? I'd love to learn about PN cantinas in SA, as I might be down there with some days to spare for a wine tour. HELLLPPP !!!

    Aug 05, 2010 at 3:53 AM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 8,192

    Don't buy it, Cyclist. Have you spent any real time in Sonoma, Burgundy or Santa Barbara (I'll leave the South Island of New Zealand out of it for now)? Sounds a little too wino/geo-centric to be balanced. The main thing is you're missing out on a lot of damned fine wine--some of which *may* actually be better than what you're drinking in Oregon... ;-)

    Aug 05, 2010 at 6:23 AM

  • Snooth User: Whiffer
    157728 9

    lingprof: Lamb with Pinot Noir? Have your tried some good Rhone wines? Mourvedre (or Monastrell from Spain) with Syrah and Granache is my personal favorite. There are dozens of good ones from 2005 to 2007 and I've heard good things about 2009 also.

    Aug 05, 2010 at 9:39 AM

  • Did you get to try the new Pinots from La Follette Wines?

    Aug 05, 2010 at 1:26 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 8,192

    Nothing wrong with lamb with pinot noir. Another classic match is with blends from Bordeaux. Hey, I even had some slightly spicy North African-style lamb kebabs last night with an off-dry chenin blanc that also had decent acidity. Not the first combination that would've popped to mind, but it actually worked quite well. Lots of combinations for lamb with wine, and pinot is one that I've had dozens of times with good success. And yes, Rhone blends can also be a good match....

    Aug 05, 2010 at 3:42 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 8,192

    BTW, there was a good Snooth forum thread on wine matches for lamb a few months ago:

    Aug 06, 2010 at 3:23 AM

  • Snooth User: bazza39
    516033 11

    Sounds like the comments thus far do not realize there are more then 150,000 commercial wine labels in the world?! Having mentioned thei little bit of trivia and extrapolating to the comments especially the one who thinks Oegon produces the greatest PN in the world...hands down.... is a bit naiive.....needs to taste Dujac, Grivot, Leroy/DRC, Preiur, and dozens if not hundreds of Burgundy wines!


    Aug 07, 2010 at 2:08 PM

  • Snooth User: avie
    385117 1

    that "token white" Arietta on the White Keys is a fabulous wine and tough to get, unless you happen to be siting at The French Laundry in California!

    Aug 09, 2010 at 9:12 AM

  • Snooth User: Amantivino
    400043 11

    Good to hear that the 2004 Burgundies are drinking nicely. Sounds like the "green" quality you reference is starting to integrate into the wines a bit. Many were almost undrinkable upon first release. Aromas verged on dill to the point that we began recording "classic Vlasic" in our tasting notes.

    One theory I have heard is that the vines were so stressed from the heat of 2003 that they were especially prone to rot in 2004. Has anyone heard anything else?

    Aug 13, 2010 at 4:03 PM

  • Snooth User: binde
    554856 9

    i want to go to Oregon on thanksgiving weekend and wine taste.

    Aug 25, 2010 at 10:15 PM

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