Day 2 at the 2010 International Pinot Noir Celebration began with another convivial breakfast on the sun-dappled lawn at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. Today my agenda included a winery visit to Torii Mor, and an exploration of the intricacies of blending wines, with lunch to be had after the blending event.
In total there were some 13 or so busses (mine was number 11) that set off to a corresponding number of wineries that morning. While I didn’t realize it until our return trip, each of those busses contained a mix of wine amateurs and professionals. On the trip out there was lots of talk of winemaking, viticulture and the like, on the ride back later that afternoon the discussion would dissolve into friendly banter revolving around fly fishing, families, and things more frivolous. That was the moment that the beauty of the IPNC really hit me. It is a singular and exceptional sharing of like-minded individuals! Oh, and there’s some wine to be drunk as well!
So after a leisurely breakfast I joined my group of travelers on bus #11, destination unknown at that point. Well the destination did indeed turn out to be the Torii Mor winery, and the afternoon’s events revolved around a wine blending exercise, followed by lunch.
The wines we were to use in our blending exercise were the Olsen Estate (bright acids, fresh, if a touch herbal), the Bella Vida (full and lush with a soft yet rich mouthfeel), and the La Colina (rich, but a bit hollow with a very pronounced oak spice character), all from the Dundee Hills.
I was to help in the judging of these samples and was frankly a bit worried that the blends each of the 6 tables were to make with the guidance of a winemaker or two would be so similar as to make distinguishing between them difficult. Well, that didn’t happen! Each table put together such diverse blends that the judging was easy. Just to give you an idea of what went down, the following are the percentage breakdowns for each blend followed by my ranking and the finale ranking.
Wine 1) 58 1/3 – 16 2/3 – 25 (4) (5)
Wine 2) 8-74-18 (1) (tie 2)
Wine 3) 10-48-42 (5) (6)
Wine 4) 27-43-30 (6) (4)
Wine 5) 50-35-15 (3) (1)
Wine 6) 25 – 56 ¼ - 18 3/4 (2) (tie 2)
The blending session was a ton of fun, and it was fascinating to see how each group approached the task from a different angle. Lunch included the blends we all made as well as wines from each of the participating winemakers. Truth is the afternoon was a scorcher, must have been 96 degrees in the shade, so the wines didn’t make as much of an impression as they might have other wise, though the offerings from both Brooks Winery and Johanneshof Reinisch were particularly delicious!
I was able to return to Torii Mor later during my stay in Oregon and tasted through much of their current line-up. If you haven’t been and are in the area, Torii Mor is certainly worth a visit. The wines are lovely and the drive up through the woods on their gravel lane makes arriving the culmination of a real tasting experience!
Wines tasted at Torii Mor
2009 Pinot Gris
2008 Pinot Blanc
2008 Torii Mor Deux Verre Reserve Pinot Noir
2008 Hawk’s View Pinot Noir
2008 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
2008 Dundee Hills Select Pinot Noir
2008 La Colina Pinot Noir
2008 Olalla Pinot Noir
2006 LBV Syrah Port
After a dusty, slow and uneventful drive back to campus I loitered around a bit, striking up conversation with all sorts of farmers, winemakers, wine lovers and the like. As I mentioned last time, the people make the IPNC special and everyone is genuinely friendly and happy to chat. After milling about for a while it was time for the second al fresco tasting, featuring a different set of wineries then were on show the previous day. Among the highlights on day 2 were:
2007 Hofstatter Barthenau Pinot Noir
2007 Anthill Farms Abbey Harris Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
2007 Ojai Fe Ciega Pinot Noir
2007 Navarro Deep End Blend Pinot Noir
2007 Kawarau Estate Reserve Pinot Noir
2007 Brandborg Bench Lands Pinot Noir
2008 Adelsheim Ribbon Springs Pinot Noir
After the al fresco tasting it was time for the long awaited Salmon Bake. It was a night of indulgence, with a near endless stream of fire roasted salmon accompanied by a truly endless stream of fine wines. This is a grand BYOB event, and BYOB people did. I didn’t really take notes during the evening but there were mags of back vintage Oregon Pinot floating around. An Archery Summit here, Domaine Drouhin Laurene there, someone put a glass of 2001 DRC Romanee St. Vivant in my hand and told me to taste (delicious, so yes, thanks) then there were the Lamarche Wines (the 1996 on-Romanee was drinking surprisingly well!), Stoller, more Reinisch, and a fabulous 2002 Cameron that I tried to end my evening with, but ran out so I had to turn to the super 1789 Pinot Noir, the new label from De Ponte winemaker Isabelle Dutarte.
Needless to say, there was plenty of wine, and just a heck of a lot of hanging out, enjoying the final moments of the IPNC 2010, well those actually came the following day at the brunch with bubbles, but it’s not the same as savoring some fine pinot under the moonlit sky of a summer eve in Oregon!