The World of Pinot Noir 2006

Pinot noir fanatics are a rare breed. Unlike other wine lovers
with more general tastes, the hardcore pinot noir fanatic will
traipse around the globe in search of the best pinot noirs. Now,
what they consider “the best” varies from fanatic to fanatic. There
are pinot lovers that profess that only Burgundian-style pinots are
representative of all the poetry and beauty this temperamental
varietal has to offer. Others profess that New World pinots from
Oregon and California show the true brightness and full flavor
profile of this little, complex grape. Still others are not
terribly fixated on region, and simply want to try every pinot noir
imaginable, and make up their minds based upon the virtues of each
producer and their respective vineyards of choice. Pinot-noir
lovers of every imaginable stripe, though, found at least one wine,
if not many, they could fall in love with at the wonderfully
educational yet fun World of Pinot Noir festival held earlier this
month on California’s Central Coast.

The World of Pinot Noir, an annual event held at the Cliffs
Hotel in Shell Beach, California, is the kind of wine festival
tailor-made for serious wine lovers who still like to have fun
while enjoying friendly banter and a relaxed mood. For six years
now, this highly successful, single-varietal-focused event has been
able to attract some of the finest pinot noir producers in the
world, and this year was no exception. The esteemed Burgundian
producer Maison Louis Jadot was featured in an exclusive, sold-out
seminar, while others signed up for a tribute to Bien Nacido
Vineyard, held at the historical Bien Nacido Adobe, in Santa Maria

After tasting through many pinot noirs at the Pinot Noir by the
Sea Tasting, here are my standouts from the World of Pinot Noir

From the Santa Maria Valley, California

Belle Glos 2004 Clark and Telephone
Vineyard, $38
Twentysomething winemaker Joseph Wagner has
created a real beauty with this offering from Santa Maria. The
vines from which this particular pinot was created are more than 30
years old, and are own-rooted on the Martini clone. The results are
an exceedingly well-balanced and elegant wine. Wagner has
winemaking in his genes — father, Chuck Wagner, is the owner and
winemaker of the world-famous Caymus Vineyards. Belle Glos, the
younger Wagner’s project, is named for his grandmother, Lorna Belle

Native 9 2004 Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard,
This highly anticipated release comes from renowned
vineyardist James Ontiveros. The “9” in the title represents the
number of generations the Ontiveros family has farmed in
California. It’s no wonder, then, that this pinot noir exhibits a
deeply complex and varietally correct flavor profile. I adore this
wine for its sheer loveliness and structure. With only a small
number of cases produced, this is one to grab and to hold while
it’s still available.

Dierberg 2004 Santa Maria Valley, Steven
Vineyard, $46
Named for his grandson, Steven, owner/vintner
Jim Dierberg offers something truly special here. Winemaker
Nicholas de Luca has fashioned a knock-out pinot noir from Santa
Maria Valley. This was one of my personal favorites, with notes of
allspice, white pepper, and cranberry on the nose. Temperance,
though, is the word of choice for this pinot. It is so well-crafted
that each flavor integrates perfectly with the next, and the
results are a real stunner.

From Santa Rita Hills

Bonaccorsi Wine Company 2004 Melville
Vineyard, $50
Winemaker Jenne Bonaccorsi has captured the
essence of Santa Rita Hills with this wine. Working with the fruit
of vineyardist Chad Melville, she has created an unstoppable pinot.
The finish on this wine is magnificent, due in part, I’m certain,
to its great structure and balance. This is the food lover’s pinot
noir, as its subtlety of flavors allows for it to perfectly
accompany a meal.

From Anderson Valley

Goldeneye 2003 Anderson Valley, $50
This unique pinot noir hails from the Mendocino Coast. Winemaker
Zach Rasmuson works with about 19 different clones to create this
pinot. There are bold notes of cedar, cherry, and wet earth on this
wine. It opens up in the glass after about 20 minutes to reveal a
lovely rose component.

From Oregon

Sineann 2004 Resonance, Oregon, $48
Winemaker Peter Rosback is an intense purist. I was immediately
wowed by his selection of pinots, most notably the “Resonance,”
which is entirely bio-dynamically farmed. This wine has great
mouth-feel, possessing as pleasant a texture as one can hope for in
a wine that is not shy on structure, fruit-forwardness, and
balance. There is something ineffably suggestive about Sineann
wine. Every pinot lover should try them at least once. Visit


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