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The Long and Winding Pinot Road, Part VII

The group was formed in January, 1989 as a monthly gathering of wine enthusiasts. The instigator was Ron Marshall, proprietor of Mr. Stox Restaurant in Anaheim, California. The guidelines were that “Members have a serious interest in wine, have their own wine collection, and have a desire to enhance their palate and wine education through group tastings. The premise was that this was not to be a pompous group of wine snobs and “good jokes would be encouraged at all tastings.” The origin of the group’s name, Le Grand Crew, is lost in history.

Le Grand Crew was a major source of my wine education and inspiration and the group, with few member changes, has persisted to the present time. Meeting monthly over dinner, we (women were not specifically banned but few dared to attend) tasted all of the world’s greatest wines from the entire globe and developed friendships for life.

Early on, I was an outcast and weirdo, the butt of many jokes for my professed love of Pinot Noir. The members were dedicated Cabernet and Bordeaux drinkers with little interest or patience for other wines. That was all to change, when in 1991, I organized my first “Superbowl of Pinot Noir” dinner tasting. The idea was to present the champions, the best of the best New World Pinot Noirs available in the marketplace at that time. Over the years, the members look forward to the “Superbowl,” and many abandoned the dark side for Pinot Noir.

The wines at “Superbowl I of Pinot Noir” were the following: 1987 Au Bon Climat Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley ($30), 1987 Calera Jensen Vineyard Hollister ($30), 1987 El Molino Napa Valley ($30), 1987 Williams Selyem Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley ($40), 1988 Gary Farrell Allen Vineyard Russian River Valley ($25), 1988 Robert Mondavi Reserve Napa Valley ($29), 1988 Signorello Proprietor’s Reserve Napa Valley ($25), 1988 Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast ($25), 1989 Byron Santa Barbara County ($18), 1989 Etude Napa Valley ($22), and 1989 Williams Selyem Olivet lane Vineyard Russian River Valley ($25). Looking back, a heck of a lineup and a glimpse of Pinot history. To be continued… … … ..

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