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Pinot Briefs —Newsletter 6.50

Going to the Seed In the last issue of the PinotFile, I discussed the intentions of Randall Grahm to plant his new Pinot Noir vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains from seed rather than nursery vine stock or vine cuttings. A fellow wine enthusiast, Mark Ryan, alerted me to an interesting article he read in Alice Feiring’s blog ( that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle September 21, 2007. Feiring’s article was on “out-of-the-way” bargains in Burgundy. One of the featured wineries was Sylvain Pataille from one of Burgundy’s lesser appellations - Marsannay. Apparently the littleknown (except to burgphiles) Pataille was a consultant for domains such as Roumier and Groffier before launching his own winery in 2001. In one of his vineyards he planted from seed instead of cuttings or clones and he farms organically and biodynamically. Apparently he is on track, for noted British wine expert Clive Coastes once wrote that “Marsannay is not a serious wine,” but recently corrected himself, “I wrote that before the arrival of Sylvain Pataille, whose wines rather contradict my point.” Pataille’s 2005 Marsannay is available from Burgundy Wine Company in New York. The website is

Wine Lovers Meet It was only a matter of time before a dating site showed up on the internet for people who share the love of wine. At, a free dating site, people with a common interest in wine can meet. The site touts the fact that those who delight in wine “are among the most classy and sophisticated individuals within our society.” I am not sure about that claim.

Cloudy Bay Pinot Tasting The annual Pinot at Cloudy Bay tasting was held June 30, 2007 and focused on the 2004 vintage. 137 wines from Burgundy, Oregon, Napa, Sonoma, Tasmania, Mornington Peninsula, and New Zealand were included. All wines were tasted blind. The French did not fare well in the tasting and blame was directed at the less than stellar 2004 vintage. Geoff Kelly, a New Zealand wine correspondent and educator, attended the event (his full report is available at He raved about the New Zealand Pinot Noirs, saying “Plaudits go to the Kiwis. The best were not only vividly varietal, but interestingly Burgundian (in style) as well.” Remember, he is a Kiwi. Geoff Kelly’s top wine was a 2004 Littorai Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. This particular wine made my First Team on the 2007 North America All-American Pinot Noirs list (PinotFile, Volume 6, Issue 49). Other favorites included Pegasus Bay and Mt Difficulty Pipe Clay Terrace from New Zealand, Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertain Les Champeux VV from Burgundy, and then two more Kiwis, Craggy Range Te Muna Road and Cloudy Bay.

Wine Societies Wine Societies was founded in 2006 as a new online marketplace for wine lovers. The site enables private collectors and enthusiasts to monetize their personal collections by selling or auctioning vintage wines to wine retailers and wholesalers and simultaneously setting prices and informing the market. Licensed wineries, retailers and wholesalers can have increased access to the private collections of wine connoisseurs, wineries are be able to sell reserve and specialty wines to wholesalers, and retailers can have increased access to wholesalers. Wine Societies has no subscription fees, membership terms or contracts and joining is free with no obligation. To view the site go to There are very few wines for sale or auction at present.

China Thirsts for Wine According to the Shanghai Daily, 90% of the wine drunk in China is local plonk but as the economy rockets ahead and consumer spending power increases, wine lovers are spending more on luxury wine. ASC Fine Wines in China is now the largest importer in the world of Chateau Latour. In December, 2007, ASC opened The Wine Residence, a beautiful villa close to the People’s Square for members to cellar their fine wines underground. Besides facilities for private tastings and social functions, the building houses a gourmet restaurant, the Napa Wine Bar and Kitchen.

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