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Along the Pinot Trail: 2010 Pinot Shootout

The 8th Annual Pinot Noir Shootout finals were held recently in San Francisco. Over 250 Pinot Noirs, primarily from California, had been reduced to 64 finalists by a series of preliminary tastings. 28 esteemed wine judges met to determine the 40 finalists which will be presented to the public, trade and press at the Pinot Noir Summit in San Rafael, California on February 27, 2010. At the Summit, the public has the opportunity to vote for their favorite wines in a walk-around format in which the wines are offered blind, and the results are then compared to the scores given by the professional judging panel. Attendees will also be able to meet the winemakers and winery owners who produced each of the final wines that qualified for the Summit after they are judged and unveiled. The results are posted on the Affairs of the Vine website at Affairs of the Vine is a wine education company, specializing in corporate wine education events, interactive wine workshops, and Wine Boot Camp held at various locations in California’s wine country regions.

The judging panel is composed of a diverse group of Pinot Noir loving professionals including representatives from the wine press, sommeliers, wine buyers, winemakers, restaurateurs, wine educators, and wine writers. The wines are rated using the 100-point scoring system, but the emphasis is on the copious notes that the judges create for each wine. The results of the competition are gender-based in that the male and female judges’ scores and comments are tabulated separately.

At the Pinot Shootout finals I blind tasted 32 of the 64 final Pinot Noirs. The wines are judged without respect to region, vintage and price. There were a few wines that stood out and are highlighted below.

Best Wine

    2007 Heart O’ The Mountain Pommard Clone Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 25 cases, $58 (unfortunately, this wine is only sold to Wine Club members and is sold out). 94-95

Outstanding Wines

    2007 Claiborne & Churchill Vintners Edna Valley Pinot Noir, 2380 cases, $25. A great value and a wine to seek out; 13.8% alc., 90% Twin Creeks Vineyard in Edna Valley, clones 113, 115, 667, 777, Martini and Pommard, 94

    2007 Fulcrum Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 14.0% alc.,100 cases, $52. 50% Hein Family Vineyard, 50% Hayley Vineyard, clones 115, 777 and Pommard, aged 14 months in 41% new oak, unfined and unfiltered, 91

    2007 Hahn SLH Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 2591 cases, $29, 92

    2007 Shandel’s Oppenlander Vineyard Mendocino County Pinot Noir, 250 cases, $40, Tasted several times in past and found to be consistently stellar. Highly recommended. 93

    2007 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, 14.2% alc., 4029 cases, $30, 90% Anderson Valley, primarily Handley Estate, Ferrington, Romani and Corby vineyards, aged 10 months in 30% new oak, 92

    2007 David Bruce Winery Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir, 1232 cases, $30, (website is woefully out of date). 94

Commendable Wines:

Other Pinot Noirs tasted:

    2006 Ampelos Cellars Rho Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 86
    2006 Row Eleven Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 87
    2007 Cumbre of Vine Hill Barrel 31 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 88
    2008 Spy Valley Marborough New Zealand Pinot Noir 85
    2007 MacMurray Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 89
    2006 Robledo Estate Los Carneros Pinot Noir 87
    2007 River Road Vineyards Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 88
    2006 Oak Knoll Winery Red Hill Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir 85
    2008 Left Edge Timberline Block Sea Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 86
    2007 La Fenetre Le Bon Climat Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 86
    2007 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Freestone Hills Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 87
    2006 Truchard Vineyards Napa Carneros Pinot Noir 84
    2006 Belle Valle Grand Cuvee Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir 85
    2007 Orentano Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 85
    2007 Manzoni Family Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 87
    2006 Mahoney Vineyards Las Brisas Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir 86
    2005 Scheid Vineyards Reserve Monterey Pinot Noir 82
    2007 Pessagno Four Boys Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 82

For tickets to the Pinot Noir Summit in San Rafael, California on February 27, 2010 visit Affairs of the Vine at

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