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Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival Technical Conference

There were several interesting talks at this day long conference moderated by Jordan McKay, noted wine writer and author of Passion for Pinot.

*Veteran winemaker, Greg LaFollette (formerly Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Hartford Court, DeLoach, and consultant to many current labels such as Londer, Jim Ball Vineyards and Russian River Valley Vineyards, and winemaker for his own label, Tandem), gave a presentation titled, “How terroir, clones and winery techniques interact to affect mouthfeel.” Although he did not answer the question proposed in the title per se, he offered a wealth of information on Pinot Noir clones. Listen to his talk: “Winemaker Greg LaFollette, "How terroir, clones and winery techniques interact to affect mouth feel""

*Jim Klein, long time winemaker at Navarro Vineyards offered three older vintages of Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir and commentary about the winery and wines. Jim is admittedly not a fan of older California Pinot Noir and neither am I. That said, it is always interesting to sample old treasures. Listen to his talk: “Winemaker Jim Klein, "Tasting of older vintages of Navarro Pinot Noir"""

1991 Navarro Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

20% whole cluster. 10% new oak. · Slight orange tinge to the rim. Moderately light in color. Hint of fig, soy and prune in the nose. Flavors of dried cherry skin, veering to the tart side. Still very decent, needing food to balance out the acidity.

1994 Navarro Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

15% whole cluster. · Good color. Aromas of plums, earth and barnyard. Impressive dark stone fruit intensity with a sweet tone. Still enjoyable.

2000 Navarro Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

First vintage without whole cluster. 12% Savoy Vineyard fruit. · Quite enjoyable although slightly oxidized showing aromas of black currants, plums and mushrooms. On the palate, the fruit is slightly roasted with notes of brown spice and root beer.

*The highlight of the conference was the Savoy Vineyard Focus Tasting with Rich Savoy, and winemakers Eric Sussman of Radio-Coteau, Mike Sullivan of Benovia and Scott Shapley of Roessler Cellars. Savoy Vineyard is one of Anderson Valley’s most treasured vineyards and I have featured it in the PinotFile recently (Volume 8, Issue 9, Listen to the panel discussion: Savoy Vineyard Panel and Focus Tasting

Photo below (L to R: Scott Shapely, Rich Savoy, Michael Sullivan, Eric Sussman).

2006 Benovia Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc.. 25% whole cluster, aged 17 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderately intense dark and savory berries which are delicious. Lovely perfume of earth-kissed dark stone fruits and berries with a rich and satiny mouth feel. Very good.

2007 Radio-Coteau Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.8% alc.. Whole cluster varies but 0% in this vintage. Aged 17 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · A big-boned, husky wine with plentiful tannin balanced by bright acidity. Earthy and dark fruited with underlying notes of tea and mushroom. Good.

2006 Roessler Cellars Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc.. 25% whole cluster. Aged 11 months in 40% new French oak barrels. Gentle cross-flow filtration. Roessler has sourced from Savoy Vineyard since 2001 and Shapely has been the winemaker since 2006. · Moderate intensity with juicy dark stone fruits and berries and an underlying earthiness. Nicely composed and peaking now with a long, fruitfilled dry finish. Good.

*Dan Sogg, consultant and former editor of The Wine Spectator, spoke on the merits and drawbacks of the 100-point wine scoring scale. My two thoughts at the conclusion of this discussion: (1) Instead of attaching yourself to a single high-scoring wine, grab on to a consistently accomplished producer, and (2) Producers decry the 100-point scoring system, but eagerly and unashamedly use scores to market their wines. Listen to this talk: Dan Sogg, former editor of The Wine Spectator, "Merits and drawbacks of the 100-point wine scoring scale"

*The last talk had a commercial flavor with Tim Bucher and Kerry Damskey of TastingRoom and winemaker Julia Vazquez of DeLoach discussing a new marketing concept of using tiny bottles for wine sampling. is an online marketplace that allows consumers to try premium wines before they buy. Tasting kits from wineries such as Trefethen, Patz & Hall, Gundlach Bundschu, Talley, DeLoach and Grgich Hills composed of sample-sized (50ml) wines packaged in glass bottles are now available. Kits start at $9.99 for a four-pack sampler and wine-tasting kits are shipped with special promotions and offers. The samples are bottled using new innovative technology which preserves the original flavor of the wine, replicating the taste and look of larger format bottles that the wine was originally transferred from. The idea is that you are tasting for a fraction of the cost exactly what you would if you bought the whole bottle. The small tasting bottle may prove very useful as well for winery sales representatives who are frequently on the road showing their wines. For further information, visit Pictured below is a wine-tasting kit from DeLoach. Listen to the presentation: sample-sized wine tasting kits

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