PinotFile: 6.20 March 27, 2007
- Aussie Pinot Noir Celebration a Ripper
- Oregon Pinot Noir Tasting
- Are Wine Critics Hypertasters?
- Screw Caps Pioneered at Boisset
- The Pinot Czarina
- Grand Harvest Awards
- Et Fille Wines
- Pinot Noir Celebrations
- Alcohol Levels in Wine
- Half Bottles Get No Respect
Aussie Pinot Noir Celebration a Ripper
Pinot is hitting a high note worldwide and in Australia the leader of the band is
David Lloyd of Eldridge Estate, a distinguished producer of Pinot Noir in the Red
Hill area of the Mornington Peninsula (Victoria) in southeast Australia. Known to
many of his cronies as “The Clone Ranger,” because of his research and interest in
the clonal diversity of Pinot Noir, David is the director of the Mornington Peninsula
International Pinot Noir Celebration, held every two years in early February and
modeled after the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon.
The most recent event was February 9 & 10, 2007. David has sent me a full report
on the happenings at this, the third MPIPNC, titled “Celebrating Pinot Noir Down
At this point, many readers are probably asking, “Why bother?” Everyone knows
Australia is famous for Shiraz and to some extent, Cabernet Sauvignon, but Pinot
Noir? It turns out, there is considerable international interest in Pinot Noir from
Australia. Australia produced about 36,000 tons of Pinot Noir in 2005, a significant
amount (although it pales in comparison to the 420,000 tons of Shiraz).
The MPIPNC is held at a 5 star venue (Lindenderry at Red Hill) about 90 minutes
south of Melbourne in rural Red Hill. The event is centered around tasting celebrated
Pinot Noirs from top winemakers in beautiful surroundings. The Aussie
bonhomie and hospitality adds to the appeal of the celebration.
Guest wineries included Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, J.J. Confuron, Domaine de
l’Arlot, and Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret from Burgundy, Cristom and Domaine
Serene from Oregon, Kosta Browne and Littorai from California, and Felton Road,
Mountford, and Valli from New Zealand. A host of Australian Pinot Noir producers
were present as well.
The first tasting was moderated by the famous Australian wine author, Jeremy Oliver, and the influential
UK wine writer, Matthew Jukes. Jukes is a wine buyer for London’s Bibendum restaurant, recent
judge at the Sydney Wine Show, the creator of the online 100 Best Australian Wines, and author of the
recently released The Wine Book. The session was titled, “An Exploration of International Pinot Noir
Styles.” The 2003 Littorai Hirsch Vineyard was well received and a great example of fruit power
balanced with lovely oak handling. Many tasters preferred it to the 2001 Mongeard-Mugneret
Echezeaux. The 2003 Domaine Serene Evanstad Reserve was a shift to the world of the fruit bomb
reinforced when compared to the 2004 Valli Bannockburn from Central Otago which showed classic
sweet and sour cherry fruits. The final wine was the very stylish and elegant 2004 Main Ridge Estate
from the Mornington Peninsula. A luncheon followed the tasting, prepared by local chefs and held at
seven wineries across the region.
The second tasting was “An Exploration of Australian Pinot Noir” with wines from South Australia,
Victoria, and Tasmania, all from the 2004 vintage. One of the highlights was Kooyong from the Mornington
Peninsula (imported to the United States by Vine Street Imports).
The wine was rich with sweet cherry fruits and a nice dose of plum on the finish. Curly Flat
from the Macedon region of Victoria was
equally admired with its intense maraschino cherry fruit and subtle oak highlights. Jancis Robinson
raved about this wine on a recent visit down under. The other wines in this bracket, Savaterre, Pirrie,
DeBortoli Reserve, and Baratt
showed lovely fruit, length and texture, but David’s palate was nudged
back by the Kooyoung
and Curly Flat.
It was refreshing to hear the candor and honesty of the winemakers
from these wineries discussing oak influence and alcohol and other technical issues.
The final tasting of day one contrasted the styles of two Burgundy domains, Jean-Jacques ConfuronThe day concluded with a sensational al fresco meal on the beautiful grounds of Lindenderry. A wide
range of 34 local Australian Pinot Noirs, along with a similar quantity of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay
were offered. David did notice that many of the visiting winemakers seemed to prefer a cold beer in
the warm evening. In fact, David says he was sure he has a photo of Michael Browne of Kosta Browne
sitting back having a “cold one.”
Day two commenced with a session titled “An Exploration of Pinot Noir from Benchmark Producers
across the World.” The first flight consisted of wines from producers in New Zealand, Oregon, and
California. Felton Road from Central Otago and Mountford from Waipara, Cristom from Oregon,
and Kosta Browne from the Russian River Valley of California all discussed their wines and the unique
terroirs where their wines originatel Michael Browne gained enormous respect from the audience
defending his lush, fruity style of Pinot Noir in the face of criticism from the session facilitators.
The second flight featured wines from the host region, the Mornington Peninsula. The most famous of
these was Paringa Estate which seems to have a firm grip on the Australian wine show circuit
bolstered by a long line of success as a Gold Medal and Trophy winner. The wine had lovely, rich
cherry flavors balanced with oak in a style that had great length. Ten Minutes by Tractor is a group
of vineyards that share equipment and they showed a wine from the cooler part of the Mornington
Peninsula. The wine had darker cherry flavors and a hint of blackberry in a style that could well have
been slotted in any of the previous brackets. The Yabby Lake Vineyard Pinot Noir was from one of
the warmer parts of the Mornington Peninsula. It was a plush style of Pinot Noir, oozing ripe red berry
flavors with a plum finish that lasted a long time. This was a very popular wine at the event. The other
three wines showed the same contrast across the region. Hurley Vineyard was an opulent style with
some spicy, forest floor complexity. Stoniers Reserve is sourced from a vineyard close to Hurley, but
the style was more elegant at the cherry end of the spectrum. Port Phillip Estate is on an east-facing
block on a hillside and had sweet, Bing cherry flavor with elegance and nice weight.
The attendees were then herded into a fleet of minibuses and sent across the Mornington Peninsula to
various wineries for lunch. Each winery served several flights of wine matched with wines from their
own vineyard along with those of one or two nearby wineries. Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat and
Terry Speizer of Domaine Alfred supplied some wines for the luncheon. These 2004 Pinot Noirs were
in the big and rich style, well-suited to pair with a Saint Agur cheese dish prepared according to a
recipe supplied by The Painted Lady Restaurant of Newberg, Oregon.
The final session was a “Domaine de la Romanee-
Conti Tasting and Conversation with Aubert de
Villaine and James Halliday.” Halliday initially
covered the geological history of the DRC vineyards,
along with, to steal a phrase, a brief history of
time. The key point was that DRC has records of
extreme heat, drought and cold extending back
many, many centuries. In the context of this time
frame, all present left feeling that the current period
of climate change is not such a new phenomenon.
Furthermore, DRC respects the soil as a living entity
and cultivates it under biodynamic principles. The
five DRC wines presented for tasting were all from
the 2004 vintage.
and Domaine de l’Arlot.
The wines were represented by their Australian importers. One of the
facilitators set up quite an elaborate options game with his colleagues and the rest of the attendees,
trying to look at the terroir and then the hand of the winemaker. Keynote speaker Matthew Jukes did a
credible job of explaining these features as he untangled the six wines in front of the whole audience.
2004 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux Gorgeous! The nose had rich Bing cherry aromas
and on the palate this was joined by some dark cherry fruit and a little blackberry. Great length and
power. The wine was quick to open up, and Aubert said that this is typical for this wine.
2004 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Grands Echezeaux This wine showed red
berry fruits, a bit of five spice, and feral forest floor. It promoted quite a deal of
discussion both positive and negative, to which Aubert seemed to give a knowledgeable
shrug of agreement.
2004 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee St Vivant I have had wines from
these vines many times, but none were as fine as this example. The glass seemed to
ooze cherries. It breathed up to show great power and length with the red cherry/
berry flavors giving way to a plumy finish. Power and elegance.
2004 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Richebourg This opened slightly reduced. I
actually like to see a little reductive character in Pinot Noir as it helps to protect the
wine. This wine was pretty tight and some described it as masculine. It had lovely
cherry and spice notes with a superb mix of fruit and oak. The wine lingered for some
time on the palate and left memories of plums as well as cherries.
2004 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache Le Tache
was the wine that changed David’s life
some 30 years ago so this description may be a bit ambling. David used to make and drink Cabernet
and wondered why people drank Burgundy until someone served a 1943 La Tache at
dinner. It was served blind so David had no warning that he was about to meet something
special. The was very pale and more brown than red, but the perfume and
palate power sent him to another place. The 2004 La Tache is quite a different experience.
It was served unmasked, yet it still seemed to grab his attention. It opened on
the nose with what he described as cherry and char. He has seen this in many California Pinots, but
not with the same understated fruit quality as experienced with this wine. With continued evolution,
the nose revealed floral notes of roses and violets as well. On the palate, it had intense sweet red
cherry flavors that expanded across the palate with a little mocha, clove, and toasty oak. It was a very
complex and harmonious package.
After two days of heavenly pinotphilic endeavors ending with the 2004 La Tache, David was thoroughly
satiated, but a few hours later, there was another surprise in store. The Grand Banquet is the closing
event of the celebration and has a similar feel to events David has experienced in
Oregon and New Zealand. A feature of the Grand Banquet was Pinot Noirs served
from vintages 1999 to 2004 perfectly matched to the food courses. But David’s focus
was on the last wine, the 1999 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Vosne-Romanee.
He has had many 1999 Burgundies, and regards it as a great vintage. This DRC wine
reinforced his beliefs. The guest speaker, British sports legend, wine collector,
consumer and lover, Ian Botham, seemed to sneek quite a bit of this stuff. To be
honest, David was waiting for the police to come and get him, because he was
convinced that this was mass vinocide. The wine still seemed very youthful. Aromas of dark cherry
and plum plus a little cinnamon. The palate was sheer muscle power with weighty cherries, plum and and enjoy the wine and soak in a lovely summer evening at beautiful Red Hill.
The next event will be held in February, 2009. Information will be forthcoming from David Lloyd at
firstname.lastname@example.org or the event website at www.mpva.com.au.
David and Wendy Lloyd
The Pinot Noirs from Australia that I have been fortunate to taste have been exceptional. If you peruse
older issues of the PinotFile, you will find reviews of Bindi and Curly Flats from the Macedon Ridges,
and Main Ridge Estate, Yabby Lake, and Kooyong from the Mornington Peninsula, among others. Vine
Street Imports (www.vsimports.com) imports Bindi, Moondarra, and Kooyong to the United States.
Yabby Lake is handled by Paterno Wines International (www.terlatowines.com). Select retailers such
as Hi Time (www.hitimewine.net) in Costa Mesa and The Jug Shop (www.jugshop.com) in San Francisco
carry some Australian Pinot Noirs.
Matt Kramer, a noted American wine writer, recently spent three months touring Australian wineries.
Known for being frank, Kramer told Jeni Port at www.theage.com.au his opinion of the local wine
industry. Kramer laments, “Whether Australians know it or not - and I don’t know whether they do or
not - Australia has emerged in the last decade as the most powerful wine force in the world.” The
problem is, as Kramer points out, “Australia is dominated by a relative handful of mega wine
companies who are not only masters of wine marketing, but also at creating quite good, stunningly
inexpensive wines. But the big wineries of Australia don’t give a damn about expression of place.
Their business is blending, concocting wines. The biggest difference between Australia and
California is that in California it’s the high-end little guys who are setting the pace and the big boys try
to copy them as best they can.” During his stay in Australia, Kramer became known on the Mornington
Peninsula, and everywhere else good Pinot Noir was made. When he attended the Mornington
Peninsula Pinot Noir Celebration, he liked what he saw, “Nearly all of the Mornington Pinots were
lovely, even ethereal, wines that traded strongly on deftness with no inadequacy of flavor or depth.”
Oregon Pinot Noir Tasting
A lively group of 15 winos gathered on a recent Monday afternoon to taste Oregon Pinot Noirs. Jay
Selman, of Grape Radio fame, hosts a monthly wine tasting at which every participant brings a bottle
or two and tasty food is provided by Picnics Deli. There is plenty of geeky talk about wine, but no one
takes themselves too seriously. At the end, votes are tallied for the top four wines. There were 23
wines total and I have included some comments where appropriate. The top 4 wines are listed first.
2004 Privé Vineyard Le Sud Yamhill County Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.0% alc., $50 (futures price). Mark and Tina Hammond hand craft their
Pinot Noirs from two acres of vines planted on their estate on Chehalem
Mountain. They bottle three wines, Le Sud from the south 1 acre, Le Nord
from the north 1 acre, and Joie de Vivre, a reserve. Quantities are miniscule
and demand is high.
This Pinot is crafted in a feminine style. Light to
medium bodied, it is lacy and understated but with considerable complexity.
Notes of savory cherries, spice (especially cinnamon), and roses are featured in the nose and flavors. Oak
is perfectly integrated and the whole package is meticulously balanced. Still a Lolita, it was one of those
Pinot Noirs that defies adequate description. This wine was the overwhelming favorite of the tasting.
1999 Beaux Freres Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Super ripe fruits with a hint of
alcohol dominate the aromatics. There is plenty of stuffing - darker fruits, anise and toasty oak. The finish
is dry, stemmy and woody. With a predominance of tannins, alcohol and a paucity of acid, the whole
package lacks balance.
1998 St. Innocent Seven Springs Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
A surprisingly youthful wine with too much tannin on the back
end for me. Some tasters felt it could improve and soften with additional aging.
Certainly built to age, but I think it will always retain a certain edginess. There was
plenty of high-quality cherry and raspberry fruit on the palate.
1998 Thomas Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
A controversial wine made in the Eyrie style
that split the group. I found the aged bouquet appealing featuring leather, Asian spice and cherry. The
fruit was light and demure.
Are Wine Critics Hypertasters?
In the recent issue of the Wine Enthusiast, Steve Heimoff penned an article titled, “Hypertasting? No
Thanks.” The thrust of the article was whether wine critics who are hypertasters are better tasters, and
if so, which critics are hypertasters? No critic has come forth in the press and admitted their genetic
predisposition. Hypertasters are also referred to as “supertasters,” a term that should be avoided as it
connotes a certain superiority over regular tasters which in fact, is not true.
There are genetically three separate types of tasters in the population: ‘Hypertasters’, who possess two
dominate genes, are hypersensitive to basic tastes, and have more taste buds including fungiform papillae
on the tip of their tongue; ‘Regular tasters’, who have a moderate response to sensual pleasures
and possess one dominate gene and one recessive gene; and ‘Non-tasters’, who are blind to the intensity
of many sweet, sour, or salty foods. About 25% of the population are hypertasters, 25% are nontasters,
and 50% are regular tasters. More women and Asians are hypertasters. The taste genes determine
how many taste bud receptors a person has for sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and bitterness.
The number of taste buds can vary from a few hundred to tens of thousands. The defining tests to
determine the class of taster is either count the number of papillae on the tongue (using blue food
coloring and Q-tips) or record the sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil or PROP( a tablet used to treat
hyperthyroidism - non-tasters will taste nothing when the tablet touches the tip of the tongue, regular
tasters will taste a small amount of bitterness, and hypertasters will be quickly repulsed by a strong
bitter sensation). Interestingly, every week taste buds wear out and are replaced, but after the age of
45, they are replaced less frequently, causing more people to become regular or non-tasters.
Hypertasters do not like the strong tastes of many fruits and vegetables and when tasting wine, they
would not be expected to like strong tannins and heavy alcohol and would be more sensitive to sweetness.
Regular tasters presumably prefer “average” flavors and find sugar more palatable, high
alcohol less bitter, and tannins less repulsive. The non-tasters might enjoy sweet wines more and be
more forgiving of strong tannins and alcohol.
It is highly unlikely that wine critics will come forward and reveal the type of genetic taster they are.
Since 75% of the population are regular tasters or non-tasters, there is a good chance that some critics
fall into those two categories. A more likely scenario would be that critics who are hypertasters (who
probably would prefer the term supertasters because of the implications) would announce their
“superior” genetic heritage. The topic makes for an interesting discussion, and certainly might allow
the consumer to align his or her self with a critic with the same genetic tasting category. The reality is,
as Steve Heimoff points out, experience is probably more important than heredity in tasting wine. One
is not born to taste wine. Ann Noble, wine quality expert at U.C. Davis, said, “None of this is very relevant
for wine tasting. People learn to taste (wine); they are not born that way.” The truth is, hypertasters
are not better wine tasters, only more sensitive to tannins, alcohol and sweetness. According to
a 1997 report in Wine Business Monthly, “Researchers privately have joked that hypertasters might
even prefer the industrial winemaking process, with its heavy fining and racking procedures which
have long been known for stripping out flavonoids and other chemical compounds that make up the
unique taste of wines.”
In the end, the only thing that is relevant is the drinker’s seasoned palate and learned preferences.
Regardless of genetic predisposition for tasting sensitivity, it is the drinker’s experience, his proclivity,
and his love of the grape that dictate his ultimate drinking experience.
I don’t consider myself a wine critic, for I have an aversion to disparaging wines. For what its worth, I
am a regular taster, but a hyperlover of Pinot Noir.
Screw Caps Pioneered at Boisset
According to Nielsen Company’s annual summary of the retail alcohol beverage market, 2006 sales of
screw caps saw a 24.6% growth and accounted for 4% of all 750ml table wine sales. A poll conducted
by the Portland Business Journal asked consumers, “Is a cork an essential part of the fine wine experience?”
50% of respondents said, “Who cares how the bottle’s closed as long as the wine is good,”
26% said, “Without a cork, it’s just not the same,” 12% said, “I’ve got better things to worry about,”
and 10% said, “Screw caps are OK for cheap stuff, but I want a cork with the good stuff.” Some of the
other comments were quite humorous. “Just keep filling my glass with Pinot Noir, OK?” “Screw tops for
fine wine are about as acceptable as Dixie cups for a dinner party.”
For the first time, a prominent Burgundy wine merchant is going to
bottle grand cru Burgundy reds under screw cap. According to a
recent press release, Maison Jean-Claude Boisset plans to bottle half of
their 50-case production of 2005 Chambertin with a metal screw cap
and half with a traditional cork. Both versions of the 2005 Chambertin
will be available in France, the UK and the US. Boisset has used screw
caps on several of its wines since 2003, including its Santenay Premier
Cru Clos Rousseau, Chambolle-Musigny and Gevrey-Chambertain.
Whites were offered with screw caps beginning in 2004. Boisset plans
to also offer its 2005 Beaune Premier Cru Les Bressandes with both
screw cap and cork closure.
The Boisset family has conducted a four-decade cellar test in which
they compared the tastes of wines bottled with metal closures and
traditional corks. The comparison that sealed the deal, so to speak, for
Boisset winemaker Grégory Patriat, was a tasting of 1964 Nuits St.
Georges Premier Cru and 1966 Mercurey. The wines sealed with a
metal closure tasted fresher, retained more fruit flavors, and were
more consistent from bottle to bottle. The wines sealed with cork had more bottle variation. According
to Patriat, “The future of great wines lies with screw caps.”
Boisset uses the Stelvin Lux+ model which allows a small amount of oxygenation to reach the wine
through the seals. The thread is hidden inside the cap, giving the cap a pleasing and elegant appearance.
The screw cap closures are more expensive than traditional corks.
The Pinot Czarina
Lane Tanner is a California treasure. Working at Konocti
Winery in Lake County on the bottling line in the mid 1970s,
her employer found out she had a degree in chemistry and
put her in the lab. The first day she was in the lab, she was
introduced as the new enologist to the winery’s consultant,
Andre Tchelistcheff. The only problem was that Lane had
no clue what an enologist was. Andre kept telling the winemaker,
“Have Lane test this, have Lane test that.” Fortunately,
Andre liked her spunk and her future career was
born. Her experience with Andre has led to her current
alias, “Pinot Czarina.”
Lane moved on to Firestone Winery in Santa Barbara County
and then started her own label, Lane Tanner Winery, in
1984. She was previously married to the owner of the
Hitching Post restaurant and made the house wine for that
restaurant made famous in the movie Sideways.
She now produces about 1,500 cases of Pinot Noir and Syrah
at Central Coast Wine Services in Santa Maria. Her style of
winemaking is distinctive. She strives for elegance and
avoids high and intrusive alcohol at all costs. Oak treatment
is understated, with 20-30% new French oak used during a 12-18 month period in barrel. She
remains a one-woman show and does everything from start to finish herself. You won’t find her wines
prominently promoted, but pinotphiles know to buy everything she makes every year. The 2005
lineup is the best since 1986 according to Lane and she calls them the “Yum Yum Lineup.”
2005 Lane Tanner Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 556 cases, $24.50. The back label
says, “Dogs, Men, Wine, I Love Them All.” A drop of Syrah in this one.
Terrific aromatics of toasty
spiced cherries. A wine of finesse with tart cherry, pomegranate and oak spice flavors. Very light on its
feet and thoroughly satisfying. As Lane says, goes with everything and everyone.
2005 Lane Tanner Bien Nacido Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
13.0% alc., 264 cases, $30. The back
label says, “When are we going to live, if not now?” Sourced from 30 year old vines in the Bien Nacido
Vineyard (almost as old as Lane).
This Pinot has a really nice perfume of ripe cherries, cassis and toast.
The wine has more backend power than the wine above with a sexy cherry kiss at the end which lasts an
eternity. Very nicely composed and balanced. Who says great Pinot Noir can’t be made at 13% alcohol?
I have seen the Chapel of Love and it is good.
2005 Lane Tanner Julia’s Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 375 cases, $33.
is the richest wine of the lineup but still has lively acid for balance. Decant this wine or wait an hour after
pouring a glass or you will be cussing Lane that she sold you a bill of goods! Once it flowers, it offers an
attractive nose of plums and currents with a plump mouth feel and a fruit and herbal finish. A little alcohol
peaks out on the nose with time. I would drink the above two wines and cellar this busty one for later enjoyment.
Lane Tanner Winery wines are available in Santa Barbara County retail stores and on the winery
website at www.lanetanner.com. Join the Pinot Czarina Wine Club for discounts.
Grand Harvest Awards
The 17th Grand Harvest Awards were held February 21-23 in Santa Rosa, California. This judging is
sponsored by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine and includes entries from primarily the
United States and Canada. It is the only North American wine competition that presents entries to
judges according to regional classification. Wines of different appellations are arranged in flights and
tasted by judges who have specific knowledge of regional characteristics. Wines of specific appellations
are tasted and compared with other wines from the same appellation. The wines are judged
independent of suggested retail price.
This year there were a record number and percentage of wines receiving Gold Medals. 73 percent of
the wines entered won a medal with 10 Double Gold, 186 Gold, 506 Silver, and 465 Bronze. The total
number of entries was an all-time high of 1,610.
The Gold Medal winners among Pinot Noirs include the following:
2005 Jekel Vineyards Pinot Noir 15,000 cases, $15
2005 Hahn Estate Pinot Noir 22,000 cases, $18
2004 Mahoney Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir 300 cases, $36
2005 Reynolds Family Winery Pinot Noir 800 cases, $45
2004 Claudia Springs Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 300 cases, $28
2005 Hagafen Cellars Pinot Noir 1000 cases, $32
2003 Savannah Chanelle Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 367 cases, $30
Russian River Valley
2005 La Crema Pinot Noir 7900 cases, $34
2005 Mossbeck Pinot Noir 820 cases, $25
2004 Rodney Strong Vineyards Reserve Jane’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2251 cases, $35
San Francisco Bay
2005 Domenico Pinot Noir 126 cases, $35
2004 Quail’s Gate Okanagen Valley Canada Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2161 x 6 packs, $40.
Et Fille Wines
The Mozeico family is quietly turning out some of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noirs.
Father Howard, whose background is in software, has been making Pinot
Noir since 1984. Daughter Jessica first assisted in the winemaking with the
2000 vintage and the name Et Fille was born. Et Fille means “and daughter.”
Howard jokes that “Mozeico et Fille” just wouldn’t work.
The goal here is to make small, manageable amounts of distinctive singlevineyard
Pinot Noirs in a style that is adapted to the character of each individual
vineyard. No attempt is made to craft every vineyard-designate Pinot
Noir in the same fashion. Mozeico believes each vineyard gives something
unique, and this precious expression of terroir is preserved in the artisan
Pinot Noirs made here by father and daughter.
The wines are made at August Cellars, a state-of-the-art gravity
flow winery just off Hwy 99W near Newberg, Oregon. A tasting
room here offers some of the wines and is open weekends all
year, weekdays during the summer. Private tastings are available
by appointment (503-449-5030). Sales and marketing are handled
2005 Et Fille Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 140
cases, $22. Aged 10 months in 10% new French oak.
wine that is not terribly complex, but nicely balanced and beautifully composed. It is a red-fruit driven
Pinot with hints of pepper and a gentle touch of oak. Reasonably priced, this wine could be a daily companion
at the table.
2005 Et Fille Palmer Creek Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 100 cases, $32.
This 22-acre vineyard is located near Shea Vineyard and
planted to Pommard and Wädenswil clones. The wine is aged
for 10 months in 50% new French oak.
A Pinot of noticeable
heft with a deep and complex nose of black cherries, black berries,
roses, and vanillin that attracts your attention. The texture
is soft and pillowy and the finish of ripe cherries and raspberry
tinged with mocha lingers. There is good acid to support the
prodigious fruit. A rose and a Baby Ruth.
Et Fille Wines are sold through the tasting room and a mailing list. I got mine from
www.avalonwine.com. The Palmer Creek Vineyard and Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noirs are sold out at the
winery. In the Spring of 2007, two wines will be released: 2005 Et Fille Elton Vineyard Willamette
Valley Pinot Noir and 2005 Et Fille Maresh Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. The phone
number is 503-449-5030 and the website is www.etfillewines.com.
Pinot Noir Celebrations
Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Festival
The 25th Annual Vintners’ Festival will be celebrated April 20, 21, 22, and 23, 2007. Purchasing a
Vintner’s Visa entitles the holder to visit 12 of their favorite participating wineries where barrel tastings,
special library selections, food and wine pairings, and entertainment will be offered. The Visa is
valid from Friday through Monday and costs $35 per person ($25 when purchased with the Festival
ticket). On Saturday, April 21, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM at River Park, just outside of Lompoc, members of
the Santa Barbara County Vintners’ Association will be pouring their wines and local restaurants,
catering companies and specialty food purveyors will offer samples of their food. There will be live
entertainment and local artists exhibiting. A silent auction featuring large format wines, special
bottlings and verticals is part of the festivities. Individual wineries will be sponsoring special dinners
all weekend. Tickets are available online at www.sbcountywines.com.
6th Annual Paraiso Vineyard Airshow
For thirty years, the Smiths, owners of Paraiso Vineyards and
pioneering Monterey County winegrowers, have enjoyed some of the
region’s most spectacular vistas from their vineyards perched high in
the Santa Lucia Highlands foothills. On May 12, 2007, the public has
the opportunity to enjoy Paraiso’s elevated, bird’s eye view of the
Salinas Valley as the Smith family hosts a unique wine tasting, luncheon,
and air show. Great wines, fantastic catered gourmet lunch,
dance music provided by the Dennis Murphy Jazz Band, and a flying
circus, to boot. This is something that you don’t see at a winery every
day. The air show features the show pilots of Wayne Handley Aerosports
performing aerial wizardry in a private air show above the
vineyard and over the valley. Tickets are $100 per person, all-inclusive. Space is limited, and reservations
can be made by calling 831-678-0300 or purchasing tickets online at
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Celebration
The Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association host an annual event celebrating the esteemed Pinot
Noirs from the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. Make your plans early for this three day event,
as lodging is limited in the Valley. Many attendees choose to stay on the
Mendocino Coast and shuttles are provided to and from the events in the
Valley. The dates are May 18-20, 2007. On Friday, May 18, there is a
Technical Conference at the Fairgrounds in Boonville. The topic is: “Pinot
Noir: How to grow it, how to make it, how to taste it, and how to sell it.”
$100 per person. On Friday evening, there is a social BBQ at Navarro
Vineyards in Philo featuring Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs, $45 per person.
On Saturday, May 19, from 11:00 to 3:00 is the Grand Tasting held at Goldeneye
Winery in Philo. More than 30 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir producers
will be pouring their wines, $75 per person. Several winemaker dinners will be held Saturday
evening at distinguished restaurants in Mendocino County, $150 per person. On Sunday, there are
special events at host wineries. Information and tickets are available online at www.avwines.com
3rd Annual Marin County Pinot Noir Celebration
Interest in Marin-grown Pinot Noir continues to increase and this year’s event will be the largest ever.
The dates are Friday and Saturday, June 8 & 19, 2007. This consumer fund-raiser event benefits the
Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT). A trade tasting from 3:00 to 5:00 will precede the consumer
tasting from 5:00 to 8:00 on both days. The event will be held at the historic Escalle Winery in Larkspur,
Marin County, located about 8 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. All of the Marin County
growers and vintners will be on hand to pour and discuss their regional wines. There will be a
selection of artisan, organic Marin-grown cheeses, breads and other local delicacies. Tickets are $40.
More information and directions for purchasing tickets will be forthcoming (check www.malt.org).
The participants who are tentatively scheduled are: Corda Vineyards, Kendric Vineyards, Miller Wine
Works, Point Reyes Vineyards, StubbsVineyard, Vergari Wines, Willowbrook Cellars, Dutton-
Goldfield, Orogeny Vineyard, Pey-Marin Vineyards, Sean Thackrey, Thomas Fogerty Winery, and
Pinot & Paella 2007
On June 10, 2007, the 4th Annual Pinot and Paella Cook-Off will be held at Templeton
Community Park in Templeton from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. 12 Paso Robles area Pinot Noir
producers will be pouring, and 16 chefs will be cooking paella. All proceeds go to
the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation. Tickets are $60 per person, and can be
purchased by calling the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation at 805-238-5825. The
website is www.pinotandpaella.com
Wine & Fire 2007
The Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance celebrates the vineyards, wines and people of this unique
winegrowing region on the weekend of June 22-24, 2007. The
event will commence with an evening wine reception in the
courtyard of the historic La Purisma Mission in Lompoc, situated
on the outskirts of the Sta. Rita Hills Appellation. This will be an
evening of fine wines, local entertainment, and fire-grilled foods.
Member vintners of the Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance will
be on hand to present their latest releases. Saturday will feature
a panel of winemakers who will take on some of the controversies
of the day in “Trial by Fire,” a tasting seminar that will explore
four present day issues in a “prove it” trial setting. The issues include ‘Oak or no oak in Chardonnay’
and ‘Made in the cellar or in the vineyard Pinot Noir.’ The audience will participate as jurors
as the winemakers try to support their positions. A ranchero-inspired gourmet luncheon will feature
epicurean delights such as pit-roasted suckling pig, spit-roasted salmon, and grilled local vegetables.
The feast and seminar will be held on the grounds of the spectacular Rancho La Vina, on the southwestern
edge of the appellation. In addition, a full range of events will be scheduled at wineries including
dinners on Saturday evening and open houses on Sunday. These events will be posted as they become
available on the event website at www.staritahills.com
Ticket sales are limited to insure that the event is intimate. The Friday evening Wine Reception is $75
per person and tickets for Trial By Fire at Rancho La Vina are $275 per person. A combination ticket
for Friday and Saturday is available for $325. For tickets online, select www.staritahills.com.
Alcohol Levels in Wine
How accurate is the alcohol percentage on the front
label of a bottle of Pinot Noir? The fact is, the indicator
of alcohol percentage is almost always on the low side
of the actual alcohol percentage. If the labeled wine is
less than 14% alcohol, there can be a 1.5% variance in
the true alcohol content (ie, a 13.9% wine can be labeled
as 12.4% - 13.9%). If the alcohol level in the wine is
greater than 14%, there can be a 1% variance (ie, a 15%
wine can be labeled as low as 14%). The answer then is
that wines can have significantly more alcohol than the
stated percentage on the label.
Do alcohol levels in wine matter? Well, higher alcohol
wines will sure get you sideways a lot quicker. And if
you are eating out and driving, this is a major consideration.
In a recent letter to the editor of Wine & Spirits
magazine, Bartholomew Broadbent (Broadbent Selections
in San Francisco, California) urged restaurant
owners to list alcohol percentages of wines on their
Half Bottles Get No Respect
Half bottles of good wine are a tough sell to consumers. There are a number of reasons for this. Splits do not fit
into conventional racking, the wine inside ages about twice as fast as wine in a standard 750 ml bottle, and a
half bottle is just not celebratory at meals. There are, however, a lot of good reasons to choose half bottles. The
rapid aging can be an advantage, giving the taster the opportunity to enjoy the wine sooner. The smaller
format allows the consumption of several wines paired with different courses at a meal. Small bottles can be
perfect companions for picnics, especially for two, and they travel easily. The half bottle is an ideal format for
high alcohol dessert wines where consumption is limited to smaller amounts. A split is ideal for a sole imbiber
(how much good left over wine have you poured down the sink?). An empty half bottle is also a perfect overnight
storage vessel for wine left over from opening a standard bottle.
Half Wit Wines (www.halfwitwines.com), located in San Francisco, carries over 1,500 selections of fine wine in
half bottle format. They also provide free shipping. I found a number of attractive Pinot Noirs on their list including
2004 Au Bon Climat La Bauge Au-Dessus ($19), 2002 Calera Reed ($27) and several other Calera
bottlings, 2003 Fiddlehead 728 ($23), 2003 Keller Estate ($18), Papapietro Perry - several bottlings ($27-$30),
2004 Saintsbury ($18), Scherrer - several bottlings ($16-$19), 2004 Testarossa Palazzio ($21), 2003 Windy Oaks
Proprietor’s Reserve ($27). There were a number of half bottles of Burgundy from Alex Gambel, Faiveley,
Drouhin, Latour, and Potel. Oregon Pinot Noirs included 2004 Bethel Heights Casteel Reserve ($25), 2004 Elk
Cove ($14), 2005 King Estate ($16), and 2004 Lachini Estate ($24).
There are a number of fine retail stores that carry a selection of half bottles as well. Generally, a store’s profit
margin is less with half bottles so they do not promote them. If you just can’t get yourself to open your wallet for
expensive Pinot Noirs, try a half bottle and you will get the full experience for a little over half the price.