Filed under: Events, Tasting notes | Tags: Hein Vineyard, La Encantada Vineyard, pinot days, Pinot Noir, San Francisco, Tastings
Thousands of Pinot Noir lovers rallied on an unusually hot day in San Francisco yesterday to try over 400 different Pinot Noirs (yes, apparently that was the number of Pinots being poured) at the Grand Festival Public Tasting at Pinot Days San Francisco 2009.
The majority of these Pinot Noirs were from California, as well as Oregon producers and New World producers from New Zealand and Australia. As a small lot producer pouring for the first time at Pinot Days San Francisco (we poured at Pinot Days Chicago last year), we were the relative unknowns, but saw a steady stream of traffic and made some new friends. That’s the best thing about these tasting events: meeting new people and having free reign to talk about Pinot Noir for four hours straight.
Many people mentioned to us that they were drawn to our table because our label photography stood out to them. We were told that the foggy black and white photography was reminiscent of Ansel Adams and many seemed to get transported to another place just by looking at our label and poster. Most notably, one person said, “I don’t want to drink it, I just want to look at it.” Another said that they were attracted to our table “like a bee to a flower.” Being both intrigued and interested by a label is certainly the first step, so we were really happy to hear that design and imagery is helping to capture the romance of our wines.
Luckily those at Pinot Days seemed to dig not only the label, but also the wine inside the bottles. We poured two: our Waits-Mast 2006 Hein Vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley and the Waits-Mast 2007 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills. The two wines are very different based on their vintage and appellation, so we knew that it would be a dramatic side-by-side tasting.
We poured the Hein first, and think that it’s really come into its own after two years in the bottle. Tasters seemed to like it too! We heard a lot of comments about the nose, including that it was “very aromatic,” “floral” and “perfumy.” In terms of the taste, we were excited when a non-Pinot lover (although she admitted that she was open enough to go to a 100% pinot noir event) told us, “I don’t normally like Pinot Noir, but I like this.” Others commented that the wine had “more earth, “silky tannins” and bracing acidity. One taster was intrigued by the wine’s complexity, noting that nose led him to expect one thing, but when he tasted the wine he was taken down a “different path,” one that was quite enjoyable.
Others (perhaps a 50/50 split), were taken by the La Encantada’s more powerful “spicy,” “coffee-like,” and “heavy toast” aromas. One person commented, “wow, this is really smoky.” They also spoke of the heavier, fruity taste with intense cherry (one called it a “sour cherry note”) and “sauvage” berry fruit on the palate. This wine inspired the most colorful praise, including remarks like: “It’s meaty,” “It’s really got some character,” and “It’s dirty.” Our former winemaker Scott Shapley said that he detected some nice herbal qualities too.
And then there were quite a few that liked them both (ourselves included). One taster who liked both said that that he’d drink a big glass of the La Encantada on a sunny day and that for the Hein he’d have “lots of friends over….and many glasses.” We were gratified to hear from several people that our wines were their favorites of the day, with one man boldly stating, “These are the best wines here.” Wow.
When the day was over, there were tired feet, broken wine glasses, and wine-stained literature; but hopefully also a few more Waits-Mast fans.
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