ValleyFogBlog


Braving the elements for Pinot Days Chicago 2013 by Jennifer

Pinot Days Chicago 2013 sign

It’s been a year and a half since the last Pinot Days Chicago, so we were looking forward to the opportunity to pour Waits-Mast wines for our Chicago fans once again. During a particularly crazy weather week, we headed to the Navy Pier for yesterday’s event. Luckily the rains/snow/flooding of the previous few days had subsided, although we were alarmed to see black smoke emanating from a fire at the O’Hare airport (apparently just an emergency training exercise) as we drove to the tasting. After safely arriving at our destination (a gorgeous room at the Navy Pier with a lake view), we set up our signage, bottles, and literature for the expected crowds of Pinot Noir consumers and industry folks.

Tasting glasses at Pinot Days Chicago 2013

Tasting glasses at Pinot Days Chicago 2013. Photo credit: J. Waits

Although this is the 5th time that we’ve poured our wines at Pinot Days Chicago, it had been a year and a half since the last event in November, 2011. Traveling to Chicago had become a fall tradition for us, so it was strange to not be there last November. Thankfully the event still took place, moving to April this year.

During this year’s Pinot Days Chicago we poured three of our more recent releases, including our recently bottled 2012 Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir from Mendocino County as well as our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard and our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard.

Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir

Brian shows off the new Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir. Photo: J. Waits

It was exciting to launch our brand new rosé at Pinot Days. Bottled on March 30, this is our very first rosé. Crafted from fruit from some of our favorite vineyards in Anderson Valley and Mendocino, we think it’s pretty delicious and were looking forward to hearing what others thought of this wine. We only made 24 cases of our 100% Pinot Noir rosé, so we only brought a few bottles to the tasting for the rosé’s public debut. Despite the chilly spring weather in Chicago, tasters were quite complimentary about the rosé (although some inevitably declined to taste it, preferring to stick to full-on Pinot Noir). In addition to the rosé, we also poured two other wines from Mendocino County – our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Londer Vineyard and our 2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from Wentzel Vineyard. Here are some tasting notes from some of the attendees who stopped by our table:

2012 Waits-Mast Rosé of Pinot Noir, Mendocino County:

“fine mineral quality” (from a non-rosé fan)

“I wouldn’t send this back”

would be “great with Chilean sea bass – best of both worlds, taste of red, refreshing [quality of a] white”

“nice and refreshing”

“yummy”

“my favorite of the day”

“this is the best thing here”

“gorgeous”

Pouring at Pinot Days Chicago 2013.

Pouring at Pinot Days Chicago 2013. Photo: J. Waits

2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Londer Vineyard, Anderson Valley:

“love the smell, can’t place it”

“smokiness on the nose”

“earthy smell”

there’s a “very feminine grace to this”

“dances across your tongue”

“violets on the nose”

“fruit forward”

“anise”

“delicious”

“cherry”

“almost like tangerine” (on the tongue as a top note)

“red fruit in nose”

Waits-Mast table at Pinot Days Chicago 2013

Waits-Mast table at Pinot Days Chicago 2013. Photo: J. Waits

2010 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Wentzel Vineyard, Anderson Valley:

“smells awesome”

“dryer finish” (than Londer)

“rich, nice structure”

“fruitier smell” (compared with Londer)

“denser, richer”

“good with salmon, it would stand up to the fat”

“black cherry”

“beautiful acidity”

“such a great expression of Pinot”

“my favorite”

“beautiful”

Pinot Days Chicago 2013 end of day

Pinot Days Chicago 2013 at the end of the day. Note the half-eaten sandwich. Photo: J. Waits

All in all, Pinot Days Chicago was great fun for us. We saw many old friends (fans, family, industry folks, and fellow winemakers) and were also happy to introduce our wines to many people who had never tried our wines before. We did miss seeing our #1 fan, Luke – we waited patiently for him to arrive at our table, hoping for some poetic pronouncements about our wine. Alas, we hope to see him next year. But, perhaps one of my favorite moments was when renowned winemaker Brian Loring of Loring Wine Company complimented us on our wines and applauded us for our small production, saying, “dare to be small.”

Advertisements


Pinot Days Chicago Tasting Brings a Waits-Mast Customer to Tears by Jennifer
Brian at the Waits-Mast table at Pinot Days Chicago 2011

Brian at the Waits-Mast table at Pinot Days Chicago 2011

We had an incredible time participating in Pinot Days Chicago on Saturday. It was our 4th time pouring at the event, and as in previous years, it was great to catch up with old friends and fans of Waits-Mast Family Cellars.

Each year has been memorable, in 2008 we met some folks who have become regular customers, in 2009 we were told that we had “bangin’ juice,” and last year we heard that the wine tasted like “fall in a glass.”

This year, we poured a selection of our 2009 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir releases throughout the day. Most who stopped by our table got to try our wines from Anderson Valley (Hayley Vineyard), Russian River (Amber Ridge Vineyard) and Mendocino (Oppenlander Vineyard). After we poured through those wines, we had visitors sample our release from Deer Meadows Vineyard in Anderson Valley and from La Encantada Vineyard in Sta Rita Hills.

Response to the wines was amazing and we experienced a first for us when a new fan actually started tearing up after trying our wine from Deer Meadows vineyard.

Here’s a quick sampling of some of our favorite reactions to the wines:

2009 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Hayley Vineyard (Anderson Valley):

Tasters called this wine “elegant,” said it had eucalyptus characteristics, and described it as “earthy” on the nose, yet “California” upon tasting. One person said, “this is a revelation” and remarked that it has “fabulous complexity in the nose.” Another said, “I’m an Oregon guy…that’s exciting.” Others said that it had a “roundness” and was “velvety” and “delicious” with hints of “strawberry.”

2009 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Amber Ridge Vineyard (Russian River):

One of the tasters inhaled this wine deeply and said he was “just getting high” off of the nose and said that it had a “hint of creme brulee,” and was “nice and soft.” He added that, “I’ve been to every Pinot Days from the beginning and this was definitely way up there.” Another person said that it was like a “blast off in your mouth.” Someone else said it was “smokier” than our other wines and that it had an “interesting finish.”

2009 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Oppenlander Vineyard (Mendocino):

Folks who came by our table and tried our Oppenlander Vineyard Pinot Noir described it as “tart,” with a “little more acid” than our releases from Hayley and Amber Ridge Vineyards.  Another said that it was “earthy” and would pair well with steak. Someone else noted that it had an “unexpected dryness.” One person said that initially there’s a burst of fruit, followed by “tannins at the end” with a nice finish. At least one person said that it was their favorite wine.

Waits-Mast "super-fan" Luke

Waits-Mast "super-fan" Luke

2009 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard (Sta Rita Hills):

We only brought a few bottles of this wine to taste. The few who were able to sample it had nice things to say. One taster said that it tasted of “burnt cranberry, orange and raspberry” with “not a lot of earth.” Another person exclaimed that this wine was an “orgasm in my mouth.”

2009 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Deer Meadows Vineyard (Anderson Valley):

As with the La Encantada, we were only able to bring a few bottles of this wine to Pinot Days. This was the wine that made a taster cry and that others described as being like “velvet.” Waits-Mast “super fan” Luke (amazingly not the taster who was brought to tears) explained his love for the wine, saying, “I don’t want to stop drinking [it] with my nose.” He told us that tasting the wine was akin to listening to the “Star-Spangled Banner” in that it produced “goosebumps.” Luke added, “You saved me months of meditation.”

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our table at Pinot Days Chicago. It’s always a fun event for us, largely due to the warmth of the crowd.