VIWF 2019 Pinot Noir Preview – 6 Countries: 51 Diverse and Remarkable Wines

 

The New World Flavours of Pinot Noir at Your Doorstep

The 2019 Vancouver International Wine Festival runs this year from February 23 to March 3.   If as a wine drinker, pinot noir holds a special interest for you (and especially if you are as enthralled with it as I am) this year’s festival offers a unique opportunity to compare and contrast pinot noirs from all the major New World pinot noir regions  as well as many of their sub-regions and appellations.  The countries represented include: Argentina, Australia, Canada (yes, we’re major, not in terms of quantity as yet but definitely so in terms of quality), Chile, New Zealand and the United States.  As you might expect with California being this year’s theme region, nearly half of the pinot noirs offered on taste this year originate from the region.

I strive to get the message out to the wider wine community that B.C. is now consistently making world class Pinot Noir and deserves to be better recognized and celebrated.  This is not in the spirit of regional rivalry but to give praise where praise is due.  For me, this sentiment applies equally to excellent pinot noir wherever it is made.  With California being the theme region for the 2019 Vancouver International Wine Festival, almost half of the pinot noirs at this year’s festival hail from there.

Just as Canada’s pinot noirs are virtually unknown, California pinot noirs are too often dismissed as jammy, alcoholic monsters that sully the reputation of the elegant, classy, layered wines from other regions i.e. it’s all pinot noir for syrah lovers.  This is an unfortunate misconception, that keeps many pinot noir drinkers who feel they only prefer cool climate styles from enjoying some lovely bottles.

A few summers ago I toured every significant California AVA that made pinot noir.  To be sure, the climate gets hotter and drier as you move South down virtually the whole length of California from Anderson Valley to Santa Barbara.  It’s like the same lovely tune being played in each location but you are moving octave by octave down the piano from the northern treble to the southern bass notes and the pinots tend to get deeper and darker.  But the second dimension, proximity to the ocean, from west to east can override this descent and prove far more influential to the final style of pinot noir that emerges from a particular terroir.

This second dimension is about the beneficial effect of wind and/or fog that travels through either gaps in the coast mountains or runs inland along the few east/west valleys from the Pacific ocean. The band of influence provided by these elements of the Pacific Ocean’s aura is a narrow one to be sure but when it visits regularly it allows pinot noir the opportunity to achieve real grace in what would normally be, an unfavorable climate.

California makes wonderful pinot noir in a wide variety of styles but you may need to do some research to find the ones that suit your palate. If you are looking for pinot noir that are more elegant, layered and complex, look for wines from such AVAs as Russian River, Carneros, Anderson Valley, Arroyo Secco, Santa Lucia Highlands, Sonoma Coast and Santa Maria Valley.  Expect fuller wines tend to come from Sta. Rita Hills and other areas near Santa Barbara because you are in the lower octaves there.  However, inside each of these areas various producers will seek different styles so that in keeping with the particular elements of the terroir, elegant, complex, truly interesting pinot noir can be made in all of them.

The California wineries exhibiting at the Vancouver Wine Festival 2019 have brought a tremendous range of pinot noirs to sample and compare.

The wines are listed by booth number as they are arranged on the festival tasting floor so if you are looking at this on your mobile phone you can scroll down as you move in order booth by booth.  There are a handful of wines that are only available at the Trade Tastings.  Those are noted in bold in the listings below to distinguish them from the wines available at the public tastings.

United States – California

Booth 1 – B.R. COHN WINERY – SONOMA COUNTY
Silver Label Pinot Noir 2016 

This North Coast appellation pinot noir went through 100% whole berry fermentation with the stems removed. Aged in French oak barrels.

 

 

Booth 3  BENZIGER FAMILY WINERY – SONOMA COUNTY
Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2015

Booth 5 – BLACK STALLION ESTATE WINERY / DELICATO FAMILY VINEYARDS – NAPA VALLEY
Vineyards Los Carneros Pinot Noir 2016 Note: Trade Tastings Only

The clone selection here consists of Swan, Martini,Dijon 777 and Pommard. The wine was aged 10 months in 85% French oak barrels and 15% American oak barrels, 20% new.

Booth 7 – DON SEBASTIANI & SONS – SONOMA COUNTY
B-Side Pinot Noir 2016

A portion of this Pinot Noir comes from Beckstoer Vineyard in Napa’s Carneros region. 30% of the blend is clone 115 sourced from the highly respected Sangiacomo Vineyard in the newly approved Petaluma Gap AVA.  The remainder of the blend comes from Pinot Noir fruit grown in Lake County and the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. The wine is aged for 12 months with 30% of the blend in new French Oak barrels (Francois Frere,Damy & DJ) while the remaining portion of the blend (70%) is in seasoned, one to two-year-old barrels.

Booth 8 – DUCKHORN WINE COMPANY – NAPA VALLEY / CENTRAL COAST
Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir 2016

From the legendary California pioneer of pinot noir, the wine saw 11 months in barrel, 100% French oak with
10% of it new and 90% neutral.

 

Booth 13 – HAHN FAMILY WINES – MONTEREY COUNTY
Hahn Pinot Noir Monterey County 2017 

This pinot noir is from the Arroyo Seco appellation of Monterey County, which sits on a gravelly alluvial plain beneath the Santa Lucia mountain range. The wine spent 8 months in 40% new french oak.

 

Hahn Family Wines SLH Pinot Noir 2017 Note: Trade Tastings Only

This pinot noir is all Santa Lucia Highland fruit composed of 55% Smith Vineyard, 30% Doctors Vineyard, 10% Hook Vineyard, 5% Lone Oak Vineyard. It spent 11 months in barrel that was 33% new French oak.

 

Booth 14 – HALL / WALT – NAPA VALLEY / SONOMA COUNTY
Walt La Brisa Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2016

The vineyards in the La Brisa blend all reside in maritime conditions and are farmed for low yields. The blend is 100% pinot noir from the Bellflower, Martinelli, Catie’s corner and Gap’s Crown vineyards.

 

Walt Bob’s Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016  Note: Trade Tastings Only

Bob’s Ranch vineyard is characterized by it’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean in the Sononma Coast appellation and its coastal breezes and morning fog. The vineyard is comprised of 43 vineyard blocks on 72 acres,and planted to an array of clones and field selections. This wine is sourced from the best vineyard blocks at Bob’s Ranch each year.

Booth 17 – IMAGERY ESTATE WINERY – SONOMA COUNTY
Pinot Noir 2016

This wine spends about 4 months in barrel with 20% new French oak and is blended with a small amount of petiti verdot.

 

 

Booth 19 – JACKSON FAMILY WINES – NAPA VALLEY / SONOMA COUNTY /SANTA MARIA VALLEY
Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015 

Julia’s Vineyard, in Santa Barbara county is named for Julia Jackson in 1988, consists of ancient soils with fossilized seashells, shale, limestone, and sand, with fog-swept vines. There are over 400 acres of pinot noir vines on the estate and it contains eight different clones.

 

Booth 24 – KENWOOD VINEYARDS – SONOMA COUNTY
Six Ridges Russian River AVA Pinot Noir 2015

 

 

 

Booth 26 – LA CREMA – SONOMA COUNTY / MONTEREY COUNTY
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016 

In the winery 70% whole berries went into the tank. The fruit was sourced from multiple vineyards throughout the Sonoma Coast AVA, including estate vineyards such as Cloud Landing, Carneros Hills West, Annapolis, Ahmann,
Bloomfeld, Saralee’s, Fulton, Shiloh, Laughlin, Ross and Bones. Multiple soil types are
found in these vineyards across the Sonoma Coast AVA and are typically a mix of free
draining sandy and clay loams. Clones include 23, 37, 115, 667, 777, 828, Pommard,
Calera, Swan and Martini.

La Crema Fog Veil Pinot Noir 2015 Note: Trade Tastings Only

Grapes were sourced from neighboring estates Piner and Olivet vineyards in the heart of the Russian River Valley AVA, first planted in 1996. The vineyards are made up of Huichica loam soil, a free-draining,moderate vigor soil. Clones include 23, 667, 777, Flowers and Pommard. Seventy percent whole berries went into open top tank fermentation. Free run wine was transferred to 100 percent French oak barrels where it was aged for fifteen months.

Booth 27 – LAKE SONOMA WINERY – SONOMA COUNTY
Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016

 

 

 

Booth 30 – MEIOMI COASTAL CALIFORNIA WINES – COASTAL CALIFORNIA
Pinot Noir 2016 
Reserve Pinot Noir 2016 

 

 

 

Booth 40 – SEBASTIANI / CHALK HILL – SONOMA COUNTY
Chalk Hill Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015 Note: Trade Tastings Only

100% pinot noir, aged in French and Hungarian oak for six months.

 

 

Booth 48 – TALBOTT VINEYARDS – MONTEREY COUNTY
Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir 2015 

Talbott Vineyards produces a large range of classic, balanced, elegant single vineyard pinot noirs.  Put Talbott on your “must taste” list if you are a pinot noir lover. Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, located in the Santa Lucia Highlands, was designated one of California’s Grand Cru vineyards by Wine Enthusiast in 2016. First planted in 1972, the vineyard is comprised of 565 planted acres divided into three vineyard parcels, Sleepy Hollow North, Sleepy Hollow West and Sleepy Hollow South. Each grows exclusively Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

Kali Heart Pinot Noir 2016 

Fruit from the Santa Lucia Highlands

 

 

Booth 49 – TAUB FAMILY VINEYARDS – SONOMA COUNTY / LODI
Au Contraire Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2014 

Primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks followed by malolactic fermentation in barrel on full fermentation lees. Mostly native yeasts. Minimal racking. 12 months in barrel (100% French, 35 % new).

 

Booth 52 – WAGNER FAMILY OF WINE – NAPA VALLEY
Mer Soleil Reserve Pinot Noir 2016  Note: Trade Tastings Only

If it is as good as the Mer Soleil charconnay, this will be a treat.

 

 

Booth 53 – WENTE VINEYARDS – LIVERMORE VALLEY
Riva Ranch Single Vineyard (Monterey) Pinot Noir 2014 

Delicious, layered, classy especially with the extra couple of years in bottle.

Argentina

Booth 56 – DOMAINE BOUSQUET – MENDOZA
Organic Pinot Noir 2017

Made from organic grapes from own Estate vineyards located in Tupungato (Uco Valley), at an altitude of 1200 (4000 feet) above sea level, which is one of the highest points in Mendoza. It is 100% Pinot Noir and aged in French oak for 10 months and 6 months in the bottle.

 

Australia

Booth 69 – WIRRA WIRRA – MCLAREN VALE
Ashton Hills Piccadilly Valley Pinot Noir 2017

Ashton Hills is a three hectare, dry-grown vineyard that lies in the Piccadilly Valley sub region of the Adelaide Hills on a ridge just below the summit of Mount Lofty.  The 2017 Piccadilly Valley Pinot Noir is in part a blend of fruit from the Cemetery Block and its two clones – 114 and MV6.  The Australian wine reviewer Philip White said of this wine “You don’t want food. You’ll want another bottle. Don’t fall in the glass.”

Canada – British Columbia

Booth 70 – 8TH GENERATION VINEYARD – OKANAGAN VALLEY
Pinot Noir 2016 

The great acclaim that 8th Generation Vineyard has received over the years for its white wines, especially rieslings, is likely why their silky, elegantly balanced pinot noir is so often overlooked, though it has won its share of wine competition medals. A husband and wife team, Bernd Schales is an 8th generation winemaker and Stefanie Schales a 10th generation winegrower. The grapes are from the Trout Creek in Summerland. The clone here is 667 so expect a slightly fuller, darker red fruit pinot noir expression. 2016 was a excellent, balanced year for pinot noir in the Okangan.

Booth 75 – COVERT FARMS FAMILY ESTATE – OKANAGAN VALLEY
Grand Reserve Pinot Noir 2016

Originally known as Dunham & Froese the winery was renamed over a decade ago to honour its founder.  This may be the first pinot noir from by Covert Farms since the 2007 vintage that was released under the previous label.  The vineyards here are certified organic and were replanted in 2005.  I would expect that the grapes here will all be from estate fruit. The winemaker here is Gene Covert.  Looking forward to this one.

Booth 77 – FAIRVIEW CELLARS – GOLDEN MILE BENCH
Crooked Post, Pinot Noir,  2017

Owner and winemaker Bill Eggert specializes famously and very successfully in making red wines from Bordeaux varietals especially Cabernet Sauvignon.  Pinot noir was not in his original plan but he fell into making some when grapes became available and his winemaking touch has not failed him on pinot noir either.  This wine has been made from the same vineyard plots, chiefly one in North Oliver and is another of the Okanagan’s relatively unsung pinot noirs. On first blush, the 2017 vintage for Okanagan pinot noir seems to have a little extra concentration but retained an appealing balance.

Booth 78 – FREE FORM BY OKANAGAN CRUSH PAD – Okanagan VALLEY
Pinot Noir 2017 

Innovation is the norm at Okanagan Crush Pad. One of the wineries main points of departure from typical pinot noir winemaking is in the choice of container. In the Free Form series the pinot noir is made and fermented using native yeast in an 800-litre clay amphorae where it ages on skins for a number of months. It is usually pressed and left to rest for an additional two months and then bottled unfiltered. Don’t miss this opportunity to try this unusual take on pinot noir.

Booth 80 – LAKE BREEZE VINEYARDS – OKANAGAN VALLEY
Pinot Noir 2015

South African born winemaker Garron Elmes has been making the wine at Lake Breeze since the 1995 vintage which makes for remarkable consistency in all its wines.  For many years there was an entry level pinot noir as well as a reserve blend called Seven Poplars but the same grapes now go together into a single pinot noir bottling.  The 2016 vintage of this wine won Wine of the Year at the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Awards.

Booth 82 – MONTE CREEK RANCH WINERY – THOMPSON VALLEY
Pinot Noir Reserve 2017

Monte Creek Vineyards is located in one of B.C.’s newest and most Northerly GIs – the Thompson Valley. The GI includes Kamloops, Cache Creek and Ashcroft. The region is semi-arid, very hot in the summer and cold in the winter. However, the continual movement of the river provides flowing air that helps to moderate temperatures throughout the year. The winery opened in 2015 and has produced both estate and Reserve versions of pinot noir from their own vines. This is a great opportunity to taste the terroir from this new region.

Booth 84 – NK’MIP CELLARS – OKANAGAN VALLEY
Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir 2017 

Randy Picton has been with Nk`Mip Cellars as its winemaker since the day it opened in 2002 and crafts both its Winemakers pinot noir and the higher tiered Qwam Qwmt pinot noir, all from estate fruit. Qwam Qwmt (pronounced kw-em kw-empt) in the Okanagan language spoken by the Osoyoos Indian Band translates to ‘achieving excellence’. The clutch of national and international medals both wines have won, demonstrates he has found the secret in making Osoyoos pinot noir.

Booth 85 – NOBLE RIDGE VINEYARD & WINERY – OKANAGAN VALLEY
Pinot Noir Reserve 2016

Noble Ridge makes two different pinot noirs,  the Reserve, which is made most vintages and and the premium King’s Ransom pinot noir made only in exceptional years. This winery is one of the very few vineyards in the Okanagan to utilize the Geneva Double Curtain trellis system for pinot noir and they have found that this system yields fruit with intricate depth and complexity.  The vineyards are in the new Okanagan Falls Sub-GI, created in 2018.  The clones here are 113,114,115 and 777.

Booth 91 – QUAILS’ GATE WINERY – OKANAGAN VALLEY
Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2016

Quails’ Gate is one of the oldest producers of pinot noir in British Columbia. Both their regular pinot noir and their Stewart Family Reserve wines have been made now for over twenty-five vintages. The winemaker for this vintage was Nikki Callaway, who before coming to Quails’ Gate,crafted the 2011 Mission Hill Martin’s Lane pinot noir that won best pinot noir in the world under $25.00 by Decanter Magazine. Expect finesse, balance and power to all be present in this one.

Booth 92 – STONEBOAT VINEYARDS – OKANAGAN VALLEY
Pinot Noir 2016 

The Home Vineyard at Stoneboat sits atop two feet of topsoil that overlies over a hundred and fifty feet of of fluvioglacial deposit in the form of mineral coated rocks and boulders known as calcareous stones.  It is one of the few pinot noir vineyards in the Okanagan known to contain this material and it marks their pinot noirs with a mineral lift in addition to its typical savoury dark red fruit notes.  A reserve wine is also made that bring more intensity without any loss of elegance.  A double gold winner two years in a row at the All Canadian Wine Championships.  Not to be missed.

Booth 95 – TINHORN CREEK VINEYARDS – GOLDEN MILE BENCH
Oldfield Reserve Pinot Noir 2014

Tinhorn Creek is one of the oldest producers of pinot noir in B.C. with the inaugural vintage at Tinhorn Creek taking place in 1994. The two pinot noirs produced typically here are the estate bottling and their premium Oldfield Series wine, produced from twenty-plus year old vines and all from estate fruit. This is the second vintage from the winemaker Andrew Windsor who took over as winemaker from Sandra Oldfield in 2013. The wine was a blend of two very distinct batches. One batch was fermented in small open top fermenters with 30% whole cluster and allowed to ferment naturally. The second was completely destemmed and fermented in closed top tanks with selected yeast. The wine was in barrel on the lees for 18 months and then spent a year in bottle. It is also a blend of two estate vineyards, the Diamondback Vineyard on Black Sage Bench and the Tinhorn Creek home estate vineyard in the Golden Mile sub-GI.  A great opportunity to taste B.C. pinot noir with some longer aging.

Canada – Nova Scotia

Booth 99 – LIGHTFOOT & WOLFVILLE VYDS – ANNAPOLIS VALLEY, NOVA SCOTIA
Ancienne Pinot Noir 2016 

The 2014 Ancienne Pinot Noir is from the Annapolis Valley appellation and was harvested from naturally low-yielding vines on the Lightfoot Estate Oak Island Vineyard in Avonport and the McIntyre Vineyard in Canning. It was fermented indigenously, and cellared 18 months in French oak.  This is your chance to get Nova Scotia pinot noir off your life list… I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Chile

Booth 101 – CONO SUR VINEYARDS & WINERY – VARIOUS, CHILE
20 Barrels Pinot Noir 2014 

The blend here is Casablanca Valley 85% / San Antonio 15% and the Vineyard Origins are El Triángulo Estate (85%), Campo Lindo Estate (15%).The wine was aged 80% in French oak barrels and 20% in French oak casks for 12 months.

OCIO Pinot Noir 2014 Note: Trade Tastings Only

This is Cono Sur’s pinot noir icon wine. The fruit here is all Casablanca Valley. The wine spent 14 months in barrel and 2 months in stainless steel.

 

New Zealand

Booth 138 – ASTROLABE – MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 

A quality pinot noir with some good bottle age

 

 

Durvillea Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015 

 

 

 

Booth 139 – KIM CRAWFORD – VARIOUS, NEW ZEALAND
Pinot Noir 2017

Booth 140 – MISTY COVE WINES – MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
Signature Pinot Noir 2016 

The fruit here is grown on their Northbank and Rapuara vineyards and the clones here are 115,10/5, 777, 667.

 

 

Misty Cove Wines Fifth Innings Pinot Noir 2016 Note: Trade Tastings Only

Whole cluster fruit here, all from the Rapuara vineyards.

 

 

Booth 141 – STONELEIGH – MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
Latitude Pinot Noir 2017 

Grapes for Stoneleigh Latitude are sourced from an area known locally as ‘the Golden Mile in the northern Wairau Valley. The Pinot Noir clones used for this wine are 41% clone 777, 13% clone 667 and the balance is UCD 5 . The vines are between 9 and 22 years old.

Stoneleigh Wild Valley Pinot Noir 2017 Note: Trade Tastings Only

This wine is 100% wild fermented the 2016 won a silver medal and the international wine and spirits competition.

 

 

Booth 142 – YEALANDS FAMILY WINES – MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND
Yealands Estate Land Made Pinot Noir 2017

 

 

 

Yealands Estate Singe Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 

100% pinot noir sourced from two different parcels in Yealands Seaview vineyard in Marlborough’s Awatare Valley. This wine won a silver medal at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards.

 

United States – Oregon

Booth 153 – ELK COVE VINEYARDS – WILLAMETTE VALLEY
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2016 

The 2016 vintage set a record at the winery for the earliest harvest in 40 years. This Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is made with 100% estate grown fruit from all six of their vineyard sites: The Winery Estate, Mount Richmond, Five Mountain, Clay Court, Goodrich and Windhill. These sites are comprised of both Pommard and Dijon clones. The wine saw 10 months of aging in 20% new oak. Vine Age: 5-42 years.

Mount Richmond Pinot Noir 2016 

Mount Richmond Vineyard sits on Willakenzie soils in rolling hills just outside the town of Yamhill in the heart of the Yamhill Carlton AVA just East of the Coast Range Mountains. Planted in a high-density format
(2100 vines/acre) with old vine pommard selection, planted from select cuttings off of Roosevelt
Vineyard. The blend now also includes equal parts of Dijon clones 115 and 777. The wine spends 10 months of aging in oak barrels with 50% new. 92 Points – Wine Spectator (October, 2018)

Clay Court Pinot Noir 2016 

Clay Court sits atop a hillside in the Parrett Mountain zone of the Chehalem Mountains AVA. This vineyard
was planted in 2001 with Pommard and modern Dijon 115 and 777 clones of Pinot Noir. The vineyard aspect is east-facing and the dirt here is dark red Jory clay soils. 91 Points – Wine Spectator (October, 2018)

Booth 154 – KING ESTATE – WILLAMETTE VALLEY
Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2016

The 2016 vintage was sourced primarily from King Estate’s certified Biodynamic® vineyard. 90 PTS – Wine Spectator

 

 

Tags:

One Response to “VIWF 2019 Pinot Noir Preview – 6 Countries: 51 Diverse and Remarkable Wines”

  1. March 2, 2019 at 2:15 am #

    Wow! Great listing of wines the Pinot lover will want to check out. Well done!

Leave a Reply