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Oregon Pinot Noir: Understanding Vintage Variations
August 13, 2014 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
In late June 2014, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend Oregon Pinot Camp — an event I’ve been hoping to experience for the last 14 years. This three day Pinot education immersion is one of the most coveted tickets in the wine world, only given to 250 wine industry professionals per year (this year’s group was represented by 48 states and six countries including Japan, Australia, and China).
From geologic studies in the vineyards (including walking into trenches dug at different sites), to vertical tastings of legendary wines (a highlight was 1985 Eyrie Pinot Noir, served out of a 3L bottle by Jason Lett himself), and panel discussions with some of the top names in the Oregon wine industry, it was one of the best wine weekends of my life.
Photo: Tasting 1999 St. Innocent Freedom Hill Pinot Noir.
Of course, I’ve returned with a tremendous amount of information to share!
OREGON PINOT NOIR: UNDERSTANDING VINTAGE VARIATION
Sitting atop Temperance Hill Vineyard with Mark Vlossak of St. Innocent Winery for an afternoon of talking about wine is a great way to spend a day. Mark is one of the most passionate and technically proficent winemakers in Oregon (if not the world) and he said it best at that moment: “Why in the world would I try to make every vintage taste the same? Vintage variation is what it’s all about! Anybody who who is trying to smooth away differences and make consistent wine shouldn’t be trying to make Pinot Noir in Oregon.”
In this class we’ll explore what Mark was preaching: the embracing of vintage variance. The Willamette Valley of Oregon is one of the hardest places to grow wine grapes for a number of factors, all of which we will cover. Rainfall variance, degree heating days, temperature means of Willamette Valley vs. Napa and Burgundy, and evolution of grapegrowing knowledge will be discussed in detail. A class like this, comparing vintages along the spectrum of measurable factors, has rarely been available to the public before — this will be a blast! Our tasting will consist of a variety of recent vintages to help emphasize the “thumbprint” of particular years.
You’ll leave with a very comphrensive understanding of vintages in Willamette Valley going back to the early 1990’s. Of course great handouts and info packets will help you relax and enjoy tasting the wine rather than taking frantic notes! This is a very detailed and comprehensive class, and your info packets will reflect this.
Tasting “Multiple Personalities of Pinot Noir” at Oregon Pinot Camp 2014.
As you’d expect, we’ll be tasting top notch wines throughout the evening all carefully selected to highlight the points being made. Rarely does such a line up of Pinot Noir get popped all at once, but as I discovered at Oregon Pinot Camp, it’s the best way to do it!
I hope to see you in the Understanding Vintage Variation class!