Thursday, November 8, 2012

Report from … The Pinot Affair – October 13, 2012

Have you been Pinoted yet? I don’t mean PO’ed, I’ve been that way too many times myself, but right now I’m talking about being Pinoted, as in Pinot Noir.  If you haven’t then maybe it’s about time you look into getting your Pinot-on.  It’s high time you had a torrid love affair with one of the world’s most fickle and finicky grapes.  And that’s just what 9 wineries in Niagara wanted you to do, escape to the region and get in touch with your inner Pinot-phile (there’s one in all of us) because these wineries wear their love for the grape on their sleeve for all to see – and they were bound and determined to show you why.

I’ll admit something here and now, I learned something new because of this event … my wife is a closet Pinot Noir fan (well not closeted anymore) – she’s not much of a red wine drinker, but she seemed to enjoy Pinot after Pinot as it hit her glass and her palate, from the aromas to the taste she became smitten – who knew?

The Pinot Affair is an event put on by nine Pinot making wineries:  Coyote’s Run, Henry of Pelham, Hidden Bench, Inniskillin, Lailey, Le Clos Jordanne, Malivoire, Rosewood and Tawse.  Looking over the programming I noticed that some wineries opted for appointment-based affairs while others chose the garden variety drop-in affair – the good news is that all were through the front door … though Coyote’s Run had you pop into an out-building to arrange their affair.  I’m a big fan of the drop-in because an appointment might mean I have to cut someone else’s visit short, so with that in mind I only visited 5 of the 9 wineries to have my affair with. 
A Pinot array at Henry of Pelham
Starting the day with Henry of Pelham, where they were pouring a number of different vintage Pinots ranging from 1998 to 2009 (a decade-plus of Pinot).  The most impressive were the 2003 Unfiltered (nice tartness with hint of licorice and all-spice), the 2004 Unfiltered (root veggies, sour cherry, earth, dried cranberry, very farm reminiscent) and the 2007 Unfiltered (punches well above its class with spice, sour cherry, cranberry tartness, along with white and black pepper – great acidity especially for the vintage).  Here we learned that Ontario Pinot has great staying power
Rosewood welcomes it Pinot-philes
Next up, Rosewood – where they played a game called “Pinot Gone Wild”, here you had to guess which Pinot was manually started fermentation with cultured yeast and which was made using wild or indigenous yeast.  The wild wines were just more complex and had layers to them that the others just could not match; the non-wild were still good wines in there way, wild was just more appealing in both its 2009 and 2008 versions.  Rosewood also served a wonderful array of food with each Pinot, from Boeuf Bourgignon to Homemade Borscht … if it were all about the food instead of the wine Rosewood won hands down.  The take away here was an education on how the choice of yeast (or lack thereof) can affect the wines.
Coyote's Run is your backdoor man for Pinot
Stop three took us back to Niagara-on-the-Lake, where Coyote’s Run was doing a demonstration of terroir paired with regional cheese … Burgundian Pinot was served with Epoiss (from Burgundy), Boedecker 2009 Pappas Pinot from Oregon was served with Oregonzola (Oregon) and Niagara’s own Coyote’s Run Pinots (both Red and Black Paw) were paired with Glengarry Fine Cheese … the only missed pairing was the New Zealand match which had to be served with Roblochon (Savoie, France) due to lack of New Zealand cheeses found locally.  An interesting education of Pinots from around the world.
Inniskillin's two offerings - both from hot vintages 
Inniskillin did a duel of hot vintage Pinots from their Montague vineyard series … the current 2010 versus the 2007 … the sweet fresh fruit of the 2010 versus the aged rusticity of 2007 … served alongside a mushroom crostini – if only I like mushrooms.  Will the 2010 age in the same way as the 2007, or have our winemakers learned how to deal with cool climate loving grapes in hot weather vintages?  Time will tell.
The Evolution of Lailey's special bottlings of Pinot
Final stop on our march through the world of Pinot, was to Lailey, where they had the option of appointment or just tasting.  The appointment was for a wander through the vineyard to see Pinot in its natural habitat (on the vine) – too bad Pinot had already been harvested this year at the time of the event, due to an early harvest, so I’m not quite sure what they talked about out there.  Five different Pinots were on the menu, all single vineyard offerings from either the Lailey estate or Wismer vineyard, and these were even broken down to Old Vines and Brickyard, which are specific blocks within vineyards.  The wines were from 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009 with a sneak peak at the new 2010 Lot 48.  The winner here was the 2007 Old Vines, which seemed to roll a lovely cherry bouquet up in a spicy, robust raspberry-like envelope – time has really helped mellow the soul of this wine, with more mellow to come.

Like it or love it, the Pinot Affair is a great way to get to know this grape in many of its forms … and, just like my wife did, start what might become a long lasting affair with the world’s most fussy, yet fanciful, but always fickle and finicky, grape variety.

More pictures from our day on the Pinot Trail ...
Rosewood:  "The Ripe Year" Pinots - 2010

Rosewood: "The Cool Year" Pinots - 2009

Rosewood:  Tender and meaty Boeuf Bourgignon

Rosewood: Steaming pot of Borscht

Coyote's Run:  Jeff Aubry is down with Pinot Noir

Coyote's Run:  The Classic vs. The New World

Coyote's Run:  Piling in for Pinot
Inniskillin: their crostini with mushroom snack

Lailey:  even the bottles are falling over themselves for this grape

No comments: