This past Friday and Saturday nights, we hosted an Oregon Pinot Party at Cleveland Wine School Cellar Door. The place was packed with Pinot sipping friends, each greeted at the Door with a glass of bubbles – Argyle Brut to be exact. I think most were amazed (and pleased) with the versatility of Pinot, namely its ability to morph into a new grape variety. One of the oldest vines on record, Pinot Noir is genetically unstable and likes to misbehave in the vineyard. On my recent trip to Oregon, I actually saw a lone rogue vine within the row. Very cool. When Pinot Noir mutates to the point of changing color, we give it a new name such as Pinot Blanc. A delicous white wine that is neutral in flavor offering gullet washing properties. This weekend we featured Elk Cove Pinot Blanc. Light in body with lemon, apple and slight peachy aromas the wine is a perfect starter wine and a good value at $20. Some tasters noticed the slight residual sugar on the wine, others did not. Regardless the wine is very easy to sip. The other fantasic white, and one of my favorite varieties, that Pinot Noir takes form as is Pinot Gris. Fuller in body than its Italian version (Pinot Grigio), well crafted Gris is packed with flavor making it a great wine to sip alone or with food. Since Pinot Gris tends to lose its acidity in the vineyard, warmer climate growers race to harvest in hopes of keep acid levels high. Not so for cooler climate growers where night time temps keep bunches cool resulting in longer hangtime and flavor concentration. Chehalem Pinot Gris rocked the tasitng room last night. Might be my new favorite wine.
Then came the real deal, Pinot Noir. We sampled examples from different sub AVAs of the Willamette Valley including Bethel Heights (Old World styled with lots of minerality), Rex Hill (fruit-forward and approachable), Willamette Valley Whole Cluster (carbonic aromas with bright cherry fruit), Penner-Ash (hefty with lots of dark fruit aromas), Domaine Drouhin Laurene (big and built to age). Each wine brought something different the glass decidedly illustrating the flexibility and transparency of Pinot Noir. And that my friends is why grape growers like to grow it, winemakers like to make it, Sommeliers like to suggest it, we like to drink it and Hollywood made a movie about it. Kind of makes you want to grab a glass….go on, its noon somewhere. Cheers.