I'm taking this wine class at Vienna Vintner with Kirby Pope, only the world's best sommelier, and discovering so much about the grape! Our most recent class featured Pinot Noir which has been described as being "romantic", "sex in a glass" (Madeline Triffon), "a seductive yet fickle mistress" (Peter Richardsson of OenoStyle) and "the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic" (Joel Fleischman of Vanity Fair).
Here's some of things I learned from Kirby:
Pinot is the Jane to Cabernet's Tarzan. She is a fickle grape with a thin skin, temperamental and a tendency to ripen early. She is hard to plant because she prefers a higher elevation, no sun after 4:20pm and an east facing slope. She is full of flavor -- bing cherry, spiced plum, strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, earth and pairs well with sweet fruits, pork, duck, salmon, veal, chicken and other fowl. While tasting pinots (or any other wine for that matter) be sure to stay away from too much salt and pepper as this can ruin one's palate. Kirby also taught us the four essentials behind encountering any wine. First, you must gain a visual. What is the color? Is it bright? Cloudy? Clear? Second, you must stick your nose in the glass and smell its fragrance. Third, you must taste it. Swish it around in your mouth. Swirl it across your tongue. What flavors do you detect? Last, you must draw conclusions. Give your opinion!
We tasted several wines from all around the world (all available at Vienna Vintner). Here they are in case any of you out there are keen to try them. Highly recommend!
1. Luigi Borca Pinot Noir 2007 from Argentina's Mendoza region (equivalent to our Napa).
2. Sherwood Estate Pinot Noir 2006 from New Zealand's Marlborough region.
3. Sancerre from France's Loire Valley. This was full of licorice and anise.
4. Alguerira Ribeira Sacra from Spain but close to Portugal. This wine was full of crushed lavender and rose petal.
5. Lazy River Pinot Noir 2006 from Oregon. The Lumpkin family produces this gorgeous wine full of bright, deep fruit (think cherry, plum, raspberry and a hint of chocolate). This was my absolute favorite from the tasting!
6. Oberbergen Pinot Noir 2005 from Germany. This was on the sweeter side but still nice.
7. Belevedere from northern California's Russian River Valley. Full of bing cherry and plum. Really lovely.