Pinot Days Chicago

I learnt today that the best way to pick someone up at a wine tasting event is to show up with a clipboard that is also a wine glass holder. I must have had as many people come up to me to exclaim about my clipboard as the number of wines I tasted – 50.

The wines at Pinot Days were predominantly from the California, which is to be expected I guess because the event is run by the Bay Area Wine Project. They did have representation from Burgundy, by Fine Wines, which was the first table we stopped at. Alas, I didn’t like any of the wines. There were all too tannic and too tart in the finish. Jon suggested that those might be food wines, but I couldn’t see myself enjoying them even with a big juicy steak. Bleah.

There were some fine Californian wines that we liked, but overall, these wines were big and brash; some tasted more like a lush Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvingnon… I found myself more drawn to the Oregon Pinots. Indeed, my favorite was the 2009 Cornerstone Cellars Oregon Pinot Noir. Its floral and spicy nose was like a breath of fresh air. It was unbelievable.

Mostly, we wandered around from booth to booth at random. We found some gems that way – tiny producers with less than 1000 cases in production.

Some favorites:

August West
Their 2010 Russian River Valley was really tasty. And I appreciated that they brought a vertical tasting of the Rosella Vineyards (Santa Lucia) Pinot Noir for us to taste. We tasted the 2006 through 2010. The 2010 was still young, but had lots of potential, judging from how nicely the 2006-7 came out.

Belle Glos Wines
All their bottles are hand dipped in wax, which makes for a very distinctive appearance. I tried the 2009 Clark and Telephone, the 2009 Alturas (favorite of the lot), and the 2009 Taylor (only 1000 cases; not distributed in Chicago).

Goldeneye Winery
This is owned by Duckhorn, which also makes Paraduxx and Decoy. We stopped by the booth before 430pm (the tasting ended at 5pm), and was just in time for the last pour of the 2007 Andeson Valley. Pretty tasty… the price point is between the lower end Decoy and Duckhorn.

Gypsy Canyon Winery
This was a treat. The owner makes only 300 cases of the Santa Rita Pinot Noir, which was silky and had a beautiful long finish. She also gave us a small pour of the 2010 Angelica Ancient Vine, a dessert wine made from Mission grapes. It was delicious – like liquid creme brulee. She makes only a barrel a year of this (50 cases).

Native 9 Wine
The winery is so named because the winemaker/owner is a 9th generation Californian. They are small producers (less than 300 cases for 2 of their pinots). We tried the 2009 Altra Maria, the 2008 and 2009 Santa Barbara. Loved the 2008 Santa Barbara.

Sanford
Smallish producer. We tried 3 wines from them, and I loved the 2007 Sanford & Benedict.

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