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Winter Games: Taste of International Pinot Noir

Winemaker Jeff Fink held an extensive blind tasting of Pinot Noirs from around the world on February 19, 2014. The lineup included 2009, 2010 and 2011 Pinot Noir from Burgundy, California, Oregon, South Africa, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina. The tasting was conducted in six flights of four wines each with a seventh flight at the end consisting of the four highest scoring wines judged to determine the consensus favorite wine of the evening. This final flight was followed by an unmasking of the identities of all the wines. The tasters consisted of about 30 Pinot Noir enthusiasts who were friends of Jeff (I didn’t know he had that many friends).

Oregon’s Pinot Noirs scored highest, as four out of the top six wines were Willamette Valley selections. Seasmoke was the grand champion for the second year in a row. Not just any Sea Smoke, but the same wine in both tastings: the 2009 Southing Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir. Hype meets reality!

Here is a list of the wines:

The wines I preferred in each flight were (see the chart below under “RG,” taster #8.

2010 Pierre Gelin Chambertin Clos De Beze (Also the flight winner for the group of tasters)
2009 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills (Also the flight winner for the group of tasters)
2010 Shea Vineyard Estate Block 7 Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley (Also the flight winner for the group)
2010 Bergström Bergström Vineyard Willamette Valley (Also the flight winner for the group of tasters)
2009 Tantara Bien Nacido Vineyard Adobe Santa Maria Valley
2011 Meyer-Nakel Spätburgunder Ahr Germany

My overall favorite wine was the 2009 Sea Smoke Southing Sta. Rita Hills. 14.5% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.67, $52. Exclusively Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard.

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