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2014 12th Annual Pinot Noir Summit

The Pinot Noir Summit is the culmination of the Pinot Noir Shootout that involves three months of tasting of submitted wines by an esteemed panel of judges that includes 46 wine writers, sommeliers, wine retailers, winemakers, wine educators, wine bloggers and wine consultants. 447 Pinot Noirs from all over the globe were reviewed in a manner conducive to careful and thorough wine evaluation: only 32 wines were tasted by a judging panel on any given day. The wines are tasted completely blind without reference to region, vintage or price. Each wine was tasted at least twice. This judging is one of the most comprehensive and focused tastings of Pinot Noir in the United States.

The final 44 wines chosen for the Grands Awards Tasting were presented to the public for blind judging on March 9, 2014, at The Officers Club in The Presidio in San Francisco. The favorites of the judges and the consumers were tallied separately for men and women and awards were given for the top 3 in each category: Male Judges, Female Judges, Male Consumers, and Female Consumers. This award breakdown into male and female preferences is truly unique to this competition.



As a participant in this event for several years, and the Competition Director this year, I have consistently observed male and female preferences, either judges or consumer groups, rarely coincide. There is surprisingly little research on this difference between the sexes.

In 2012, Lettie Teague published an article in The Wall Street Journal titled “Men Are From Cab, Women Are From Moscato?” She related the views of sensory psychologist Marcia Pelchat of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia who said that women are more sensitive to bitter flavors than men and they prefer slightly sweet wines (although that is apparently not true with female wine professionals). Women are often given credit for genetically having better aroma sensitivity and “better palates,” but there is little agreement on this matter.

An Australian study reported in the Journal of Consumer Marketing in 2011, found that specific differences exist in the sensory preferences of males and females as well as between generational cohorts, specifically Millennial and older consumers. The women in the study preferred white wine, a sweeter wine style at a young age, and a medium body style wine over light and full-bodied wines. Fruit tastes and aromas were most important, especially among females, while males preferred the aged characters of wine. Males are more receptive to tannic wines. My experience indicates that most women prefer Chardonnay with Pinot Noir second, while men most often reach for bigger reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

The observed differences in wine preference between professional tasters and consumers is more straightforward. Professional judges are more critical, focusing on technical aspects of wine balance and quality as well as acutely aware of minor flaws when judging, while consumers base their preferences on a simpler evaluation that boils down to whether they like the wine or not. Judges consider appearance, aroma, acidity, body, texture, tannins, astringency, quality and length of finish and so forth, while consumers decide what they like. It is troublesome to think that the wines that professional critics prefer are not the same as the wines that consumers necessarily want to drink!

The Pinot Noir Summit is produced by Chief Wine Evangelist, Barbara Drady and Affairs of the Vine, a Sonoma-based company dedicated to converting people to wine. The complete results of the 12th Annual Pinot Noir Summit are posted on the Affairs of the Vine website at www.affairsofthevine.com. The results include separate comments about the wines by the male and female judges. Each year there are surprises, with a number of wines deemed outstanding that are submitted by wineries that are relatively unknown to the expert judges. Here are the results for Pinot Noir.



Male Judges

First Place: 2011 Bouchaine Estate Terraces Napa-Carneros Pinot Noir $60
Second Place: 2010 Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery Hunter’s Cuvée Carmel Valley Pinot Noir $40
Third Place: 2011 Comanche Cellars CharEva Vineyard Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir $30

Female Judges

First Place: 2010 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $32
Second Place: 2011 Anderson Oaks Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $30
Third Place: 2011 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir $28

Male Consumers

First Place: 2010 Asuncion Ridge Vineyards Estate Central Coast Pinot Noir $38
Second Place: 2012 The Winery SF North Coast Pinot Noir $38
Third Place: 2012 Thralls Roma’s Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $42

Female Consumers

First Place: 2010 Canihan Exuberance Canihan Family Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $65
Second Place: 2011 Gallegos Boekenoogen Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir $38
Third Place: 2011 Anderson Oaks Vineyard Jamboree Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $30



There were also Pinot Noirs that the male and female judges deemed a “Bang for Your Buck.” Several of these wines were preferred by both men and women expert judges. Those receiving a cumulative score of 89 or above:

Male Judges

2012 Lucas & Lewellen Estate Vineyards Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir $20
2012 Mud House Central Otago New Zealand Pinot Noir $16.99
2012 Canihan Canihan Family Vineyard Rose of Pinot Noir $20
2012 Cline Cool Climate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $14.99
2011 Jekel Monterey Pinot Noir $18.99
2012 Pedroncelli Signature Selection Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
$20

Female Judges

2012 Cline Cool Climate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $20
2012 Bonterra Mendocino Pinot Noir
$15.99
2012 Pedroncelli Signature Selection Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
$20
2012 Baus Family Vineyards Sonoma County Pinot Noir
$20
2012 Canihan Canihan Family Vineyard Rose of Pinot Noir
$20
2011 Jekel Monterey Pinot Noir
$18.99
2012 Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir
$16.99
2012 Pleasures California Pinot Noir
$10



The wines that I judged exceptional among the final 44 Pinot Noirs:
2012 TR Elliott Questa Russian River Valley Pinot Noir $44
2010 Handley Cellars RSM Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $52
2010 Canihan Canihan Family Vineyard Exuberance Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $65
2011 Gallegos Boekenoogen Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir $38
2010 & 2011 Comanche Cellars CharEva Vineyard Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir $30
2011 EnGarde Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir



*Photos courtesy of Rosina Wilson, www.drinkwinewithdinner.com.

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