Pinot Noir Celebration a voyage of discovery for both consumers and producers
By Gordon Hamilton, Special to the Sun, September 3rd, 2013
Carrie Ferguson doesn’t pretend to know much about wine, so when she was seated next to the winemaker from Liquidity Wines at the Okanagan’s B.C. Pinot Noir Celebration, she felt a bit intimidated.
On her tasting notes for the first flight of wines, she wrote “yummy,” and then the panel discussion turned to what clones of Pinot Noir were used in making the wines. That was when she noticed that her tablemate, winemaker Matt Holmes, knew a bit more about wine than she did. More importantly, however, he brought her into the conversation.
“He answered all my questions. Nowhere else has that ever happened to me,” she said.
Ferguson was one of 160 people at the Pinot Noir celebration, held at Meyer Family Vineyards over the Labour Day weekend., where 12 of B.C.’s top Pinot Noir producers compared their wines with Pinots from Burgundy, Oregon and New Zealand.
It was the first time producers of a specific variety, Pinot Noir, had joined forces to see what makes their wines — and the Okanagan’s version of Pinot Noir — special. The 12 wineries in the fledgling B.C. Pinot Noir movement believe B.C. needs to be identified with one or two varieties that thrive in this climate if the province is to gain international status among the world’s wine regions. The wine tasting and a panel discussion on B.C. Pinot was part of an afternoon-long event.
For Ferguson, the intimacy of the Pinot fest and the chance to talk to winemakers made the day memorable.
The event was a voyage of discovery for consumers and producers alike, said panelist and wine writer John Schreiner. Most of the wineries, with the exception of three, Blue Mountain, Quail’s Gate and CedarCreek, are relative newcomers to making Pinot, which makes it difficult to judge how well the wines will age.
“It’s early days,” Schreiner said. “It’s going to be more fun and more exciting to taste what’s ahead.”
But after working their way through all 12 wines and three benchmark wines from the more renowned Pinot Noir regions, there was no clear winner. That wasn’t the purpose of the event, said the panelists who led the tasting and the discussion.
“We (in B.C.) are finding our own style. But we are not copying anymore. We are not trying to copy Burgundy, Oregon or New Zealand,” said panelist and master of wine Rhys Pender. “We probably opened up more questions than answers.”
Panelist and sommelier DJ Kearney said B.C. is in good company. The Burgundy that the B.C. wines were compared with was a Premier Cru from one of the top producers, Jadot, in a top vintage, 2009.
One lesson learned is that B.C. Pinots are not all alike.
“You have a variety of flavours and characters and use of wood. These wines are very expressive of where they come from and where they are grown,” said CedarCreek winemaker Darryl Brooker.
Meyer Family Vineyards winemaker Chris Carson set the mood for the open-air event when he introduced Meyer Family’s 2011 McLean Creek Road Pinot Noir.
“This is a great event, he said. “And it’s been a long time coming.”
The wine being poured, he said, came from the vine-cloaked hillside behind the tables.
“It was a good vintage.”
Vancouver Sun, September 3rd, 2013
by Gordon Hamilton