Blog: Pinot Days 2015
One weekend each January, some of the world’s finest winemakers converge upon the New York City stop of the traveling road show called “Pinot Days,” where a three hour tasting affair serves as a love letter to the very diverse, very dynamic style of wine known as Pinot Noir. More than thirty different pinot producers would setup shop on Sunday afternoon, pouring for a thirsty crowd of distinguished drinkers and tasters. Though the Manhattan stop is the first of four trips that the ‘Pinot Days’ tour will take this year, the day acts as the unofficial kickoff to wine tasting season for the rest of us.
What makes Pinot Noir such a remarkable wine is that its among the most tempramental grapes to grow. It’s often fussy, needing constant attention and pristine conditions to see its potential completely fulfilled. Leaving certain metaphorical comparisons between the grape and human nature aside, when done right, the resulting wines are often spectacular- evidenced by the many producers doling out sample after sample of their different vintages. With well over 100 wines being poured, one might assume that a single varietal might taste fairly similar across the board. Not so.
The folks at City Winery always manage to offer a nice spread for wine events and at “Pinot Days,” a half dozen options of Murray’s Cheese and fresh sliced breads enabled guests to imbibe comfortably without going overboard. The team from Krave Jerky was also on hand, dishing out a variety of samples and selling their colorful bags of flavored beef and turkey jerky on site. Though some of the fare served as a pleasant distraction, the day was all about the pours of tasty Pinot.
In recent years, we’ve grown quite fond of some of the same faces and wineries that return annually and as such we earmarked some that were ‘must-try’ for 2015. MacMurray Ranch was among the few wineries showcasing “Chardonnay” at “Pinot Days” and while that was certainly a refreshing change of pace, their “2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir”- plucked as part of their ‘Winemaker’s Block Selection’ was outstanding. The well structured red was bursting with a red berry nose and delivered a deliciously long finish from the consistently solid winery. The “2012 Pinot Noir” was also being poured, similarly ripe and smooth through its finish- though for us, was just a notch behind its predecessor. Just a few steps away, we also thoroughly enjoyed the four wines being poured by Fess Parker Winery- our favorite of which, the “2011 Ashley’s Pinot Noir” offered up an earthiness that immediately shone above the hints of black cherry that pervaded our palates- but in a distinctive way. Its definitive spice and pleasant aroma made “Ashley’s” an early favorite for us.
More often than not we tend to sample pricier wines that sit out of our comfort zone pricewise. Sometimes though, we stumble upon one that falls right in our wheelhouse. Incredibly, priced anywhere from $13.99 to $17.99 sits the familar J. Lohr label. But their “2013 Falcon’s Perch” proved particularly revelatory. Though a bit sweeter with hints of nutmeg and red licorice throughout, its bright and easy drinking nature make the “Falcon’s Perch” a nice fit as an affordable table wine priced perfectly for case purchasing. We’d be remiss not to mention Wrath wines, a smaller estate with an understated eye-catching label that delivers some super flavors. Our favorite, the “2012 Pinot Noir, San Saba Vineyard” offers a touch of rich oakiness with each delectably big bodied sip.
Other participating wineries like MacPhail Family Wines, Del Dotto and DeLoach Vineyards served some standout pours as the afternoon wore on- and as our tasting notes became a bit more illegible. Unfortunately, “Pinot Days” are now done for 2015- at least locally anyway. But with the New York session arguably the smallest of the four, wine lovers should have no reservations about traveling to the events in Chicago, San Francisco or Los Angeles as the rest of the year unfolds. There aren’t too many events that are worth going out of your way for- but year in and year out, “Pinot Days” manages to be among the most affordable and most consistent in delivering value for the hundreds of attendees with this January weekend circled on their calendars. That’s something we’ll gladly raise a glass to.
- Dave Gendelson