Blog: Pinot Days 2016
Not even a winter storm so massive that they actually named it would prevent revelers from donning their hats, parkas and boots for a trek over to the west side’s City Winery on Saturday afternoon. The mix of blustering winds and white covered sidewalks proved to be little more than a manageable obstacle en route to 2016′s ‘Pinot Days,’ a now annual event that welcomes some of the renowned winemakers of Pinot Noir from the west coast to New York City. For three hours, hundreds of thirsty oenophiles paced their way around the spacious setting and in the process, happily celebrated an adult-style snow day.
More than forty different wineries would supply product and staffing during the course of the affair, though travel plans clearly had to be altered in some cases. Guests meanwhile were treated to an array of more than 100 distinctive pours from California, Oregon and New Zealand coupled with a seemingly endless selection of breads, crackers and cheeses to keep everyone on the up and up as each pour was swished around and swallowed down. The sheer size of the crowd on hand was impressive given the inclement conditions, but the event moved seamlessly just as in years past with minimal wait times for specific pours, little crowding and plenty of good spirit to be shared inside.
Now we could sit here and extol the virtues of some wines while being harshly critical of some others- but that’s simply not our style. Instead, let’s delve into some of our favorite pours of 2016′s ‘Pinot Days,’ and we’ll begin with an old favorite. Sojourn Cellars has been prominently placed at the annual event for as long as we can remember. The understated yet perfected imagery of a black and white lounge chair affixed to every bottle yields a somehow relaxing yet luxurious feel to the $59 2014 “Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir,” awarded a whopping 94 points in Wine Spectator magazine. Replete with a really pleasant dark fruit nose, the super young wine will presumably be a home run with some appropriate aging- but deliciously smooth, the spicy dark cherry finish leaves a particularly nice taste today. At a more reasonable price point, Meiomi’s 2014 “Pinot Noir” can be secured for right around $20. A bit fruiter than our Sojourn predecessor, the complexity and brightness here is an absolute steal, enhanced even further by the wine’s ruby color.
Sipping on some other returning favorites, we supremely enjoyed the likes of the 2013 “Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir” from Sonoma’s Trombetta Family Wines and pours from MacMurray Estate, MacPhail Family Wines and of course Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, which has become one of our favorite makers of Pinot in the country. By isolating some of the finest lots from their harvest, their 2013 “Clone 115 Pinot” was as tasty as the science behind its story was satisfying. By making just six barrels of the wine, hints of rich vanilla spice would permeate each mouthwatering sip, earmarked by ripe cranberries for a bit of balance in the wine’s clean finish. The $55 price tag however may not be approachable for some; that’s where more affordable options like the $38 bottle of 2013 “Russian River Valley Pinot Noir” from J. Vineyards and Winery comes into play. Pleasantly food-friendly- this wine paired wonderfully with bites of Brie and blue cheeses- the full body here was immediately striking. Each supple sip delivered a fruit-forward zest coupled with some mocha-like features, dark and rich through to its smoothness on the palate.
The best part about the annual ‘Pinot Days’ event is the afternoon’s ability to expose its guests to some little known winemakers to our region- each of whom has a fantastic story that romanticizes their collective love for wine. Many of the featured wineries at the New York event are prominently featured and widely lauded in their home states and getting the opportunity to taste all of them, under one roof, for just $75 is a testament to the event’s substantial value proposition. From Domaine Carneros to J. Lohr, Loring Wine Company to Saintsbury, Waits-Mast Family Cellars to Brooks Note, there were Pinots for everyone’s tasting profile at 2016′s “Pinot Days,” an event that sadly comes just once a year.
- Jane Van Arsdale