Slingin' the Pinot [for] Days

7th Annual Pinot Days 2011I don’t know if my life has turned the speed of time to 11 or what this year, but it’s already time again for one of the best SF wine events of the year: 7th Annual Pinot Days 2011 (Twitter)Last year’s event was a must attend and this year Lisa and Steve Rigisich et al, have added a slew of additional events for the entire week of festivities and have expanded many wine regions to make this one even mo’ betta.  How can such a fine vino event get any better, you ask?  Try upping the number of producers over the 200 mark (over 400 Pinot Noir), organizing “the largest presence of Oregon producers ever gathered outside of Oregon” [I’m excited about this one], a fantastic online charity auction and a new Burgundy Corner to showcase the birthplace of this finicky but fine grape variety.

The Pinot Days San Francisco Online Auction is being hosted over at as I write this and attendance at the Festival is not needed in order to bid.  This year’s Charity Beneficiary is the OCMC Water Well Dig Project for the Turkana people of Loupwala in East Africa.  There are a ton of diverse lots available, including 2009 Kosta Browne Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – Magnum Etched & Signed in Wooden Box, Socolo Chocolatier Artisan Chocolate Truffles and the awesome 2008 Benziger Pinot Noir (3 Tiers) – 1 Case and Gift Certificate for a Benziger Biodynamic Tram Tour lot!

The full deets for the entire week of Pinot fun are below and my posse and myself are going to be at the Grand Festival in full, spitting force (minus one glorious Lady, unfortunately), so we look forward to seeing all of you there as well!

7th Annual Pinot Days Grand Festival

Saturday, June 18, 2011 1:00pm-5:00pm

Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center

Cost: $50


The 9th Annual Pinot Noir Summit

The Pinot Summit - Affairs of the VineI’m very happy to announce that one of the coolest wine events of the year is coming back to the Bay on 02/26/2011 with the arrival of the 9th annual installment of The Pinot Summit (Twitter). Spanning three different segments that day, attending the whole Summit gives you access to almost 9 full hours of delicious Pinot and tasty morsels. It is one of the most educational and complete consumer trade events that I’ve ever seen and it will definitely leave your bellies and brains full of new flavors of and knowledge about Pinot Noir.  Best of all?!  I’ve got an awesome contest to win some wine from one of the Summit finalists!  More after the break…

9th Pinot Shoout - The Pinot Noir SummitRun by Barbara Drady (Twitter) of Affairs of the Vine, the event is meticulously designed so that only the most highly rated wines out of three elimination rounds of blind judging make the cut for the Pinot Summit.  I was fired up to be chosen to judge the finalists for the Summit in the last round Pinot Shootout, held at Fort Mason Center on 01/15/11.  We tasted in 3 teams (mine was Blue) and each team tasted 4 flights of 8 wines, completely blinded.  We were instructed to score using the 100 point system and to write copious notes to back up our scores.

I found the quality very high for the vast majority of the 32 wines that I tasted that day, most of them from the 2007 and 2008 vintages and rather on the fruit forward side.   I also discovered a few favorites that exhibited some incredible balance, earthiness, fruit, fine tannins and bright acidity, aspects that are right up my pinot alley (and a couple dogs).  I was also pleased to see wines made it to the Grand Sweepstakes at the Summit from some previous favs, like Hahn SLH and Wild Horse Winery.

[winebadge id=”57552″]

My favorite of the whole judging was the ’07 Athair Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  Exhibiting all of the characteristics that I geekily reeled off above and ringing in at only $36 (or even less), this delivers so much tastiness that I gave it a coveted AwesomeWK from the WKBadges.  You can check out all of the wines at the end of the article to add them to your own WineLog.  All of the wines that I judged that day are tagged with “PinotShootout2011” and the wines that I judged that also made The Pinot Noir Summit are tagged with “PinotSummit2011“.  I’ll also be moderating a panel entitled “A Question of Style” featuring one of the wines that I tasted, the 2007 TR Elliott Russian River Valley Burgonet Pinot Noir.  It will feature Ted Elliott from TR Elliott, Christy Griffith from Lazy Creek Vineyards and Marc Goldberg from Windward Vineyard.

So what’s this contest that I talked about earlier?  Well it’s pretty super cool if you ask me.  You can win a two pack of vino from one of my favorite wineries that also made the Summit finals, Wild Horse Winery!  One of the wines will be their Grand Award winning wine, the 2008 Wild Horse Central Coast Pinot Noir, winner of a QPRWK badge. Sweeet!  All you need to do is to enter the code “drxeno” when you check out to buy your tickets and you’ll be entered to win the wine.  You can pick it up at the Summit.  You’ve gotta hurry though, only 300 tickets will be sold and it sells out every year.  Good luck!

The Pinot Noir Summit

Hilton San Francisco Financial District
750 Kearny Street
San Francisco, California 94108

Full Day: 11:30 PM to 6:45 PM
Sparkling Wine Reception: 4:00 PM to 4:45 PM
Grand Awards Tasting: 4:45 PM to 6:45 PM

Click here for directions – convenient parking is available at the garage attached to the hotel and the Portsmouth Square Garage located across the street (733 Kearny Street). There are lots of other garages in the area.

Pinot Noir Summit Pinot Noir Summit Pinot Noir Summit Dinner
Pinot Noir Summit $125
(includes Blind Tasting, Workshops,
Sparkling Wine Reception, & The Grand Awards Tasting)
Pinot Noir Shootout
Grand Awards Tasting $80
Meet Pinot Noir winemakers in an intimate setting $125

Wines that I judged at the 9th Pinot Shootout (PinotShootout2011) for The Pinot Noir Summit 2011 (PinotSummit2011), listed by highest rating:

AwesomeWK - WKBadges Athair Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2007

Color: Medium garnet to brick core, lighter brick red edges

Nose: Musty, leather nose, loam and slight brett, baked rhubarb, dried cola

Palate: Very good. Love the mushroomy, and loamy notes, medium mouthfeel, balanced acidity, fresh tobacco and darker rhubarb fruit. Finest of tannins, quite good!: AwesomeWK

Lost Canyon Russian River Valley Morelli Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Sequana Green Valley Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir 2008

David Noyes Sonoma Coast Crane Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007

QPRWK - WKBadgesOldWorldWK - WKBadges Bogle Vineyards California Pinot Noir 2007

Color: Light ruby core, lightest ruby to clear edges

Nose: Cola and rhubarb are all over this nose with some char and dried florals underneath.

Palate: Great structure here, more angular with good acidity, medium body and still smooth out to the finish. Unsweetened cherry cola with good fresh garden herbs of rosemary, as well. Good: QPRWK, OldWorldWK

OldWorldWK - WKBadges Chamisal Vineyards Edna Valley Domaine Alfred Estate Bottled Pinot Noir 2008

Color: Medium ruby core, light ruby edges

Nose: Good earthy, cherry-wood nose, rhubarb and light florals.

Palate: Burnt cigar here and dried leather, with earthier rhubarb from the nose and more of a fuller, cigar box finish. Good tannins, great complexity. Good balanced acidity, as well. With air, juicy cherry comes through: OldWorldWK

OldWorldWK - WKBadges TR Elliott Russian River Valley Burgonet Pinot Noir 2007

Color: Medium ruby with light ruby edges

Nose: Musty and murky dark red fruit here, charred toast: interesting.

Palate: Earthier here with some loam to it, dark red fruit here of black cherry with good toast that is balanced with the fine, medium tannins and medium acidity: OldWorldWK

NewWorldWK - WKBadges Hahn SLH Estate Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2009

Color: Medium to light ruby, lightest ruby edges

Nose: Deeper and darker rhubarb and bigger cola here, with some black cherry poking through.

Palate: Bigger mouthfeel here with a coolness to the spiced rhubarb pie.  Big, chewy and toasty root beer finish with dried florals and hops.  Big but good: NewWorldWK

Lucas & Lewellen Santa Barbara County Goodchild High 9 Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir 2008

Bouchaine Napa Valley – Carneros Estate Vineyard Pinot Meunier 2008

Nth Degree Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir 2008

NewWorldWK - WKBadges Asuncion Ridge San Luis Obispo County Pinot Noir 2008

Color: Darker ruby core, light ruby edges

Nose: Big red fruit medley here, ripe and juicy baked cranberry, fresh black cherry and sweeter rhubarb, toast underneath and distinct cinnamon. Big, but good.

Palate: Fuller mouth, with hoppy florals, baking spice, and ripe and juicy Bing and black cherry. Balanced, bigger yet fine tannins, cola all the way into the finish. Very Good: NewWorldWK

Summerland Santa Rita Hills Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

R. Stuart & Co. Willamette Valley Autograph Pinot Noir 2008

Fulcrum Sonoma Coast Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir 2008

QPRWK - WKBadges Wild Horse Central Coast Pinot Noir 2008

Color: Ruby core, light ruby edges

Nose: Distinct fresh cherry pie, complete with toasty pie crust, very bright.

Palate: Cherry pie here as well, fuller body and smooth and chalky mouthfeel, toast out to the cola finish: QPRWK

Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2008

Davis Family Vineyards Russian River Valley Horseshoe Bend Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Paro Russian River Valley Indindoli Vineyards Pinot Noir 2009

Tarras Vineyards Central Otago The Steppes Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Erath Willamette Valley Leland Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

Alysian Russian River Valley Rochioli Vineyard Allen-Rochioli Blocks Pinot Noir 2007

Claiborne & Churchill Edna Valley Twin Creeks Pinot Noir 2008

Armitage Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir 2008

Expression 39° Anderson Valley Annahala Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009

Windsor Vineyards Sonoma County Private Reserve Pinot Noir 2009

V. Sattui Winery Los Carneros Reserve Pinot Noir 2007

Leveroni Vineyards Sonoma Valley Seven Oaks Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2009

Mueller Russian River Valley Emily’s Cuvée Pinot Noir 2008

Kenneth Volk Santa Maria Valley Nielson Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007

Beauregard Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2008

Prix Napa Valley Fagan Creek: Block 38 Reserve Estate Bottled Pinot Noir 2007

Pinot Days SF 2010 + Discount!

6th Annual Pinot Days San Francisco 2010One of the most exciting wine events of the year is back in the Bay Area this week.  The 6th Annual Pinot Days San Francisco festival celebrates the fickle grape all this week, culminating in the awesome Grand Festival Public Tasting Sunday 06/27/10 inside the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason.  Last year we were treated to an enormous amount of fantastic Pinot, with so much great wine there to be had, I was actually a bit sad after we left, when I realized that we had only tasted 1/5 of the offerings that day!

5th Annual Pinot Days San Francisco 2009This year’s festival proves to be even better, with more producers and all of those phenomenal 2007’s that will be on tap, only one of the finest vintages for Pinot in the last 10 years.

What could possibly be better than all of this wine in one space?  An exclusive DISCOUNT CODE for tickets to TRY these wines!  When you purchase your tickets, use the extrasupercool code DRXENOSF10 to get 15% off the ticket price for you and your fellow vinopanions!

Let me know how it went in the comments and cheers!

SF Vintners Market: Tasting AND Buying!

San Francisco Vintners MarketEvery once in awhile–wait, scratch that. Every few months it seems now, someone comes up with something exciting, new and innovating in the world of wine.  In this particular case, that new and innovative wine thing is a brand, spanking new wine event format!  The people that have been slinging the wine juggernaut known as Wine 2.0 (Twitter) for years are now behind the inaugural event known as the San Francisco Vintners Market.  Just why is this event so amazing and different from the many wonderful wine events that are held at Fort Mason in SF each and every year?  Well…just read a little further why don’t you??

Cornelius Geary (Twitter) and cohorts have come up with another winner because they’ve overcome one of the most perplexing and irritable aspects of just about every wine tasting event that I’ve ever attended…you can’t buy the wine you taste!  Happily, that problem is now a thing of the past and their solution is the core tenet to this new series of wine events.  Any wine that you taste at the SF Vintners Market can be purchased on the spot and taken home to be enjoyed at home.

So join me and my favorite vinopanions next weekend at the Market and enjoy wines that you can taste and immediately buy from over 150+ wineries from all over California’s many wine regions.  Indeed, I even have a special discount link for all of you readers!  Click my link to use the discount code “10bucksoff” and receive 10 dollars off either of the two entrance fees!  All of the necessary info is below and I look forward to seeing you at the event!

The Inaugural San Francisco Vintners Market

04/10/10 & 04/11/10

Noon to 5pm

Fort Mason Center, San Francisco CA

Discounted Tickets!

5 Questions with Lisa Rigisich of Pinot Days SF

Pinot Days San Francisc0 2009Another exciting wine festival is coming to Fort Mason this month and I’m very excited to have to have the opportunity to get the inside scoop from the festival Director.  Pinot Days San Francisco crushes SF with five days of great, varietally-correct Pinot Noir festivities, starting on June 24th.  Lisa Rigisich, together with husband Steve and partners Eric and Teri White are bringing over 200 Pinot Noir producer and vendors of the delicate grape to Fort Mason in San Francisco on Sunday June 28th for the finale Grand Festival Public Tasting, where I will be delighted with the outstanding array of tasty Pinot available to taste!

Be sure to check out Pinot Days’ Facebook Fan Page and Group, follow them on Twitter and order tickets to all five days of events!  And now…5 Questions with Lisa from Pinot Days!

Pinot Days SF!1. Ward/WineLog (Twitter): This year marks the 5 year anniversary of the inaugural Pinot Days Festival. What all do you have planned for this year’s five days of Pinot?

Lisa Rigisich (Twitter): So much! Six thematic Focus Tastings, a Westside Road Tour, a Winemakers Dinner, a number of retail store tastings, and the highlight, the Grand Festival, showcasing 200 Pinot producers. I think the most exciting aspect of all of these events is that the winemakers show up and pour, and tell their stories.  Pinot is different that way – the winemakers are so gifted and passionate – it’s not a business to them.  It’s an art, and of course you want to be at your own art showing.   They want to be a part of it.  They want to meet their consumers and talk about the perils and victories of making Pinot.

Our Focus Tastings are probably my favorite – we feature 16 Pinots within a given theme and the winemakers join us, and they talk about the wines with the attendees very openly – not in a stilted, fancy wine word way, but casually, accessibly, easily.  So we get to talk with folks like Bob Cabral, Merry Edwards, Ed Kurtzman, Jeffrey Patterson, Gary Pisoni, Richard Sanford.  We taste the wines blind.  And the wines are phenomenally good.  It’s a lot fun, and, well, accidentally educational at the same time because there is no better way to learn about Pinot than to taste really good Pinots side by side.

Sideways - IMDb2. Ward/WineLog (Twitter): The first festival was the same year as the release of Sideways, the now famous movie that was based on the book by Rex Pickett and sparked a huge surge in Pinot popularity.  Was the “Sideways-Effect” an impetus for the first festival, or was the planning already in effect?  Have you seen a boost from this cinema-inspired popularity?

Lisa Rigisich (Twitter): Well, I risk “outing” our original, total lack of qualification as event planners, but here goes.  We had set a date for the first Pinot Days and sold about 200 tickets, intending to feature about 30 producers.  Then, a couple of months before the event, Sideways was released and suddenly we were selling hundreds of tickets, and calling more Pinot producers asking them to come and pour.  It was nuts.  By trade Steve is a software engineer and I’m an English Professor, so we were pretty much totally unequipped experience-wise to pull off an event with 100 producers and 1500 attendees, but that’s what we were facing.  It was baptism by fire.  And now we’ve more than doubled in size, which is less a testimony to Sideways (which indeed got Pinot noticed) and more a testimony to the grape itself and the artists who make it.  Pinot is like Miles in Sideways – thin-skinned, insanely gifted, fragile, brilliant, complicated – when he is good he is a genius, and when conditions are not ideal he is a mess.  You want to befriend Miles and make conditions ideal for him because, at his best, he is far more stimulating and fortifying and interesting and inspiring than your “easier” friends.

Steve & Lisa Rigisich - Pinot Days3. Ward/WineLog (Twitter): You and your husband founded the Bay Area Wine Project after your move to California from your longtime digs in New York.  What drove you to create the BAWP and what is it all about?

Lisa Rigisich (Twitter): We moved here and discovered a festival dedicated to Zinfandel and one for Rhone varieties, a number of festivals featuring various varieties, but there was no festival dedicated to Pinot Noir, which is by far our favorite.  In fact, Pinot and its producers were sort of like the poor stepchild amidst the golden siblings, which is just so wrong!  Pinot Noir is the golden child, but it doesn’t brag about it so some people don’t know it.  Anyway, Steve and I decided to create a non-profit dedicated to promoting the noble grape and the really wonderful, passionate people who make it.

Pinot Noir - Pinot Days4. Ward/WineLog (Twitter): It is quite clear that Pinot Noir is your favorite varietal and grape variety.  What is about Pinot that fascinates your palate above all other varietals of wine?

Lisa Rigisich (Twitter): Oh, the fact that it wears its world – its earth, soil, neighbors, seasons, the hands that shape it. Pinot embodies romance because, like romance, you can’t predict it.  So much can go wrong with it.   But when a gifted winemaker gets it right, it is so far beyond any other variety.  It has amazing versatility of style.  It can be shy and elegant or confident and dark.   There is such variation between regions, vineyards, vintages.  To say that there is a Pinot for every palate is not an exaggeration, but I think, an understatement.  And I don’t even get me started on how Pinot pairs with food.  There just isn’t a better all around food wine.  Pinot is it.

5. Ward/WineLog (Twitter): Following the no doubt, successful fifth run of Pinot Days, what is in store for the rest of the year, for next year’s festival and for the Bay Area Wine Project?

Lisa Rigisich (Twitter): We’re really excited about the new Pinot Days Blog.  We’ll offer Pinot insight, mostly, and winemaker profiles, tasting notes, tales of tours, histories.  Pinot Noir creates such a community between and among consumers and producers.  We want our blog to invite that and represent it.  Personally, as frustrated writer producing Pinot events, I just can’t wait to write about Pinot!  We’re also launching a new Pinot Days website which will be home to all things Pinot – resources, recommendations, travel plans, pairings, as well as a number guest writers whose expertise and taste leans to one style of Pinot or another.  We’ll announce the new site and blog in late summer after the event dust has settled.  Of course we’re returning to Chicago for our Third Annual Pinot Days Chicago on November 14th.  What a receptive, amazing city for Pinot.  Pinot Days doubled in size from our first to our second year.  We can’t wait to go back.  And we’re looking at adding a new city in 2010 – stay tuned for that.

Once again, be sure to check out Pinot Days’ Facebook Fan Page and Group, follow them on Twitter and order tickets to all five days of events!

Pinot Days San Francisco 2009 - June 24th - 28th

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