Pinot Noir is our favorite everyday wine. And why not. It picks up slight nuances in the terroir and can be adapted to many different styles. Plus it can be paired with many different types of foods. Although the grapes can be finicky to grow and to make into wine, when done right, the result is a delightful blend of flavors. While other countries grow pinot noir, the most famous in the US are the Willamette Valley in Oregon and Carneros, Central Coast and Russian River in California. And those from Californias’s Anderson Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Maria Valley and Santa Rita Hills shouldn’t be dismissed either.
We have our own favorite styles of pinot noir, but each year brings new growing conditions (think global warming as well as normal nature fluxuations), new wineries, new vintages, new winemakers and new styles. How can one discover which wines to buy? By tasting. And what better place to taste wines but at a pinot noir tasting where you can taste a wide variety of pinot noirs to compare and contrast.
We’ve attended many pinot noir tastings over the years and recently attended PinotFest 2015 at Farallon Restaurant in San Francisco. Now in its 17th year, the event brings together 60 of the best producers from Oregon and California to San Francisco’s Farallon Restaurant. (In addition to this tasting event, Farallon also has other events that marry food with pinot noir during the month.) And when we say 60 of the best, they really are. We were anxious to try some pinots from our past personal favorites (on our last trip to Willamette Valley, we leave with a car filled with pinot noirs) to see how their current releases measure up to our tastes, as well as to find some new wines. And since pinot noirs are our everyday favorite drinking wine, we are also always looking for price/value wines, as well as those really special wines that we might open up for a special meal.
Why is this event different from other events? For multiple reasons:
- Only 60 wineries are invited. You know you are going to find the mostly highly regarded producers at the event.
- Wineries are supposed to bring only 2 different wines and which ones are not always their choice. One winemaker told us how he wanted to bring a wine he wanted to introduce to the attendees and was told he couldn’t bring it
- The venue is a more intimate setting on the 4th floor of Farallon Restaurant in multiple event rooms. Yes, this means that the event sells out as only a certain number of tickets can be sold, but it keeps the crowds more manageable.
- And speaking of the Farallon Restaurant, the accompanied cheeses and delicious appetizers being passed around (including our favorite, a duck mousse on toast) went perfectly with the wines.
What were our favorite wines? Well, as we always say, it depends on how much one wants to spend and what foods you want to serve it with. Kosta Brown had some excellent wines (along with high pricing). We always like Archery Summit, Freeman (especially Akiko’s Cuvee), Paul Hobbs, Twomey Cellars, WillaKenzie and the list goes on. With 60 producers, we found plenty of wines we will seek out in restaurants and stores.
This event is always a sell-out so put it on your calendar to score tickets way in advance. And then, go enjoy the wine, food and atmosphere. It is a winning combination.