Rusty Sly: 2012 Pinot Days
What a spectacular event. This is the second time that I have attended Pinot Days and I am still finding old and new wineries producing fantastic Pinot Noirs. This year there were Pinot Noirs from France known as Burgundy’s, Pinots from New Zealand, Oregon and of course California. This varietal is really unique as there are versions from light and elegant to full bodied and chewy. The one thing that I find fun is to try wines from vineyards that are very small and have a limited case production. To bring these wines to an event where large established wineries are pouring allows us, as consumers, to compare them side by side. Thus, we are able to experience the perfected wine processes based on years of experience from the old established wineries versus the small and sometimes unknown wineries. All wineries must produce good products to stay in business but there is something about conversing with the small winery vintners/owners. They are passionate about their product and it shows in their presentation.
One such encounter for me at this event was meeting Glen Hartigan. He is the Cellarmaster and owner of Hartigan Winery in Paso Robles, Calif. Though the grapes are from Paso, he bottles in Corona Del Mar, California. He has only been opened for two months and these wines were his first release. I sampled his 2009 Pinot Noir that definitely showed the New World style of the Paso Grapes, big red fruit flavor, silky with a large mouth feel. The wine was perfectly balanced and delicious and with only 152 cases released was a real find. Next he offered Tracy and I a taste of his 2007 Zinfandel. Wow. Everyone knows how much I love Turley Zin but this Hartigan Zin was equally spectacular. The grapes are from the Las Tablas Willow Creek area and are definitely one to support as he builds and establishes his winery. He is absolutely passionate about the wines he produces. It showed in the way he spoke about his creations and art of wine making. I only wish I could have tried the two Chardonnays he had brought but they were not chilled and later were gone. The grapes he uses for his Chardonnays are from two terroirs, the Dunning Vineyard which he said is a little drier with a minerally nose and the second is from Hidden Valley Ranch which he said has a grassy flowery nose with an oaky finish.
Romililly Winery was another example of a small winery in the Russian River area in Oregon that surprised me with their Pinot Noir. It was a 2009 vintage that had a beautiful nose of cherry and flavors of rhubarb and was silky smooth. The one Pinot was all they released and they only produced 390 cases. Again, another diamond in the rough. The one thing that fascinated me about this winery, other than their wine, was how they came up with the name of their winery. “Romililly – just as siblings are sometimes forced to coexist under one roof, our name houses each sibling equally: Jesse Robert (RO), Aaron Michael (MI), and our little sister, Susan (LILLY). Three names jammed together to make one.”
There were so many great small wineries at Pinot Days that I would need to write a book to cover them all. The styles in flavor, aroma and elegance ranged across the board. This allowed everyone in attendance to find the styles they liked from such a beautiful grape. The difficulty I, and many have, at this event is selecting which ones to try…as the saying goes “so many wines, so little time.”