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by. L.M. Archer, FWS
My Divine IPNC 2014
Blame it on the buzz-killing six (6) hour drive back from the International Pinot Noir Celebration 2014.
Stuck in gridlock somewhere between Portland and Seattle, I felt a bit like Dante in the Divine Comedy, smouldering in my own little private I-5 Inferno, with no Purgatory to soften the journey from the Willamette Valley to Seattle – and a Paradise of Pinot firmly fixed in my rear view window.
During the down time, I wondered about similarities between Dante’s Paradise and the IPNC’s own Paradise for Pinot lovers.
Dante’s Paradise spans the cosmos, his souls inhabiting ten spheres – sun, moon, planets, stars, the realm of angels, and the seat of God. The International Pinot Noir Celebration, on the other hand, ascends to a whole new realm featuring Pinot as its Empyrean, and sidereal splendors that include:
- 800+ attendees
- 70+ wineries
- 50+ chefs
- 40+ Sommeliers
- 250+ wines
- 2 shuttle services
In truth, I felt a bit like a cosmic cork sabered from a bottle of bubbly as I bounced from tasting to seminar to winery to dinner over the course of this three (3) day event. Here’s binNotes’ brief recap:
- Friday Breakfast on the Patio. (Missed this in the drive down from Seattle to McMinnville.)
- Grand Seminar: Talk-show format on the topic Pinot Noir and the Doors of Perception, hosted by WineAnorak’s Jamie Goode, featuring guests University of Burgundy-Dijon professor Jordi Ballester, wine reviewer Elaine Brown, Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier, Juniper Ridge perfumer Hall Newbegin, wine critic Josh Raynolds, Harvard University’s Steven Shapin, and restaurateur Frank Stitt. Speakers offered eight different takes on how language influences our perception of wine, plus a taste-through of their favorite pinots.
binNotes personal favorite:
2008 Joseph Drouhin Gevery-Chambertin ‘Champeaux’ 1er Cru. There’s a reason Napoleon deemed Gevrey-Chambertin his quaff of choice. A ruby-robed delight of elegance, grace and restraint.
2012 Eyrie Vineyards Original Vines Reserve. Flamenco artists refer to ‘Cante Jondo – ‘deep song.’ This is some ‘cante jondo’ in a glass – the soul of the Willamette Valley – cedar, peat, and dusky red fruit.
Additional: 2011 Talley Vineyards – Rincon Vineyard, 2012 Westrey Wine Co. ‘Cuvée 20, 2011 Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair Marsannay ‘Les Saint Jacques’, 2013 Scribe Winery Estate, Sonoma Central Valley.
- Friday Luncheon: Table host: Wooing Tree of New Zealand. Great outdoor fete, and the first encounter with the deep bench of all-star sommeliers serving at IPNC. Personally, a favorite part of IPNC – watching the somms strut their stuff with the endless series of notable pours offered throughout – in white tie, no less.
- University of Pinot Course – Linfield College McMinville opened its hallowed halls to seminar attendees. My seminar: Distilling Terroir, with Juniper Ridge perfumer Hall Newbegin. Instead of hallowed halls, we wandered Linfield’s lush grounds sniffing trees and bushes and grass, learning to ‘see’ with our noses. Definitely an envelope-pusher. Personal highlight: Talking terroir and biodynamics with the guys at Mt. Beautiful of New Zealand.
- Add-on Optional Seminars. The Aroma of Color with Jordi Ballester of University of Burgundy, Dijon. In a blind tasting, do white, red, and rosé wines smell – and taste – differently? And do they smell differently for enthusiasts vs. professional tasters? Attendees smelled, tasted, and surmised. Surprising results. Answers: Professionals tend to respond in more uniform, consistent patterns, whereas non-professionals tend towards less consistency and less accuracy.
- Afternoon wine writer book signings and tandem Rosé tasting on the lawn. So tired. Fell asleep on the patio waiting for my other half to bring me a change of clothes for the Grand Dames Dinner.
- Grand Dames Dinner and Silent Auction. Table host: Piero Incisa della Rochetta of Argentina’s Bodega Chacra, and progeny of the famed family who owns the iconic Italian winery Sassicaia. A night under the stars, both literally and figuratively. My personal highlight: Martine Saunier sighting – gracious force behind the film A Year in Burgundy.
- Saturday breakfast on the patio. Sun, fresh-baked goods, blackberries, cured meats, and savories. Love the white linens, china, and tableware featured at each meal. Such a nice touch.
- Vineyard Tour, Blind Tasting and Luncheon. Host vineyard: Ayres Vineyard of Ribbon Ridge AVA. Bus tour guide: Alex Sokol Blosser of Sokol Blosser Winery in Dayton, OR. Alex Sokol Blosser missed his calling as a stand-up comic. Great roll through the WV with importers, distributors, wine makers, and wine devotees. Once on site, a wine tasting throw-down blind tasting with five wine makers: Ayres, Sokol Blosser, J Vineyards of California, Domaine Charles Audoin of Marsannay, and Brandborg Vineyard & Winery of Elkton, OR. Some of the wine makers were able to ID their wines, others not. No worries – time for lunch, more wine, and stunning views of Chehalem and Ribbon Ridge.
- Afternoon White Wine and Live Music tasting on the lawn. So much wine, so little time. I passed, and went back to the Allison Inn to chill before the Salmon Bake.
- Saturday night Salmon Bake. Table host: Carol & Steve Girard of Benton-Lane Winery in Monroe, OR. The Girards rocked the Salmon Bake, sharing their luscious wines and dessert-table strategies. A treat sharing the table with Brian Richardson, formerly of IPNC, and his adorable fiancée. I did not linger to enjoy IPNC’s infamous ‘vault’ of secret stash.
- Sunday Farewell Brunch on the lawn. All good things must come to an end. Shared a table with the gals of Oregon Wine Board before heading back into the Inferno of I-5.
- Sunday Passport to Pinot – skipped 2014. binNotes’ 2013 recap lives here.
For wine geeks with a literary bent, here’s binNotes homage to Dante’s ten spheres of Paradise, à la IPNC:
I: The Moon – The Inconstant
It’s the first sphere of Paradise, but may feel more like Purgatory to the event staff toiling over sound systems, shuttles, and tableware.
II: Mercury – The Ambitious
Where importers and distributors talk shop with attending wine makers.
III: Venus – The Lovers
Where Pinot devotees rub elbows with wine makers at seminars, luncheons, dinners, and on bus rides to and from participating wineries.
IV: The Sun – The Wise
Where seminar leaders educate attendees on topics such as The Doors of Perception, Distilling Terroir, and The Aroma of Color.
V: Mars – The Warriors of Faith
Where Pinot’s faithful Sommeliers fight the good fight on behalf of this most noble of grapes.
VI: Jupiter – The Just Rulers
Where wine regions hold dominion: Argentina, California, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Oregon, Tasmania, and Washington.
VII: Saturn – The Contemplatives
Where wine writers, media and PR posit their thoughts on Pinot, most divine of varietals.
VIII: The Fixed Stars (Faith, Hope, Love)
IX: The Primum Mobile (The Angels)
Where wine growers and wine producers work their heavenly magic on earth to create the celestial elixir of Pinot.
X: The Emperean (Heaven)
Empyrean literally translated means ‘in fire.’
Center of IPNC’s Divine Paradise. Home to Pinot.
Thoughts? Leave your comments below. Cheers!
Note to self:
Copyrighted 2012-2014. All Rights Reserved. All images courtesy of the author.
Note to Readers:
binNotes paid for all tickets and lodging to IPNC.
Thank you for logistical assistance:
Ray & Jennifer – Capitello Wines
Amy Wasselman, IPNC Executive Director