Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pinot Envy

I don't always take the opportunity to add a bottle to The List when it comes to the various tastings hosted by the BC Wine Appreciation Society - primarily because I don't finish an entire bottle with the folks I'm immediately next too. But how could I not add a bottle after another stop on the series of BCWAS 10th Anniversary tastings. After all, this time around it was a double blind Pinot Noir tasting.

This is the third blind tasting that BCWAS has thrown to feature popular varietal wines that are regularly produced and well received in BC, the first two being Cabernet Franc and Syrah. This Pinot tasting was exciting because the province's wine regions are becoming particularly well known for their Pinot Noirs. Growing conditions in the province can be quite similar to those classic Pinot regions: Burgundy, Oregon and New Zealand. So, it was time to see how BC's Pinots measured up - against both some international wines and amongst our own producers.

The plan was to hold a double blind tasting of twelve wines - nine from BC and three international. Attendees (almost all members of BCWAS) were to taste all twelve wines and identify their top five choices in order. A grand compilation of those picks was then tallied and the big reveal was made.

In choosing the evening's wines, the Society (and, in the spirit of full disclosure, I was named Cellarmaster last year) tried to pick wines that both represented a variety of BC's wine regions and were wines that could boast a pedigree amongst their peers. As such, we included wines from Lake Country, Kelowna, Okanagan Falls, Summerland, Osoyoos (all in the Okanagan Valley) and the Similkameen Valley. Choosing the three international wines was a little more difficult in that there were a lot to choose from and we were trying to keep the price points in a similar range - and, funnily, nice Burgundy, Central Otago and Oregon's Willamette Valley wines tend to skew a tad higher than a lot of the local wines.

Society members were both pleased, if not a little surprised, to see how the results flowed. The Burgundy (2009 Louis Jadot Santenay) - which was incidentally the most expensive wine of the night at $45 - and the Willamette Valley (2013 Evesham Wood) both finished in the bottom four, as did Blue Mountain's 2011 Reserve. Those familiar with Okanagan wines know that Blue Mountain was one of the first BC wineries to become known for producing wines worth searching out - and their Pinot Noir has always been at the forefront. I think there were a number of folks surprised by the "poor" placing. Rather than recap all of the wines that evening and elaborate on the final results, I'll just refer everyone to Russell Ball's comprehensive Adventures in BC Wine post. Russell has put together a great recap of the wines and how they were received.

As reported by Russ, four of the wines stood out in the choices made by the attendees at large. I think it will suffice to say that my tastes weren't necessarily in sync with the rest of those in attendance. Only one of my five picks was included in the evening's top four - where it finished third. Even though I'd ranked my fifth choice, I think I'll make that the bottle that I add to The List.

1881.  2012 Meyer Family Vineyards - Reimer Pinot Noir (Okanagan Valley VQA)

I'm hardly taken aback by seeing a Meyer wine near the top of our highly sophisticated poll/tasting. After all, the winery's proprietors, JAK Meyer and Janice Stevens, set up shop to explore their passion for premium, single vineyard Pinots and Chardonnays. Quite the fave of BCWAS, this bodes well for a dinner that the society is going to host with Meyer Family Vineyards in late May.

I was drawn to the full body the Reimer displayed in comparison with the other wines but I found it displayed a more earthy, minerality profile than some of the more fruit forward wines that were poured. Regular readers will know that I can be a sucker for big fruit.

The tasting's top two picks of the night - the 2013 Eau Vivre (the only wine from the Similkameen Valley) and the 2012 Kim Crawford Rise and Shine Central Otago didn't break out of the pack for me. The fact that my faves for the evening were revealed as Haywire's 2011 Canyonview, the aforementioned Blue Mountain Reserve and Cedar Creek's 2012 Platinum Block 2 served to re-inforce the fact that I've gravitated to those wines and wineries on many occasion when given a choice. It would seem that I like those wines whether I know what's in my glass - or not. The biggest surprise for me was that I'd ranked the 2012 50th Parallel Pinot as my third pick and I was only recently introduced to them - in fact, it was on last year's BCWAS Bus Tour. Guess they'll be yet another winery to watch for down the road.

All in all, I think the Society was more than pleased by the evening. Some of the participating wineries may not be so thrilled with their placing but it's interesting to note that every one of the twelve wines received an assortment of votes. Indeed, every wine - save one - received at least one first place vote.

I'm already looking forward to the next varietal blind tasting that BCWAS is going to host. The early contender is Riesling - and you know I loves my Riesling.

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