#PinotSmackdown, Oregon & Flowers Winery


This past Thursday was #PinotSmackdown, an “all-day global celebration of the world’s most expressive wine grape combined with a knock-down, drag-out cage fight between YOUR FAVORITE Pinot-producing regions!”, and I’ve had Pinot on my mind as of late. The 2001 Navarro Pinot Noir Methode Alancienne was one of my first loves and I have long been a fan of this grape. Affordability has long been the biggest barrier between me and drinking more Pinot. The value hunter in me has learned you typically have to spend the majority of a $20 bill (if not more) to get a taste of the best this grape has to offer. That said when you do get a taste what treat it is!

Oregon Wine Map

I mentioned I’ve had Pinot on the mind as of late and this is directly related to the fact that I am currently vacationing with my family in Oregon, a Pinot Noir haven. Couple this with watching the #PinotSmackdown conversation stream by I began to ponder further. Navarro has long been, and is still to date, the benchmark by which all other Pinots are measured. I’ve had some great ones from Three Sticks and Alta Maria and sampled quality offerings from France, New Zealand, Chile and more. Which leads me to Oregon which I am exploring as I vacation now. Yes I’ve had some in the past but this is my first time in given it singular focus. My initial impressions is that the style better suits me than the vast majority of Pinot Noir made in California.

Pinot Shopping in Oregon

That said when a California Pinot suits my style (which seems to most often happen on the Sonoma Coast) it leaves me swooning and wishing for more. Nowhere has that been more evident than when I visited the wine shop yesterday and stood in the aisle perusing which bottle to try next. As mentioned I’ve been drinking local and had ever intention of doing so until I once again crossed the border but then something caught my eye on the top shelf. 2009 Flowers Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (pdf), a wine that had recently haunted me, in such a good way, as part of a recent TasteLive event. I restrained only to later that evening finding myself at the dinner table thinking about nothing but that Flowers Pinot. And this is why my #PinotSmackdown vote goes to #CA (the twitter hashtag to use when casting your vote for California). That said I’m a day late and a buck short as the voting has closed. And it appears my vote may have mattered as California came in 3rd to Oregon (New Zealand was the winner; visit Wine Tonite for full results) losing by a mere four votes. Rumors are there is a recount underway but for the time being I’ll send you back to your regularly scheduled programming… Stay tuned for more on Flowers Winery soon and in the meantime let me know what your favorite (or region for) Pinot is. Cheers all!

Twitter Taste Live: Robert Oatley

2007 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon - MerlotRecently I sampled some Robert Oatley wines as part of a Twitter Taste Live event. For those not familiar with Bob Oatley he is recognized as a pioneer in the Australian wine industry. Having owned Rosemount Estate for decades, his success with Chardonnay put Rosemount on the world wine map. His follow on success with Shiraz was instrumental in establishing that varietal as a permanent feature on wine lists and retail shelves in America. Quite an impressive pedigree.

For those not familiar with Taste Live it’s a wine tasting that sets up a number of physical locations, coast to coast (and sometimes internationally), for a tasting. If you can’t join in person you can order the wines du jour from a retailer and are encouraged to host a group of your own. With wine in hand and an internet connection it is time to join the fun. The three steps are easy; sip, type and press enter to let the world know what you think. If you want you can even talk to those people that may actually be in the same room as you;) You can then follow tasting notes on twitter via #ttl tag or directly via the Taste Live site. The diagram at the end depicts this much more eloquently than I can say it.

As part of my participation I received a three pack of wine that, to me, was an unexpected set. A Rose of Sangiovese, a Pinot Grigio and a Cabernet/Merlot blend all priced near the $15 mark. Why was I surprised? Coming from Australia I was expecting their classic offerings; the Chardonnay and Shiraz mentioned above, rather than what I pulled out of the box. That said, I was no less eager to see what these bottles held in store for me and the #ttl crew. Given this event has past it’s time we get to the wines. Here’s my Twitter Taste Live notes:

jasonswineblog: Getting a late #ttl #roatley start, dang conference calls. Taking my fam along for the ride as my father is in town. Rose is on the table.

jasonswineblog: #ttl #roatley rose has a nice salmon color with a nose of mineral and light fruit. Palate has strawberries on a stony backbone. Refreshing!

jasonswineblog: Did anyone else think the #roatley wines were bottled with corks, I did! Like that packaging #ttl

jasonswineblog: #ttl #roatley Pinot Grigio, nose is fresh with lemons, palate is crisp and quickly turns tangy. Shows nice acidity and late cantaloupe notes

jasonswineblog: #ttl onto #roatley Cab/Merlot, bit vegetal, nice berry (blue?) fruit up front, turns earthy on lasting finish. A hint of black olives too?

jasonswineblog: btw, the #roatley rose was Sangiovese, that’s my quick take. Dinner time now then some more notes later! Next #ttl, promise I’ll be on time!

jasonswineblog: final ranking on #roatley #ttl 1) Sangiovese Rose, nice strawberries 2) Pinot Grigio, tangy lemon and 3) Cab/Merlot, green pepper, chocolate

jasonswineblog: Final word on #roatley #ttl Surprised how Cab/Merlot grew on me, components were nice but never integrated. Wish I saved a glass for manana

And like that it was over. My socks weren’t knocked off but all three wines were nice and none would leave you disappointed. This is my first time with the format and I enjoyed it. The pace moves quick so there is no contemplating sip after sip to figure out what you are tasting. Here you shoot from the hip and figure it out later…

Thanks to Twitter Taste Live and Robert Oatley for hosting the event. If you’d like to read more check out what the winery had to say in their blog post. And if you are interested in these wines it appears they are available in 11 states, click here to see if you are in one of them.

What is Taste Live?