I’m lucky. In addition to having a handful of wonderful reps come to taste with me at BiBO, I’m often invited to bigger tastings at various venues around town… and trust me, there is no shortage of educational tastings here in Oil City.

Last week it was the Twin Peaks Pinot Noir tasting put on by six agents at the Royal Glenora Club. It’s tough to beat the RGC. There’s ample free parking and as you enter the club your eyes are drawn to the glamorous, sweeping staircase which invites you to climb to the upper floor where the banquet rooms await. The staff is unerringly polite and accommodating and the food, when I’ve had it, has been exceptional. (It’s not easy to lay out a spread for a four-hour event involving a lot of wine and a lot of people…)

Anyway, the reps that organized the event are some of my favorite peeps in the biz and Pinot Noir was the first grape I got to know on an intimate level during my training at the Chateau du Beaune in the early eighties. I could not refuse this particular invite especially considering that it was on my direct route to work.

The room was cozy with tables set up, one for each agent, around the outside of the room as the music of Angelo Badalamenti wafted through the air. The glasses provided were excellent and so I pulled out my trusty notebook and got down to work.

To be clear, when faced with such volume of wine and limited time, my notes are necessarily short and quite often vague and woolly. In this case, I’m shocked at how much I was able to capture. Take heart! They were all extremely good and as always, must be tried to be understood.

Anthill Farms Russian River Pinot – Cherry caramel, stemmy and herbaceous, slightly green, tight.

Sea Smoke Cellars Southing Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills – salty, acidic… hmm? (it was at this point I realized I needed a glass of water to restart my palate) complex and elegant with even tannins and bright acidity.

Radio Couteau Coastal Cuvee 2012 – earthy, red plum fruit and acidity reminiscent of just under-ripe pomegranate. good length.

Phelps Fog Dog 2012 – super clear. great structure and balance w. notes of wild raspberry and cherry. judicious use of french oak.

Phelps Firestone Sonoma Coast 2011 – lovely deep and bright. intriguing spice and earth. creamy mouthfeel w. a dark forest finish.

Dobbes Quailhurst Vineyard 2010 Chehalem Mountain AAA – pretty cherry and licorice, gorgeous earthy mouthfeel. rhubarb finish. mmm

Cameron Hughes Lot 505 Santa Rita 2012 – very clear cherry, lively earthy nose. lovely round deep Pinot. Big fruit good acidity with nice vanilla notes.

Lynmar Pinot Noir 2012 – clear silken ruby. lovely, elegant and tangy, very warm apple pie? compelling and good.

Clos Pegase 2011 Mitsuko’s vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir – super elegant and balanced, deep and clean, wildly mouth-watering like blueberry tea.

Domaine Drouhin Dundee Hill 2012 Oregon Pinot – super clear, glistening ruby. maybe a bit cool… not too generous on the nose just now. Tastes clean and bright with chewy tannins. Easy drinkin’.

Dom. Drouhin Laurene Pinot Noir 2011 – super clear and bright light ruby. herbaceous cherry and juniper. ever-so clean with creeping acidity that flowers into a tart long mouthful of rhubarb pie.

Domaine Carneros 2012 Pinot Noir – lovely mid ruby hue, slightly stinky cherry nose with undertones of seaweed and sandalwood. dense, deep attack. perfectly balanced with a lovely long finish. (Secret: You can find this wine at BiBO after today!) ❤

Domaine Carneros Famous Gate Pinot Noir 2012 – Clean earthy nose. cherry blossom and sunshine. lush silken attack, beautiful balance and a clean, stinging acidity that frames the earthy, long finish that tastes like my saddle smells. ❤

Marimar Torres La Masia Russian River 2012 – I have to admit a certain prejudice for Marimar Torres’ wines. I was lucky enough to be invited to the winery opening and since then, have been a huge fan of Marimar’s wines. .. gorgeous old school Pinot. bright balanced acidity. spiced cherry & plum with a long lush finish.

Marimar Torres Mas Cavalls 2012 – earthy, herbaceous nose with floral notes. gorgeous meaty attack opening to giant bright plum fruit ❤ ❤

Fess Parker Ashley’s Pinot Noir 2009 – Glistening clear ruby. smelly, smoky lightly caramelly and white chocolate. Lovely round, clean attack. delicious bright fruit and tangy acidity. 6 pack.

Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2012 – Warm cherry jam. clean chewy attack. good solid juice. ❤

Stoller Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2012 – Clear bright ruby. lovely floral attack. Clean and bright. ❤

Flowers 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – Super clear light ruby. Salty, herbaceous nose. Super clean fruit attack with lean and chewy tannins. Lovely and fine. Long long finish. 6 packs

Flowers single vineyard Seaview Ridge Pinot NOir 2011 – Lovely, salty lean.

R.Stuart & Co. Big Fire Pinot Noir 2011 – Spicy sweet nose, herbaceous, acidic, soapy attack. Oddly salt watery.

At this point, my palate is getting tired so these wines all deserve another taste.

R.Stuart &  Co. Vignette 2011 – Super clear light ruby. Clear black licorice cigar, wet diapers, odd acidity… uncertain.

Four Graces Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2012 – Silken light mid ruby hue. Stinky, good solid fruit forward attack, tangy acidic mid palate. Long dense finish. ❤

Bethel Heights Estate 2011 Pinot Noir – Super clear mid ruby. Big clinging attack… but I am done.

Banshee Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2013 – A little stinky, herbaceous nose. Good solid fruit and nice balanced acidity.

So there. After 25 different Pinots my palate was all tuckered out. After big tastings I always feel as though I would like to try some of the outstanding wines again. Even wines that don’t make a great impression at a big tasting deserve a second try because in an avalanche of goodness it’s tough to make a good impression.

This tasting is just one example of the awesome industry in Alberta and in Edmonton in particular. These agents independently chose to feature Pinot Noir and offer them at no charge to local buyers. They tell me the plan is to do a couple more tastings and that bubbles are in the future! So, I hope my name will still be on the list for the future tastings!

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