Monday, February 18, 2013

In Pursuit Of Balance Wine Tasting Event

In Pursuit of Balance - IPOB - was held on Wednesday, February 6th at the London Hotel in West Hollywood.  Two morning seminars - one concerning Chardonnay and one focusing on Pinot Noir - and an afternoon media/trade tasting preceded the consumer tasting event that evening.

In Pursuit Of Balance (IPOB) is the creation of sommelier Rajat Parr (Michael Mina and RN74) and Sonoma wine businesswoman Jasmine Hirsch (Hirsch Vineyards) in an effort to get wine “out of the trophy room and back on the dinner table.”

The event accented Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers who make wines with balance and food compatibility in mind.  Terroir and varietal identity mean a lot to these folks, and they feel no need to push the winemaking envelope to try and lose sight of those concepts.

Here are my highlights from the 28 members of IPOB:

Pinot Noir

Anthill Farms Winery "Campbell Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2011 - Beautiful, tangy fruit from the north end of the AVA.  25% whole cluster.

Arnot-Roberts Peter Martin Ray Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains 2011 - The nose is so savory it's almost salty. Slightly tart raspberry flavor.

Au Bon Climat Clendenen Family Vineyards Le Bon Climat Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, 2008 - An unbelievably savory nose, great acid and finish.  Slightly smoky.  A fave.  Great wine from Jim Clendenen (right.)

Bluxome Street Winery Balinard Vineyard Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2011 - Green Valley appellation.  Very nice savory tart fruit.

Ceritas Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2011 - Fresh acidity and a savory, smoky taste.

Chanin Los Alamos Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, 2011 - Nice floral and tea notes.

Chanin Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, 2011 - Great smoke and dark fruit. 50% whole cluster fermentation.

LaRue Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2009 - Winemaker Katy Wilson (left) comes from an agricultural family.  She got the wine bug in college. A very fragrant wine.

Lioco Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2011 - Dark and full, with nice acidity.

Littorai The Haven Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2010 - A full mouth, great level of acidity, beautiful fruit.

Native9 Rancho Ontiveros Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, 2009 - The smokiest ever. Eight clones of Pinot are cofermented by winemaker James Ontiveros (right.) 100% whole cluster fermentation.  Full and dark as night.  A fave

Ojai Vineyards Kick On Ranch Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, 2010 - A beautiful nose, the palate has a nice tart edge but it’s still fruity. Good acid, full mouth.

Twomey Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley, 2010 - Lovely and dark.

Wind Gap Gap Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2011 - 50% whole cluster. Aged in concrete, fresh and lively. Slightly savory notes.


Arnot-Roberts Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2011 - Nice tropical fruit, lean and fresh.

Au Bon Climat Clendenen Family Vineyards Le Bon Climat Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, 2008 - A really nice touch of oak, great acidity. Almost buttery, but not quite.

Bluxome Street Winery Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2010 - Beautiful green apple, fresh acidity.

Calera Chardonnay, Mt. Harlan, 2011 - Earthy without losing touch with the fruit.

Chanin Los Alamos Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, 2011 - Just a slight hint of oak and great acidity.

Chanin Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, 2011 - Wonderful oak effect and a long fruity finish.

Copain Brousseau Chardonnay, Chalone, 2010 - Smoky nose, creamy mouth.

Failla Haynes Vineyard Chardonnay, Coombsville, 2011 - Lush.  Winemaker Ehren Jordan thought the 1965 vineyard was Zinfandel as he drove past it many times.  It's not.

Hirsch Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2011 - Delicious apples, lean and gentle acidity.

Lioco Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2011 - 2/3 barrel-aged, 1/3 tank.  Explosive fruit on the nose, apples and tropical flavors on the palate.

Mount Eden Estate Bottled Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2007 - A real treat. Smoky fruit, edgy minerality from the shale soil.

Ojai Vineyard Solomon Hills Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, 2010 - Winemaker Adam Tolmach (left) brings brilliant fruit and lively acidity.

Peay Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2010 - A lean and fresh effort.  Andy Peay poured; Vanessa Wong is the winemaker.

Sandhi Rita's Crown Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills, 2011 - A smoky nose and lovely, expressive fruit.  Great use of oak.  A fave.

Soliste l'Age d'Or Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2010 - Beautiful. The 16 months in oak is barely noticeable. Very Burgundian.  A fave.

Tyler Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, 2010 - Slight oak and vibrant acidity.

Wind Gap Yuen Chardonnay, Central Coast, 2009 - Old vines in limestone soil. Fermented in concrete. Smoky, earthy nose.  Westside Paso Robles and Chalone grapes.

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